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The Week That Was

Kill Your Television

Sep 02, 2008 The Week That Was
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If you want to watch broadcast television in the United Kingdom, you must purchase an annual “television license” that costs well over 100 pounds. For Peter Brewis—who along with his brother, David, forms the core of Sunderland indie-rock band Field Music—having to pay the fee again after moving into a new apartment was all the excuse he needed to finally do what he’d long threatened: get rid of his television.

“I’m sure television’s been getting worse in my lifetime,” Brewis maintains. “I had been thinking of going without it for a while, so when I moved into a new place and was faced with paying the television license, I thought, ‘Let’s not bother. It’s not worth it, and I’ll get more done without it.’ I figured it would free me up as a musician and allow me to really invest myself in music.”

But the transition wasn’t as smooth as Brewis had anticipated. “It’s funny, you think TV would be quite an easy thing to let go of, but it’s not,” he laments. “I miss it. I really do.”

Brewis found himself drawn to public sets in bars and cafés, and even visiting his parents’ house just to watch their TV. Most troublingly, without an easy source of minute-by-minute news, he began to feel disconnected from the outside world.

Inspired by his television withdrawal, Brewis wrote, under the moniker The Week That Was, a self-titled concept album that melded a fictional story with Brewis’ very real anxieties about television dependence.

“I had been reading a lot of books by Paul Auster, this really great New York writer who writes these weird detective novels, and I just thought they were brilliant,” Brewis explains. “They were these odd, complicated, nonlinear stories where connections weren’t quite as clear-cut as you usually get in mystery novels. I was really inspired by it and came up with this idea for this story where there’s a crime. Without going into too much detail, it follows how characters get their information about the crime through various mediated ways—radio, television, the Internet. Everything comes unraveled, and when the characters finally decide they want to get to the truth of the matter, they can’t find it.”

Recorded with a rotating cast of Sunderland musicians, The Week That Was is the second release from the Brewis brothers since Field Music went on hiatus last year (the first was David’s School of Language record, released in February). With its herky-jerk chords, percussive drive, and XTC melodies, The Week That Was could easily be mistaken for a proper Field Music album, and even Peter doesn’t make much of a distinction.

“I don’t really think of The Week That Was as a band, or that I’ll make another album under the same name, because it’s a self-contained album,” he says. “Maybe it could have been a Field Music album, because it’s still me and Dave. It’s just a Field Music album where I wrote all the songs. It wasn’t a democratic process at all. All the good things about the album, all the failures, they’re all my responsibility.”



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