Sea Monsters 2 CD / Tyrannosaurus Dead interview

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.

Billy Lowe, lead singer of Tyrannosaurus Dead

Billy Lowe, lead singer of Tyrannosaurus Dead

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…”

On gigs:

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.

Tyrannosaurus Dead at Sea Monsters 2

On 1992:

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.

On accents:

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

Rob’s Sea Monsters Diary, part 3 25th January 2012

A quick round up of Day 2 of Sea Monsters 2 then. Where yesterday was folk with a twist, today was very much an indie day.

Proceedings were kicked off by Tyrannosaurus Dead. The blurb in the program said Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth, but my ears heard The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, who in the past few years have done a tremendous job of distilling so many of the great guitar indie bands of the past twenty five years. This is by no means a criticism, and I thoroughly enjoyed their set, even if I was a little distracted by the singers visual similarity to a young Buddy Holly. Or maybe he’s just wearing hipster glasses and I’m now old.

Tyrannosaurus Dead

The second band of the night were Soft Arrows – sonically, they’re a rockier version of shoegaze, but the setup of the band was akin to the White Stripes – just drums and guitar. Either they were trying to be arty, or they hate photographers, because the only light on stage came from a single light bulb at the guitarists feet. They’re going to have to try harder than that for me to not get the shot I want!

Soft Arrows

Then we had kraut rockers Cinemascopes, who were fantastic. There’s not nearly enough krautrock around in my opinion, so it’s good to see another Brighton krautrock band, who aren’t treading the same steps as Fujiya & Miyagi. What elevated them about most groups who pick up guitars and make motorik music was the guy to the left of the stage, who spent most of the set kneeling down doing interesting things with loops and samples who defied the male dress code of the evening (skinny jeans, smart shoes, and either a check shirt or a t-shirt bought from M&S) with his hoody and baggy jeans.

Cinemascopes

Last band of the night were Fear of Men who while they weren’t doing anything especially different to any of the other bands of the night, did so effortlessly and sounding amazing. There was something about the way it all came together – how good the guitar sounded, how much of a better front person Jess was than those leading the other bands, how much more accomplished the songs were, which proved why Fear of Men were the worth headliners of the night.

Fear of Men

Sea Monsters 2 preview

So, I had this grand plan to do a write up about what I was looking forward to at Sea Monsters 2 in the week leading up to the gigs. But then I went to a gig last Sunday night, which I wrote up on Monday night. And then I went to a gig on Tuesday (which wasn’t one for the blog). And then Wednesday I went and interviewed the Repeat Prescriptions. Last night I thought it was about time I spent some quality time with my girlfriend, so now here we are on Friday, with the gigs starting on Monday with nothing written.

Thankfully, One Inch Badge, who are putting on the gigs, have done pretty much what I intended to do, and have written up some highlights of some of the twenty three (!!!) bands playing next week.

Personally, I’m looking forward to Us Bear Baby Bones, who I saw supporting Laetitia Sadier last week at the Green Door Store, Black Black Hills, who headlined the Source New Music night a few months ago at the Pavilion Theatre, and Restlesslist, who I haven’t caught live yet but are playing tonight at the Green Door Store.

I don’t quite know how I’m going to have time to fit in time for an update on every gig next week, but keep an eye on the blog, and maybe I’ll find the time to get a little something up.

Here’s a link to the Sea Monsters section of the One Inch Badge website, and here are the links to the band previews they’ve posted so far:

Sons of Noel & Adrian
Fear of Men
I’m Being Good
Munich
Restlesslist
Tall Ships
Robert Stillman
Cinemascopes
Negative Pegasus
Black Black Hills
Us Bear Baby Bones
Heliopause

Monday 23rd January 2012
Sons of Noel & Adrian
Robert Stillman
Heliopause

Tuesday 24th January 2012
Fear of Men
Cinemascopes
Soft Arrows
Tyrannosaurus Dead

Wednesday 25th January 2012
I’m Being Good
Negative Pegasus
Plague Sermon
Sea Bastard

Thursday 26th January 2012
Restlesslist
Nullifier
Speak Galactic
DA-10

Friday 27th January 2012
Munich
Black Black Hills
Jumping Ships
Twin Brother

Saturday 28th January 2012
Tall Ships
Us Baby Bear Bones
Squadron Leaders
Physics House Band