Manchester is the musical mecca that just keeps giving. Have you heard of TAMSYN yet? Oh, you will — mark my words.
I first discovered these fine young lads about a month ago. They had the songs “Just Need You” and “The Only One” up on Soundcloud. They were bare bones acoustic tunes, but the hooks were there and they were charming gentle rockers. They have since taken them down, as they changed singers, but the tunes will return soon on their debut EP. Right now, the only piece they have available is a practice video for “Want You to Care.” (See below)
Band members, as seen in the photo above, are from left, Andrian “The Captain” Sharples (producer, collaborator, temporary bassist); Phil “Hugo Cooper” Hammill (lead guitar); Alexander Anton (frontman); Michael “Johnny Oxford” Penfold (lyrics/rhythm); and Joel “Tappin J” Cheetham (drums).
They were more than happy to chat and tell me more about themselves. I had the pleasure of speaking with Alex and Michael. Here is the conversation:
So who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?
Alex and Michael
Oh lovely! Pleased to meet you both! So, let’s start having fun …. When did the band first get started?
Three years ago Michael moved to Manchester from London and got a job working on a bar in town. One day Joel (the drummer) who was a waiter there came up to the bar and said Michael looked like he liked music. Michael said he did and after initially bonding over a mutual love of Oasis, The Stone Roses and The Smiths, Joel said he had a friend Phil who played guitar and the beginnings of a band were formed.
After several failed lineups and name changes, we started working with our friend Andrian Sharples (of Atlas Eyes) on some exciting new songs. Buoyed by this development we needed to find a charismatic frontman to start wowing audiences, which is where we found Alexander Anton … and TAMSYN as it is now, is complete.
Good story! Where does the name come from?
Our original band was very punky and scrappy and we wanted to come up with something lighter and more romantic. At the time Michael had a very brief thing with a girl called Tamsyn (not even a serious relationship or anything. She would definitely think it weird a band was named after her!) but Joel and Phil had both never heard the name before and kept bringing it up. After a quick bit of research on urban dictionary we discovered tamsyn is slang for a hot sexy girl who doesn’t take any crap. We liked the idea of an all male band writing more love songs about an ideal romantic girl character.
Oh, you are full of great stories! I’m so glad I asked about it. So how is Alex finding it to be the frontman?
In his own words: like home. He’s arrogant and egocentric enough to be a frontman, even though he knows very well that accomplishments come through hard work. He’s willing to do everything it takes to make this happen, and he’s confident enough to be in the spotlight. Also he relishes being in a band in Manchester especially, as most of his favourite bands are from Manchester.
Alex sounds like the perfect combination to be a great frontman. Have you had many live shows so far?
Just the one together so far. We supported another great young Manchester band The Bright Black at their single launch the other week. Really great night, for a first gig especially we were pleased with how we played and the reaction we got. We are booked to play the Raise the Roof festival in Bury this summer (July 16) and have an EP booked to record end of June. Will also be getting more gigs booked up in the meantime.
That’s fantastic. Now I saw the practice video of “Want You To Care.” Looked pretty good, the tune has some sweet hooks … You had harmonies going even …
Joel (drums) has a background in musical theatre (has starred in local productions of “Oklahoma,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Bad Girls”) and very much enjoys getting mic’d up on backing vocals when he can. It adds an interesting dynamic.
Do the rest of you do support vocals?
Haha, no no, we’re quite content leaving it to Alex and Joel. We like standing in the back ground looking cool. Audiences will definitely be relieved we leave it to them too.
So tell me about the leather jackets … Whose idea was it and were you going for Ramones or Fonzie (50s style … ) ?
Michael was working in a bar (common theme) and met a girl called Lauren Rachael Walker, who was in celebrating having one of her designs featured. After a quick conversation, she said her speciality was painting leather jackets. Michael immediately thought this was a really cool idea for the band. After a quick consultation with the bands’ fashion guru, Phil, we agreed it would be a fun attention grabbing look and began working with her on designs. The leather look has been done to death by indie bands, but not with personalised painted art work.
So she created the Tamsyn girl for you …
She’s created 5.
Different designs or 1 design on 5 jackets?
