October 22, 2014 at 15:14 #7275
The band has always taken a certain aesthetic with its releases (hand stamped/colored sleeves, beautiful artwork/paper stock, limited edition releases, etc.). With the looming digital revolution, how do you see future releases fitting in with both keeping the band’s view and the way music is being delivered digitally?
Stuart Staples: I have felt for a long time that the only future for a physical product is to make them desirable artifacts. I think there will always be people who want to own “real stuff” and will appreciate the effort and care gone into making them. I like to see a future with great quality digital files hand in hand with a vinyl package (or something else we want to make?) which includes those files.
On the ticket for the Copenhagen show (at least) there was a photograph of the band that I was informed by the girl who sold merchandise, was taken by Neil, I think, and that there were all these Polaroids hanging around the tour bus. Does visual art and the elements related to photography inspire your music or vice versa?
Stuart: I think we all have a different relationship with images towards our music. With Neil his photography is another side of him, becoming increasingly important – we must find an outlet for it! I live with a painter, who is also my biggest critic, this relationship has gradually changed the way I think about music.
How do you choose which songs are going to be played in during a tour or gig? How does this choice change once the gig has started?
Stuart: Everyone has songs they feel like playing, we throw them in at rehearsal and see what works. Over a tour other ideas for songs come up and we try them out in soundchecks. People can have a quiet energy to push for playing a song – Kittser was a driving force for the resurgence of “Tyed” recently, similarly Earl Harvin with “A night in”.
During a concert I often change songs around, go with the feeling of a moment. I suppose my ideal is just to decide on a few songs to get us going and then decide as we go along. But with so many instrument changes for everyone, that would be pretty tough on them.
David Boulter: Obviously we usually have a new album released, which we generally try to play as much from as possible. We try to fit older songs in around those, to make a balance and for it to have some sense and flow. Recently we’ve played songs we got bored of in the past, like “Bathtime” and “City sickness.” The old songs have to still mean something to us, especially Stuart. There’s no point him singing a song he doesn’t feel anymore.
We used to change sets during gigs a lot, this can be very confusing for 6 people, some still looking at the set list, not hearing Stuart change. I don’t mind if we feel something else. It can disturb the feeling on stage to change around too much.
Tindersticks concerts have an incredibly special atmosphere – performing live is obviously important to you. Which gigs have been significant for you over the years?
Stuart: So many, but most recently the London show was a real step; we really came together as a band. It was a significant concert; not just on this tour or album, but on the whole rebuilding journey we have been on for a long time.
David: Many, but my memory for them is terrible. The first show in Portugal, we felt like The Beatles in A Hard Days Night (in our own very small way), and again, the first show at the Coliseum in Lisbon was amazing. The first shows in Greece and at Lycabettus Theatre in Athens were special. Somerset House in London. Repre Klub in Praha. The first European tour. Albert Hall in London. I suppose the first time anywhere always adds excitement for us, lots of great memories from everywhere. The first few American trips were…a trip!
Quite often we’d drink the rider before we played. That’s why my memory is blurred.
In terms of significance, each step has something. The first proper sold out show we did in London, Stuart fell over from too much Whisky and Mark missed a song and played one song ahead of us the whole gig.
When we started to play proper concert halls was important. I’d never really heard Stuart sing till then, it’s different in the studio.
What would be an ideal concert for the Tindersticks at the present time? (apart from a quiet audience..!). What is the purpose of performing live for the Tindersticks?
Stuart: You never know an ideal concert until you have just played it. If you set it up, it’s always a disappointment. I’ve learned to take it as it comes.
I don’t really care if an audience aren’t quiet. I like to think about people coming to see us for a night out, I want them to feel relaxed. If you can pull people into what you are doing that is much more rewarding than the loudest applause. The show in Eindhoven was an example of extreme circumstance and not to do with people who wanted to come and experience the music.
Playing a concert is the only time we can feel a direct connection with people. It is the hardest but most rewarding part of what we do; it gives us a place in the world.
David: It varies. The show we walked off. We wouldn’t have done that 10 years ago, or maybe a week later. But it was a turning point in our strength at that time. We seemed to grow after it. I’d love to play Albert Hall again. We’ve basically booked the gigs we wanted and are enjoying most of them. And it’s important to have variation.
Is there any occasion, during a gig, where you felt so excited with the music and the atmosphere, that you felt like crying?
Stuart: I suppose with playing our music in a concert, I look to escape reality and connect with the songs and what made me write them. With so many ghosts in them, sometimes it is hard not to.
David: Only when it was completely shit!
Does it ever feel odd singing the duets on your own – can’t you reorganize the band to get a female drummer or something to give you a hand?
Stuart: It’s how those songs were written and rehearsed, so maybe weirder for you than us.
What do you see when you close your eyes when you’re on stage?
