Tompaulin recently returned to the independent music scene after a long absence with a new album 'Into the Black'.

The group, which currently consists of Jamie Holman (vocals and guitar) ; Stacey McKenna (vocals) ; Simon 'Tap' Trought (guitar); Katie Grocott (bass) ; Amos Memom (drums) and latest recruit Giles Cookie (guitar, piano, banjo), first formed in Blackburn in 1999, but is now based in London.

They garnered an early reputation on records such as 'The Ballad of the Boot Boys'(Action, 1999) and the 'Car Crash EP' (Action, 2000) and their debut album 'The Town and the City'(Ugly Man, 2001) for combining an indie pop sound with literary, socially conscious lyrics.

A 2002 EP 'Give Me A Riot in the Summer Time' (Track and Field), which found the band experimenting with feedback, was produced by ex Jesus and Mary Chain members, Jim Reid and Ben Lurie.

'Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt'(Track and Field), a compilation which consists of most of the band's singles and B sides, was released last year.

'Into the Black', Tompaulin's second studio album came out in January of this year, again on Track and Field, and, with McKenna taking an increased vocal role, finds the band changing direction again and has a dark country sound. It features an impressive array of guests including Reid and Lurie and ex-Saloon frontwoman Alison Cotton.

Tompaulin now run their own studio in North London and also have their own label, Soup, whose debut record, London band Dustin's Bar Mitzvah's first single 'Jimmy White', has just sold out. They hope to put out on Soup later this year a record by Jim Reid, and also 'Little Pop Rock', the long awaited debut album of Sister Vanilla, the project of Reid's sister, Linda,

Pennyblackmusic spoke to group leader Jamie Holman at a headlining gig at the London Camden Monarch at Track and Field's annual Pow to the People in May. It was other than an appearance at Track and Field's Winter Sprinter festival in January first UK gig in 18 months.


PB : Since I last saw you play you have a new member,Giles Cookie. How did he get involved with Tompaulin ?

JH : He was in Tap's first ever band. He actually played on both
of our Peel sessions. We just needed someone full time. He is a very good musician and he can play just about everything.

PB : Did you get him into give the band a bigger sound ?

JH : Yeah, we needed a second guitarist and someone to play piano as well. We had a few people in mind, but none of them were available. Then when we made 'Into the Black' Cookie came down to play and he brought along a banjo, and it ended up being all over it. It changed the sound of the album. We were listening to Bonnie Prince Billy a lot, and he was very instrumental in pushing the sound towards that kind of direction. When we started playing shows he joined the band full-time.

PB : 'Into the Black' doesn't sound like the Tompaulin of the past. It sounds more like a classic album and also more mainstream. It is indie but not in the classic sense. Did you want a different feel to
this album?

JH :Yeah, we did want a different feel, but we didn't know that it would turn out the way it has done. We wanted to make a really noisy record. That was the idea behind the people we got in to help.

We did have some stuff demoed. It's funny because we made it in our own studio with real lo-fi equipment. By the time we had finished it, we had loads of equipment in there.

We asked so many people to help us. Ben Lurie played loads of guitar on it, which was good. He worked well really well with Simon. Stuff like Jim (Reid-Ed), doing the vocal, and Alison (Cotton, formerly of Saloon-Ed )playing on it all helped made it a slick record.

PB : Your last gig in Britain apart from the Track and Field Winter Sprinter this January was back in November 2003. Apart from recording the album, why did you take such a long break from live performance ?

JH : It was just because we were no good at it. It was holding us back. It held us back loads of times. People would come to see us, and there was a real interest in the band, but then we were too pissed or nervous to play properly, so we went back to basics, and then when we made this record we had to learn how to play. It has been really good because the Winter Sprinter gig wasn't a brilliant gig but it was ok.

It was a case of us dipping our toes in before we went aboard. We went to Germany. We sold out all the shows there and we played really well, because we rehearsed the record and we played the old songs enough so we could do them. Again it helped having Cookie playing because he is really good. Stacey also got really confident, and we stopped worrying about the band and just started doing it.

PB : Have you other tracks produced by Ben and Jim left over which you are going to use ?

JH : Yeah, I don't know what we are going to do with them yet. They just didn't fit on the album. We produced some stuff at Island/Universal. We did some tracks there. We will do something with them.

PB : Your and Stacey's vocals on this album sound very much like Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. Did it turn out like you hoped it would?

