One Inch Badge, who put on the recent Sea Monsters gigs at the Prince Albert, have put out a cd with one track from every band who played at the festival. For now, you can buy it from their web shop here or from Resident or Rounder in town for a mere five pounds. It gets an international release on 9th April. If you want a listen first, here’s the soundcloud widget. But why not just buy it. It’s only a fiver! You can’t go wrong spending a fiver on a cd. That’s less than two pints!
Rather than do a review of the CD, since I reviewed every gig of the festival (and since you can listen for yourself), I decided to catch up with one of the bands to talk about things from their perspective. On a wintry January Saturday lunchtime, I caught up with Billy Lowe and Tom Northam from Tyrannosaurus Dead, who played on tuesday night’s gig and whose track 1992 is on the cd, to talk about Brighton, Gigs, 1992, and not singing in American accents.
On the Brighton connection:
BL: I went to Sussex University and had the best time. Tom and I are both from Poole in Dorset, and have known each other since we were about ten or maybe even younger. I lived here for years, I was in different bands, but lack of opportunity for work means I live in London at the moment, but I’ll definitely move back at some point, we play here all the time. Everyone else in the band still lives in Brighton.
TN: Billy set the base up for us all living here. We had all our friends in Poole – Billy moved here to go to university, and then his brother moved down, half of our friends moved here, we made friends with all of Billy’s friends that he made at uni, and I’ve just gone back to uni last year at 25 to study maths at Sussex, and now all of the rest of our friends have followed me, so the whole Poole group has moved to Brighton now.
BL: I think the reason people like coming to Brighton is that it’s like a micro-city – you’ve got venues all close together, you’ve got a really nice fashion scene, really nice art scene, you can walk everywhere, you don’t have to get on a tube, you don’t have to get on a bus – that’s what I love about it – that you can go to Brighton Live, or Fringe Festival, or Great Escape, or anything like that and just walk to all of the different things. The only trouble is that after you’ve lived here for a few years, it’s impossible to walk around and maybe see people that you don’t want to see!
TN: I’m even seeing people now that I’ve known from other past lives – I lived in Southampton for three years and I see people about in Brighton and it’s like “I went to uni with you, I went to that pub with you…”
TN: We’ve been quite lucky, our crowd is getting bigger at the moment. We’ve started seeing in the last couple of gigs people coming along who aren’t just our friends, and people will come up to us after the gig and tell us we were really good. It’s good to get feedback like that because your friends are always going to tell you you’re really great aren’t they?
BL: Yeah, and you don’t necessarily like the same music as your friends. They’re supportive – when you first start out you have to draw on your friends so much to come along otherwise you’d never get off the ground. But it gets to a point where your friends have spent so much on going to gigs and they’re like “I’ve seen that set a couple of times now, I’m gonna leave it” and then of course you need to start getting other people in and luckily we’ve managed to do that.
RO: I guess Sea Monsters was really good for that because people would go because it’s Sea Monsters, or they’ll go because it’s Fear of Men and see you as well…
BL: I’ve seen Fear of Men before in London and I’ve always thought they were really good. But we’ve been really lucky with Sea Monsters, because they really plugged us and that definitely helps. When we came on we had a nice big crowd and I think that was probably because they said 1992 was a really good track.
RO: On Soundcloud, yours is the second most listened to track on there, after the Restlesslist track.
TN: Which is pretty mental really. Restlesslist are the first track on the cd, so everyone’s going to start listening from that point, then you scan down and I think it’s a bit of a snowball thing – people see “oh, they’ve got lots of hits, what’s that one?” and then more people click on us because we’ve got more hits.
BL: When there’s twenty odd tracks, you’re not going to sit and listen to twenty songs, so you look at what draws your eye, and possibly because they mentioned the track in the Source rather than just the band, people might have listened to it. I thought we would be right at the bottom of the cd, but just being next to Fear of Men, getting mentioned alongside them is great. The association we’ve got with Fear of Men is amazing – obviously they’re way ahead of us.
RO: How did you get to be on the bill at Sea Monsters?
TN: We launched our EP down at Fitzherberts – we hired out the top room, we got a couple of local bands, Two Jackals and Hockeysmith to play with us, put it on as a free night, and the One Inch Badge guys happened to be drinking downstairs. We packed it out, you couldn’t get in to the room we had upstairs at one point, and the rest is history.
BL: I was maybe nine years old, so I was probably learning maths in 1992…
TN: Same thing that I’m doing now!
RO: So where does 1992 come into things?
BL: When you get a bit older the time of stuff that happens that you like doesn’t quite correlate to where you are in your life, so we really like the Pixies and Nirvana, but when we were 9, we would have found it hard to relate to anything like that. It loses it’s place in time with your life. It’s also a reference to the way the music was changing at that time, not specifically 1992, but in the early 90s. In England, you had a hangover from the late 80s indie scene which had some of my favourite bands, and a little bit into the 90s American music was hitting it’s peak with grunge coming in, whereas in England we lost a lot of bands that I really liked and went into a new phase of Britpop which was after the high point of guitar music in this country. So the song’s saying that the end of something isn’t necessarily the best of it. I think that’s how British music was then, and I don’t think it’s ever truly recovered.
TN: Plus Waynes World was released in 1992!
BL: Years in songs always tend to sound quite good – 1979 by Smashing Pumpkins is one of my favourite songs ever. Melodically it works quite well to add a year into songs, and a year’s an easy thing to relate to because you know where you personally were in that year.
BL: When I first started, quite embarrassingly, because I like those American bands, I’d not sing in an American accent, but pronounce things a little bit more American, and it’s the wrong way to go. Belle & Sebastian and other Scottish bands, their delivery is really nice and their accent really comes through, and you can really hear what they’re talking about. Sometimes when an English person sings in an American accent, it’s a bit contrived, and it’s difficult to relate to it because if they’re singing in an American accent, are they really meaning what they’re singing about? So we really made an effort to sing in our own voices and because of that it sounds very English. Eleanor who also does vocals has a very English voice. Singing in your own accent is a lesson you have to learn. When you try and sing in any other way and you listen back, it’s embarrassing.
Tyrannosaurus Dead are playing at Late Night Lingerie on 24th February and are supporting Spotlight Kid on 2nd March, both at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, and are heading into the studio in April to record their debut album.
words and pictures by Rob Orchard