Music Interviews

Q&A: Tindersticks



The Something Rain, the ninth album by Tindersticks, has been widely praised by both fans and critics. A bold reassertion of the bands sound and ethos, it has been favourably compared to some of their well-loved, classic early albums. Possessing a pleasing variety of pace, and lyrically containing some of the strongest moments of their career, it should see them further consolidate the unique place they have established for themselves over the last 20 years.

Unfortunately UK based fans will need to wait a little longer to hear it played live as their residency at Londons Soho Theatre had to be postponed due to an unfortunate recurrence of singer Stuart Staples laryngitis. Although undoubtedly disappointing for all concerned, thankfully it doesnt appear to have dented the buoyant mood of the band.

We caught up with multi-instrumentalist David Boulter to discuss The Something Rain and also talk about the bands history, inspirations, soundtrack work and forthcoming festival appearances.

musicOMH: What was the background to writing and recording The Something Rain? Did you do anything differently to Falling Down A Mountain?
David Boulter: Not really. I had an idea for a story EP which was Chocolate and an instrumental. This inspired Stuart to write a song and the album grew from there. We started it together. We bought a lot of old drum machines and keyboards. We tried to look for some new sounds, a new way. Then we started adding everyone. Dan McKinna first, who brought a song idea as well as his lovely playing. It was recorded over a year in bits.

OMH: To me it seems to have a richer sound. Do you set out with a specific sound in mind for certain tracks or does this develop/take shape in the studio?
DB: As I said, we tried to find new sounds, a new way. It’s both trying to approach the song differently and also thinking about it differently as it’s recorded and mixed.

musicOMH: You seem as interested as ever in human relationships and human nature. Is that a big inspiration lyrically?
DB: That’s life, isn’t it. I don’t think we ever felt motivated politically. It may inspire one or two songs. But most of it is about where you’re at, how you feel. That does include how politics, nature, love, death make you feel. And there’s also the unknown. The magic that’s a song you just grab from nowhere.

musicOMH: Chocolate is quite a striking opening. What was the background to this track? Its been viewed as a sequel to My Sister. Was there a particular reason why you’re on vocals rather than Stuart?
DB: It began as a demo spoken piece that I’d done. In a way, it’s kind of my formative years in Nottingham, condensed into a night. I was always looking for something to happen. My Sister was a story I’d written that Stuart liked and read. I suppose the only connection is that I wrote them both. They do both have a theme of loneliness and wonder to them. It could be the same male character. Me? They are 99% true.

musicOMH: This Fire Of Autumn and Slippin Shoes seems to contain moments of optimism and hope (both lyrically and musically). Would you agree? I found them two of the more animated tracks on the album.
DB: Shoes was always the centre of the album. Probably for those reasons. We seemed to have reached a time to celebrate. But it’s also been a very dark time. Losing a lot of people. Feeling at a point where the future asks a lot of questions. There was a real desire to make this record. It’s special.

musicOMH: Do you have any particular favourite tracks on The Something Rain?
DB: It’s the first album for a long time that has a completeness about it. Come Inside if I really had to choose one.

musicOMH: Youre headlining a stage at the End Of The Road festival. In some ways you don’t really seem a typical ‘festival’ band. Do you enjoy playing them?
DB: They can be as fulfilling as any concert. Even more so if you reach people you wouldn’t normally play to. Certain festivals can feel very intimate and warm. It’s the very big ones that can be hard. Mainly because there’s just so much. How could anyone enjoy seeing 150 bands over a weekend.

musicOMH: Last year you released your soundtracks to five Claire Denis films and played a series of shows in support of them. How was that?
DB: Great. We really felt a sense of achievement, and enjoyment by the end. And it was a new challenge, keeps that spark alive.

musicOMH: Do you have any plans to release more soundtracks in the future? How do you approach writing music for film?
DB: There’s talk. Hopefully. With Claire, it begins at the beginning. The music develops and grows with the film. It’s a conversation and almost total musical freedom. I doubt many directors would give so much. It’s a long relationship, very rare.

musicOMH: Are there any film soundtrack composers that are particularly important to you?
DB: John Barry. Bernard Herrmann. Ennio Morricone. Stanley Myers, and a hundred more.

musicOMH: You have always retained quite a loyal following but do you take any satisfaction from coming back when the band has been almost forgotten about or dismissed by sections of press?
DB: I suppose there’s always satisfaction in that way, yes. But there’s still a long way to go. In some countries, we’ve always been regarded as artists, trying to follow our own musical path, without great record sales, but still valid. In the UK especially, it seems you’re no one without that buzz or record sales. Reviews have always been good. A feature in the monthlies would be very nice. It has been 20 years.

musicOMH: The band went through quite a difficult period around 2003. How do you look back on that now? Was there ever a time when you thought the band may not release any more music?
DB: Yes. But that wouldn’t stop us making music. I felt the need to do this from around the age of six. It’ll never end. I may have to go back to painting and decorating to put food on the table, but the music will never stop.

musicOMH: You played Tindersticks II at the Barbican in 2006. Would you consider playing more full album shows in the future? The renewed appreciation of looking at albums as complete pieces of work seems well suited to your music. I think Tindersticks are definitely an albums band.
DB: I would like to. The film shows helped to see different ways of presenting ourselves. I wouldn’t like to go on tour playing an old album. But a special show or shows could be nice.

musicOMH: Do you think there will be any more Stuart Staples solo records in the future?
DB: I think there will be. Tindersticks usually work in cycles of three albums. This is the third again. Possibilities are endless.

musicOMH: Is there any music that you have particularly enjoyed recently? Do you listen to music when you are writing/recording? Do you get excited by any modern music?
DB: I generally get obsessed by an album or piece of music. It’s great when you hear something you don’t feel you’ve heard before. That gives you that excitement. That can be new or old. I’ve been listening to all kinds of music for a long time. It’s hard not to make references when you hear a new band. But some do it that still excites me. The Horrors jump to mind. But there’s lots. I love Will Oldham.

musicOMH: Do you ever listen to your older albums?
DB: No. Occasionally.

musicOMH: How does the rest of 2012 look for Tindersticks?
DB: Good. Busy. And I’m already hungry for something new.

Tindersticks’ The Something Rain is out now through Lucky Dog.

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More on Tindersticks
Tindersticks @ Royal Festival Hall, London
Tindersticks – Distractions
Tindersticks’ Stuart Staples: “I needed to be in a place I hadn’t been before” – Interview
Tindersticks – No Treasure But Hope
Tindersticks: Minute Bodies: The Intimate World Of F Percy Smith @ Barbican, London