TAMSYN are an exciting new indie band from Manchester, brilliantly blending indie rock with pop which they showcase beautifully on their debut EP, TAMSYN. The five piece are made up of Alex on lead vocals, Michael on rhythm guitar, Phil on lead guitar, Joel on drums, and Zach on bass. Their EP came out this year, and is genuinely one of my favourite releases of 2016; it features the most sunning, beautifully melodic guitar, creating this lovely soft sound. The guitar on Abi Jones is softly distorted, accompanied by a light breezy bass throughout. The band’s music is so easy to get lost in; it’s very transfixing and has a dizzy, hazy sound to it. Drum loops and rich deep vocals enhance the tracks so much too, especially on Abi Jones which I love. The guitar rolls lightly in the back, with soft but intricately meticulous riffs playing throughout the entire EP. Want You To Care also features this wonderful guitar, a recurring sound in TAMSYN’s music; it’s a more lively bouncy track, one which I can imagine would be crazily fun at a gig. There’s nothing synthetic about the band’s music; it’s very raw and honest, with this great open sound to it. It’s soft and breezy, similar to me to bands such as Moonlight Zoo, The Fratellis (especially their early music), Circa Waves, and JAWS.
My favourite track on the EP would have to be Things Change, with that loosely distorted riff kicking in from the start, matched by a lovely acoustic guitar. Alex is such a great vocalist too; he doesn’t over-sing or overstretch his voice, helping keep a soft melodic indie sound to the band. His voice is deep though as well, with the richness matching that hypnotic guitar. The lovely quirky riffs tie in so well with the rest of the elements the band use; a five piece is quite big, but all the individual elements in the band work really well together, creating this wonderful feel-good indie sound. Just Need You is another track on the EP, and could be the track to accompany late summer nights; it’s hazy and soft and vague, with a stunning melody that just takes over. Normally I listen to heavier indie rock, with most of my bands being gritty rock bands; quite the opposite, TAMSYN are a soft indie group, but I adore their sound even so. Lyrically, Michael’s writing is poetic; lines like “I’m heartless ’cause I gave you mine” and “I don’t know why I keep letting you down, sometimes you have to get lost to be found” resonate particularly hauntingly. The overall sound TAMSYN have is simply captivating; it’s melodically and lyrically beautiful, with hazy almost trippy elements to it. The softness of their music with raw indie undertones gives them an exciting sound, with the light indie rock sound pairing with pop and even folk music in the loveliest way possible. As mentioned earlier, the band are based in Manchester, and given the blistering sound and hypnotic beauty of their EP, following in the steps of Manchester legends such as The Smiths and The Stone Roses will be a breeze.
For more on TAMSYN, you can read my interview with them below
Tell me about your band; who’s in it, and how and when did you form?
Hey! So we’re TAMSYN, a captivating new rock band from Manchester. We have Michael (guitar/lyrics) Phil (lead guitar) Zach (bass) Joel (drums) and Alex (vocals). We started three years ago. Joel and Michael met by chance working in Manchester. Joel was meant to have landed a job in a bar but was transferred to the restaurant next door where he saw Michael and immediately asked if he liked music. Michael said he did and Joel informed him that he had a friend called Phil who played guitar. Michael, Joel and Phil started writing songs together and decided to eventually look for a singer. We put an advert out and luckily Alex had just arrived in Manchester from Greece looking for a band to join. After recording our EP and getting booked for some gigs we knew had to get a permanent bassist and fortunately Zach got in touch to complete the line up!
Where are you from and what’s the local music scene like?
Whilst none of us were born in Manchester, we all live here now and have adopted it as our home! It was actually Manchester’s famous music scene that attracted us here. We’re massive fans of the city’s legendary bands, The Smiths, Stone Roses and Oasis. The scene today is still very strong. There are so many superb acts playing regularly in iconic local venues. Recently we were part of Sonder Fest, a brand new festival held in the city’s bohemian Northern Quarter. The event took place over three days across several bars and was a roaring success. It really highlighted how much interest and support there is here for new bands. Alex also had the pleasure of bumping into the inspirational Johnny Marr recently who was more than happy to chat for a few minutes. It definitely helps create a buzz around the place meeting your heroes like that and knowing you’re playing in the same pubs and clubs that they used to once upon a time!
Tell me about the recording of your self-titled EP?
