saw Tetra Splendor in September 2001 and remember having that rare feeling
of discovering something for myself with no preconceptions. Amongst
a small crowd I felt knocked back by an ambitious tidal wave of sound,
I was watching something young and quite special. Five months later
Im sitting in a near empty pub with singer/keyboard player Gareth
Jones and guitarist Peter Roberts, the nucleus behind Tetra Splendour.
me what you would describe as the bands first big break?
Peter: We sent about 25 demos in jiffy bags to labels using the
traditional formula of a tape, photo, biog and gig list and then a guy
from Sony and a guy from Virgin came down to our home town in Porthcawl,
Wales for a gig. About 400 friends and locals turned up after hearing
rumours of label interest.
NC: Was it good gig?
Gareth: I dont think we were very accomplished live back then
at all! All in all it was a long arduous process over a period of months.
After that it was a word of mouth thing and the first London show we
played was packed but we werent quite ready for it at that time.
In retrospect we may have been in a better position if we held back
a little and improved the live show, but when you are on the doll and
out of a job you dont contemplate these options. Eventually a
guy at EMI who was a tea boy recommended us to his boss and it all happened
much quicker with him.
Peter: Now we have played over 100 gigs and weve totally improved.
The tightness of the band has gained by performing, there is only so
much you can do in the rehearsal room. Then there is the whole recording
process...The 3 environments are completely different worlds.
NC: When you were recording your album did you find that some things
you were doing live didnt work?
Peter: Yeah, allot of the recorded tracks are driven by samples
and atmospheric sounds, so when we are practising for live we perform
stripped down versions. Being a four piece makes it difficult replicate
all the parts. The songs go through a long process of developing before
they are ready.
NC: When will I get to hear this the album?
Peter: The album is out on the 25th of May and it sounds amazing.
We recorded it in June/July last year. A couple of the tracks were recorded
months before that because they were singles. Now we have more than
enough material for a second album!
Gareth: Some the tracks we play live were on the original demos that
we sent out years ago so weve been playing them for a long, long
time but to the audience they are all new!
NC: Do you feel comfortable with comparisons to other bands?
No. Not at all, I hate the way that when every new band comes through
they get compared to whoever is big at that point.
N.: It is hard to describe a new band to people who havent
heard them and not compare them with something known. Do you think that
certain bands have become a catchword to describing you?
Gareth: Not so far, but I think that if someone described us as
sounding like Travis it would be completely ridiculous and throw people
NC: Was there an artist or band that really changed your life?
Gareth: Neil Young, after hearing After the Goldrush
from my Dads record collection. I started writing songs on the
piano after that and got into Decca releases, John Lennon and the Beatles,
especially the White Album.
I think guitar wise, Peter Green. I listen to a whole range of stuff
but if I were to go right from the beginning it would be the Doors and
then later, Beck.
NC: Who would your ideal producer be?
Al Cooper. He has been involved in a hundred albums form Dylan to the
Who and was a pioneer of 'moog synths', that sort of thing.
NC: Have you met him?
No, but our manager Paul Townsend (Peter Townsends brother) emailed
him with some questions about various albums and remarkably he emailed
back and after further exchanges offered to produce our next album!
I dont know how serious he is though, maybe hes just saying
that because hes skint or something!
NC: Did you manage yourselves at any point?
Gareth: Yes, to the point where we were getting A'n'R to come and
see us. I remember that over a period of a year I phoned every pub in
South Wales, sent them demos and didnt get any replies. I didnt
know what to do, pubs like the one we are sitting in (note: the
Rutland and Derby arms!) and it was pointless.
Peter: We eventually struck up a rapport with a guy at Thirteen Artists
management and they set up a tour but we were signed by then and everything
started fitting into place.
NC: Have you found it difficult to cope during such an intensive
Peter: I know on the surface it seems like weve been gigging
lots, but as far as were concerned we arent gigging enough!
We havent been back to the studio properly since we started touring!
Before we recorded the album we did gigs here and there, but never considered
ourselves as a band on the road.
The whole glamour of being on the road just doesnt exist like
you hear about!
At the moment we are just doing it for the experience of playing live
Gareth: I suppose you could make it glamorous!
Peter: What? standing at the bar getting pissed on your own?
Gareth: errrm, yeah I suppose.
NC: Which band would you like to support above all others?
Gareth: Supergrass! We were all hanging out together when we were
14 or so and I should Coco was the soundtrack of that summer,
we played it every day.
NC: Supergrass played the festivals many times do you plan for Tetra
Splendour to hit the festivals this summer?
Peter: We wanna play the European ones, we havent been abroad
yet and they pay lots of money so you can make them financially viable.
NC: So this current tour isnt making you money?
Gareth: We are just about cutting even especially through selling
Peter: You get a budget for the tour, which amounts to about a tenner
a day each!
Another Manic's? Or maybe Dodgy, if we're making far fetched comparisions.
Decide for yourselves, the single Pollen Fever is out on
Emi Chrysalis. Keep your eyes open and your ears peeled for Tetra Splendour
Interview by Naim Cortazzi