The Tuesday Syndicate
by Nickie Shobeiry
How did The Tuesday Syndicate come together? It all started where most things do – in the pub! We were just a few mates who happened to have a night off together one week, and ended up jamming in the quiet corners of our local just for a laugh. It turned out that we all had Tuesday evenings free, so we would hit the same pub each week for a couple of jars of ‘inspiration’ and tease out a few tunes. It wasn’t long before we started composing our own material, and after a few open mic shows, we decided to get our own gigs. Then two years, a whole mess of beers, and a couple of missing scenes later, we’re booking shows at the O2 in the back of our tour van up in the Lake District.
What’s the inspiration behind the name? Well of course being around to play every Tuesday was a big part of it, but ‘The Tuesday Club’ didn’t quite have the ring to it. It took a while of knowing in the backs of our minds that we had a better word for it, and then en route to a show, Ed [drummer] screamed that word we were looking for – and that’s pretty much how The Tuesday Syndicate started!
If you had to pick the top five artists/bands that have influenced your sound, who would you pick? Frank Turner – he’s the people’s prince for a reason. His lyrics and writing style are a thing of beauty, and with lyrics being such a big thing in our songs, it’s an obvious influence to draw from.
John Mayer – Chris [lead guitarist] takes a lot from the angelic melodies peeled off this man’s fretboard. In a direct quote, “He’s just a f***ing genius!”.
Led Zeppelin – this is another one, mainly for Chris in the guitar side of things, but in no small way for the rest of us. I don’t think anyone needs to explain why, and if you don’t know, your music library is missing a vital section!
Brand New – these guys are a big part of my inspiration. Cleverly crafted lyrics spread perfectly over mellow moments, in between the raw heavy sections. It holds a bit of everything we’re going for as a band! Again, like Frank, they are just real.
Mumford & Sons – the folk element in our music has some definite links to these guys. The anthemic sound that they create is one that we attempt to fit into our song writing, along with those insanely catchy vocal lines!
Any non-musical influences? It’s unanimously known that where we live plays a big part in who we are and what we do. Being right on the coast in Woolacombe, North Devon, has a certain way of life to it. The pace is that little bit slower, and the attitude is a lot more inviting. It takes that bit of stress away, leaving just enough space to be able to know yourself better and relax into creative vibes where our music is made.
Could you share one of your favourite on-stage memories? We did play a show at the end of year Exeter University ball a couple of years back. It was an amazing gig, and we love Exeter. There were all sorts of things being thrown around, including a few beach balls, one of which managed to find its way to Tim [bassist at the time] at the perfect point of a break in the song we were playing, for him to punch it back into the crowd right on the drop. Hard to explain, but everyone loved it. It was just one of those random moments that worked out so well, and we got some epic recognition for it after the show! Aside from that, seeing someone singing our lyrics back at us is the best feeling we could ask for. Unrivalled, permanently.
How about one of the weirdest memories? The weirdest moment isn’t actually one of ours, but we feel this has to be shared. We did see a friend’s band play one night, and halfway through their set, one particularly keen chick in the crowd got her boobs out and started strumming the bass with them! It was hilarious. Not quite sure what was going on apart from bass boobs! Excellent!
What would be your ultimate venue to perform in? We’ve actually been talking about this recently – there’s a mix between us. To headline the O2 Arena is up there, along with places like the Pyramid Stage and Club Coco. Red Rocks is another one. Ahh, there’s just too many to choose from! They’re all pretty big dreams, we know – but go big or go home, right?
You performed at last year’s Somersault Festival, going on just before Jack Johnson. What was that like for you? Just being able to play at a festival with Jack Johnson and Ben Howard was amazing! But yes, coming on just before Johnson was a real treat. We were on a different stage, just to the side, but that’s good enough for us. Can you claim that as a support slot? I think we might! We were lucky enough to get to meet him that weekend as well. Such a nice guy! And he fit in perfectly with the vibe of the whole festival. Really looking forward to it all again this year. If you could pick any band to tour with, who would you pick? Again, there’s a big mix here for us. It’s good, we think, that there’s this small divide in opinion – it brings style and inspiration from all across the board. This means that we can create something slightly different, not through going out of our way to be something that hasn’t been, but just because that’s how it comes out.
Touring with Led Zeppelin would be out of this world! Such an iconic band. The experience would be like no other. Frank Turner is another we would love to follow. Just for the crack as well, we’ve got to say Blink 182. Imagine what that would be like! Bet you’d come out if that with some stories. Or massive liver failure.
What are your favourite songs to perform? That’s a tough one. I think the all-round favourite at the moment is one of our latest tracks called Bury My Mind. It was released at the end of February on our new EP. It’s just a really well thought out song that we all love, and it means a lot to us all. It’s one that can really be related to, and we were all in a similar position when it was written, so there’s a big part of us in it.
Our other new track, Go, is also a bit of a winner. It came out on the same record, and it’s got a great reaction everywhere we have played it. Really fun and bouncy rhythm. Great fun!