The recording of our debut self titled EP was a fantastic experience. Luckily for us our good friend and mentor Andrian Sharples was able to produce the project at Liverpool’s iconic Motor Museum studio. We had the brilliant James Mellor sound engineering and the whole process was a dream. The studio itself is incredible and with James and Andrian on board the sessions ran superbly. We loved that some of our favourite artists, like the Arctic Monkeys, had also been recorded there. Hearing our songs come to life like they did was an unbelievable feeling. We worked so hard on getting all the aspects right and we are beyond proud of how everything turned out. We just can’t wait to get started on our next one!
Which bands influenced you growing up, and who are your favourite current musicians?
We all grew up loving bands like the Beatles, Oasis and The Smiths. We diversify slightly with some of our more personal favourites such as the Eagles for Phil, Radiohead for Alex and Bruce Springsteen for Michael. Zach cites his old music teacher Frank White as having the greatest influence on him. What all these artists have in common is how they use rock’n’roll to write honest, intelligent and moving music that is personal to them but also accessible to all of us.
There are so many current bands we love too. Michael, Phil and Joel saw Cage The Elephant at Leeds Festival a couple of years ago and were blown away by their incredible presence on stage. They have a real genuine rock’n’roll sound and attitude. Other bands like the National and Arcade Fire we love as well because they are thoughtful and poetic.
What’s the dream venue/ festival to headline?
For all of us Glastonbury is the ultimate gig! It’s like the musicians World Cup final. On a personal level it would be a pleasure to play Reading and Leeds as these were the festivals we went to as teenagers. It would be a dream to stand on that stage and look out on to the sea of people knowing we were once amongst them! Zach says it would just be a dream to play a gig where we don’t have to carry around and set up own equipment for once!
Which artist, living or dead, would you like to collaborate with?
Phil’s favourite guitarist of all time is that mad genius Joe Walsh (Eagles) He tears through solos with ease and sings with such emotion you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Zach would love to write more pop style songs one day and sees Swedish song writer Max Martin as the perfect man to team up with. Michael considers John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) as the most mellifluous guitar player of all time and would love to write lyrics to one of his compositions. If David Bowie were still alive Alex would love to collaborate with him as he was truly one of the greatest artists ever, managing to reinvent himself and write exceptional songs in many different genres.
What’s the best gig you’ve been to?
We’ve been to some crazy gigs in our time! The Libertines is always a riot and the reunion at Reading a few years ago was incredible! Joel and Alex both saw Morrissey live not too long ago and agree he was magnificent. Phil remembers being part of the crowd at Blur in Hyde Park with 65,000 people singing along to ‘Tender’ as Damon Albarn was moved to tears. Michael maintains Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band was the greatest gig he’s ever seen (who else has the power to rock out for three hours and bring Sir Paul McCartney on for an encore than The Boss!) Zach remembers seeing the Frank White band live and being invited on stage to play with him! It’s still one of his favourite gigs despite the amp blowing up as Richard Hawley was on hand to offer some advice and consolation!
What’s the most influential album of all time to you?
For Alex OK Computer by Radiohead is the most influential album. It was an album that moved rock forward and dared to experiment. Phil was inspired at an early age by The Clash’s London Calling. The gritty riffs and licks alongside provocative, thoughtful lyrics proved that punk could aspire to more. Michael remembers buying the first Arctic Monkeys album (from a Woolworth’s if anyone remembers them!). It was the first time he’d heard an album by a contemporary artist where the lyrics just articulated everything around him so accurately. Jazz album Getz/Gilberto has had a strong influence on Zach’s musical playing style.
What inspires your lyrics?
The lyrics are woven together from personal experiences and literature. They’re usually trying to make sense of a situation by telling a story to reach a conclusion. All four songs on the EP have similar themes about love and relationships but approach the matter in different ways. On the surface Things Change, Want You To Care, Just Need You and Abi Jones may seem like superficial love songs but there’s plenty of darker material going on underneath if people want to delve. I think it’s important for writers to leave enough room for people to take the story and adapt it for themselves. The best authors don’t just describe a scene to you, they invite you up see it for yourself. We’re mindful of the fact that writing catchy or moving music is what most people will pay attention to but we like that we have some thoughtful and poetic lyrics to accompany them if people want to find that.
Given the current state of politics, is it something you’d ever want to write about?
Maybe, politics is such a minefield but with Brexit and Trump all our lives are going to be affected massively and it’s hard to see how we’re going to progress as a society or solve the issues that we have. If we were to get involved in that debate though we would like to write something that offered a solution not just opinion, which we don’t have right now but would possibly like to develop in the future.