interviews - tasty 21
The Meeting Places
What made you guys get into playing? Tell us your story...
Ben: Dunno what started The twig really - what normally forces people to
start bands? Boredom mainly, I suppose. Boredom and the fact that hardly any
bands that I could really love seemed to exist anymore. So I thought I'd
have a go at starting one myself.
Dan & Ad: We used to Jam, and Ben was eager to get back onstage. So it just
kinda happened, starting with some jamming sessions in Ad's bedroom.
Mark: The earlier side of my story is that ben and I spent 2 years at
college trying to start a band and then we never really got anywhere, though
we played a few gigs and our picture in the local paper, which was the
highlight for me. The songs ben contributed were an embryonic version of
the twig style, perhaps more influenced by pavement and dinosaur jr. After
college ben started the twig down in Croydon with his brother Adam and his
brothers school friend Daniel. After winning the award for most patient &
loyal, after a year or so, I was asked to join on guitar number 2.
Mike: My girlfriend, Jo, introduced me to Tempertwig and I became a bit of a
fan. I eventually got to know Ben quite well and, as a birthday present,
last year he and the band allowed me to play theremin with them on one song.
This is absolutely true. As it didn’t turn out to be a complete disaster,
they seem to have let me stick around.
What would you say Tempertwig's main influences are?
Are the vocals influenced by any sort of poetry? I thought it sounded
emotional, passionate with strong'hints'
Ben: none of us agree on anything musically these days, so the twig sound is
anything that fits into the narrow field of music that we all like, or that
we all don't dislike. Chuck Close, the painter, once described his painting
style as being the little room that he ended up in by backing away from all
the stuff he didn't like - this is kinda like the twig sound, a personal
place defined by avoiding all the things we don't like. Specific musical
reference points probably would have to start at dinosaur jr, simply because
the first gig |I took Adam (my little brother) to was them and I can
remember the feeling of the first song they played, and how incredibly loud
it was, we were blown away by the pure noise of it all. Also, a mention
should go out to the male nurse, as they were a great great band and were
probably responsible for introducing me to the fall, although at one point
they were better live than the fall ever were, in my gig-going history
anyway. They split up before they really did anything, so you probably won't
know who they are, but that doesn't lessen them in my heart. The vocals are
probably influenced by writing more than anything - Philip Roth, Martin Amis
has a sense of rhythm in his writing that is better than most records - and
I write a bit, stories and little things mainly, and quite often just lift
lyrics and rhythms from scraps of prose written for this. Also, I like
someone like big youth or the last poets and the way they kind of half
Dan & Ad: initial influence is probably mainly the Afghan Whigs for us
Mark: I guess the influences have become less obvious, as the band have
developed their sound. Maybe in the beginning the influences were a building
block, but now as ben says because we all listen to completely different
stuff. We try to keep the basic principles of what we think the ideal of a
good band is, I guess to each member of Tempertwig that is always going to
mean something slightly different. For me, maybe I need thought and emotion,
more than haircuts and self-promotion.
Mike: I think everything you hear, good or bad, has a direct influence on
what you do. In terms of the theremin, specifically, my main influences are
Pere Ubu, Captain Beefheart’s “Safe As Milk” album, The Pixies’ “Bossanova”,
Fishbone, Man Or Astro-Man and Bernard Herrman, particularly his score for
“The Day The Earth Stood Still”. I suppose I should also mention Clara
Rockmore, Sam Hoffman and Brian Wilson.
Is your demo out in any label yet? How has it all been for you in terms of
Ben: one day this year we'll release a seven inch of a couple of songs on a
little record label starting in
Dan & Ad: Aiming for an Entropy Music release. it will be one of the launch
releases for the label.
