James McDonald 03/11/2008
In contrast to a slow and frustrating 2007, Tubelord have leaped and bounded through the year. They are now signed to Big Scary Monsters, with two singles under their collective belts, the latest of which ('I Am Azerrad') is limited to 500 hand-drawn 7", which totals a fair few inches indeed. 'BSM are an ace label, although it's a little weird having other people representing the band', confesses frontman Joseph Prendergast, face magnified under thick-rimmed glasses. Indeed, Prendergast has just come from a meeting with said representatives and apologises profusely for his lateness. This good nature shines throughout the interview; I ask who he would sting if he were a bumblebee, bringing the reply 'I'd be quite scared actually; apparently they're dying out. If I was a bumblebee I'd just pollinate as much as possible, spread the word 'C'mon guys, we can get through this.' I think I'm a lover, not a stinger....' In lieu of a quieter space, we find ourselves cross-legged on the pavement in Soho Square, rivaling a bitter Autumn breeze. This proves to be a less than tactful move, as 5 minutes into our conversation we are accosted by three of the metropolitans finest officers, intent on discovering exactly what we're smoking.
Ignoring this hindrance, we try and reflect on a tour which began on the 21st of July, ending tonight in London. 'We played the first 20 dates with Tellison, before finishing up with Blakfish', memorable highlights including a date in Cork, where the band battled with an abundance of 'crowd surfers and broken guitars'. The changeover saw Tubelord play two shows in a single day, one in Brighton, the other in Reading. 'We want to keep going, but we really can't.'
Asked how the shows were received, Joseph humbly replies 'No one ever tells us or gives us ratings at the end, so it's hard to gauge how we've gone down at live shows. When people come up and say 'Ah, that was really good' I'm initially skeptical, so I'll turn it on it's head and ask them if they've heard of Colour!' Despite this modesty, the air of tonight's show at The Metro, a groggy indie-bar under Tottenham Court Road, is awash with electricity. The words through the vocal mics are drowned out and amplified ten-fold by an army of sweaty fans. Needless to say plans are underway for future campaigns, including the imaginatively titled 'Baghdad and Back'. 'We're trying to book gigs and tour our way there (naturally, management are yet to be informed), although 5 or 6 white British kids going to Iraq... I think it's a good idea but probably not too (*clever). Trying to break into the Baghdad metal scene would be a huge achievement though'. A little closer to home, Tubelord are hitting the road again in January, with brethren Colour and Pulled Apart By Horses. The 5-date run is a road test for the new material, but already promises to be their best attended to date.
But that's yet to be lived. Having now docked after the mammoth stretch around the UK, all remaining energy and excitement is now being emphasised on the bands debut long-player. 'Now the tour's over I just want to get back in the shed and record. We're aiming to demo around 18 songs by the end of the year, and looking to have the album released by Easter.' With titles including 'Your Bed is Kind of Frightening', 'Kids Need Heroes' and 'Somewhere Out There A Dog Is On Fire' penciled loosely amidst the track listing, enthusiasm for the release is easily transferred. Joseph laughs off the heeded warning to keep well away from an over-produced release, in the same vein as Puzzle-era Biffy. 'Despite the production you can't deny 'Mountains' is a quality track' (cue excitable leg slapping of the 11/13th verse structure). 'We recorded the first two EPs at Dave's house, so it was good to capture the rawness and energy, as well as some of the mistakes!' However, tonight Prendergast's floppy-haired strat-wielding stance on stage parallels that of a younger Simon Neil, around the time his band presented their landmark release, The Vertigo of Bliss. The enthusiasm of the latter front man around that time is also reflected by Joseph's own ambitions. 'I'm finding the guitar a little frustrating at the moment, it's generally the same tone throughout. I'd like to invest in something new, maybe a French horn or ukulele. I think I'd like to record a second album without using a guitar at all, kind of take people out of the 'guitar-band' comfort zone.'
Seeing bands like Tubelord riding the wave of the scenes forefathers, such as Biffy Clyro and Meet Me in St.Louis, brings hope to this cynical writers heart, however Joseph remains level-headed. 'There are so many bands cropping up off the back of that scene, although a lot of them are still missing the point. Although they [St.Louis] were very technical, they still had those defined melodies which most of the bands around today don't utilise. I think a lot of the UK scene is saturated, and I don't think it's particularly healthy. It's kind of like wanking in front of the mirror - they're all just playing with their mates in bands, and at gigs the other bands comprise most of the audience, so nothing is getting heard.' A retrospective look back on, amongst other things, how many people have head of Tubelord this year? I prompt Joseph on the future. 'This time next year I want to be able to cook properly, make a decent curry, learn some notes on the French horn and listen to a lot more music. Oh, and I really want to make a comic, just a collection of stories thrown together.'
As we are interrupted once more, this time for a routine charity collection, I apologise on behalf of the surrounding location. My face was then further reddened by Joseph's confession that he was interviewed by Michael Azerrad about a week ago over the phone. I ask if events like this were humbling; 'Everyone's just a person, it's out of their hands whether they're raised on these pedestals.'
Tubelord band Photography by Stacey Hatfield.