On Saturday night, Television will play their debut record 'Marquee Moon' (1977) in full at Green Man Festival in Wales. I caught up with guitarist Jimmy Rip to chat about their upcoming performance, his incredible career, Mick Jagger, Tom Verlaine, Argentina and more.

Jimmy Rip isn’t an original. In 2007, Television guitarist Richard Lloyd announced that he would be leaving the band and that a special show in Central Park would be his last. Unfortunately he fell ill before the performance and Rip took over the reigns, “I coincidentally happened to be in New York at that moment, I was actually living in Los Angeles. I’m sitting there thinking ‘Richard’s place in Television?’ Then I thought ‘what the hell’. I did the show and it sounded great.” Having worked with Tom Verlaine on various projects since 1981, it made sense for Rip to join the band.

Our Skype conversation began with a bad connection, but Rip assured me it would be fine, “It’s Argentina, anything can happen.” Well, at least he tried to. Within a few minutes it was very clear as to why he’d chosen to live there; the music. “They really pay attention to the history of rock music here. I find that, especially in the States, if you try to talk to somebody about something that happened before they were born, they treat it as if it’s completely natural that they shouldn’t know about those things, rather than actually finding out about them. Here, people are still arguing about whether it’s Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck or Jimi Hendrix.” In the Western world we tend to find teens on their computers, occupying their time with new gadgets and games. There, it’s more hands on. “People are so distracted by so many other things in the computer age. There aren’t so many teenagers buying guitars and learning to play them. They’re playing video games and they’re playing guitar hero instead of actually trying to become a guitarist, you know? Here that’s not the case.”

Rip moved to Argentina in 2010 and still produces various records. In fact he’s produced seven in a row in the past three years. He also has his own personal project called Jimmy Rip & The Trip. It’s something he does purely for the pleasure, “It’s just that I write songs all the time and it’s a chance for me to do what I enjoy. I enjoy singing and I enjoy fronting the band, so that’s my chance to do that every couple of years.” The band consists of Jimmy and two young Argentinian girls. I mentioned that I’d had a conversation with someone about the whole ‘women in music thing’ just last week; that hopefully we’d get to a point where people feel like they don’t have to mention if a female is in the band or not. He agreed, “Down here it’s still a surprise though. Down here it might as well be 1959 as far as equality is concerned. There’s still a lot of room for growth when it comes to equality.” That said, he's personally used to it given it was quite common is the States, “I’m not surprised anymore, I’m a little annoyed at Prince for ripping off my idea but you know (laughs)... I’m doing my best to change that opinion.”

One particularly interesting twist in Jimmy Rip’s life comes in the form of The Rolling Stones, in particular Mick Jagger. A twist that he’s very grateful for as it’s allowed him to continue working with the best of the best, world over. They met on set for the accompanying film clip to Bette Midler’s cover of ‘Beast Of Burden’ (check that out here if you want, it’s great). However it wasn’t until later on that they started working together properly, “I met him shooting the video those couple of days and then a few years later, the former manager of Tom Verlaine - I had started to play with Tom in 1981 - his manager had become an executive at CBS Records and was putting together a band to tour for the Primitive Cool record.” He wound up passing the audition and became a band member for those tours. He then went on to make ‘Wandering Spirit’ (Jagger’s third solo album) with him.

When I suggest that him having worked with some of the most famous musicians in the world is obviously a reflection of his talents, he suggests it says more about their bad taste. Modest, and funny. But on a serious note, all of his collaborative work is based on what he enjoys most; a really good song. Rip takes great pleasure in linking up with other people who are also making great songs, but the greatest joy is working with someone who can really sing, “When you’re in the room with someone who can sing really well, it’s not like being in a room with someone who’s learnt to play an instrument really well. I mean, I guess it all comes from the heart and soul but there’s something so human and special about a great voice.” This includes the likes of Debbie Harry who he made ‘Rockbird’ with in 1985/86. “All the really great singers I’ve gotten to work with, just hearing them in a room with no microphone just doing what they do… that’s a really special thing. It kind of makes all the insecurity of being a musician worthwhile.” Whether he rates his own voice or not is a different story. Billy Idol once said to him, “There’s nothing like a great singer and I’m nothing like a great singer.” A line he says he uses on himself all the time.

His most profound musical partnership is perhaps with Television frontman, Tom Verlaine. Jimmy Rip never actually saw Television play in the 1970s, “I never saw them in the 70s, ever. I lived in the West Village. You have to be from back then to understand why that’s funny but it was a really big divide between the East and the West.” While New York’s East Village is now filled with young people, pop-ups and entrepreneurs, back then it was a different story. According to Rip there’s no description of how dangerous it was walking around the CBGBs area at 4am in 1977, “The first time I ever went to CBGBs was when I played there. In fact I think those were the only times I ever went there. I never went there as a customer. I only went there if they paid me (laughs).” Focused on being a session guitarist in New York, Rip never caught Television at the famous location. Nor did he catch any of the other CBGB bands at that particular point in time - Patti Smith, Blondie, Talking Heads - “Not to say that I wouldn’t have loved it but I just wasn’t really aware of it.”

Although Jimmy Rip wasn’t fully involved in that scene, he did start playing with Verlaine pretty early on in 1981. Initially working on his solo albums, they’ve done countless shows together since. One interesting project they’ve done together is Music For Experimental Film. For this they were asked to write new music for silent films. It’s pretty special, so I’ve included a clip of the art below.

When you’ve been fully involved in music for quite some time, your opinion matters. I wanted to know what Rip thought about some more recent happenings, particularly the closure of music venues in various places throughout the UK, and the rest of the world. Reassuringly, Rip shared some wisdom. “That stuff to me always comes in waves. In the disco era it seemed like overnight, but it took like three or four years in reality, where every large music venue switched to being a disco. It was cheaper and more profitable and that’s what was happening. Particularly like in New York City where I was at that moment, like 1975-1981. It went from being around 100 gigs that you could do in Manhattan alone to being only a dozen. Every one of them switched to being a dance floor. People just wanted to go out and dance instead of sit and watch a band and then it switched back again. Hopefully that’s what will continue to happen.” We know that a lot of these things are to do with economics. It’s difficult to keep a large space open when you’re relying on a band to fill it. “It was always a really tough business and that’s why the guys who succeeded at it were usually pretty tough guys, like Bill Graham and you know, people like that.” Well, let’s hope Rip’s right.

For now though, it’s all about Television and their highly anticipated show at Green Man Festival this weekend. The total ‘Marquee Moon’ set only started about two years ago in Australia. It takes about an hour to get through the album, so it’s unlikely you’ll be hearing any new songs. Rip is also very aware that you want to hear the album just the way it is, “There’s three or four songs from Marquee Moon where Richard played the solos and I do those live, so those are a lot of fun for me as I actually get to stretch out a little bit. Even though I do try to keep the solos as close as possible to what Richard did, I think that the fans are there to hear the music the way they remember it; the way it should be.”

Is there a favourite to play live though?

“It’s such a great record like I said. To me, the greatest pleasure is just playing a great song and there’s not a bad moment on that whole record. It’s a pretty perfect record. It’s all fun.”

Green Man Festival takes place this weekend 20-23 August in Brecon Beacons, Wales. Tickets for this festival are completely sold out.