Get Down With Dave Adair
Get Down With Dave Adair!
Now then, populist pickers - another issue of trakMARX, another Dave Adair column! As usual, I’ve been out & about the nether regions to the north of our country in tireless search of exciting new concepts in popular sound. You know, gigging, shopping - interviewing prospective future heroes/heroines – that kind of thing!
As usual, I’ve written tons of witty & informative stuff to educate & entertain your brain again this issue – but most of it will doubtless end up on the ‘cutting room floor’ due to the Neanderthal aesthetic leanings of that twat Encoule. I do try to keep him on his toes, though – you know, submit the odd article or two that obviously has no place within the pages of tMx – just to see the incredulous look on his ugly face, mostly (though, obviously, being cyber based I never actually get to see said face – but you can tell it’s ugly by looking at the pictures on his myspace page. I’m not being ageist, or owt, but I hope that by the time I reach 44 I won’t have to hide behind pictures of me playing bass in a trilby taken when I were a lad!).
Anyway, without further ado, this issue I’m going to tell you all about The Tommys:
The Tommys - with support from The DethKats and Hooker (Night & Day Café, Manchester)
Garish musical adventure is matched only by the dress-sense-of-the-extravagant when it comes to attitudinal psychobilly/garage punk quintet, The DethKats. Technical gremlins may be having their Christmas party, but The DethKats use thrust and quirk to avoid them. Until a broken guitar string prevents the roving and authoritative vocalist, Death Moe, from influencing proceedings any further with her surety and provocation, that is. Well . . . for a little while, anyway, until a hastily borrowed guitar allows her to return to the fray.
The cocksure chemistry that obviously exists betwixt Baba and Death Moe spews forth, reaching a climax in ‘Homewrecker’. This lyrically resentful and musically errant little number gives the front pair the opportunity to engage in a little Queen Adreena-styled stage interaction. The cosmopolitan rock-out that is ‘Dragula’ encapsulates the eclectic spirit of this outfit and stuns onlookers into a state of intrigue. There’s a touch of the old surreptitious-feet-shuffling going – moving in to get a closer look - whilst retaining just a hint of wariness. Pink haired vixen Emily Echo hides behind the dramatic shenanigans of the front pair, working her bass drum like a shire horse to affect power and drive in a Fred Hell/Chad Smith vein. A technical-glitch-free set would be quite a proposition.
Power trio Hooker employ the lofty-femme-vocals of Zoe and her attendant abrasive guitar hooks to deposit their particular brand of outsider punk and raw rock on an unsuspecting stage. Their blend of sub 90-second punk/rock bullets and power-ballad-therapy-sessions add integrity and diversity to Hooker repertoire. A downtrodden Polly Harvey with a feistier shriek emerges during the grinding, bass-fired ‘Dirty Mess’ – a neat contrast to Zoe’s general downbeat, part-of-the-crowd persona. Hooker are all the more worthwhile because of this.
They say that touring changes bands. In the The Tommys’ case - just before another night of inhibition-releasing mayhem at the Sugar Mill, Stoke - it changed them to a three piece (singer Jess Bell having unceremoniously walked out of The Tommys!)!
There was never really any question as to what was going to happen next. Guitarist Stevie Shepperson can easily match the spunky gnarl and stunning presence of Bell - so when Shepperson takes control for ram-raiding-opening-rocker ‘You’re Not The One’ (driven with persistence and pulsation by drummer Fran Robinson) – it’s performed with such drive and release that the object of her frustration could well be standing in front of her. More importantly, the killer cut from the group’s demo has lost none of its gnarl or projection.
Stirring the crowd out of its slumber at every opportunity, the impromptu-front-lass is not going to easily surrender a role she is already becoming adeptly comfortable with. A Johnny- Rotten-strut is exhibited for ‘Set It Off’ - and it’s given even more oomph than normal tonight. The ripping nature of Roxy Saint (whatever happened to her?) is encapsulated in ‘Gagged and Bound’ and the lighter Debbie-Harry-touch of ‘Freakshow’ finally begins to wake a crowd caught in post-Christmas slumber. The downbeat ‘Wait In Line’ is one of the best indications as to why these three Crewe lasses will prosper. Such is the sheer energy and impact produced by the bass playing of Anna Naberrie, that the floor - and the bodies stood upon it - shudder like jelly on the Trans-Siberian Express. Proceedings draw to a close with the oldest song in their explosive artillery - ‘Fight’ - setting a reflective tone to close the set. Rock on The Tommys!
