The Tone Puppets are busy lads. Not content with dispensing fizzy, guitar fuelled indie laced with curious time signatures and mathy prog-outs (check out their ridiculously inventive new stuff on Soundcloud) they’re the driving force behind The Lovely Job nights – a reassuringly quality controlled showcase at the Zanzibar.
Oh, and they’re in the export business too: shuttling our brightest musical turns down to that London to increase their exposure. You know, the sort of thing highly paid chief executives of Quangos are supposed to do for a fat salary and expense account, but end up just booking OMD again. They do it themselves. In a mini bus.
Tell us about your Lovely Job nights – what’s the big idea?
I started The Lovely Job because we wanted a night where we could put the bands we liked on the one bill.
I suspect everyone’s got their favourite venues, but The Zanzibar always had the best sound for me. It’s proper old school but with top quality equipment and engineers. You know you’re there to watch bands; you get close to the bands, have a bevvy with them and can feel part of the whole thing.
It was just a natural progression that ‘Tone Puppets’ should be residents of the night, we all have the same belief that you can put on nights with top bands where everyone can get a great deal, bands included.
The night itself doesn’t adhere to one genre, it’s pretty mixed. We’ve had a 30 piece brass band on the same bill as Killaflaw who produce an electro/blues/rock crossover type of sound. It works, if the bands are of a good standard they can hold their own against different genres, within reason.
I wanted a night not only where you get see one or two top acts, but great acts all the way through, justifying the entry fee, which is well worth the effort!
How’ve they been going down?
The nights themselves have been consistently busy for a couple of years now, first year was hit and miss but since then it has been building. Over the years, the quality of the acts are getting better and better.
We also make use of the upstairs at The Zanzibar. At the moment the Mod/Soul night, ‘Uptight’, runs in parallel with live acts and a DJ, it’s bringing a lot of people in. Essentially you’re getting two nights for the price of one.
Tell us about the London based nights?
I’m working with a promoter in London who looks after a few different venues including Monto Water Rats, Cargo, The Bowery etc. People always asked me how to get good gigs in London without having to have a big fanbase down south already, so I decided to try and put on a coach with two bands sharing the cost of hire, per head it works out really cheap. We take a 75 seater coach for both bands and any fans that want to come along…the bands get good exposure and everyone gets pretty messed up!
The idea is to expand and put on coaches for Liverpool bands up and down the country as a type of constant tour of The Lovely Job.
How’s attendance holding up?
It’s going well. The promoter from London puts us on a bill with a few local acts that pull an audience and the bands we bring from Liverpool can pull 100+ between them.
We always get good feedback and the fanbase down south is increasing so the idea is to eventually move to bigger venues.
What about the new material? We love it – talk us through it.
The latest track we recorded was ‘Ignore’ which is up on Soundcloud for free download. We like it because it’s not your typical 4/4 rock rhythm, it’s in 5/4. It gives a totally different rhythm; it’s actually quite funny watching our audience trying to dance to it. Ignore is also available on CD which can be purchased at our gigs.
We have plenty of material to work with heading in that direction, the trouble is finding time to make full songs out of our ideas as we all work during the day. We plan to release another 3-track CD in the coming months following the same format as the ‘Ignore’ CD: two full band tracks and a remix.
What do you think about the Liverpool music scene right now?
The music scene in Liverpool is the best it’s been in a long time, I think. There are so many great bands about at the moment; The Fallows, Owls, Strawhouses, Killaflaw, Bird, Minion TV…too many to mention.
I also think the standard is very high here and that’s good to spur each other on.
You’ve also got Bido Lito magazine and Dave Monks from Radio Merseyside really pushing things on, it all seems to be coming together for Liverpool bands. Hopefully some bands will get the national recognition they deserve.
Who are you listening to?
Col – The sound of Mark and Pete squabbling in practice!
Peter – David Axelrod. The man is largely unheard of. I’ve made it my mission to spread the word of ‘Rod’
What’s wrong with Liverpool now?
There aren’t enough venues dedicated to live performances that don’t demand a fee up front or a fair condition. There are a ton of bars that have bands on but they never feel thought-out. The bars just see it as an easy way of filling their bar with the sound/stage/engineer generally being an afterthought. Bands need to showcase their material on a level it deserves.
What’s right with Liverpool now?
There’s a lot going on in Liverpool at the moment. People have known Liverpool as a place to come to find or watch new and exciting bands in the past and that is coming to the surface again. It’s a great city to be a musician!
There seems to be an influx of people from the local band scene putting on their own nights. With sites like Facebook and Twitter, it’s getting easier for bands to promote their own nights which can only be a good thing I reckon.
With the introduction of Liverpool ONE the city centre has expanded hugely attracting a lot more people, creating jobs and boosting the economy. We have our heritage, but its what’s happening now that matters and will take us forward.
The Bowery, London (with Bird), 10 September
The Lovely Job, The Zanzibar, 30 September