You may remember that This Town Needs Guns were recently part of an article we wrote on new music coming out of Oxford. Since then, they’ve played a music festival in Luxemburg, been in the studio to start recording their album and are currently saying ‘adios’ to a much loved band member. Gigwise meets band members Stu, Tim, Dan and Chris in some humble Oxford public house for a catch up.
The day before the interview, it was announced via the band’s myspace that bassist Dan would shortly be leaving the band to concentrate on his new role as ‘Dad’. The band joke that Dan is going away on ‘Paternity leave’ (“two weeks Dan that’s all you’re getting!”). Gigwise enquires as to whether this will be a permanent leave of absence and Dan responds, “Yeah, I guess it’s permanent but I’ll still be around.” The band joke that he’ll be screaming from the rooftops, ‘this band is nothing without me!’ which he might well be. Dan admits that he’s sad about leaving the band but he wants to be able to devote more time to his new family without the pressures of touring.
Despite this bombshell, TTNG have been doing rather well of late, gaining a lot of press off the math rock bandwagon. We ask the band how they feel about any assumed math rock label. Stu tells us, “Chris (the band’s drummer) out and out denies that we are anything to do with math rock.” Chris, who used to be in the math rock band Knives, adds, “I don’t think we are math rock but we maybe have math elements.” Tim continues, “We’re math in the sense that we don’t play strictly 4/4 time signatures.” We point out that lots of bands do this, including local (Oxford) band Youthmovies, and certainly some of Biffy Clyro’s earlier stuff drew on musical formations outside that well loved ‘standard’ time signature. Dan says, “A classic math rock sound is really simple. On one of our new songs (working title) ‘Gibbon’, Tim screams into the microphone and the way that the drums overlap with that is really ‘mathy’”. So they don’t really mind being called math rock then – but only at a push.
Following from this, we talk to the band about their propagation of the insanely melodic signature sound, way in advance of the 4/4 signature, attributed to the Kinsella school of thought. The entire band admits they are massive Kinsella fans. For those of you unaware, the Kinsella brothers (and cousin Nate) are a big ‘underground’ deal in America, influencing more up and coming artists than we’ve had hot dinners (or dinners, per se). The Kinsella brothers have been involved with various bands such as ‘Owls’, ‘Make Believe’, ‘American Football’ and ‘Owen’. Dan notes this notoriety telling us, “We listened to an interview with Mike and Tim Kinsella. Mike said he wanted to make things sound nice and Tim said he was more into expressing something; saying he wasn’t particularly fussed whether it sounded tonal or musical. I really respect that.” Stu adds that although TTNG don’t know either of the Kinsella brothers, they were controversially, dissed by the great Mike, “I got an email from a guy in Chicago because we have Make Believe and Owls on our myspace. And he said he was speaking to his mate ‘Mike Kinsella’ and said to him ‘so are you down with This Town Needs Guns? ’Apparently he was like ‘what?’ Of course he’d never heard of us!” Nice thought though, eh fellas?!
Despite being dissed by their hero, the band has actually toured with Make Believe. Dan says, “The first time I heard Make Believe was when we supported them. I really struggled with the album. It took me a while to get used to it.” TTNG have also toured with Rolo Tomassi and I was a Cub Scout not too long ago, and have been tipped to play with Les Savy Fav. We ask if TTNG feel like they’ve been subject to any hype recently. Dan admits, “I think we had a little bit of hype about us after the ‘I was a Cub Scout tour’. There were lots of things going on, especially on the internet that we hadn’t really worked for.”
TTNG have been around for a few years now, but they really got serious last summer when they produced and released their first single (a split with Cats and Cats and Cats). Their album is due for release in September 2008 and a tour is beckoning. With talk of the new album, the guys inform us that all the songs on the album will be new songs. There will be no recycling of old material, even the legendary ‘26 is Dancier than 4’ (Stu’s favourite song) will not be featured on the album. All working titles of new songs are currently named after animals. They have recorded 5 songs already and are currently in the midst of two more. Stu says, “It’s all going to be totally new. It’s mainly because a lot of bands we know have toured forever with the same songs. And it seems as though they get bored of playing them, I’m pretty sure we’ll still play ‘26’ because everyone wants to hear it. And we still like playing it, so we’ll be playing it for ages.”
The band has no firm plans to do a headlining tour, even after the album’s release in September. Stu says, “I think we’re going to avoid doing one of those for a while. And try to drum up some support (hopefully) off the back of supporting ‘better known’ bands.” Chris adds, “Yeah, We’re hoping to leach as many fans as possible!” We’re not sure they’ll need to. If their new material is a notch on their old stuff, they’ll be fighting the fans off with brooms.