Indieterria meets Rita Lynch

Dear Readers,

Please forgive us if we will be acting like complete fan girls. We absolutely and dearly love Rita Lynch – our next featured artist on Indieterria. We have seen her live on January 1st, 2017 in Worcester, have her records in our musical archives and can hardly wait to see her perform at Musicians Against Homelessness on 22nd September. Read on, this is one of our favorite interviews yet!

Rita Lynch performing at NYE party at Pig and Drum in Worcester , 31 December 2016 – January 1 2017

First Lady of punk

Don’t believe when they tell you that punk is dead. The genre is not only very much alive and kicking; it is going through a period of renaissance. It may be a bit older (and wiser), less drunk and more philosophical at times, yet its message against austerity, social alienation and economic devastation rings loud and clear. Political climate is certainly helping to bridge the age gap between new audiences and the underground legends and helps deliver a musical middle finger exactly where it hurts the most. Yet, looking for rebellion is not the only reason why the kids turn to punk rock. Its biggest strength definitely lies in the authenticity and originality, constant re-definition and self-discovery. We have teamed up with Rita Lynch, the first lady of punk to speak about her career, surviving the odds and her plans for her rock and roll future.

You were first introduced to music when attending a Catholic school. Apparently, a nun has taught you how to play a guitar. Were the nuns really that supportive? Catholic schools in 60’s and 70 were rather known to suppress any form of artistic creativity.

Rita Lynch: The nun who taught me guitar was one of the better ones. She obviously enjoyed playing guitar herself and, as teachers go especially all those years ago, she was slightly more interested in creativity. She had already put one of my stories in the school magazine. She also had given me the cane, a couple of times, once for laughing in church. None of the teachers back then were that interested in a shy child like me who was always getting ill. So she was a bit of a hero to me all those years ago.

As soon as you graduated, you found yourself in the middle of London`s punk rock revolution. You founded one of nation`s first all-female rock bands – Rita & The Piss Artists, playing mostly squats and small venues. Can you recall some of the wild days and tell us who were in the band beside you?

Rita Lynch: With Rita and the Piss Artists we did a lot of drinking. We were a 4 piece band. I played bass and helped write the songs, but I did not sing. During our time we had 2 different singers. The first was a woman called Caspar; she had a brilliant voice but left us quite quickly. The next singer, Jo, wasn’t a good singer but had enough front to do it. The guitarist was not very good but the drummer had played before so we, the bass and drums, mostly held it all together. One squat gig, we played at the Demolition Ballroom on Stokes Croft, Bristol and somebody pulled the plug on us, we were so bad. We would all get very drunk, maybe take some speed and get up on stage. If we had taken it a bit more seriously, we could have done well, maybe. It was more of a sideline to the serious job of drinking. But we were doing it for a while when few women were.

The drummer from the Piss Artists, Justine Butler, just lives around the corner from me now. She went on to get a Master’s degree and had a child who is grown up now. She is a lovely woman. We meet up now and again and she has come to loads of my gigs over the years – she’s very supportive.

Once your band folded, you permanently moved to Bristol. At that time, the town had a vibrant scene with bands such as The Cortinas, Social Security and The Pigs. How did the mostly male scene react to outspoken female artist from the capital?

Rita Lynch: When I first started playing my own gigs as Rita Lynch, I was a solo acoustic performer. The sexism was terrible, the things men in the music world said to me were often rude, insulting and so misogynistic. Stuff like women dingers are always late for gigs, have tantrums at sound checks, and generally talked about as if they were spoilt children. Some of the graffiti in back stage rooms really shocked me. I was, at the time, going out with a woman and mostly socializing on the gay scene. It kind of removed me from the heterosexual world which really helped in those first few years. I was never late and always professional and built up a defence against this sexism by dressing outrageously and, with my height being nearly 6ft I kind of must have struck quite an intimidating figure. It put a wall around me and inside that I happily wrote my songs and tried to perfect and develop my own music.