Mark: whenever we decide on what to put on the cover, If it was up to me I
would call it the peter file with Pete Townsend on the cover. but it isn't,
Dan & Ad: In terms of gigs: Generally good experiences, occasional
regrettable ones which came about due to bill mismatch. Good ones were
places like the Spitz, Underworld, Windmill Brixton. Also Oxford Wheatsheaf
Nottingham Junktion 7. Recordings: Have been lucky
enough to record with Paul Tipler at Blackwing. Even more so in hindsight,
because they have closed down Blackwing which is a real shame as the sound
was gorgeously crisp and crunchy. HOWEVER we've now found Miloco Recording
Studios and recent demos we've recorded there have received very favourable
Ben: I’d also like to mention finlay, just because we’ve played with them
more than anyone else. And because they’re a great band. I always enjoyed
Has the band travelled much? Any adventures you'd like to share? What has
been the best experience so far?
Dan & Ad: Notts Bath
Brighton. Plan to do the North and maybe eventually Europe.
Ben: Not really travelled to a great extent, but we were played on a radio
station in Paris a few times last year, which was strange. Best experience
was probably when we played in Oxford the first time and a drunk bloke spent
the whole night saying how good we were and how we were the next sonic youth
- for a few moments I felt like a star.
Mark: I remember the time when they played the hope and anchor and ben was
heckled by these skinheads, and shortly afterwards he shaved his head. or
maybe it was the other way round?
Ben: yeah, they threw plastic glasses at us. and a sandwich as well, still
wrapped in cellophane – we played as fast as we have ever played I think -
it was a somewhat depressing experience, but at least people were listening.
at the end a skinhead bloke shook my head and said I'd handled it well - was
I supposed to feel proud? I dunno.
Mike: I was in the audience at that gig and came quite close to getting
beaten up just for frowning! Playing the Underworld in Camden was a real
highlight for me, mainly because so many of my “heroes” have played there.
The only time I’d ever been on that stage before was to use it as a launch
pad for a stage dive. Years ago, back in Liverpool, the band I was in at the
time (Quiet Vampires) actually played the Cavern, but that experience didn’t
come close to the thrill of playing the Underworld. Next stop… the Garage!
Best experience so far for me was probably the Tipler session
Opening for Dustball at The Windmill. And finding Nick at entropy: someone
actually willing to release our stuff!
Ben: I also enjoyed playing with and kind of befriending other bands from
Croydon - almost felt like a scene was beginning.
Recently, what/who have you been listening to?
Ben: Recently been listening to old angry Bob Dylan records for some reason.
And a bit of Captain Beefheart, after seeing the magic band a few weeks
Mark: Cursive for me, and Pentangle, and a bit of Econoline.
Mike: I’ve grown so tired of what purports to be new music these days –
right off the top of my head Interpol, The White Stripes and Audioslave are
just three of the bands that instantly come to mind. Anyway, I’ve started
going back and listening to the stuff these bands are, in my mind, copying.
So, this week, it’s been Joy Division and early Led Zeppelin. Oh, and a bit
of Deep Purple and Rush, but I don’t know why that is. And loads of Beach
Boys, as always. As far as contemporary bands go, I quite like The
Raveonettes, Beachbuggy, Bulletproof Electric Review and Goatboy, although
none of them are particularly original. Purely coincidentally, three of
those bands have used a theremin on their recent recordings. Musical
zeitgeist at work, I guess.
Mudvayne, Jimmy Eat World, Killswitch Engage, The Used
Explosions in the Sky, Hz, Plaid, Mogwai, Rachel Stamp, Four Tet, Red
Ben: I think these selections show quite adequately the differing musical
views at play within the twig camp.
What is the future like for Tempertwig? Tell us about your plans and
ambitions and anything else...
Ben: just to gig in a few more places around the country with nice people
and bands we like. That would do me. And then, one day, the twigfest.
Dan & Ad: Procurement of a gunmetal juggernaut with tracks and big rivets.
Ad: Doing a festival.
Dan: Doing a festival would do.
Mark: If we get to the stage where we can sell band t shirts, then that we
be close enough to half a dream come true.
Mike: My only remaining ambition is to eventually form my own band so I can
open for Tempertwig at the Twigfest and then also make a guest appearance
with the headliners.