They’re Waiting In The Line To See The Tommys.
“It’s not about that they’re girls; they can fucking play!”
Stevie Shepperson, the blonde streetwise mouthpiece of Crewe-based rock engine, The Tommys, is spewing forth concerning the impression the group wish to leave upon those exposed to the force of their stage show. An alleyway in Crewe, situated between a nightclub and a cinema, leads to the retreat where the girls capture their eclectic brand of garage rock, post-grunge, old-school R&R and ripping indie onto tape for posterity. The trio recline on the available chairs/sofa, ready for anything, totally unfazed. The gals appear to have recovered from the swift departure of singer Jess Bell, smack bang in the middle of a long, reputation-enhancing tour. The remaining trio of Stevie (Gtr, vocals), percussionist Fran Robinson and bassist Anna Naberrie share a focus:
“We still wanna get rich!”
Stevie: “If you’re not 100% dedicated, it can be very difficult. You have to spend a long time away from your family! Jess just decided that it wasn’t for her anymore. By the end of the tour, we’d changed.”
Fran: “We have been tighter (post-Jess), both on and off-stage. We spend more social time together, whereas, before, we used to split up into two pairs a lot. We have had time to jam, but we have not written any new material as a three-piece yet.”
Prior to their recent tour, the last thing The Tommys did as a quartet was to record the aforementioned demos. One of the strongest songs - ‘You’re Not The One’ - has now been re-recorded with Stevie’s vocals - along with ‘Waiting In The Line’ & ‘Freakshow’.
Anna: “We think that the demo we’ve just recorded with Stevie’s vocals on it sounds different and we like it. I think she has a great voice. We now need to see what other people think of it.”
Fran: “Especially people who are not used to hearing Jess’ voice. A live CD has definitely been talked about, I think the live sound is very important to a band. Too many bands don’t really do anything when they play live.”
trakMARX: What about the immediate future?
Fran: “We’re happy to just keep gigging and stay away from the media circus. It is so easy to get caught up in all that. ”
Stevie: “They force bands don’t your throat these days, it’s more about markets and it’s a load of rubbish. If people start thrusting it down your throat then you get sick of it.”
trakMARX - You’ve been carrying ‘Gagged & Bound” around for a while – does it fit in with the newer stuff?
Stevie: “Yeah, it’s been in the pipeline for a long time, it is quite old – (but) we had a lot of time to do it in. Loads of ideas just came into one, really.”
Anna: “Some of the songs suited Jess’ style, obviously. We’re just growing - more and more every day - and we still want to sound pure - so that’s why some of the songs naturally sound different now.”
trakMARX - It’s exactly this kind of honesty and genuine warmth that’s helping build your fanbase!
Fran: “It really helps to have a following. Ours is in Stoke - our gigs at The Sugarmill are always packed - it’s great - and we play to 400 people there each time. We always tend to go there at the right time. The crowd in Glasgow are also good to us. We do notice that the further south we go, the tougher the crowd gets. They tend to watch more carefully, for some reason.”
trakMARX - Speaking of the live experience – with so many classic groups reforming right now – who would you like to see ‘do it one more time’?
Anna: “The Smashing Pumpkins.”
Fran: “Kiss, I think. Especially to see them in all of the make up.” (Kiss & Make Up – arf, arf – Ed.)
Stevie: “The Who”.
So, there you go – Smashing Pumpkins, Kiss & The Who – in a lo-fi stylee, obviously. Just the right credentials for a power trio!
Before we know it, it’s time for the girls to depart for Basingstoke to rip up the town with another one of their explosive live shows. Before they go I pose one more teezer for them:
trakMARX - Which of your songs best sums up your present mood?
Stevie: “ ‘Out Of My Head’. It is fast and pumping and, yeah, we are all out of our heads!”
Fran: “ ‘Freakshow’ - you go through that stage in life, coming out of the reality of ‘I know where I am in life’. The song is all about that, really.”
Anna: “All the songs mean different things to different people. That is good, I think.”
Dave Adair – tMx 28 – 01/07
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