Indieterria meets TommyandMary

Dear Readers,

Band logo

Since we are already in July and the days are longer, we will have a double (or maybe even a triple) portion of Indieterria this month. So much music to listen to and great bands to tell you about. This episode is all about Thomas and Mary Yaman, known professionally as TommyandMary.  This is our pleasure and privilege to introduce you dear readers to punk rock duo that is building themselves a cult following in London. Based in Brixton, they work hard, play even harder and have won their fans not only by the strength of their music, but also because of the affection and respect they show each other.

We have sat down with Tommy and Mary to speak about their new album, busking, being  independent artists and song writing.

Forget about Sid and Nancy, we have got better couple in town! And they rock!

The Angels of Brixton

The Angels of Brixton

You are described as British answer to The White Stripes. Like Jack and Meg White, you are married and until recently, you have played exclusively with each other. You also divide band duties in similar way as Mary plays drums whilst Tommy concentrates on guitars and vocals. Do you consider comparisons to The White Stripes to be a badge of honour, lazy journalism or perhaps you  just don’t care?

Tommy: I think people will always compare us to The White Stripes and many other duos. I personally don’t think we sound like The White Stripes at all. I grew up  when The Strokes, Kings of Leon and The Libertines and off course The White Stripes all came out at the same time. But Jack and Meg were never my cup of tea. Mary didn`t even know who they were until someone mentioned them to her while we were busking.

Can you remember the moment when you two decided to form a band together?

Tommy: Yes, very well. We were outside my old apartment where Mary and I lived for a while. The band I was in at the time and Mary joined had split. I wanted to play solo as I found it difficult to cope with all 5 personalities I had to play with at the time. And Mary thought it would be cool if we played just us two and carried on our musical journey together.

The fondness you show for each other is unparalleled on the indie scene. Band bio says “TommyandMary are one word because we are that close”. You wear matching attires (“I prefer the drummer” – Tommy, “Unavailable” – Mary) and then there is “Angels” – powerful love song  about yourselves released as a single. We have to say – it is incredible to witness such affection.

Mary posing in her signature “Unavailable” tee

Matching attires.

Tommy wearing his “I prefer the drummer” shirt

Mary: Music is a very sensitive and fragile form of art and the fact that we are married and are in a band together just makes it even more personal. We grow together as individuals and as musicians and the love that we have for each other makes everything seem possible. I hope it shows in our music!

Another thing that sets you apart from other acts is your working ethics. For the last two years you have combined regular gigs with extensive busking. It seems the life on an independent artist is pretty intensive.

Tommy: We’ve stopped busking for now. We couldn’t stand it anymore (laughs) but I think we learnt a lot from it. It built our confidence.

Your busking escapades quickly turned into a permanent residency at the Oxford Circus attracting hundreds of people each time you played. Can you tell us how does it feels to be playing on Britain’s busiest street?

Tommy: Busking gave us an opportunity to meet some amazing people from all over the world and acquire some professional contracts. Mary got sponsored by Underground and we both got sponsored by company called W.S.Studio. Not to mention that we had once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to record our latest album “Authority” at Rupert Cobb’s Gun Hill Studios with the AMAZING Gary Wallis. So I think the goods outweighs the amounts of times we were harassed by the public and judged for being beggars by some clothing companies that had no idea about our passion for performing and playing music.

Tommy at The 100 Club

Mary posing for the Underground brand

Is it safe to be a busker in London? And  a question that must follow the first one – is it profitable  in the times of everlasting rush and gripping austerity?

Tommy:  I think anything is profitable when your passion for something is bigger than the price. And  to be honest, no it isn’t safe. Especially when there is still a minority of crazy, ignorant people in the world and as a busker you are exposed to it.

Your regular gigs took you to some of capital`s most celebrated venues. Among many 100 Club, Nambucca, Camden Assembly and now 229. How is club circuit responding to independent acts?

Tommy: We’ve definitely been to some amazing venues like 100 Club and 93 Feet East. It gave us a chance to meet some bands and musicians that have been in the game for a while longer than us. It’s inspiring but also feels overwhelming.

Mary at The 100 Club

TommyandMary supported number of prolific artists, most recently The Telescopes. How do you recall that particular show?