Dan & Ad: The future of the twig: Artwork -> 7"/CD -> New Songs -> Recording
On the Road with Stuart Murdoch by
It is a sunny Saturday and I take
the train to meet Stuart Murdoch, Belle and Sebastian's front man,
who is on his way to
(sort of), where the band is recording their new album. I invite you now to
be the passenger on this journey, which involved a trip to the seaside, a
wedding, playing bowls (‘top leisure’), some fish and chips on the pier, and
of course, a very nice, relaxed chat with him. While he was driving,
he managed to answer some of my questions.
I was holding the map. We were heading towards south now;
the sun was still up. He put on his sunglasses…
Aline -As I said, I hope you don’t find this a drag…
Stuart - No, no, you can ask whatever you want.
A- Which would you say is Belle and Sebastian’s greatest album? Why?
S- Well… my favourite album is probably ‘Tigermilk’, although I’m fond of
‘Fold your hands…’ because we put so much effort into it and had a hard time
finishing it… that it’s almost like a piece of you… and although maybe
people didn’t like it so much, we learned a lot during the making of that
record. We learned so much because we had to scrap it, start again, because
people were disinterested, the core of the group just wanted to get on with
it, but we became quite strong.
A- You know how some of your songs tell a story, have characters in them… to
what extent are they related to real people, people you know and other
people in the band know?
S- Well, I think personally as a songwriter, it’s changed over the years.
Some of the songs are quite open, you know, homage to a person, although
veiled. In a lot of them, the characters certainly become fictional because
they’re composite of people and they might be my ideas, or ideas of friends,
or somebody you just glance in the street. Sometimes you can see somebody
and in an instant you get a feel of what they’re like or what they happen to
be going through at the moment. Sometimes this might inspire you more than
knowing somebody all your life.
A- What about ‘Put the Book Back on the Shelf’? Any stories with that one?
S- That was a long time ago… it’s a bit of an unfortunate recording, that
was, I hardly ever listen to it because we made some recordings that were
quite ragged and that was one of them… S- We’d like to play it, we played it
couple times… Well, it features Sebastian. I’ll have to remember it… (Starts
singing… ‘Sebastian you are in a mess/you had a dream they called you king
of all the hipsters/ is it true are you still the queen/). It’s an absolute
bulk standard B&S song… what I mean by that is ... It’s pretty
straightforward…it’s about feeling isolated, in a group of people but
feeling isolated. Being in a club and… not feeling part of the situation at
all uh… being bored with what other people are doing, looking for a way out,
feeling depressed, looking for anything that will cheer him up
A- Can you tell us a bit about the new album? I heard some of the new songs
at the Glasgow Concert hall and it seems that the band is expanding? It was
great to see you, Sarah and Stevie singing together as in ‘Roy Walker’ …
S- That is a feature we’ve been trying in the last couple of years; we can
make a more powerful sound with everybody singing. And Sarah’s got a really
good ear for harmony so the three of us have really enjoyed working a
harmony. It is a pity… I enjoyed singing with Isobel as well. I almost feel
that the four of us were a good number… but… the three of us are pretty
good. There are quite a few numbers on the record that features that
A-It sounds really good! Anything else about the new album… is it coming out
S- Well, it’s funny. That’s about all you can say about when is an album
coming out. We don’t even know that, as usual is going to be 12 weeks after
it’s finished. But I think it’s funny because it’s a crunched time right
now: we’re going back to the studio tomorrow. In fact when I get to
tonight there’ll be already some mix; it’s going to be interesting to see
what has been done.
A- If the band would invite any musician to participate in a recording of an
album, who do you think it’d be?
S- I think there would be a difference between the group supporting an
artist or somebody coming in like Monica for instance, to sing with the
group. So if you ask every member of B&S they will tell you a different
thing, they’d have different preferences and maybe for that reason we don’t
often collaborate in records. I’ve always wanted to do a record with Liz
Cocteau, from the Cocteau Twins…
A- So, if it were up to you, you would maybe like to work with her?
S- Yeah, maybe produce a record for her.
A- Do you think there are any advantages or disadvantages of being in a band
with so many members?