Stuart: That’s a complicated answer – and even vague in my own mind…but mostly just darkness.
Will there be a North American tour this year?
Stuart: I don’t think so, but we are working on something not too far away.
David: Maybe next year.
Will there be reissues of your albums on vinyl?
Stuart: Believe me, we are working on it!
David: It’s something we’re talking of.
After a solid tradition of unexpected (David Bowie, Pavement, Four Tops, Otis Redding, Psychic TV, Odyssey, Tom Waits, Lee Hazlewood , Townes Van Zandt, R Dean Taylor…) and mostly sublime covers, what do you think about making a complete covers album?
Stuart: I think it’s a good idea, though whether we can ignore our own new songs for long enough to make a covers album is another question.
David: Again, it’s something we’re talking about. Maybe soon.
We’ve got “Vertrauen II” and “Vertrauen III”—where’s the first one?
David: On a piece of 2” tape somewhere. I can’t remember what it was like. Short I think, an introduction that never got used.
Will there be a release of the recent soundtrack material. As there is quite a lot of it, maybe the best option would be a compilation similar to Nick Cave’s White Lunar?
Stuart: I don’t know about a compilation, but we are looking at ways to release the soundtracks next year.
David: Yes. And we’re planning something special with the soundtracks. Hopefully in the next year.
To add to the unreleased stuff: Will the ICA box that was rumored (and obviously recorded) ever see the light of day, or should I just move on with my life?
Stuart: You should definitely move on with your life – then one day you might have a nice surprise.
David: I haven’t listened to it all since we did it. It’s something we should do and put it on the website. There’s no plan, but it’s in our in tray.
What made you record a French version of “No More Affairs,” and why haven’t you done another song in French yet?
Stuart: I have developed too much respect for the French language and pronunciation.
David: It was a good idea at the time. We thought about it for “All The Love” (hear Thomas Belhom’s version). Thomas sang it so well, it stopped there.
At least on the phorum, Falling Down A Mountain has caused more controversy than any previous albums, including Stuart’s solo albums. What’s your reaction to this?
Stuart: We have never tried to second guess what people want or would like from us. An idea comes up, we get excited about it and strive to capture it in a recording. It has always been the same. Yes, when we were working on Falling Down A Mountain we sometimes found ourselves in unknown places, but at the same time that was an exhilarating feeling.
Sometimes, if the desire and energy are there, you just have to make something and figure it out afterwards. This was the case with FDAM, it would have been damaging for us to have stroked our chins for a year thinking about it. I think, fundamentally, that this album breaks down barriers for us, shifts our perspective.
Can you elaborate on the Tindersticks direction post-FDAM; where do you perceive the band to go from here? Do you anticipate further Staples solo albums?
Stuart: At this moment in time I am feeling our band starting to become strong, there is an air of possibilities. If this carries on, anything can happen, I can feel it becoming cohesive in many ways.
David: We got the funk. Let’s see what happens.
Was the resurrection of the Tindersticks name mainly a commercial decision? Given that almost all writing credits are with Stuart – how was the creative process different on songs that ended up on Hungry Saw and FDAM compared to those on Leaving Songs?
Stuart: With Leaving Songs, I felt alone and responsible for every note, every decision. The way the band works is a different world. If you want a song to have a chance of coming alive you have to, at some point, give it up to the room and see what happens. I really missed that, ideas coming from all directions. I enjoyed making the solo albums, but I never felt like I was where I belonged as a way of working.
I cannot say that it doesn’t have commercial advantages, but if that was the reason for getting back together it would have been short-lived and stale. Really, it is still just survival, but with higher production values.
Regarding the writing credits, you could turn that question around and ask how the writing process is different from, say, the first 3 albums to the last 2. The answer is that they are exactly the same but the writing credits on the last 2 are labelled in a more honest way.
On the first 3 albums did we all write the songs, produce and do the artwork? This was more of a statement of what our group was about, the reality was far from that. In there are songs that people wrote completely: David – “My sister”, Dickon – “El Diablo”, myself – “she’s gone”, “sleepy song”, “tiny tears”, for example. Everyone, to a greater or lesser degree, was involved in the arrangements and yes, a few of the songs were written in a more collaborative way.
But does not take anything away from the great ideas everyone in the band brought, and is bringing, to the songs.
Songwriting is a personal, intimate thing. Arrangements are a free for all.
David: I had a fairly big writing input on The Hungry Saw. I had ideas for Falling Down A Mountain which didn’t make it. Anyone can put into tindersticks. It was important for Stuart to make his own music for a while.
To me, Lucky Dog Recordings, Stuart’s first, was very much about him. I stepped into that, I’m very proud of my input on ‘Marseilles Sunshine’ especially. But it was all Stuart’s songs, his musical ideas. The same with ‘Leaving Songs’ but the process of making that album, playing the songs, adding to it, playing it live, felt very much like a tindersticks album to me. That’s a reason I felt it was time to call it tindersticks again. Also, I needed space for me. Tindersticks was and is a massive part of my life.
