Basically, there are two ways to understand what Northern Virginia band American Television is all about. You can listen to its music — that’s the easy way. Or you could watch the video the group made for its new single, “Optimist,” with audio muted, for the duration of its nearly three minutes and lonely, final seconds.
American Television is a pop-punk band. That will be clear from watching this video, even with the sound turned off. It’s got jump kicks, NOFX T-shirts in youth large, old-school Vans, a burrito, gang vocals and a singer — Steve Rovery — who appears to have earned his doctorate degree from the Milo Aukerman Institute of Advanced Pop-Punk Studies.
Helmed by Mike Watkins, the quirky video smacks of the kind of pop-punk schtick that hasn’t been around since people were buying Bowling For Soup records. In it, American Television books a show and charges into an intense regimen of preparation and promotion. The band’s members hit the gym, practice obsessively and crush Tex-Mex food — only to wind up playing to an empty room. No one shows, even though the gig’s both all-ages and free.
Perhaps that’s the picture of true optimism: perfecting songs only to play them in a void.
“Optimist” appears on American Television’s forthcoming digital-only EP, Let’s Play Two. The band plays Aug. 15 at St. Stephen’s Church with Boardroom Heroes, The Rememberables, Canker Blossom and Six Foot Machine (and hopefully people show up).