S- Advantages is that if you have an idea, and everybody likes it, or if at
least everybody approves it, then it’s bound to be okay. We’ve had
disadvantages in the past… we’ve been crippled by indecision…We’ve been
crippled by people not wanting to do the
things…and stuff like that… and logistical stuff about people wanting to
work at other things and not wanting to go into… but that’s all become
A- Do you ever feel limited in B&S?
S- Well, if I did feel limited then I could honestly, I could look at the
group and sit down and say ‘I want to do this’, ‘I don’t see why we can‘t do
this.’ Usually, the group should be able to accommodate your ideas. I didn’t
get the group together to go off and demand things… I want to do things with
the group, that’s what it is about, collaboration and stuff. Instead of
feeling limited what I like to say ‘how can we do this’, ‘let’s get help’.
A- There’s a lot of sharing of ideas, then, between the group…
S- Yeah, absolutely, I think we’ve all become comfortable, just the way that
the group has evolved. I don’t think anyone would feel shy about bringing
anything forward. In the past we spent a long while getting comfortable with
each other, because I used to write all the songs, people would be nervous
to bring new ones. Now when we start, we start from scratch and we pull our
ideas together and we try to develop songs between us.
A- What do you think is the band’s main source of
inspiration? You mentioned that sometimes it comes from people you see in
the streets… is it the
for other band members, you think?
S- Yeah, everything and anything…ideas-wise I’d say, you can get a spark
from anything. If I told you what’s the inspiration behind certain songs,
you either wouldn’t believe it or you wouldn’t be able to understand how I
can get that from that. But that’s the process, that’s the way it happens.
And also by the time seven people throwing their ideas together it sounds
just like a mixture.
A- So life and music are definitely not separated…
S- No, no. But it must be said that pure music, melody and harmony don’t
come from life; that comes from inspiration. When you wake up in the morning
with a tune, you know, you dreamt the tune, it comes from somewhere else.
You gotta wake up write it down; you gotta note it down. It might be in a
dream when you listen to this music; the trick is you have to wake up and
get it down on tape. That’s your idea and you can develop it later, make
that dream real. That’s abstract but certainly a lot of other ideas come
was the best gig you played so far?
S- I've got quite a few favourites. It's difficult to say what's my
favourite one .there's a few in the old days and a few in the modern times.
I really loved the one we did in Coachella, in Palm Springs, in the States.
It was the first time, I think, that we played
outdoors and we were liberated with being outdoors and everybody was in a
good mood, and the sunset and the palm trees, it was just great. We had a
nice time, a good laugh. And as I mentioned before, I loved the two seaside
ones we did in the British tour, Scarborough and Bournemouth. Also, there
are some personal moments. For instance, the second time we played in
Philadelphia. We were really relaxed and I was thinking about Rocky, cause
Rocky is from Philadelphia and so. I dressed up as him: I got some boxing
A- (laughs) and you did you do the Rocky steps?
S- Oh yeah, cause when I was jogging, I ran into those stairs and I realised
where I was and I heard the music in my head and thought 'that's how we're
going to open the show tonight!' (Sings the 'Rocky' theme song). So the
string players picked it up straight away and they played that and I came
on, with my trainers, it was actually Mark's trainers, he fixes the
keyboards. it was just funny.
A- I bet!
S- I loved it. Because I don't think the kids would have thought anything
like that . I think sometimes they expect you to come on with a walking
stick and walk up to the piano and sit down and start wheezing and ' fox in
the snow.' (starts singing) .It's kind of
funny, you look at the kids faces cause I still had my gloves on when we
were playing 'sleep the clock around', with my guitar it must have looked
like I didn't have any clothes on, you know, and I'm sweating.the kids are
like ' What!!?'
A- That must have been really good. and how was the experience of playing
in the Concert Hall in Glasgow?
S- Yeah, it was pretty good, it just enhanced our appetite, to speak the
truth. It's almost like you're half way being a caterpillar and a butterfly.
We're doing the record; we're not primed to play live, we haven't really
done our new set. It was a little bit polite, but it was pretty good.
A- What do you think of all these new bands, that you see on NME, for
example. and some that are not that new, for example. The Strokes, The White
Stripes? The new 'scene' or whatever you call it.