And we’d become a band again touring ‘Leaving Songs’. There was an exciting space to move into. And it was right for it to be tindersticks space.
What are your relationships like with Dickon, Mark, and Al, now?
Stuart: They all live very fondly in my mind, I miss them all for different reasons. Because the social side of what we did revolved around playing the music, we didn’t have a framework to get together outside of that – and we all live in very different places. I look forward to the next time I see them.
David: We see Al now and then. I should see more of Mark. But we all live in different places now. It’s hard. I’ve known Mark since I was 18. I love him deeply. Al too. I haven’t seen Dickon since we played at the Barbican 2006.
I miss them all. But it was something that had to happen. The only out come could be tindersticks as it is now or no tindersticks. And I’m enjoying myself, sorry for being selfish. Maybe one day I’ll be able to enjoy playing with Al, Mark and Dickon. It’s impossible to go back though.
Do you sometimes find yourself humming or whistling your own songs, like when you’re mooching round the kitchen, whisking up your eggs? If yes, which is the last one you remember?
Stuart: That is how I write, so I am always singing, humming, but usually an idea or song that is yet to be resolved.
For each member: what is your favourite instrument or piece of musical equipment?
Stuart: I have a deep love for my Guild Starfire electric guitar, up until recently the only one I have ever owned, or wanted to own.
David: I get very attached to tambourines. I’ve got a Hofner bass I’m very fond of. Stuart has my favourite instruments, the Salvation Army harmonium and the vibes.
With three songs, Tindersticks songs appear more often in the show The Sopranos than any other artist. How did this connection come to be?
Stuart: We actually turned down the first request, but the producers went and asked our US publisher instead. We seemed to be inundated with requests for usage at the time, there was so much shit, it was hard to distinguish. Anyway people tell me it’s good and I have never had so many excited phone calls from friends.
David: Someone out there likes us.
Are you disappointed that few people cover the songs? The ballads in particular are crying out to be made hits. How would a Robbie Williams version of Factory Girls, for example, appeal?
Stuart: I always had Robbie down for “Another night in”, George [Michael] for “Sweet release”.
David: Yes. “Another Night In” would be a great one. Robbie could do a whole album of our songs.
Do you still have the suits from the cover of Tindersticks II?
David: I do. I wore the jacket in the ‘Black Smoke’ promo clip and during the Portugese shows earlier this year.
Do you get many offers from bands like Hurleurs, asking for a guest singer or duets? “The Other Side Of Town” with Les Hurleurs was well worth having.
Stuart: I have been dipping my toe in the water recently with collaborations, seeing how it feels…an experiment. I am not sure at the moment, it sucks so much creative time, though I have met some great people.
Imagine that a guy from NASA calls and asks you to choose 3 Tindersticks songs to put it in a record that would represent our planet´s best and put it in a space ship to other planets out there…which Tindersticks songs would you choose for that record?
Stuart: If I was selecting the planet’s best, our songs might not make it… “The organist entertains”, “My oblivion”, “My Sister” would sound good rattling around out there.
David: At the moment, A Night In (re-recorded), Factory Girls and The Organist Entertains.
What question do you wish people would stop asking you?
Stuart: Any question that assumes we have control and choices about the music we make.October 22, 2014 at 15:14 #15075
Moving these up so they don’t get lost.October 22, 2014 at 16:53 #15076
Thanks for tr-posting 🙂January 23, 2015 at 18:25 #15077
Nathan, you you have also the Q&A from 2001 anywhere saved from the old phorum … just stumbled on a print-out of this in my little newspaper cut-out archive ?!January 27, 2015 at 00:19 #15078
I don’t remember that interview, but then again I can barely remember last week. It would be great to see it though. I have a couple of questions for the next round, if there is one, but maybe they’ve already been answered 🙂January 27, 2015 at 08:42 #15079
I don’t remember that interview, but then again I can barely remember last week. It would be great to see it though. I have a couple of questions for the next round, if there is one, but maybe they’ve already been answered 🙂
Dickon & David did it on early 2001 before the botanique shows & Can Our Love Release on playlouder as online/interview chat … i’ve scanned the print-outs (17 pages, big letter size printed) and sent it to nathan … give him some time to OCR these.January 27, 2015 at 15:02 #15080
Thanks, Arthur, got them.
Dan, yes, there are plans for another one. A couple things I owe them first…February 24, 2015 at 16:23 #15081
the “possesion immédiate” french journal interview with Stuart (around 05-2014) answers some more FAQ questions – a great piece … i am not sure if it was mentioned here also … therefore i open a separate post about it too.
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