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  interviews - tasty 21

- Tempertwig
-
Stuart Murdoch

- The Meeting Places
- Chris TT
 

 

Tempertwig
Aline Lemos
interviews Tempertwig...

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' of anger...
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 talk/half sing. 

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 gigs/recordings?
Ben: one day this year we'll release a seven inch of a couple of songs on a little record label starting in
Brighton.  

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, thankfully. 

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 and 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 reviews. 

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 watching them. 

Has the band travelled much? Any adventures you'd like to share? What has been the best experience so far?
Dan & Ad: Notts Bath
Oxford 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! 

D: Best experience so far for me was probably the Tipler session 

A: 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 ago. 

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. 

A: Mudvayne, Jimmy Eat World, Killswitch Engage, The Used 

D: Explosions in the Sky, Hz, Plaid, Mogwai, Rachel Stamp, Four Tet, Red Snapper 

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 -> Vegas!

 

 

On the Road with Stuart Murdoch by Aline Lemos
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 London (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 live in
Canada a 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 eventual combination.  

A-It sounds really good! Anything else about the new album… is it coming out in October?
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
London 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
same 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 easier. 

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 same 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 from life. 

A- What 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 shorts.

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 good. 

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 York.

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 order.
- 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
mind.

Aline Lemos

 
  The Meeting Places

The Meeting 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 personally?
 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 etc?
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 then.

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 so fast?
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 map.

 
Chris TT

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.

The new album is told through the eyes of a young woman - how did this idea come about?
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!

This 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 events.

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 are vulnerable.

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 getting there.

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 Fonda 500.

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.

Would you be happy with your body or work if, tomorrow, you couldn't play any more?
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 www.christt.com for further details.