Tommy: Having been on the same stage as some legendary acts, we both felt like we really had to step up and not let our ancestors down.

Mary, you are known for very technical and powerful style of drumming despite downsizing your kit to bare essentials. Something similar was practiced by Palmolive  (original sticks woman of the punk heroines The Slits). What inspired you to hit things for a living?

Mary:  I can’t agree with saying that my drumming is technical at all. In fact loads of drummers criticised me about the way I sit, hold sticks and set up my drum kit. But yeah, I prefer aggressive style of drumming as it allows me to feel the songs and it is just boring otherwise. Tommy suggested busking one day and I just went with it.

As a band`s chief tunesmith, you don’t shy from tacking contemporary topics such as corporate/precarious work (“My manager is a prick”), obsession with celebrities (“Rich acting Rich For The Poor”) or going though existential crisis (“Red”). Do you believe that it is important for artists to be socially and politically active?

Tommy: I believe if an artist is only writing about ego or their own spoilt opinions, he or she is avoiding the honesty that lays in each person’s heart. Whether this is political or not, the truth is that we are all in this journey together and being ignorant, self indulgent or judgmental isn’t something that I encourage. But being empathetic to both worlds, the ego and the selflessness give me an insight into what lays in-between inaction and people’s willingness to ensemble, and this is something worth writing about. Contradiction is something that is often reflected in my thoughts and actions and I want to learn more about psychological and philosophical aspects of writing. So I don’t think politics is really my strength.

The band is on their third independent release. “Authority” was debuted earlier this year and was recorded at Gun Hill Studios in London. It is a significant change in sound compared to “The Things we love” (2015) and “Smoke Break -Side A” (2016). Your songs are layered, elaborate even. Are you satisfied with this new direction?

Sleeve to debut release Together We Love

Smoke Break -Side A – collage and pins, this record is in our musical archives and is signed!

Authority – third release

Tommy:  For our  first album “Together We Love”, I had written all the songs and Mary didn’t have much of a say or creative input. But as we grew musically together, we began to think collaboratively on our sound and direction. Our experiences started to reflect in our music and we really started to learn more about our sound and what we wanted to write about.

“Authority” is accompanied by three promotional videos (“Angels”, “Authority”, “The Rich acting Rich For The Poor”) and an alternative DIY video to “The Rich…” directed by the band, a fan documentary and a video interview. That’s an enormous amount of work put into promoting the album. Do you enjoy collaborating with others?

Tommy:  We have made a lot of friends from our music and we absolutely love spending time with them. The DIY videos that we made are all about the collaboration that we can have with our friends and using their talents to make things happen. But also it is important for us to have a great time making something together.

We heard though a grapevine that you are planning to introduce a new guitarist  to the fold.

Tommy:  A lot of bands add members after a while to create a wider range of sounds. We decided that this isn’t the direction we want to take. We want to keep it as it is. We don’t want to change. Although we were thinking of  bringing a friend in for our next show  as he is an amazing guitarist and writer. I know for sure that he will be very successful with his music in the long run. But no, we won’t be adding another band member.

Random. Last. Question. If you could travel to the golden years of rock music with whom would you tour?

Tommy: The Clash did a lot of busking in their days. So I would have liked to play a few shows with them.  I think Mary’s drums would have been a huge factor in pushing boundaries in the late 70s (laughs). Or perhaps I could be in New York playing a few shows at CBGB`s with The Dead Boys, that would have been amazing, having been given the opportunity.

Mary: I would have played with The Rolling Stones and Queen.

TommyandMary: One Word

You can follow TommyandMary here:

https://www.tommyandmary.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/tommyandmary/
https://twitter.com/tommyandmary
https://www.instagram.com/tommyandmary_punkduo/

**** Update 28/07/2017****

Poster for the Absent Kelly indie night on 7th July 2017

TommyandMary played a very well received gig at 229 Venue in London on 7th July 2017 as part of Absent Kelly`s indie night series. So good was the night in fact, that they were given a rave review in Louder Than War magazine and  photographer Marcus Jamieson-Pond dedicated them a whole gallery on his website!

