Tunng have a new album out called …And Then We Saw Land which band member Mike Lindsay uses his friend’s description to evoke: ‘Epic folk disco brass magnificent’.“It’s a much bigger record in terms of production and choruses than we have done before,” he tells Anaya Latter.
The departure of Sam Gendels from the band has changed their songwriting process, and the nature of the band itself. “The main obvious difference is that it’s very different vocally. Becky (Jacobs) has stepped forward as have I and that of course gives Tunng a new flavour, and a dynamic that was less present than before, although it was always present in our live shows. Sam is a genius songwriter, so it left us with a heavy benchmark… but I feel that only served to make us work harder on our songs.”
Tunng’s songwriting process is largely collaborative between the five members. Lindsay said “For me I like to write on guitar, generally playing around with the same riff or wonky melody for ages, then start to record that and try different rhythms with it. Lyrics come after that, then it’s a building process in the studio. Trying out ideas and then getting rid of them and trying new ones. The studio is essential for writing music.”
When asked to describe some funny or unusual stories from Tunng’s touring experiences, Lindsay has a swathe of vivid images to report:
– Sleeping on roundabouts in Barcelona
– Emergency hospital stop in the mountains of Switzerland to cure Ashley’s dry martini habit
– The worst rock n roll groupie night ever involving drinking tea and watching 30s movies in Manchester
– The classic festival moment involving five sluts and a bag of carrots… to this last story he admits “can’t go into details I’m afraid”
Sounds like Tunng’s live shows are not to be missed, and Lindsay’s description of their performance suggests as much. “Six people on a stage…with sunburns and smiles, completely elated to be out of the English cold grey and into the beautiful world of Oz – and some very powerful epic folk disco with just perhaps a one minute guitar solo that will make you remember why you once loved 80’s metal… or not.”
The epic folk disco diversity of Lindsay’s own music is reflected in the array of artists that he admits he keeps coming back to; musicians like Led Zeppelin, Sam Amidon, English harpist and singer songwriter Serafina Steer, Billie Holiday, Tinariwen (a fluctuating group of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara region) and Madlib. The diversity of this list implies a broad and interesting taste in music that is reflected in Tunng’s output.
When it comes to Tunng’s sound and the label ‘folk’, which is the most common of genres attributed to Tunng, Lindsay says “There has been a massive resurgeance in folk music in the last 5 years for sure. I mean it’s impossible to ignore. It’s on every TV advert in the UK. When Tunng first started I was more influenced by electronic music like Isan and Benge, but I was also really getting into the 60s British folk revival music, like Pentangle and Davy Graham – that guitar style and traditional feel was a real influence, and I guess it felt natural to put the two together.”
Tunng’s unique and striking album artwork is done by Vanessa da Silva a designer/illustrator from Sao Paulo, and Lindsay’s ex girlfriend. “I think (she) sees something in our music that she really relates to and can visualise so perfectly… so as long as there is Tunng, the artwork will be by Vanessa… I hope”
As our interview draws to a close, Lindsay reveals that not buying the best Mexican hat and cloak combo known to man in a proper cowboy shop in Italy is one regret that he can’t seem to shake; and that going to live in a cabin in Iceland for two months is a decision he has made but is yet to put into practice.
Oh, and if you were wondering about his favourite YouTube clip at the moment, check this out – it’s pretty darn hilarious. See Tunng play live at the Playground Weekender Festival at Wiseman’s Bay New South Wales on Thursday 17th February, in Sydney at the Oxford Art Factory on Saturday 19th of Feb or in Melbourne at the East Brunswick Club on Tuesday 22nd of Feb.