S- I must admit I'm the last person you want to ask. I don't think the
Strokes have done anything amazing, they're not a great new thing, but I
really like them, you play that in a club they get you dancing. I think I
like them more than the White Stripes. I quite like The Moldy Peaches, but
they're not so hip like other bands. I haven't heard much of other bands,
but I heard The Vines at Glastonbury and I didn't think they were very
A- What are your favourite, top five albums of all times?
S- Well, I'm not going to be able to tell us because I'd have to think about
it. I could tell you my top fifty films because I sat and worked it out
before. I won't get it right. but how about. 'Poem of the river', by Felt,
'You can't hide your love forever', by Orange Juice, 'The Queen is Dead', by
The Smiths. Give me a minute so that I can think about it.
A- Ok. are there any new bands that you appreciate?
S- If you asked me 10-15 years ago, I listened to a lot of music. It's
funny, because I fill my head with music all day and all night. It's a
protracted excuse but when I got free time to listen to music, I tend to go
back to music I know I'm going to like. I don't
have an appetite to listen to new music. When I was younger I used to eat it
up, constantly getting new records. I really like seeing bands live in
Glasgow, though. There's a band called Franz Ferdinand, for example, I was
really impressed by them.
A- About the DVD that the band is going to release: will there be any new
videos featuring in it?
S- I think a lot of stuff will be new to a lot of people. There are videos
for every single, apart from ' I'm waking up to us'. We included a lot of
stuff and we composed a kind of a video for 'The state I am in', which is
new. We used a lot of footage and stuff. There's 'Waking up to us' from
Jools Holland, there is 'Wondering Alone', from Jo Soares, ' I could be
dreaming' from ICV, Scottish Television, from 1997, which is quite good
because it's a LA documentary of the group. 'Dylan in the Movies', from New
A- Could you describe your way of dancing? Has anyone ever made any
comments about it?
S- Somebody said they liked my dancing once. Sometimes you can really get
into it. I know it's corny but if you're dancing and it's a great tune, if
you know it so well, you know what the bass line is doing. Like a Stevie
Wonder or a Jackson Five tune, it's almost like you want every part of your
body to be playing a different instrument. There's no way to describe it,
though, cause I think you dance the way you feel it.
A- What's the nicest B&S song to dance to?
S- I'd like to say the next one. It's an ambition of Stevie and I to make
records that people can really dance to. There's one in the new record
called 'If she wants me' that has got a good rhythm. It's pretty slow but
kind of funky. If we get it right that might be okay.
A- Ping- Pong: whatever the word/idea brings into your
mind, just say it.
- Favourite cartoon: Top Cat
- Source of support: Religion, friends and family, not in this exact
- Meaning of life: this is a tricky one. I look around and I do think
there is more to life than you can see. And if you keep thinking that then
you start to think some interesting things. Why, what, that kind of stuff.
Being lucky enough to have a backdrop of spirituality, it's great, it just
gives another dimension to life.
- Favourite place: Glasgow
- Fans: I really like the fans. I want to put them to work. You know
sometimes I feel a little bit of responsibility; you're in a little bit of a
position of power. But it's the kind of power like having people around to
your house, being a host. You can give people a good time, if you're a good
host, and I want to be a good host. But at the same time if you have people
around to your house, being able to help out and be part of the household
amuses them. So I'd really like them to be part of the household as well, in
the sense that you can get involved with stuff, things like treasure hunts.
- Woody Allen: I'd say genius but that's such a clichéd word. Woody
Allen, for all his faults. you know, we were talking about meaning of life.
if I'd name one hundred things on top of my head, he'd be one of the reasons
why life is so great. he's just very, very talented.
- Favourite Book: the Bible
- Favourite food: I always love breakfast! When you're really in the
mood for it, there's nothing like really good crispy fresh bread and a nice
boiled egg and butter. with a good cup of tea! (But I wouldn't say no to a
mission burrito, in San Francisco)
- Love: you're going to get a paragraph.
A- Go on.