Louder Than War review in full, 16th July 2017

You can see the kick ass review online at Louder Than War (which happens to be this blog`s fav music mag!)

http://louderthanwar.com/absent-kelly-presents-bexatron-live-review/

And the image gallery can be found here:

https://www.tommy-and-mary-229.jampondphotography.com/album

 

See ya

Rita+Mal

****Update 03.09.2017****

Folks, we`d love to tell you to hang onto your seats, but you will be floored anyway, so find yourself a comfortable spot and listen up. Tommy and Mary had just finished headlining gig last night at The Cellar/The Finborough Arms in Kensington and were so generous to share with us a very cool collection of their concert posters. Exclusive for the blog! We are very lucky. Eye candy those posters are but also serve as a proof that the band played a string of cult venues in half a year: The 100 Club, Nambucca, 93 Feet East, Camden Assembly and The Cellar. All those years of playing and busking and persistence certainly paid off. Nothing builds a brand for a band like doing their own thing and pushing at the boundaries.

Poster for The 100 Club gig on 25.01.2017 while supporting legendary The Telescopes

Poster for the gig at Camden Assembly on 25th March 2017

Poster for gig at Nambucca on May 3rd 2017

Poster for the gig at 93 Feet East gig on 11.08.2017

Poster for a gig at The Cellar/ Finborough Arms in Kensington on 2nd September 2017

Another achievement of the band is even better than playing all the venues in the capital. Tommy and Mary debuted on BBC 6 Music on 18th August 2017 as part of 6 Music Recommends. Picked by the legendary DJ and broadcaster Steve Lamacq himself, they were hailed for being “nicely uncompromising” and  tacking a myriad of topics from having annoying housemates to precarious work.  If you don’t know who Lammo is, let us tell you this much – he is recognized as one of handful other DJs (with Mary Ann Hobbs and Jo Whitley) to fill the gap left by John Peel and is often regarded as a trend setter. Being on his show is a stamp of good quality and a sign that band is on the right way.

Personally what we found exciting is that Tommy and Mary`s Insecurities were played right after Paul Draper`s new single (yes, the man from Mansun!) and received the same amount of introduction on air.

Here is a screenshot of the BBC website

Screengrab from BBC 6 website

And here`s a (very) bad quality recording of the song and what Steve said:

https://vocaroo.com/i/s0bj1xgiKKAb

We hope you like it,

We are so excited for the band, we really are. Surely  more good things to come from them!

Laters,

Mal/Rita

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Indieterria meets Michael Knowles

We go political!

Michael Knowles blows a kiss towards audience at Drum and Pig pub/music venue on its final night before a temporary closure and management takeover. Worcester, February 25, 2017

Everything`s political as Skunk Anansie song goes. And May issue of Indieterria will be all that and even a bit philosophical.

We are steering back our ship to Worcester shores to introduce you to Michael Knowles – leader of The STDs and one of the most controversial figures in the Midlands. How politically incorrect is Mr Knowles? His new single is called “Theresa May is a cunt” and contains language so strong you may want to dig out your “Cop Killers” and “Straight Outta Comptons” out of the basement instead. We can see you rolling your eyes and ears dear readers. So we will ante up and tell you that besides being potty-mouthed, Michel Knowles has a voice of 4,5 octaves, a pitch perfect hearing and is a trained in music production.

Aha, controversial yet talented – now that is a hard mixture to swallow for some. It is much easier to dismiss musicians and artists as immature and looking for attention when  they are painted as  common nobodies. Much harder to do so when artists are seen as complex humans who have their strengths and exercise the right to freedom of speech.

The current world of pop music has been derived of controversial and outspoken characters to the point that you cant even hear songs on the radio that were in heavy rotation 20 years ago in the middle of the day. Try requesting Nine Inch Nails` Closer nowadays on the radio and see what they will play you.

Indie scene had always a place for counter culture and the obscene and we are happy to report that independent and unsigned artists are stepping in to fill the hole. Shame have fantastic “VISA Vulture” with its libelous video to match, The Blinders paint messages on their guitars and Michael Knowles and The STDs hammer the message nicely from our town.   You may see it as unnecessary and infantile – but we see it a form of balance. Music is broad enough to incorporate Little Mix and The STDs in all their respective popness and cockiness.

