We have been interviewed by the great Manchester zine Sticky Sounds. Vicky was kind enough to let us put the interview online. This interview will appear in issue 8 of the zine, which will be out soon. You should check out the paper version of the zine, it is a good read. We still have some back issues in the distro if you want to check them out. You can also get them directly from Vicky. Check out the Sticky Sounds website or facebook page for more information. Anyway, here is the interview for your enjoyment.
Sticky Sounds) TNS started with the zine, was it always your intention to also start a record label?
Andy) I think so. We taped some CDR compilations to the covers of very early issues of the fanzine. We thought the fanzine would be a good way of getting people interested in the bands. It was never an option for it to become a ‘real’ label until Bev got involved, but it was definitely always an ambition. I think the combination of the gigs, the fanzine, the podcast, the distro and the label works pretty well. I’d always liked the idea of doing something with all these different components.
Bev) As I wasn’t around right at the start I can’t comment on the early intentions, but it was always something that was in the background. I think it took us actually sitting down and saying ‘right, let’s actually do this’, before we thought through what it actually meant. To be honest, we were making it up as we went along for quite some time. We had both dabbled with releasing stuff. Myself and Liam (former Revenge of… guitarist) had put out a compilation and Andy had ‘released’ the CDRs as he mentioned. Even when the label came to life there really wasn’t much long-term planning involved. Everything just progressed naturally…which is probably quite evident.
Sticky Sounds) Is there a TNS ethos?
Andy) There is yeah. I’ll just copy and paste it if that’s OK?
TNS is run based on the following core principles:
- TNS are dedicated to supporting exciting music at grass roots level.
- We believe in the music ‘scene’ working together as a community making every aspect better for all, discriminating against none.
- TNS is run on a not-for-profit basis. We generally just about cover costs, anything else funds future releases.
- ‘TNS’ bands should be actively involved in supporting other bands and helping them to play in their towns, working as hard as possible to get underground music out to genuine fans.
- TNS oppose pay-to-play gigs, music competitions and money grabbing promotors. Music should never be about competing.
- We believe that music can be a positive force politically, socially and morally, but also that everyone involved should have lots of fun!
Sticky Sounds) What are some of your highlights from the last ten years?
Andy) It’s hard to say really as there have been so many. The gigs are always the obvious fun bit where everyone gets to hang out (whereas packing envelopes is less fun haha). I always really look forward to the annual all-dayers as we get to see lots of friends and bands, we don’t see regularly enough. The first ever Beach Party, headlined by The Stupids was awesome and Strummercamp is always fun too. It’s always exciting when a new release is on the way, but I don’t think anything will really top the excitement of volume 1 arriving on the releases front. I also think going to Maida Vale with Revenge Of… is up there. As was our first tour and especially our first mainland Europe tour.
Bev) Wow, so much has happened. I think the main thing that sticks in my mind is when I returned home to find the first compilation had arrived. There was a massive sense of achievement at putting it together from scratch as well as the possibilities that it brought. But like Andy says there have been loads of highlights. The all-dayers/gigs that have sold out, being involved in organizing Strummercamp, releases getting national air play and driving Revenge of… around Europe must be some of the best.
Sticky Sounds) TNS has become synonymous with animal images, what are the origins of/thinking behind that?
Andy) I’ve always been interested wildlife documentaries and my job is in graphic design, so I liked the idea of combining the two things. I was also obsessed with tacky, cheaply printed Blackpool seafront t-shirts for ages. These mostly used animal imagery and I tried to recycle/work them into designs. We also have a slightly odd collective sense of humour here at TNS, which certainly contributes. We love things like ‘Brass Eye’, which has an animal themed episode, and ‘Big Train’, which uses lots of animal imagery.
Bev) I let Andy handle the design/artwork. I think animals having funny faces has a lot to do with it.
Sticky Sounds) Have there been any major setbacks in the last 10 years and do you ever feel disheartened?
Andy) Not sure about major setbacks, but it is very easy to occasionally feel disheartened. At times this is all overwhelming. Not long ago I was considering having some time out for personal reasons, but when you take a step back and look at it all, it’s so much more than just a hobby. It’s part of who you are. We’ve had plenty of releases and gigs we’ve lost money on, which is always disappointing, but it’s never all going to be easy doing this sort of thing. It’s hard work and incredibly time consuming, but I think it’s important to remember it’s supposed to be fun too. Sometimes I’m guilty of not doing that. Overall, there will always be ups and downs with something like this, but the highs definitely make it worthwhile.
Bev) I think we have been lucky in not having any major setbacks. The one thing that brings me out in cold sweats is when the coach we hired to get people, including bands, down to the London TNS all-dayer was cancelled at the last minute. I heard the voice-mail at 11pm when we were getting the coach at 7am the next day. Luckily we managed, with the help of lots of amazing people, to get loads of cars together to make the trip. I didn’t sleep much that night. Whilst nearly being a disaster, it was all great to see everyone coming together to make the gig still happen.
Without lows the highs would be pointless. As we both put so much of spare time in to TNS I think it would be hard for us not to get disheartened at times. When something we do doesn’t go well, or isn’t supported, it can be very disappointing. That said, we have some amazing highs when everything goes well and a great sense of achievement.
Sticky Sounds) What are your plans for the future of TNS?
Andy) Just more of the same really. We’ll just keep working hard, trying to improve what we do and trying to find exciting music. We have plenty more releases in mind. As long as we are enjoying it, we’ll carry on. I think we’ll always be excited by hearing new music and going to gigs, and whilst we are doing that, we’ll still always get the urge to document the bands and the scene.
Bev) As Andy says, we are planning to keep doing what we do. As we run TNS completely in our spare time, we are limited to the amount of music we can put out and the gigs we can run. That said, I think we do quite a bit at the moment. So expect more releases, gigs, fanzines and we might even get the podcast sorted soon. Also, check out the new TNS Download Club to get free music sent to your inbox every month.