S- When I used to study physics at university they used to be looking for a
force, that they called a unified force. Modern physics is looking for a
unified equation, to bring all these forces together, to explain how the
universe works, to a simple reduction. I don't think they're ever gonna get
there, the smaller they look, the more complex the problems are gonna get. I
like that, because as more spirituality enters your life you want the
mystery. If there was going to be unified forces. it sounds corny, but you
could take a little step sideways, you might think that love is a universal
force. I'm actually talking in physical terms here, if you believe in a God
that created everything, you know I'm talking in abstract terms, but that's
what I feel, that love is this unifying force.
- Romantic love, is it 'ever' complicated?
- Yes, and you wouldn't do it without it. When you get to a certain age, you
got a little bit of wisdom; you got a little bit of experience. It could be
a bad thing, cause you're never gonna get lots in the naivety so much, like
you used to. But it's nice to sit back and see how things work between
people and anticipate that kind of feeling going to happen all over again or
be sad about that . if you're right in the middle of it, it could be hellish
obviously but you couldn't do without it.
- Belle and Sebastian: you know, when you said that, I
actually got the image of the two characters in my
Places, from LA, have an impressive CV. Not only were they formed from the
ashes of the mighty Medicine, but they take their cue from some of the
greatest UK bands of the last 20 years. Here we talk to guitarist Chase
Harris about the band's influences and the story behind their debut album,
'Find Yourself Along the Way' (Words on Music Records).
Can you tell me how the band came together?
The band was formed in the Fall of 2001. Arthur and I met at a
party that was thrown by our girlfriends (Arthur's ex and my current
fiance). The girls thought we were interested in the same type of music,
which we were. We talked and went to a couple of shows together over a
few months. At a Mojave 3 show, I met Scott, who was an old friend of
Arthur's. We decided to play guitar together. After a couple of attempts
of a three guitar jam we knew we needed a rhythm section. Arthur purchased
a bass and a college friend of mine, Dean, was called to come up and try
his hand at drums. Dean and I played guitar together in a band, Click, at
the University of Arizona, 1992-1994. Dean had recently purchased a drum
set so he could 4-track at home. I knew Dean shared the same musical
influences as the rest of us and the goal of the band was just to have fun
playing, not technical expertise.
The first time we played, the musical chemistry was apparent. Being a
band was not spoken of for a couple of months, we were finding our sound
and writing songs. Once we had about 10 songs that we were routinely
playing during our rehearsals, we decided to play our first show, which
was February 3, 2002 at The Garage in Los Angeles.
Who has influenced the band most over the years, both musically and
I don't think there is one particular band that has influenced
us. We all have bands we love in common and I think the sounds from the
English guitar bands of the early nineties (Slowdive, Ride, Spiritualized,
The Wedding Present, Stereolab) definitely shine through our music. I
didn't start playing guitar until I was 21 and even though I loved the
atmospheric guitar sound, I was equally enamoured with the indie rock
scene and was equally into
bands like Built to Spill, Sebadoh, Dinasaur Jr., Pavement, and Nirvana.
As a band, we have never mentioned bands that we wanted to sound like.
Adjectives are thrown out all the time during practice to describe how we
want to develop something we're working on, rather than describing another
band's sound or song structure.
The style of music you play is now so unfashionable. How do you think you
ended up sounding like you do? Were you all big fans of Slowdive, Ride
We play music that we enjoy creating and playing. I feel all
music is derivative of it's predecessors. Bands are now being hailed now
for combining different genres or leading the charge on the resurrection
of a dormant sound. I like listening to all new music: The Liars, Dead
Meadow, Kaito, Manitoba, The Tyde etc., although I like those bands, I
don't think any are breaking any new ground. My favorite band right now,
Interpol, to me, sounds like an amalgam of The Kitchens of Distinction and
The Chameleons, that doesn't detract from the fact that they write
incredible songs. We as a band are aware what the current musical trends
are and what is considered fashionable, we just don't feel like forcing
anything to achieve an "it" sound. I personally don't think nice melodies
and beautiful sounding guitar should be considered anachronistic. We sound
the way we do because that sound is coming through us right now. Dean,
Scott and I were in bands that had a similar sound in the early nineties.