Fear not. The interview below is all nice and dandy and you may find out that controversial  figures can have a lot of cleaver things to say. We loved the passion Michael has for his musical heroes. So sit back and read on:

Michael Knowles performing live at Drum and Pig pub/music venue on its final night before a temporary closure and management takeover. Worcester, February 25, 2017

 

Michael Knowles – a stream of consciousness

Technology is a wonderful thing. For example, it allows you to interview artists even late at night from the comfort of your own office. You type the questions into instant messenger and wait for the answers to arrive. Piece of cake. On the downside, technology can`t replicate that old fashioned feeling of excitement that every music journalist feels when meeting a new and promising act in person. And you need to know Michael Knowles surely earned himself a name to be regarded as exciting and controversial in equal measures. He fronts a band called The STD`s, dresses like it`s 1980s and is known for performances that are politically incorrect yet hilariously funny. No journalist would pass  the opportunity to see what makes Michael tick and we are no exception.

This is what we have found out:

Tell us about the band. How many of you and how did you start?

There were only three of us to start with: Steve Church, Dean Thomas Carter and myself. Steve and I had worked together in the past on an album I never released. Dean and I had played together in the house band of The Flag in Worcester (back then known as The Tap). One day we went to this kid`s backyard studio and we all fit really well so we started looking for a bassist as at the start Steve was on guitar.  Over time we’ve had some great musicians join us on – George, James or Tadd. They have come and gone to find new projects. Right now the line up is Steve on bass, The Jack (Tad Jones) on guitar, Dean on drums and myself on vocals. Plus I play guitar too.

Michael Knowles & The STDs performing live on 14th January 2017 at Marrs Bar
Photo by Andy O`Hare
https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

So four guys in a rock and roll band that is nothing like Worcestershire ever seen.

This is true.

You have a very distinct image – very 80s classic rock. On purpose or is it just how you guys roll?

To be honest,  we’ve only really dressed up for gigs a few times but now I mean we don’t really want to have to look through stuff to wear!

So there`s image change on the cards? You know you have already made yourself a name of new Steel Panther in town!

It depends where we shop next (laughs) and really I thought we had the reputation of a noisy bunch.

Noisy yes. But people rather see you as classic rock revival. Quite an interesting twist on David Lee Roth and Poison.

Well, that wasn’t our intention.

What was your intention then?

Just to be noisy and chaotic.

We could add early Alice In Chains to the influences you represent.

There was never really a plan. Still isn’t.

You still evolving sonically?

We’ve got a lot of new stuff in the pipeline. We always do.

Michael Knowles & The STDs performing live on 14th January 2017 at Marrs Bar
Photo by Andy O`Hare
https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

If you were to describe new songs- what would you say? Shall we buy earplugs in advance?

Possibly. There’s  material about some dark times and then whatever we write in the meantime. Plus a concept album.

So no more comic rock and songs about female attributes?

Probably not. But who knows? Let’s face it there’s no plan.

You said that world doesn’t need love songs anymore. That world needs anger.

This is true. I think a lot of anything I’ve written that could be considered “love songs” are usually bitter sweet. With a hint of sarcasm and a lot of anger.

Well, Ledbury Song is very angry but at the same time hilariously funny. You have audience roaring with laughter.

It is less of a song, more of a rant really.

Michael Knowles & The STDs performing live on 14th January 2017 at Marrs Bar
Photo by Andy O`Hare
https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

We don’t know if you agree- but we see your lyrics as a mix of Tenacious D with Morrissey-esque cynical humour and playing with words.

I doubt I could ever be compared to Morrissey. I’m never that poetic (laughs)

The Ledbury Song has the same motif as Everyday Is Like A Sunday:  dislike for a small town that is becoming like a prison for a young person. Moz also wants to bomb the town and he is not poetic about it.

I haven’t heard it but I agree with him.

You come from a small place?

A small town. Small in size and small minded. Hard to be anyone there.

Do you think you would be different if you were born in London?

I’ve been to London and I hate that place. Too big and far too busy. Everyone in a hurry to go nowhere.

So perhaps there`s a positive side of being born in a small town?

I think the point is everyone hates where they are from eventually but it’s always where you call home.

Who would you put in your top 5 artists?

I’d say Tool, Amen, early Slipknot and honestly Trent Reznor and Bill Hicks.