A different pin-up girl for each of us. Her company is called Rococo Leather we should mention. Talented girls.
Oh, kind of in the Vargas style? (Do you know who he is or should I explain?)
Haha, Michael and Alex always need things explained to them.
Artist Alberto Vargas was famous for his drawings of pin-up girls, one of the most famous being the one gracing the cover of The Cars album “Candy-O” …
Ahhh, that’s awesome. Inadvertently very much like that.
That’s cool. I’ve seen the one look you have posted on Facebook. You’ll need shots of all the jackets …
Haha, we are in the process of getting them. Alas, recording is currently taking precedent over our vanity.
Well, that’s a good thing! How has the songwriting been? How many have you got ready?
We have tons of ideas. We’ve had to focus on a few just now for the EP and our live set, but over the coming months, we’ll be developing more together. We’ve got a lot — a solid seven song set and a few more nearly ready.
You had Soundcloud tracks for “Just Need You” and “The Only One” that I heard about a month ago when I first discovered you — are those tracks you’ll be using?
We’ll do four on the EP. They are. Our EP will be “Just Need You,” “Want You To Care,” “The Only One” (in a new arrangement) and “Abi Jones.”
Oh, you will have a stellar debut. I thought those tunes were magnificent.
We’ve been working very hard on them. Those live demos were just the rough bare bones of what this EP will sound like. Sketches in pencil.
Then they will be even better as a full band song …
So tell me about your musical influences … Who inspires you?
It differs amongst us, but the core we all love are The Smiths, The Libertines, Oasis, The Stone Roses, Joy Division and Arctic Monkeys.
Michael really likes American bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen too. Phil loves classic blues. Alex delves into Interpol, the National.
Radiohead are a big one for Alex too.
That’s a pretty fine group of bands … OK, now a tough one — when it comes to guilty pleasure music, who do you have a soft spot for — that you’ll probably get teased about for saying?
Michael likes Justin Bieber’s new album. But shhhhh …
Alex has a secret liking for metal, he used to listen to symphonic bands like Epica and Nightwish when younger, and even to this day he’d provably sneak into a HIM concert given the chance. Haha!
Phil and Joel have a whole library of guilty pleasure music. Wham to One Direction. Musicals obviously too …
Hey, nothing wrong with metal … now Justin Bieber… Lol …
Haha, we used to rock out to George Michael’s “Faith” on band car journeys.
Oh, that’s a great song! Would make a wonderful cover — plenty of hip shaking if you do it live, Alex! Now that will get the girls, mark my words!
A good song is a good song regardless of genre. Haha, it’s all about getting the girls!
Of course it is, that’s why you got into music, right? So tell me about this Soundwaves UK finalist 2016 thing you mention on Twitter.
Ah yes, Soundwaves. It’s a music competition for bands in Northern England. We applied last summer on the off chance online and got invited down to audition in front of three judges. After passing that, we played a live gig in Leeds as a second audition round and were selected to play the live final at the O2 Academy. The final lineup was just 12 acts out of hundreds that applied. Great show, huge audience, about 400 the biggest we’d played to. So far at least anyway.
Wow, that’s great. Did the audience respond well to you? When was it?
They did. January.
That’s fantastic. Hopefully it won’t be long before you are playing to large crowds like that all the time. Well, anything you would like to add?
When the audience doesn’t know your songs it can be a tricky one to get them to like you, but that’s a task we’re thrilled to take on and huge part of the live performance too. We’re just enjoying everything we do — Writing, gigging and recording. We know our love and enthusiasm for our songs and each other will rub off on fellow music fans.
Michael is a lifelong Leicester City fan. Their story is similar to ours.
Oh, he’s gotta be thrilled with that big win then … Underdogs all the way.
Haha, that’s it. If Leicester can win the Premier League, TAMSYN can headline Glastonbury.
Oh boy, a good goal! I’ll be sure to get a ticket to be there when that happens. Set your sights for the stars, boys!
Haha, we are! And of course, we will be delighted to have you there.
You can find TAMSYN on Twitter at @TAMSYN_Official, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tamsynband and on Instagram at tamsyn_band. They will be putting new music up soon on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/tamsyn_band.