Tinternet Radio with TW and Chris T-T

TinternetRadio Transcript 5th June Interview

Greetings one and all, welcome along. Here we are at Tinternet Radio towers, tell us who are you, where are you, and what you’re doing here?

I’m Chris T-T and I’ve got my band with me as well so the studio is crowded full of musicians. And we’re staying here because Tinternet Radio was kind enough to offer us a bed for the night, which was very nice, give ’em a cheer everybody. So we’re basically on tour with Thomas White from Electric Soft Parade.

Hi I’m Ben and I’m the drummer in Chris’s band and I’ve been staying here too.

I’m Johnny, I’m Chris’s bassist and I’m on a sofa, frightened.

Hello, I’m Jen, I’m Chris’s lead guitarist as he keeps saying and I’m very rested because I’ve just spent the night in young Kirsty’s Dora (?) decorated bed which she gave up for me so bless her.

Did you sleep well Jenny?

I slept very well, I always do though.

Tell us a bit about what’s been going on with this tour at the moment?

Lots of drinking and a little bit of music. Chris started off solo so we haven’t been around much but we’ve joined him on the last leg of his tour which is good because we get to see this man every night as well.

Who’s that – who are you, where are you, and what are you doing here?

Thomas.

Hi Thomas, how you doing?

Yeah good, I’m a bit hot now I’ve sat down in my jacket. Just sat on the floor in Roy’s little radio studio where I slept last night along with various other people.

Did you have a good kip?

Yeah I did actually. I kind of overslept a bit, I woke up and everyone had already had breakfast.

Thomas White from Electric Soft Parade and Brakes Brakes Brakes and any other band you could care to think of that he’s been involved in…

Brakes Brakes Brakes – I forgot we were were supposed to be called that in certain parts of the world.

It can confuse some people, because there is a Brakes the bakers.

The caterers, yeah. They actually use exactly the same font as we did on our first record. It’s good, it’s like we were advertising for them and they were advertising for us. Spreading the word.

It’s great to see you guys here, Tom obviously welcome to Tinternet Radio towers, it’s our humble little studio here.

It’s brilliant, it’s a good little place.

So you’re on a bit of a solo tour at the moment although you’ve got back up with Chris T-T and the band. How’s it going for you?

I’m supporting him really, or I’m meant to be supporting him. I wangled some headlines out of it.

How did you and Chrissy T hook up?

Chrissy T? That’s brilliant, adlibbing names. Well we know eachother from Brighton.

Which other artists have you been involved in, Chrissy T. You’ve got a bit of history to yourself, a good background. Give us a bit of a wazz round of what you’ve been up to.

I’m just primarily a solo artist, I’ve been making albums since about 1999 and I’ve done about six albums and I was mainly a London musician for a lot of years and then got sick of London and my wife and I moved to Brighton so that’s how I met Thomas because Thomas is obviously one of the core main stays of the Brighton scene and he’s obviously in about 620 bands. And so we inevitably crossed paths loads and ever since then I’ve felt like quite a welcome part of the Brighton scene. So I’m basically a singer-songwriter when it’s cool to be and an indie rock musician when it’s cool to be.

Are you writing music for other artists?

I do a bit of production, if you know Carter And The Unstoppable Sex Machine (TW is playing on a keyboard in the background) I produced Jim Bob’s last solo album and play piano on it. Most of this summer I’m going to spend playing piano for a guy called Frank Turner who used to be in the punk rock band Million Dead, he’s now a solo artist and we’re on the same label. I get around a little bit, I don’t get around too much because I tend to be most busy doing my own stuff and touring with these reprobates who keep me noisy and poor. The world is a better place for their existence.

We’re having a good time I think, one of the interesting things is like Thomas is playing very varied sets, like sometimes he’ll be really quiet and acoustic with a twelve string guitar, other times he’ll be with a laptop playing almost electro dance music, and other times when I’m trying to be interviewed, he’ll sit playing on a pink toy piano and play some cute tunes. That is the best piano I’ve ever seen, I have to say.

Tom, are you soundchecking right now?

I’m just having a go, pretty good. It’s only duo-phonic poly…

Little pink piano we’ve got going on in the studio here.

It only does 2 notes at once.