Do you ever improvise on stage? It can be dangerous at times, but with some of our covers, we do mix it up a bit every now and then. Chuck in a cheeky solo here and there, maybe just a little break to get some crowd participation going on. We have the time of our lives every time we take the stage, and we want everyone to join us, so if you do ever come to a show, bring your dancing shoes. We did play a gig in Newquay at the end of January – the day after Ed [drummer] got back from a two week holiday in Canada – and the rest of us had been half-jamming a new cover to slot into the set. We got a bit excited with it being our first show in a while, and decided that although it was never rehearsed, we all knew the song pretty well, so why not? It actually went down a storm. We were a bit surprised ourselves to be honest, but loved it. Definitely not to be done regularly though, ha.
How do you compose your songs? They’re all different, really – we couldn’t say for sure that there’s one best way to lay a track down. Except that if you have to force it, it’s never going to be real, or as good as something that just feels right. Sometimes it can take a while, but if it just comes to you, then it must have been meant to be. Some of our songs start out as a verse, or a chorus idea that someone has come up with. Then it’s introduced to the rest of us in the studio, and played around with until we can find out if it’s worth keeping or not, and then where to go with it. Some take a few hours, and some take a few months. Our latest track, Go, was actually started in the middle of a jam. Losing ourselves in practice a bit resulted in a wicked chord progression, very quickly followed by a killer lead riff, and the rest just sort of wrote itself. We know a lot of people say that, but it does happen.
Could you tell me a little about the process behind the recording of your album, Heads & Tales? Heads & Tales was actually my first solo album written in Bucks before I moved to Devon, which is where I met Steve [bassist], who has his own studio and production business, PoundHouse Productions. Along with Ed having the songs already written, the rest of the track could be put together outside of just the acoustics and the vocals. Its a very memorable experience for me, as it happened the year I moved down, and it was the start of friendships that became ‘bandships’ through wanting to gig the album after finishing it. We’ve been playing together ever since.
The process was amazing. It showed us how much more fun music was than we already knew, after thinking it couldn’t be more fun. Days and days in the studio working on sounds for one instrument just blend into one. Of course, the beer helps with that! It was some of the best memories we have together.
So the songs were written before entering the studio on acoustic and vocals. Then we needed to write the drums, bass lead, and all the other jazz that comes with it, which meant more days of just sitting in the studio playing around with bits here and there until we found what we were looking for. Carry on doing that for a while, and eventually a full song comes out of it, shortly followed by those beers again! We loved it, and it was a great start for us, which has pushed us onto bigger things. It’ll always be remembered as the biggest part of our band life now.
Your song, Worth It, was recently mentioned on BBC Introducing in Devon (to quote, “We love them to bits!”). What was the inspiration behind this song? This song came out of observing the innate reaction everyone has to things they really want that have let them down in the past. Things like relationships, or I guess just a target that wasn’t quite reached. Anything strived for, that although it may have knocked you down, while you were high, it couldn’t have meant more or been better – so in the end, when you really think about what happened, it was worth it.
What did having the track aired feel like? Having the track played on BBC Radio was quite an incredible thing. We love playing and we’ll do it forever regardless, but to know that what we’re doing is good enough to make its way onto such a prestigious airwave – well, for us, it was nothing short of a dream come true. Some people may not think of it as much, but there was a time when being able to play a song the whole way through was a massive achievement. It’s easy to get complacent with success, so it’s good to remember every step as a victory, and not just another step. There was a _huge _party after that victory!
How do you feel about your music being downloaded for free? If people want to go through the effort of downloading our music for free somewhere, they still want to listen to it, which at the end of the day is what we want. We think the price of the piece is the artist’s choice. Some people want nothing more than to make money out of music, others just want to be heard, and some do it for the love. It would be great to get to a place where we can live off our music alone, but we’re not too fussed about big stacks of money. Ed Sheeran actually hit the nail on the head a while back when he said he wasn’t bothered by the illegal downloads of his album, because if half of those people wanted to then come to a live show, he was still making more money than he would have through just getting paid for every album distribution. Or something along those lines. It’s all about the live show, so if you can get yourself out there digitally and it’s liked, people will want to see the real thing, where they will need to buy a ticket. The real reason we all play happens on the stage. It’s all just a bid to get a bigger crowd each night!
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received as a musician, that you feel is relevant to people from all walks of life? Never say no to anything (within reason). Always have a go at every opportunity that comes your way. As long as you survive, it can only make you a better person.
What can we expect next from The Tuesday Syndicate? You can expect Olly [acoustic guitar, percussion] to be late to our next show, because there is a cake shop on the way to the venue! We are in the final stages of re-recording What It’s Worth, and that should be out next month, joined by two new tracks. Then we are starting the next record this summer – too many songs to record! We are booking up now though, more than ever before, so you can definitely expect a lot more shows all over the country, and as we said, lots of new tunes. Probably a few more Jagers, too…
Before we finish, let’s pretend you’re offered any rider request in the world. What would you each pick? I’m sure Olly would go for a whole mess of cake, but honestly we’re pretty simple minds. Give us a pint and we’ll give you the world!