We've subsequently played with different people and played different types
of music. Ten years later we've returned to a sound that still excites
us. I think being exposed to bands like: Joy Division, Cocteau Twins,
Bauhaus, Siouxie and the Banshees etc. during our teenage years, pointed
us and many other people to embrace this sound, it's a natural extension.
We were all fans of the English bands that pioneered this sound and went
to many of their first Los Angeles shows. I was always a huge Ride fan
from their first ep's through "Leave Them All Behind". Verve (The) were
more important to me than many of the bands we are compared to and their
1992 show at the Whiskey is still one of the best performances I've seen.
Dean and Scott were there as well, although, I didn't know Scott back
Would you describe yourselves as pretentious in any way?
I don't feel we're pretentious at all. We don't claim that we are doing
anything revolutionary with our music.
Is the 'dreampop' or shoegazing scene still relatively big in the US? Why
do you think this is, because in the UK it was built up and knocked down
I'm not sure about the rest of the US, but, from what we see in Los
Angeles, the "dreampop" scene is extremely low profile. We have difficulty
getting shows to play live as much as we'd like to. There is definitely a
scene right now in the taste-making area of LA. The Silverlake club scene
has it's member's: Earlimart, The Movies, Silversun Pickups, Kennedy, Pine
Marten, The Moving Units, Dios. Unfortunately, we're not part of the
in-crowd. The one saving grace in LA, is, Club Violaine. The last Friday
of the month they have a "dreampop" night and it provides a venue for
bands in our same position to play to an enthusiastic crowd.
How difficult is it for the band to get recognised both within and
especially outside of the US?
Getting recognized in the US and abroad is difficult unless a band has a
label with a large enough budget to hire an expensive publicity firm and
can provide financial tour support. The publicists and booking agents need
a band to tour extensively to promote a new album. This necessity is
compounded when the band in question is relatively unknown, like ours.
We'd love to tour and play throughout the US and Europe, unfortunately,
until the financial burden is picked up by someone other than the band
members we'll be kept close to home and most likely, in obscurity.
How easy was the recording of the new album?
The recording process was easy when we were able to secure studio
time. We needed weekends to accommodate our day-jobs. The studio was being
used by several bands during the same time period so the available
weekends were spread out over a couple of months. Tracking was easy, we
basically recorded live and added vocal and sometimes a guitar overdub.
Recording with Aaron Espinoza was a lot of fun, we probably drank to much
during our five weekends in the studio, but, it was our first album and we
wanted to enjoy the experience. Aaron introduced us to some great food
around the studio. At least three hours of each recording day were spent
either getting more beer or going to one of three restaurants for lunch.
In addition to the food and drink distractions, we had to contend with
everyone, excluding Dean, smoked. Lengthy outdoor smoke breaks were the
norm at least 10 times every day. When you combine those distractions with
numerous supply trips for everything from audio tape to light bulbs, I
still can't figure out how we got anything accomplished.
What do you hope to achieve with the album?
I look at the album as documentation for what happen when four
good friends put on tape what was in their heads. As for what I hope the
album achieves, I hope it reaches as many people as possible who love it
and inspires them to do what they love.
And lastly, what's next for the band?
I think we will continue to write new songs and with our recent reviews
and profiles, get on the radar of some national touring acts. Hopefully,
we can open for someone with a large fan base and increase our exposure. I
think we'll be ready to do a second album next summer. Who knows what it
will sound like. The new songs we've been writing are all over the musical
London is Sinking!!! No,
not really, calm down. That's just the name of the latest great album by
Chris TT. We had a little chat to b(e)ard of London as he prepares to go
out on a nationwide tour.
new album is told through the eyes of a young woman - how did this idea
It developed naturally from the song 'The River', which starts the story.
Also I'm in love but find straightforward love songs impossible, so
perhaps this is where I go when I feel like that! The heroine was probably
inspired by the kids in 'Swallows & Amazons' or maybe Lyra from Philip
Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy. Much more interesting to have a
young girl wandering around than, say, a horny bloke - which is more usual
in beat literature and rock'n'roll.
Would you say your albums are all conceptualized? London seems a very
big theme for you.