That’s brilliant, we could remix that and make that the next record release maybe, sample it and chuck it on a track.

Do your worst…

So you’re going to be at Wolverhampton then at the Little Civic.

It’s rotten tour planning really on the part of somebody.

As in scaling one end of the country and then going back to the Midlands…

Going York, Glasgow, Hull and then Birmingham, Wolverhampton, kind of defeats the point of doing a show in either because it’s like 2 minutes away, you know. A gig’s a gig, even if it is in the worst venue in the world.

Am I right Tom, your parents are both teachers?

Yeah.

So obviously your upbringing must have been quite outstanding. Did you duck out of school for a bit and probably get taught by Mum and Dad, musically, or…

No no… well my Dad’s kinda musical, he plays a bit of piano, infact he can read music and me and my brother can’t. Well my brother kinda can. My Dad plays clarinet and a bit of piano. Me and my Mum keep trying to persuade him to be a writer because he writes fiction, short stories and stuff and they’re really good.

Going back to the tour, obviously The Glee Club was the show last night.

Nice place, I hear the guy at the venue was saying a lot of comic’s try out new material there which is why they had the full on sign on the wall saying no cameras or anything, no youtubing people. Lee Evans basically did try outs for his new world tour, did like a week or a month of residency. And they’ve got Dylan Moran there and stuff. And good shows as well, good little place.

You performed a track called Blue It Is by Billy MacKenzie, tell us about that, it was just beautiful.

Yeah it’s just a tune he wrote on Beyond The Sun, I haven’t actually heard the album it’s off, just got recommended it as a tune to cover.

Oh wow it’s just too gorgeous. For listeners on Tinternet Radio who don’t know who Billy MacKenzie is, Tom White’s gonna tell us all about that.

He was the singer in The Associates, seminal 80’s band. They’re a brilliant band.

And their classic anthem was…

Club Country or Party Fears Two.

Very nice, festival season’s upon us. The Truck Festival, are you back at the Truck festival? It’s always a good weekender isn’t it.

I’ve been roped into it, I turned down my offer and somehow I’m still doing it. I got offered a slot and I said I didn’t want to do it and I’m now doing it which is really annoying. I wanted to not do it.

It’s a fairly new festival isn’t it, in Oxford.

It’s been going 10 years, if I play this year it’ll be my sixth year running which is just too much. It’s too disgusting.

Describe the idea behind the Truck festival. The whole thing is set up on a big truck?

It’s on a flatbed Truck and there’s a stage and a bar. It’s really good and the Rotary Club make real stingy portions of pasta with a little bit of pesto mixed in and some cherry tomatoes.

You’re quite a chef, aren’t you really, Tom? A secret chef?

And banana milkshakes, smoothies. A little wine stall. And a bar where all the barmen are cross dressers. The main bar, they always cross dress. There’s always that guy dressed as Madonna…

What’s all that about?

You see the same people each year and every year they just get a bit more knackered looking, just a bit more disgusting. It’s a great festival but it’s very debauched in a kind of middle class Oxford way. You know what I mean, lots of naughty things happening.

And other festivals, obviously you’re at Beautiful Days this year with The Levellers celebrating 20 years in the music induustry.

Don’t they look it, every day.

Obviously you’re good mates with Mark Chadwick, lead singer of The Levellers. How are they celebrating this year.

Same as every other year I think, every day with Chadders isn’t it.

And other festivals, you’re going to be hooking up with Brakes and ESP later this year?

Yeah we’re doing Doctor Loft Festival in Spain.

What’s that?!

Some festival on a beach in Spain, sounds good.

Here we are at Tinternet Radio camp, Tamworth-on-Sea, we’re in the studio.

Where’s the sea? I’m from Brighton, I don’t see a sea. I don’t smell the sea.

Well we’re based in the Midlands, we’re a bit closer to the coast than you actually realise. Tamworth has got a silent sea, it’s inbetween the M and the W. I’m just making it up as I go along. Here we are at Tinternet Radio towers with Tom and the posse. He’s on tour, he’s got a brand new record release out at the moment called I Dream Of Black. Tell us all about that Tom.

It’s not out just yet, it’s out in a couple of weeks.