You also made yourself a name as a performer/protest figure marching around in a mutilated wedding dress. What was the protest about?

Rita Lynch: I went on a lot of demos back then. But the wedding dress was mostly just for wearing in the day time. So, every day was a personal protest. I bought it for 50 pence in a charity shop and ripped it up, and would wear it just to get attention, like I was living art, walking down the street. But loads of people would stare and, as I was always barefoot in the summer, I must have looked very unusual. Apparently a young child saw me from a window and told her mum there was a real live fairy walking down the street. This was all in St. Paul’s. It was a vibrant place with big reputation for race riots. There was a lot of prostitution on the street corners and police would not go down the frontline. It had lots of drugs, crime as well and racism. It was a cool place to live very freely, if you had the nerve.

You joined cold wave outfit God Bless You as a bassist. At that time, the band consisted only of Simon Black and Dave Ryan. Within a year, you were not only a full time member, but also a co-vocalist. With you in the line up, God Bless You released several singles such as “Sugar” which are considered the beginning of your career as an artist and performer. How do you remember the collaboration with Simon and Dave?

Rita Lynch: God Bless You was amazing musically. Dave had a fantastic voice and Simon was genius with inventing simple but amazing tunes and riffs. I was with them as backing vocalist for nearly 2 years. I learnt a lot from watching them put songs together. They also introduced me to countless good bands and artists like Iggy Pop and Roxy Music. Dave was a poet and a great thinker, his lyrics were brilliant. He was hugely pivotal in inspiring me to sing and write songs. I loved being in God Bless You. Dave and Simon were my heroes.

In 1991 you released your first solo work “Call me your girlfriend”. The LP became very popular and music press compared you to Kirstin Hersh, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey and even Nico. Channel 4 made a documentary about you. Was it hard to copy with the attention of the media?

Rita Lynch: I loved the attention I got from the “Call me your Girlfriend” album but it was scary as I had been underground for so long and I also found it intimidating. It validated me but made me nervous as well. I had to write another album and I was unsure how to go. I personally thought that I could do so much better than this first album. The album got me a lot of attention on the gay scene but the record label I was with, Moles in Bath, did not promote it very well elsewhere. So, I became a ‘lesbian’ singer increasingly which was not what I wanted and I still had to make the cross over to the mainstream. Also, the record label did not distribute the album properly so people could not easily get hold of it. As a result, I was still ‘underground’ but big on the gay scene. Then both, me and my girlfriend, we got beaten up for being gay. These were harsh times to be ‘out’, I found all this very difficult. The music was getting lost and I felt uncomfortable with being heralded as a ‘lesbian icon’. I was a singer/songwriter but all the other identities were becoming more important. Being an artist, I was feeling misunderstood.

Cover of What am I – anther record from our sonic archives and also signed by the artist.

What am I – sleeve and inside of the record

Your background and lyrical themes also drew comparisons to Sinéad O’Connor – another female figure that could not be easily squeezed into a box. Looking back, do you think there were really similarities between you?

Rita Lynch: I saw Sinéad play at Gay Pride in London, I can’t remember the year. She blew my mind; I had never seen or heard anything like it before. It was one of the most important gigs I have ever seen in my life. Unforgettable. I was humbled by the experience. There are similarities in that we both grapple with sexuality, Catholicism and politics. She is Irish born, I am Irish born to immigrant parents in London. Being Irish/Catholic is an identity made more personal and volatile due to the racism of the English and the weight of the ongoing war and domination of Ireland by the English. Sinéad was and is one the most important musical influences of my life.

You have been a successful solo artist for the last 25 years. In that period you released thirteen albums under your own name, three with other bands, appeared on over thirty compilations and scored several productions (Vampire Diary, Channel 4`s Rosebud), you toured nationally and around Europe. That`s an incredible body of work. Were you expecting such a long run in this dog eat dog industry?

