I went to a cocktail bar in Shoreditch to talk to the delightful members of This Town Needs Guns prior to the launch show of their newest full-length, 220.127.116.11.0. Whilst professionally sipping over glasses of Coke, they had the following to say…
It’s great to see you guys back in London. Was there any reason in choosing to have the album launch at the Old Blue Last?
Henry Tremain: Well we decided we wanted to do a launch show pretty late in the day, and we got in contact with our friend Haruna who is a wonderful promoter. We asked her if she was up for putting a show on, and I think it was her suggestion to do the Old Blue. But personally, having been a Londoner, I really appreciate the Old Blue just for the fact that they have cheap and often free shows on, which in London is pretty rare.
Seeing as the new album comes out tomorrow, it makes sense to talk about that. I was wondering if you could outline when and how the new material started coming about?
Tim Collis: It’s been quite a long process in some ways. The ideas for some of the songs, and certain sections of songs came up to about three years ago. But we do have some stuff that was written more recently, like last year just before recording the album, and some of it during recording the album. We’d be experimenting and playing with stuff as we were in the studio.
Henry: That was the most fun really, most of the inbetween tracks on the album were quite often an idea Tim would have, that was no more than some chords or a riff, and we built it up in the studio together and that collaborative process with Ed Rose (Producer) was thoroughly enjoyable. I think that’s when he enjoyed the session the most as well, getting to be creative himself rather than simply managing the mechanical process of recording pre-written songs.
Having listened to it through a few times, do you think it’s fair to say that it’s perhaps more varied and eclectic than previous works?
Chris Collis: Yeah I think we tried to do that, because some of the criticism for Animals was that it all sounded like the same kind of song. So we wanted to make it an album that went on a… not a journey, that sounds really cheesy…
Henry: It took you on a musical trip to another dimension!
Chris: But actually did something, so we’d hope that people listened to it in the order that it’s in.
Tim: Yeah we released a flock of herons live in the studio.
Henry: Yes, it’s very difficult to pick up, but if your ears are trained enough you can just about hear the flapping!
Well I was going to ask, if you did anything radically different this time round?
Chris: With Animals we did the whole thing over about four weekends, where as with this we had a full block of three weeks. I also think we had a much better idea of what we were trying to achieve, and we understood what our sound was a lot better than we did when recording Animals.
Tim: I think with Animals we actually had very clear ideas because the songs were somehow simpler, in regards to instrumentation anyway. So we had songs that were written and rehearsed, ‘let’s just go record them like this’ kind of thing. So what was different this time round was going in and with some of the stuff, as Henry was saying, just having a riff or one idea that we developed while we were there. Henry’s done a lot of recording in different bands before that, so I don’t how he found it…
Henry: It was incredibly different; apart from anything else, it was a lot more serious than anything I’d done in the past. We were flying Ed Rose out from America and he’s one of my production heroes, so I had soiled my pants well and truly before going into the studio. Which was awkward… Wow, they are really cranking the tunes in here tonight!
Do you think that your music’s principally optimistic?
Tim: It depends who you are really, you can listen to a sad song with sad lyrics that is most definitely sad and yet find yourself feeling strangely uplifted by it. In this album there’s certainly some moodier bits of instrumentation, perhaps darker than the pop-yness of Animals, but for me they’re not negative or linked to an upsetting experience.
Chris: People will always relate differently to the same song, which is kind of what we want I think.
Tim: Also, if a band has a sad song and it’s a song everyone can relate to, that experience in itself can be optimistic and uplifting.
Chris: We’ve had people write to us in the past and tell us that our music’s helped them through some really difficult times, and to know that is incredible.
Henry: It’s interesting because when you’re writing music you’re not really thinking about the function of it, you’re just interested in the artistic nature of it, so to hear afterwards how people have been influenced by it is wonderful.
Tim: I know I’ve felt quite pessimistic and saddened listening to chart music that is definitely supposed to be clearly uplifting party music.
Stu left in 2011, and you brought Henry in, and then Jamie left soon after then, both to fulfil other life commitments. Looking back over that, have you yourselves at points found it difficult to continually make the sacrifices you have to make?
Tim: Actually, they were both physically removed from the band, bad guys. No not really, the sacrifices go with the territory really. If one person in a band doesn’t really want to do it anymore, it is going to effect the other people, but it shouldn’t necessarily stop them from carrying on. I think that’s how we felt when Jamie was leaving, it never felt ‘how are we going to do this anymore?’ it was just ‘okay, how are we going to carrying on doing this, because we want to do it’.
You guys have had quite a lot of success in far flung places like Australia and Asia. Do you think there’s a reason for that?
Henry: In the nineties they discovered this thing called the internets! Without the internet, no one would have really heard of us. Well there are always these really interesting small scenes where really obscure bands from different places get known, but only in small cliques. But with the internet, it’s kind of expanded those cliques.
But it seems that you guys have been particularly successful elsewhere, more than a lot of other British bands…
Chris: It might just be word of mouth, we’ve relied on that really heavily.
Henry: The main principle that we think about when it comes to musical promotion, is that it’s not important to the band, and what the band should do is focus on writing good music, so that the quality of the art will help it spread naturally. Hopefully the reason we’ve been so lucky as a band is because people have enjoyed the music, not because we’ve shoved it in their faces.
Plans for the rest of the year?
Henry: Sit back, relax and watch the money roll in! No, we’re off to do a little tour quite soon, our good friend Dean’s booked us a tour round Germany, and parts of Scandinavia as well. After that we hope to spend some time doing some writing, and then we go to America to do a tour with our label mates Tera Melos, who are incredible so we’re stoked about that… Then after that we’re breaking the band up yeah?
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.