Saturday 10 October 2009

Tender Trap interview

Here's that Tender Trap interview I promised ages ago. It's with Amelia and Rob. As you can see.

Hello. How are you?

Rob: We are fine thanks. We played a gig (in Cambridge) this week, with three new songs in the setlist. No-one laughed. We felt proud.
Amelia: Even better than that, I remembered all the words of the new songs. A first!

Is it good to have the band playing again after such a long break? What gets in the way of playing regularly? Work?

Amelia: It’s really good fun to making music again. I’m not sure we realised quite how much we’d missed it until we got going again.
Rob: Work is the main enemy of Tender Trap. Children are an enemy too. But it is great to be playing again and expecially exciting to have THREE vocalists, because now we can finally do proper harmonies live.

How did you enjoy Indietracks?
Rob: Indietracks was really brilliant for us. As an audience member, it was inspiring to have so many people with a shared ethos and aesthetic in one place. It was amazing to be part of a very gentle crowd - busy, but completely unthreatening. But what was also great (as a member of a band) was that the sound was really good. It managed to be 'proper' without being 'professional' in the wrong way. We all like to think of ourselves as low-fi, but two days of a shit PA would have had those gentle indies turning surly and dangerous.
Amelia: I really enjoyed it too. It was exciting, and mildly scary, playing to so big a crowd and getting a good reaction. I also liked having the kids there, handing out Tender Trap stickers. It was funny to then see them get much more excited watching Lucky Soul than they had been watching us. They love Ali. Oh, the joys of having long blonde hair and looking like a princess! My personal favourite band, though, was The School. I thought they were a revelation.

And what about those Talulah Gosh songs you played in the tent? Whose idea was that?
Rob: It was Amy's idea.
Amelia: No, no, it was – erm – it was Eithne’s idea. Honest! Okay, well maybe it was my idea really. But it only came up because Elefant wanted us to play some old songs as part of the Tender Trap set. We all agreed that that would be a bit sad, but I didn’t want to let Elefant down. So I came up with this compromise. To be honest I expected Eithne to nix the idea the minute I mentioned it to her. So I blame her enthusiasm for it happening! I did really enjoy it though. It was good to play a guitar again too (badly, as ever). And the clip of 'Beatnik Boy' on YouTube, with our kid Dora playing shaky egg, makes me really laugh. Not least because Dora now thinks she is a world-famous shaky egg player!

How did Elizabeth come to join the band?
Rob: to find Elizabeth we used a subtle form of shuttle diplomacy. Certain indie moguls whose names should remain secret - oh alright, John Jervis and Sean Price - were asked if they could 'chat' to possible lady recruits. Only when it seemed like there might be a happy match (ie she liked our band and we liked hers) did we talk directly to Elizabeth. We were scared of rejection, basically, so didn't ask anyone outright.

As landed gentry of indiepop, what do you make of the upsurge in interest in indiepop bands?
Rob: The upsurge of interest in indie bands is an odd thing. You feel nostalgic, proud and slightly sad at the same time. It feels like being a soldier who survived World War One, only to witness a new generation of people joining the army to fight World War Two.

Amelia: Hmm. Not sure about that analogy, with its overtones of sending young men off to their certain deaths. We’re only sending them off to grow sideburns and wear cardies! Not entirely sure about being landed gentry either….but I think the increased interest in indiepop bands is great. I’m not the least bit precious about indiepop needing to stay small to mean something. I’d be totally happy if The Pains of Being Pure At Heart were Number 1 in the charts and Camera Obscura were Number 2. Although obviously I’d expect part of the deal to be Tender Trap swapping places with Temper Trap in the Top 10!
Are you wrongly tagged as twee?
Rob: I think 'twee' can be different things: an ongoing riposte to a misogynistic music business; or it's a watered down form of punk; or it's an attempt by marginalised people to 'reclaim' a word once used to oppress them. In any case it's probably right for Talulah Gosh, but not for Tender Trap. We're a girl group with guitars.
Amelia: I find the whole ‘twee’ debate hard. On the one hand I hate the term, and don’t think we – or the bands like us – are particular twee. On the other, it is at least a term which does seem to have come to mean something which people understand. And it is good to have a descriptor. Given the other bands that are included under the heading ‘twee’, I find it hard to argue that we are really so very different. I guess I’d just prefer a better descriptor. We were originally termed ‘cute’, which was slightly better, since ‘cute’ has elements of artfulness about it. I was also happy for the brief period we were classed as ‘riot grrrl’. Overall, though, I think I’d be just happier with ‘lo-fi’. Or ‘anti pop’ (in the same vein as ‘anti folk’). Or even ‘bespangled fuzz pop’. Is it too late, do you think?

You're coming to play our all-dayer in November - what can we expect?
Rob: You can expect a girl group with guitars! More like Heavenly than the earlier version of Tender Trap, and with lots of new songs.
Amelia: And good dresses.

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