Rita Lynch: No. I never expected to do music in the first place, let alone to be doing it for so long. I love writing songs, I love singing and putting a good lyric together. But my love of these things has developed hugely with the passing of time. I don’t actually see myself as ‘successful’ artist. Over the years, with all the egos and vanities and nonsense that comprise much of the music business, I have tried to focus on the writing of songs and developing my particular style. I was heartbroken when my first album did not go as well as I wanted and as I got older tried to ‘give up’ music and get a proper job. I never did get a proper job. I am dedicated to making music. It is my job. I want to write as many songs as I can. My ambition with music has altered from wanting fame in a vanity way when I was younger to a true hard working attention to song writing. The music business or industry is vile. I don’t think about it much anymore, like it has nothing to do with me. I admire people who dedicate themselves to their art, even when they do not get success, I have aspired to this. I try to work hard at writing songs. I don’t go out much, whenever I get time, I do music. My son is severely autistic and it has been a challenging experience. My life is dedicated to the care of my son and music. I do a lot of gigs, solo and with my band. I am still hugely ambitious in that I have yet to write my best song. I need to communicate through music; it is my take on the human experience.

Cover of Good Advice record, from our own archives. Yes, it is signed and we treasure it.

In 2006 you reinvented yourself yet again by joining The Blue Aeroplanes. You recorded three albums with them (Skyscrappers, Good Luck Signs and Anti-Gravity). In return, John Langley and Mike Youe back you up on your tours. You seem more like good friends than just musical collaborators.

Rita Lynch:  Being in The Blue Aeroplanes was amazing. I admire their music. Also that was how I met my drummer, John Langley. This has been the best musical collaboration since God Bless You. John is the best drummer most people will ever see. He makes every song better with his drumming. When we first teamed up, I wrote the album “Good Advice”. He is massively inspiring and also introduced me to new music. We were a 2 piece for a few years. He upped my game, I had to get better so I practiced more and more and worked harder at my guitar playing. We developed hugely as a band. We sometimes make up songs on stage – improvising with John is a dream. We understand each other musically. It’s like magic. When Mike joined us a few years ago, he fitted in easily. He is a very good musician and picks stuff up very quickly. It felt just right straight away. John and I have been good friends for years and Mike is a lovely easy going person. We have a laugh as well.

In 2016, an anthology of your music “Story to tell (1988-2011)” has been released to celebrate your career and involvement in Bristol music scene. Can you tell us more about this project?

Rita Lynch: Mike Darby used to be my manager about 25 years ago. He had the idea to put out this anthology. It is a cross section of songs spanning 3 decades. I want to bring out another anthology but will do this one myself through the record label I work with now. Also, I am currently setting up to release all my future albums with them and re-release all the previous ones.

You played Worcester on New Year`s Eve at Pig and Drum. You will return to Marrs Bar this September to take part in Musicians Against Homelessness event. Will there be a chance to hear some of your new music?

Rita Lynch: Yes, I will be playing a lot of my new songs. My new album entitled “Backwards” will be released in January 2018. You will have a chance to hear some of my new material for the first time on 22nd of September.

 

You can follow Rita at:

http://ritalynch.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/rita.lynch.121

Musicians Against Homelessness charity concert will take place on September 22nd 2017 at Marrs Bar

If you want to see Rita Lynch  play Musicians Against Homelessness concert, tickets are a £5 and can be bought from the links below:

https://www.wegottickets.com/event/413506
http://www.marrsbar.co.uk/events/musicians-against-homelessness-2/
https://www.facebook.com/events/106395143421500

To find out more about MAH visit Musicians Against Homelessness on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/mahgigs/

Please note that due to a serious hand injury Rita will open the gig and her set will be shorter than expected. But it may be also streamlined on Facebook and it will be different than her usual sets, so you better be at Marr`s Bar 8:00 pm sharp! 😉

Take care,

Mal+Rita

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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