Ex-Pull Tiger Tail members go it alone as new-found duo Thumpers.
Childhood friends Marcus Pepperell and John Hamson Jr. used to play in indie-rock outfit Pull Tiger Tail, but after a label dispute, the pair decided to disperse in opposite directions and take some time to recharge their batteries before returning at the and of 2012 as Thumpers.
Their vibrant, dynamic and textured pop music was celebrated when they signed to label Sub Pop who will be releasing their debut album at the beginning of 2014. We caught up with the boys to chat about playing in Friendly Fires, re-inventing their sound and playing gigs in biblical mudstorms.
How were Thumpers born? What’s your story?
We met when we were eleven years old and picked up instruments at pretty much the same time. It was always about being in a band and making music/writing songs rather than being a virtuoso on an instrument, and i think that stood us in good stead for developing some kind of songwriting style. We were in various teenage rock bands to varying degrees of success and toured endlessly, cramming all our gear in the backs of parents’ cars.
What’s been happening in-between your previous projects and Thumpers? Have you taken time out to completely re-invent yourselves?
After our last band finished, there was definitely a period of licking our wounds. I went to play music in other peoples bands (Friendly Fires, Noah and the Whale, Cocknbullkid) which definitely emotionally freed me up from previous baggage and was great at finding my love for it all again. I think the bad experience we had with our previous projects really made us question why we wanted to do any of this, and so a lot of the time away was recharging and searching for the energy to take it on again, which thankfully we found. In that sense, there was no goal of reinvention, we just knew we had to make and find a sound we’d be happy playing and exploring for hopefully a long time. Re-invention has this undertone of cynicism but for us it was actually much more about rediscovering our naivety.
How was the summer for you? What festivals did you play and how were the new tracks received live?
The summer was really grewt but super busy. I think our total for festivals visited was 16 by the end, including Reading and Leeds. We’re still a pretty new band, the majority of the set is new to people so we were blown away by the responses we had – especially at Leeds where the crowd fought off a biblical mudstorm to watch us play.
You’ve had a fair amount of big gigs of late. How do they compare to your more intimate shows and what can we expect from your headline gigs?
I love the small intimate shows as you can really feel a strong reaction from a crowd, but i think for us it was always about playing to a big room of people.That collective and communal atmosphere is such a big part of what we’re trying to achieve, and i think the more people there and getting involved the better it will be. Playing in Friendly Fires was a great lesson. The best gigs were the ones where people stopped looking at the band and were just dancing with their friends.
Who or what inspires the new direction you’re heading in?
I think the single biggest musical element we wanted to include when we started writing as Thumpers was looped and layered drum patterns and there’s a long list of people that we love that do this – MIA, Timbaland, Bjork, Tuneyards, Radiohead… We wanted to really push the rhythmic side of our sound to the fore and let that lead the way for the songs as a whole.
How did the involvement with Sub Pop come about?
We got an email out of the blue from them, which was definitely a shock. Following that, we just chatted about music and art and politics over email and we sent them how far we’d gone with our record. They flew over to see us play which was when it got pretty serious! I threw up before the gig from nerves and we signed pretty soon after that.
The album is complete, non? What can we expect from it and who has been working on it with you?
We finished the album in the middle of summer which was a great milestone for us. We recorded it and produced it ourselves over a period of about 9 months on days off at the end of my touring with Friendly Fires, but we always knew we wanted to work with someone else at the final stage to mix it and maybe add some additional production. David Kosten was at the top of our list of people we thought could do this as we loved all the stuff he did with Bat For Lashes and his work with Everything Everything. We like to be spontaneous and move quickly and I think the collective energy that we shared shows in the record. It was important to us all to keep vulnerable moments on there too, especially in the songs that haven’t been released yet, and hopefully those instants will be the key to inspiring an emotional connection with it.
What would you have liked to have achieved by this time next year?
I’d love for people to have found our album and connect with it in a way that we listen and love certain bands and albums.It’d be great to be doing a headline tour similar to the one we’re supporting Chvrches on right now, but also we’d love to be collaborating with more artists and producing them, especially out of our genre.
Check out more from the band here.
Words: Shane Hawkins