INTERVIEW: Tourism talk EP, gigs and hospital trips

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Tourism are leading a charmed existence.  They played Splendour in the Grass back in 2011, and have graced the stage alongside Faker, Tigertown, Art of Sleeping and The Preatures.  I sit down in the green room at 4 Walls Festival with Joe and James Wisniewski, Adrian Brown and Ben Fothergill to chat about gigs, EPs, and rock n roll.  English born brothers Joe and James spearhead most the conversation, and fascinatingly often finish each other’s sentences.

Their set was pure rock and roll, with the crowd dancing right up at the front of the stage.  “We try and make it happen,” explains Joe, although the band don’t often find themselves playing at venues with auditorium style seating.  “It’s more like just a case of bringing people in a bit, because you always get that empty floor – the awkward space.”  James confirms what I’d seen constantly throughout the day: “At under-age gigs, they’re always more keen to get into it.”

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Photo by Dean Swindell.

“It’s weird,” James continues, “and we’re sober which is even weirder.” he adds with a laugh.  “When we play club gigs and stuff,” Joe continues, “you’ve got everything going on around you, people going to the bar and stuff.  But everyone here is just eyes up, it’s intimidating.”  Not that Tourism appeared fazed in the slighted playing to the hoard of eager youngsters; confidence goes hand in hand with their brand of alternative rock.

Comparisons are drawn between them and British rockers Arctic Monkeys. “We only used to live forty minutes away from Sheffield where they’re from.” The comparison is likely due to Joe and James’ distinctive northern accent, which is clearly delivered in their vocals.  “But it’s not bad, because those guys are awesome,” says James.  “The Kooks [comparison] we get a lot too,” adds Joe.

But although the brothers still retain their strong accent, music making was not a big factor in their early lives.  “I didn’t make music in the UK, I didn’t play an instrument,” admits Joe.  “Where we came from was like a little village in the middle of nowhere.  So rapping everything was pretty cool.  We were a bit of a fan of Twista, we used to lay some rhymes down.”  Unfortunately, I can’t quite convince the boys to give me a free-styling demonstration.  “I definitely can’t,” James answers quickly, “I lost the skill.”

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Joe and James met the the rest of the band during their time at school.  Adrian explains how he bridged the gap, playing both in a band with Joe and James, and in another band with Ben.  “It was a school gig,” Adrian recalls.  “Ben was there because I’d played a gig with him in our other band.  Then he just jumped on drums with us, without hearing any of our songs.”

“He was really shit at drums at that point,” teases James. “At least he’s not still shit.”  Ben takes it in good humour as we move onto some the bands successes.  Although Tourism features on the Splendour in the Grass line-up in 2011, Byron Bay was their biggest crowd.  “With Snakadaktal – that’s my favourite gig,” says Joe.  “Yeah, it was completely full,” adds James.

Photo by Dean Swindell.

Photo by Dean Swindell.

The band remains tight lipped on details as I enquire about what they got up after the gig.  “We got pretty rowdy,” Joe admits, “their tour manager wasn’t too happy with us.”  As if that wasn’t rock n roll enough, Joe explains to me that he’s had barely any sleep, after a house party injury from the night before.  “I busted my back. I was in the hospital ’til four o’clock this morning.”  James laughs, “He snapped my bed in half.”

“I jumped onto it and it just went ‘crack’.  As soon as I stood up I knew I’d done something.”  Thankfully, Joe’s girlfriend (sorry ladies) was on hand to take him to A&E.  He has no regrets though. “It was a lot of fun, I just wish I could have kept going!”  Apparently Joe was quite sore during the 4 Walls set, although it didn’t show.  “I came off [stage], shaking like a shitting dog.”  After I confirm that I heard the last sentence correctly, Joe laughs, “That’s the next EP title.”

Tourism are expecting to put out an EP before the end of the year, which will feature some of their already released singles like ‘Float Away’.  “We’ve been sitting on an EP for over a year now.  But we just haven’t released the whole thing.”  That’s not to say though that Tourism has eased up on the song-writing.  The brothers confirm that they have already written another EPs worth of solid tracks.  “It’s just, getting this one out.  Then hopefully getting some more fans; get a bit of money.”

Before that, we can look forward to another single release according to Adrian. “Probably in the next couple of months or so, then an EP by the end of the year, and whatever else happens after that I suppose.”  That’s Tourism’s ambiguous planning strategy.  But I’ve no doubt they’ll be fine.  That’s just rock n roll.

Keep up with Tourism on Facebook and Triple J Unearthed.

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