I think this is my first 'concept' album, the others were not tightly
linked to their supposed themes. Like, 'The 253' only had a couple of
genuine nods to the bus route, but this album is all down The Thames.
You're right though, London is all-pervading.
Do you think that 'London is Sinking' is the perfect TT album? Or does
that not exist?
The perfect T-T album is the next one. Always!
seems like an even more political record than before. Has the current
political climate influenced you more than ever?
I think people who are normally apolitical are facing the grim reality:
that their apathy kills and they live in luxury compared to most. I think
we're in a time of renewed activism. This has influenced me and I'd love
to be on the road as a political songwriter - but those sort of songs just
don't 'come' often enough. In my opinion these are optimistic times - and
more than ever I think the truth will out. If there's one thing the people
in charge - the cartels who run the world - are slow on, it's new
technology allowing normal people to communicate and 'witness' world
In 'Cull' you seem to advocate a revolution by force. Do you think that
a1917-style revolution is the only way this country - and indeed, the
entire world, can change for the better?
Not sure it's advocating revolution by force, though maybe. I'd be
more interested in seeing the collapse of structures which perpetuate our
selfish, scared, greedy society. For example the current media owners dead
or disinherited. Here's an idea, maybe the future is 'corporate
revolution', whereby employees take control of a company by force! Now
that would be an eye-opener, imagine if all the decent souls working for
News International or Associated Press found the courage to stop Murdoch
or Rebekah Wade from peddling their scaremongering filth.
We all know Richard Desmond is a much bigger cunt than Gordon Brown. It'd
also be fascinating to see how UK powers reacted to assassination.
Political murder is (I reckon) the least offensive of violent actions,
since it pinpoints those who take the decisions, rather than the little
people who carry them out. And it also reminds those in power that they
Having said all that, always the problem with violence for any cause is
that the means undermines the end, so no violent revolution has a happy
ending. Pacifism remains the only long-term solution for mankind.
Do you still have to work the day job?
I just quit! I'm finishing the day before the tour starts, then it's pop
all the way!
Musically and personally are you where you want to be at the moment,
and in the great scheme of things?
I'm getting close to smug happiness. I'm getting married in the next 18
months, living by the sea in a lovely place with loads of plans. The songs
are getting better and I think I can live off music. Still want to be more
famous and I'm looking forward to climbing the celeb ladder over the next
couple of years - definitely want a larger audience, but it's truly
Who are your musical heroes at the moment - you've mentioned
Springsteen and QOTSA quite a lot, but neither of them really come through
in your music, so who else are you listening to.
It's annoying my heroes don't come across more, I'd love to sound more
like early Bruce. But the new band is really strong and we're really
rocking, so you never know. I'm currently enjoying June Tabor's new album
of ballads, the Cooper Temple Clause record, the new Proclaimers album and
I'm revisiting Jim O'Rourke's solo records. Live it's Fi-lo Radio and
who are your non-musical heroes?
At the moment Jeremy Corbyn - I saw him speak to some teenagers at a
conference and not only was he both inspiring and without vanity, but also
he cycled ten miles from Banbury station to get there and save on travel
expenses. Otherwise, too many to mention.
Do you think the your aims change with each record released, or is
there a grand plan and this album is just a stepping stone?
I don't think my aims change but I guess the industry has, in a bad
way. And meanwhile I've learned a lot about how it works. The grand plan
is still to briefly 'make it' at a point where enough back catalogue and
live reputation exists to allow any burst of real exposure (like a hit or
deal or something) to fund the rest of my life. I also want to write,
perhaps once I reach 30, without giving up performing.
you be happy with your body or work if, tomorrow, you couldn't play any
Six months ago, when I was finished London Is Sinking, the answer
would've been 'yes'. But now I have a bunch of unrecorded songs and
unfinished ideas that need to be out there. So the answer is no, until I
finish the next 2 albums. London Is Sinking was written during a blocked /
low period and it was a struggle. Since then I'm having a 'wet' period
(!!) and I've got buckets of stuff waiting for demoing.
Chris starts his national tour later this month - see
for further details.