I read a blog that the album was produced in a basement of a townhouse somewhere deep in the suburbs of Brighton, reading inbetween the lines it sounded like it was an awkward place to record an album but listening to the album – brilliant.

It was really cold, it was in a garage in the basement of my girlfriends house and it was just freezing. There was no heating in there, they wouldn’t let me put the heater on because it cost so much. So I’d kind of go down there in bursts of 45 minutes until I couldn’t feel my feet and then go back upstairs and warm up and then go back down and do a bit of recording. It was alright when you’re drumming but trying to do vocals you’re just stood there for hours on end it was quite painful. I like the idea that a record sounds wintry or summery depending on the time of year it was made.

So you must be really proud of the end result then?

Yes and No. Every record, as you’re finishing it you’re like yeah this is just right and with hindsight you could always go back and improve things forever. But I kind of had to just get it out as it was because I hadn’t done that before you know. Every record I’ve ever been involved in has been a democratic process involving loads and loads of people and record labels and A & R people so it was really nice to just do a record and not have to worry about any of that.

Greets Chris, what are you messing around with?

I’m in the process of trying to film your interview with Thomas in order to put it on youtube and humiliate him. Unfortunately my phone camera had not very much memory so I only managed to get a little excerpt of the interview.

Tell us what you’ve got planned for the rest of the year, obviously you’re quite a busy geezer.

I think after this tour I’m going to the West Country to do some schools workshops in songwriting and then got a bunch of festival shows, I’m doing Moseley Folk Festival which is quite near here, playing that solo and play piano for Frank Turner for loads of festivals all summer. Then in Autumn we’ve got another single out, going back to the states, doing another west coast tour of the states, doing a full band tour with Frank Turner, doing a couple of other support tours and that leads us up towards Christmas. And then there’s gonna be a DVD documentary about me out for the Christmas market.

Is that in production already, are you filming some of that across the year.

Well we’ve got a lot of footage that we’ve done, particularly American footage but the documentary itself hasn’t been started yet, we’ve got different video people who want to do it and I think we’re going to look at doing something brand new… for example we did some full gig show recording on HD, high definition really good quality video in California and those shows happened to be really good shows. So they could be DVD extras or something.

First time I saw you Chris, I gotta say, you look a bit like Frank Black… Frank Zapper sorry, you look like Frank Zapper Black.

One of the things about doing what I do is that I’m all about the ears. What I do is make music which is about the ears. And I was born to make music and unfortunately or fortunately, it’s hard to say which, nowadays we’ve tangled music up with visuals. A lot of reviews I get will focus on what I look like because I’m quite overweight and short and look a bit like Jack Black yeah. I much prefer that to some of the other people I’ve been compared to. I’d much rather be looking like Jack Black than Chris Moyles.

I think that’s really unfortunate because what happens then is the music itself gets a bit lost, you’ve got an enormous record industry based around what people look like and whether people are sexy or not and whether people are young. There must be loads of brilliant musicians in their 40’s and 50’s, like a bit older than us, who can’t work because what is defined as being a rock band is a bunch of 19 year old skinny kids who can’t play very well and are usually a bit stupid and take too many drugs. And we miss a huge amount of soul, we almost don’t have any soul in British music, until you get away from the center. You can’t find anything that’s going to be in the charts or sell a million records in this country that’s got any soul. Because we’re not interested in soul, we’re interested in costume. And that’s where I come from is, I’m never going to be a pop star because what I do is about the ears rather than about the eyes.

But you don’t want to be poptastic because the mass populous out there that are into the poptastic stuff, the music gets turned around so quickly that it dies out of fashion in no time at all, as quick as it’s released.

I actually look at it like this. Say there’s 70 million people in Britain, I think there are 900,000 music fans in Britain and what I define as a music fan is someone who actually likes music. The other 59 million people or whatever it is in the country, they aren’t music fans. What they want from music is a. to be part of a club and b. to have something backgroundy and that’s what they do. So they’ll buy a few albums a year or download them or steal them or burn them off their friends. If they’re young, they want to be part of a clique, so they’ll get into nu rave or electroclash because that’s what they feel they should be identified with. It’s not because actually alone in their rooms at night quietly, they want to listen on headphones under the covers, to loads of electroclash, they’re not loving the nuances in the music, they’re loving the atmosphere. I’m not criticising that, there’s no problem with that but they’re not music fans for me. I think there’s 900,000 people out there who actually go and find the music they like, and that’s across all genres. That’s folk, jazz, indie rock, metal whatever. You can like music and go and find it or buy a CD every year from Woolworths and put it on in the background. And my world is that 900,000 people.