JH : It turned out like nothing I hoped it would sound like when I was demoing. All the songs apart from 'This Desire'were totally different from what I expected. That's largely down to Stacey and Tap.

PB : Stacey does lead on most of the album apart from one track. Did you want them sung from a woman's perspective?

JH : Yeah, I wanted to change the way things were and at that point I didn't even want to play in the band. I wanted to be in the band, but didn't want to play, and I didn't want to sing anymore. I thought we had taken my singing as far as we could. At that point Stacey was really coming together. She was getting better all the time. We really liked what she was doing with the songs. It was kind of natural, and in the end I didn't sing on many songs but the ones I did sing on I'm really happy with.

PB : Yeah it did seem at the Winter Sprinter that Stacey was very confident. I met Amos last summer and he told me that the compilation was the end of Tompaulin Mark One and that you were now planning to move forward.

JH : Yeah, we even toyed with the idea of changing our name, just to start again, but we decided not to because when we put the compilation together we realised how much we liked it.

It was other elements of the band that we wanted to leave behind, being shambolic, and the whole scene we had got involved. I wanted a studio and to be in control in what we were doing, and so we sacked our management. We got rid of the people whom booked our gigs for us.

When we made this album we went to Steven Drew at Track and Field and said we wanted to do this with Track and Field. Part of the deal was to do the singles compilation with them as well, but, if Steve hadn't done it, I dont think anyone else would of put this out.

PB : Where is your recording studio ? Is it based in North London ?

JH : Yeah, we are in a different one now than we were. It's got bigger and bigger recently. The original studio was in a lock up. We then moved to a purpose-built one and then we moved to another one. Simon had to have the builders in, to have all the live rooms done. He is now running the studios full time.

PB : Is it Tompaulin's studio or Tap's?

JH : Tompaulin's.

PB : And you have your own label now as well?

JH : Yeah, we have. Soup.

PB : Why not release your own album on your own label?

JH : We didn't start the label to release Tompaulin records. We started because Tap was recording Dustin's Bar Mitzvah. We were recording 'Into the Black' and Tap played me their stuff which was so different from what we were doing. When we started Tompaulin, lots of people helped us put out our first single. It was actually Simon's girlfriend who really wanted to put out the single and so we decided to do the label. I'm not sure if we are the right people to put out our records. It's difficult. It changes everyday, so I don't know what will happen there.

PB : Is it true that Jim Reid and Sister Vanilla may release records on the label?

JH : We mentioned to Jim that he could have the studio and asked him, if he wanted to make a record that we would put it out, and he said yeah. He has got a lot on, but he's said he will and I hope he will. It will be less hassle for him. We would like to put out Linda's record as well.

PB : She's got 2 deals in Japan, hasn't she ?

JH : She was offered two. She's on P Vinyl in Japan, and she's got something in Australia as well. It's a great record. There are just problems getting it out in Europe at the moment, in terms of what people are insisting on and what they want to do with it. I think it will come out.

PB : Were your surprised at selling out Germany ?

JH : Yeah, stunned. They were big gigs as well. We thought we would have a holiday, and just play small gigs. It was great. It actually saved the band. We made the album and we were chuffed with it and thought it was a great record to go out on. Everyone was like "I dont know if I want to play live." It's so different to play England, and to do it well. We ended up going out there and being refreshed. We also did three days on Denmark and Sweden.

PB : Jim Reid sings on 'Seams.' Did he choose that song or was it written for him ?

JH : It was written for him, before we even knew him. It was written at the same time as 'Ballad of the Bootboys' It wasn't a Mary Chain pastiche. It was written for Jim, and we never did anything with it. and we gave it to him and he liked it. It was superb. He just turned up and did it.

PB : Current and future plans if any ?

JH Make a new record, studio and label. Simon is playing with the Television Personalities live. He is producing their album. He is playing stuff with Darren Hayman(ex Hefner-Ed), and on his record. He has been working with Comet Gain. He is doing it full time, and he is booked solidly, and Dustin's have cheered us up as the first single is now sold out.

PB : Is the next album going to be like Primal Scream in the sense that every album displays a different direction and mood ?

JH : That's a great comparision really because 'The Town and the City is definitely our 'Sonic Flower Groove'. Simon will make it different. I think we are really loud at the moment.

PB : You can hear the feedback even when it is restrained.

JH : But the new demos I dont fucking know. I have no idea. Simon will change everything.

PB :. That's it. Thank you.

JH : Brilliant.











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