Hailing from the UK, This Town Needs Guns are a burgeoning math influenced indie band. Having now hit several continents and released multiple EPs and a full-length, they are now gearing up for more touring and a new record. Review Rinse Repeat had the pleasure to exchange a few words with them on these topics and more recently.
Matthew@RRR: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. How are you doing today?
Tim Collis: Good thanks although pretty tired from work today.
Matthew@RRR: For those unfamiliar with your music, how would you best describe your music?
Tim Collis: In a metaphorical sense it’s the moon vomiting over the sun. In terms of musical genres I would say math-indie but I’d understand any objections to this.
Matthew@RRR: Where do you draw your influences from as a band, current and old?
Tim Collis: The list is vast and probably differs for each person. I (Tim) am into all the old greats like Wailing Dog Jennings, The Custard Project and numerous others. Jokes aside, growing up I enjoyed the likes of Incubus, RHCP, Smashing Pumpkins to name a few. More recent bands/artists (to me anyway) would have to be Joan of Arc, Make Believe, Owls, various bands we have met on our travels, a guy named Toumani Diabate and some other random stuff. I think the list could become exhaustive given more space so I will progress onto the next question………..now.
Matthew@RRR: How did you learn to play so proficiently and what steps did he take to bring himself to that level of mastery?
Tim Collis: Tim Collis began his road to success shortly after he quit talking about himself in the 3rd person. Um, I honestly don’t think there is any mastery involved (although you are very kind). In a more sensible response, I think I first heard bands like Ghosts and Vodka and Owls and was incredibly inspired to hear people doing something new with the way the guitar was played. I hadn’t previously experimented with open tunings, finger picking and tapping very much myself and it was nice to hear the guitar being played in a different way to anything I’d heard before.
Matthew@RRR: Tim, what would you tell all aspiring guitarists who look up to your ability? Any tips/wise advice to spread?
Tim Collis: It’s nice to think that there are people that look up to guys like us so I’d have to say thanks first of all! To any guitarists who enjoy the band I would only really tell them to have fun and make sure that’s the focus of their playing. It’s a pretty cool feeling if you create something that you really enjoy playing and that you’re not purposefully writing and worrying about what other people might think.
My only other piece of advice is to be prepared to put down your instrument if the writing process isn’t working. It’s frustrating to not be able to hone in on your creativity at a time of your choosing but that’s just the way it works. Some of the parts we’ve written as a band have been after long droughts of being unproductive for whatever reason. So yeah, take a break sometimes too.
Matthew@RRR: It's been about three years since your last release, Animals. When can we expect to hear new material from you?
Tim Collis: We head into the studio this summer and hopefully the album will be ready by the end of the year (fingers crossed!).
Matthew@RRR: With more time to spend on it, what can we expect from the follow-up to Animals? How does it compare to its predecessor?
Tim Collis: I definitely think it’s an evolution for us. Animals had a pretty stripped down sound to it with the classic bass, drums, guitar, vocals set up and little else. Not that that’s a bad thing at all but it was always the way we approached writing tracks for that album and didn’t consider other possible instruments. I think on the new stuff we have used the extra time for a bit more quality control (to us anyway) and have been prepared to accept if something isn’t working out, whether that means coming back to it later or ending up not using it at all. We wrote about six or seven tracks and ended up feeling that we could do better so started again from scratch. That’s not something we ever would have done a few years back. Even though the process of writing this album has taken a long time, we really feel happy about the tracks as we know the insane amount of time we’ve spent reordering and rethinking them constantly. We’ve also had some new ideas for other instrumentation and sounds this time and it will be nice to try these out even though we’ll be in slightly unknown territory.
Matthew@RRR: What have you done to keep things fresh? Can we expect anything more experimental?
Tim Collis: I don’t think we’ve massively changed our sound or anything as a band but we have been learning a couple of new instruments in the hope that we might use on the album. Chris has been messing with his own project with a more electronic sound so possibly some of this could come through in new tracks if we all think it works. I think we’ve been a bit more open this time round and don’t really have any immediate restrictions. At this point we have some pretty solid ideas for songs but hopefully we can use other instruments to fill out some of the songs in ways that we feel songs on Animals might have missed. It’s kind of hard to say in some ways, as the album is still very much a work in progress.
Matthew@RRR: Last year, you played shows in America and Japan. Now, you'll be heading to Australia for Soundwave along with several other headlining dates. Is this your first time playing in Australia? What do you look forward to most in the experience?
Tim Collis: It’s the first time we’ll have played as TTNG in Australia. Only Stu has visited before so we’re all pretty excited as you might have guessed. I think we’re all really looking forward to catching some of the huge acts playing the festival as well as checking out some of the smaller bands that we haven’t yet had the pleasure of listening to. It’s definitely a privilege to have been asked to play the festival and I think apart from looking forward to seeing numerous bands, we’ll all be looking forward to seeing what we can of the country itself; hopefully not frying in the insane heat! Personally I’d quite like to check out some aborginal cave paintings and have a go on a digeridoo.
Matthew@RRR: How has traveling the world as a band been, and what's the coolest story you have related to your world travels?
Tim Collis: It’s been amazing. As I said before it’s such a privilege to be able to jet off now and then to see some incredible places and meet great people. We all work really hard outside of the band with jobs and careers so it’s a huge reward to be able to take a couple of weeks off now and then and travel and play shows.
I don’t know if we’re the band to ask about cool stories on tour; we’re usually all in bed by 9pm (ok, maybe a little later). But on certain occasions we have lost band members on tour, eaten frozen horse meat, climbed into fridges, befriended tramps, confused the Dutch authorities, feared imaginary Nigerian men in hotel rooms and so on.
Matthew@RRR: What's the plan after Australia? Can we expect another US tour anytime soon?
Tim Collis: It’s hard to say, of course we’d love to come back to the US as soon as possible but as I mentioned before jobs and life can often take over. Somehow we will be back as soon as we can.
Matthew@RRR: If you could have one, what superpower would you have?
Tim Collis: Super memory so I could learn many languages and communicate with more people on my travels instead of being the ignoramus that I am.
Matthew@RRR: If you could only listen to one record for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Tim Collis: Just one of those popular songs off the radio.
Matthew@RRR: If you suddenly transformed into a tree, what kind of tree do you think you would become?
Tim Collis: A monkey puzzle tree.
Matthew@RRR: That's all I have for you today, so thank you so much for your time. Any last words?
Tim Collis: Live long and prosper. I can’t take credit for that one though. Thanks for the questions.