Michael Knowles & The STDs performing live on 14th January 2017 at Marrs Bar
Photo by Andy O`Hare
https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

Very broad influences.

I just love their attitudes and way of creating. I love how Bill Hicks was born in the religious South yet could deconstruct the archaic institutions that he was thrust into. I love how angry Slipknot were and to a 13 year old outcast they represented hope that you might be a freak but there was a place in this world for you. Amen taught me that record companies are just stupid. Tool taught me the beauty of feedback and how atmosphere can really make the hairs on your neck stand up. And Trent is just the god of chaos in noise.

You talk so poetically about music. You will put Moz out of business one day.

It’s all I have really. My whole life has been music and everything else has come and gone but there was always solace in music.

You sing, write, compose, play instruments – that’s lot of talents.

I see it as separate parts of one whole encompassing thing that is just me.

Where do you think the music will take you or the band?

It’s less about what music can do and more about how far we take it. We’re not looking to be billionaire rock stars with handlers. Our goals are to play every show and know at least half the audience.

And will that be enough?

It was always enough to have fans to grow with than trying to appease the masses.

You can follow Michael Knowles online at:

https://www.facebook.com/MKandSTDs
https://www.instagram.com/michael_knowles21
https://soundcloud.com/michael-knowles-music
https://soundcloud.com/michael-knowles-music/michael-knowles-the-stds

https://www.facebook.com/michael.knowles.5832343

At the beginning of April 2017, Michael Knowles and The STDs began recording of their new material using premises at Marrs Bar in Worcester as a studio. The result is album (that still needs to receive a release date) and a single “Theresa May is a cunt”. You can listen it here:

https://michaelknowlesthestds.bandcamp.com/track/theresa-mays-a-cunt

As we said – you may not agree with the bands sentiments but taking into consideration news item such as: HERE  or HERE, it makes us wonder if the song should not be at least six minutes longer. To act as a vent for the anger and frustration, if not anything else.

 

Our interview with Michael Knowles has been kindly reprinted in Slap Magazine and you can see your copy at the link below:

http://www.slapmag.co.uk/slap-issues/issue-69-may-2017.pdf

Or download copy  here:

issue-69-may-2017

Some images for our records if anything else fails:

Slap Magazine feature – May 2017 edition

Photo of the article

Kudos to Andy O`Hare from BBC Hereford & Worcester for allowing us some of his photos.

And if you found this edition of Indieterria too much, bear with us. Next time we are going to the church!

Malicia

**** Update 02/06/2017****

We have awesome news to report. This summer, UK will see a gigantic series of gigs and concerts under banner of “Musicians Against Homelessness”. This initiative was started in 2016 by legendary A&R and founder of Creation Records – Alan McGee. Its aim is simple – to gather funds for Crisis, charity that helps fight homelessness.

Literary everyone involved in the initiative works/plays for free (that includes us as well)  and every penny raised is passed to Crisis. One of MAH events will take part in Hereford at the legendary Booth Hall (Never been? You have only yourself to blame) on July 8th as part of Hereford Punk Festival. If you are in the area, please come down and have fun because Rich Lovell and Minky Cuadra of Underground Revolution did pure magic and got together two sets of pure punk, rock and poetry madness.

Hereford Punk Festival – line up in aid of Crisis

Hereford Punk Festival – MAH event just looks incredible

Michael Knowles is obviously on the bill and that will be just a fantastic opportunity to listen to his new material tested on the stage. He will not play lullabies, we warn you.

If you want  to learn more, here are some links worth checking:

Musicians Against Homelessness
https://www.facebook.com/mahgigs/

The Booth Hall
https://www.facebook.com/TheBoothHallHereford

Rich Lovell
https://www.facebook.com/rich.lovell.37

Minky Cuadra
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010293331172

Underground Revolution
https://www.facebook.com/groups/undergroundrevolution/

Crisis
https://www.crisis.org.uk/

 

Oh and STD`s album launch happens one month before  the gig in Hereford on June  9th at Marrs Bars in Worcester. So get your copy and you will be set up for sing a-long. It will be also one day after the snap elections, so you know 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/events/1786676631644926/

Humor is the devil`s friend – album cover

The STDs in all their glory

 

Xxxooo
Rita+Mal