Where can listeners on Tinternet Radio find out a bit more about Chrissy T or is it Chris T-T.

Chris T-T is my name and you can go to christt.com or if you’re a myspace user you can go to myspace.com/christtuk and also I have a facebook page as a performer and generally if you google Chris T-T you’ll just find me straight away.

It’s quite an outft that you’ve got going on because you look a little bit like Chris Moyles and Jack Black, you’ve got the drummer that looks a bit like Rick Witter from Shed 7.

I dunno what he’d say about that.

What do you say about that?

I’m the bassist and I resent it.

You haven’t had the opportunity to listen to the band yet, you’ve just seen me play solo.

I saw you live for the first time at the Glee Club.

That was a solo show so my band had to just sit there and have a night off. One of the things you get with songwriters who’ve got bands is that they’re like backing bands, session musicians and it sounds a bit weedy. Whereas what I aim for is that we are definitely a band. They are my songs but you could go out with a different name, we could call ourselves The Smegheads or The Banana Skins or something, go out and we’d be a band and it wouldn’t be so much about me. We call ourselves The Sex Ambassadors and that’s a band.

Do you just turn up at a gig and say we’re going to change the name of the band tonight, we’re going to be called this and if you don’t like it we’ll see you tomorrow night.

Actually yes, we do that, we were The Hoodrats until a few days ago. The band has decided they’re the Sex Ambassadors, it’s going to help when we get to America isn’t it. We have this frustrating thing that we only have one single member of the band which is Ben the drummer. And so the rest of us have been really willing Ben to pull as many groupies as possible to validify our rock n roll status, even though we’re all in sound relationships. But he’s just not managed it.

There’s always Wolverhampton, tonight’s town.

I’ve got high hopes for Wolverhampton so get ready.

What you listening to at the moment and what are your musical influences?

My keen musical influence is Bruce Springsteen and I went and saw him on Saturday night so I had that revitalised and I’ve been playing a bit too much Bruce Springsteen in the van and everyone else is a bit sick of it. But I love American underground college rock so I like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh and bands like that. My singing’s very English Billy Bragg style singing, no it’s not actually because Billy Bragg’s very working class and I’m very middle class, but it’s a very English accented singing, so it sounds maybe a bit like Robyn Hitchcock would be a singer that I think of as a british songwriting influence where he does psychedelic pop songs but the band always aims to be a bit louder than that, aims for a kind of American college rock sound.

So tell us about the rest of the tour that’s going on. You did 12 dates across May and June.

I guess we started at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton although Thomas and I weren’t playing together there, we did a couple of shows and Thomas did a couple of shows. That was the point where we were getting our heads around being on the road. Then we just piled around the country, we’ve kind of gone around the country twice because we went up to Glasgow and back down and then we’ve come up to the Midlands and after Wolverhampton tonight we’re going to Leeds tomorrow, so we’re going that far up and then back down again. I think we’re finishing off in Portsmouth but that’s just going to be me solo with Tom. And after that we’re both going our separate ways and doing the Festivals so it’s been a good tour. It’s been one of those complicated tours where you don’t just go away and stay away and do a massive long drive, we’ve been going all over the place and coming home and doing bits and bobs, so it’s messy but fun.

A little birdy tells me that you’re involved in community radio yourself.

Oh yeah I am, there’s a really good community station in Brentwood in Essex called Phoenix FM and they run out of a shopping center and they’ve got a custom built funded studio, it’s more commercially orientated than this one, it’s not as nice to chill out in as this one, it doesn’t have as much brandy… but it’s a very nice place and Steve Davis the snooker player does a show and I was doing Saturday afternoons.

Guys thanks very much for taking time out on Tinternet Radio and all the best for the tour and the festivals and your websites and the music, brilliant, thanks indeed for taking time out right here at Tinternet Radio towers.