Black Tambourines Interview: On Their Sound, Touring and Revolution

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black tambourines interview

A striking torrent of scuzzy, psych-tinged surf-rock, The Black Tambourines released their self-titled debut album in 2013. Touring relentlessly, the band have spent the past two years peddling their high-energy, low-fi offerings supporting acts such as The Fall and Jesus and Mary Chain. This Cornish foursome are known for being able to put on a first-rate show, Overblown caught up with them before one to find out more..

Describe your sound in one word each?

Sam (vocals, guitar): Chill-wave, I think genre-wise it’s the best sounding..

Jake (vocals, bass): Rock

Jim (drums): Art-rock

Josh (guitar, vocals): Art-wave

So you guys are from Cornwall, how did you come together?

Jim: We all me at college, Truro college.

Sam: We were studying the same things. We all also did a foundation in Falmouth after college, which was good. It was good for us- not for the school.

How has coming from Cornwall influenced you?

Jim: There’s never really been a music scene in Cornwall, it meant we could grow without being influenced by a lot of other things going on. In London there’s loads of venues, there’s loads of bands. In Cornwall there’s no venues, there were no real bands.

Sam: So we kind of grew in isolation, maybe it added a bit of originality.

Jake: It’s such a long way to go to play with other bands that you develop your own style.

Jim: It’s meant that we’ve had to tour a lot. When you start touring more you’re playing longer so we’re definitely a live band rather than a studio one.

You’ve toured with bands such as The Fall and Jesus and Mary Chain. If you could tour with anyone who would you choose? Dead or alive..

Sam: The Stones would be pretty good because they have jets and lounges and stuff they take with them..

Jake: That would be pretty stadium though wouldn’t it?

Sam: We’d sound probably so shit in a stadium.. maybe the Ramones, probably the Ramones.

You’re really on the road a lot, what’s your best tour story?

Josh: We were talking about this on the way up. Our soundman came on tour with us, we were playing a festival and we lost him for hours and hours..

Sam: We found him in a portaloo. He had fallen asleep while using the toilet. We don’t know how long he’d been in there. When we found him he had no shirt, he had given it away to someone. He stopped touring with us quite as much after that.. Mostly it’s a lot of the same. We went to Amsterdam recently, our van got broken into which has never happened before, really smashed. We were all so stoned we couldn’t deal with it. It was instantly funny.

So what’s been playing in the van?

Sam: A lot of Off!

Jake: I listen to a lot of David Bowie. The last current rock album I enjoyed was probably the Total Control album. I really liked that, a great record.

Josh: I pretty much only listen to hip-hop I don’t really listen to anything else.

Sam: We listened to the Madlib Freddie Gibbs album on the way here which came out last year, really good.

Jake: We really like Krautrock, we listen to Can a lot. Pretty much on repeat.

Sam: The CDs scratched so we can’t listen to it in the van anymore..

Jake: I burnt Tago Maga like four times and it always scratches in the same place, it’s a curse.

You take a DIY approach to things, is that a conscious decision?

Jim: Once again I think it’s probably because we live in Cornwall. We never had much of a choice..

Jake: Doing it from scratch ourselves, we started without knowing anything. It means we can build each time, get better. Our albums can sound better each time as we get better at doing it.

Jim: We tend to know what we want. We may as well try and do it ourselves rather than having to explain to someone.

You recently played at the Big Green Party festival. Damon Albarn recently criticised the “selfie generation” saying that bands today aren’t political enough.. any thoughts on that?

Jake: Probably not to be honest.. we’re not a political band. We talk about politics but it doesn’t really enter our music or writing songs at all.

Sam: I worry that if I write a political song then it’s instantly going to date it and it’s never going to feel relevant maybe even a year down the line. I want our songs to be relevant for as long as possible. But I like the idea of documenting something ..

If you had power for a day, what laws would you pass?

Sam: I’d just leave it to just completely rot and disintegrate and be complete anarchy, to start again. So yeah we’d start again, a revolution!

So what’s next for the band?

Josh: We’ve got an album coming out in August. Tour forever hopefully.

We’ll do some more recording and then maybe start working on a new record because the one we’ve got coming out has actually been around for a while now it just hasn’t come out. We’re on our way to make a new one.

Jake: Tour. Write. Record, just the same as we’ve always done, it’s all good.

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