'Tango in the Attic ' the Glenrothes five piece as interviewed by Tomas Bird

My day had been heavy.Ridiculously heavy!At this moment in time, readers, the financial industry –nay, the world! - is in a state of complete meltdown.The way things are going, bread will soon be £53.72 a slice, petrol stations will soon be a place of worship and eventually – as Frankie Boyle so brilliantly predicted – China will rise out of the ground and consume us all.No matter what happens though, Chick Young will always deserve to be snapped in charity football matches.Anyway, unfortunately, all this media vomit, my friends is absolute fodder for every sweatbox up and down the country – most of who seem to have obtained a job in my office.Needless to say, I had had to endure a fair amount of almost intolerable nonsense spouted in my ear for the majority of the day.Mostly, may I add, was to do with the plummeting share price.Every minute, on the minute, I would hear an almighty cry of “Oh that’s it at £1.93” or “It’s now at £1.68. Oh this is really bad, isn’t it?”!To be honest with you, all this was the least of my worries.I was more concerned over the fact that no-one had got the coffees in for some time now.I was positively choking on a 10 strong (that is our coffee machine’s code for milk and one sugar)!Perhaps this was all part of their master plan, I thought to myself; make me snap first so that their jobs will all be safe.Luckily – for the last 30 minutes of the day – I was able to drown out the drone of this drivel by planning the forthcoming evening’s interview with the outstanding five piece from Glenrothes, Tango in the Attic.

As with The Futureheads interview, my colleague and co-pilot in these endeavours Fraser Stephen, aka Flo was also involved.If questions were to be asked, then the faces answering them must be captured on photo – if only to remind me in later life that it was indeed myself that was there and wrote this.Brazilian beer is all good and well for getting the banter flowing.It is also, however, a phenomenal potion for wiping away those precious brain cells that serve well to remind you that the banter even flowed.That aside, I was more than excited to be getting the chance to document such an exciting band – possibly the most enthusiastic and exhilarant band that my beloved Fife has to offer at the moment.

Settling into the ludicrously comfy setting of brothers Jordan (Guitar) and Daniel’s (Vocals) living room, we set-up – well opened our various beverages – and eased straight into a conversation that sounded as if it were emanating from a group that were life long friends.All nerves and apprehensions were instantly dashed and I was more than happy to switch on my Dictaphone there and then to record this down to earth chat.Don’t get me wrong, their music and their ambition and their outlook on life was what I was there to capture.It is without a shadow of a doubt that if I produced a pile of garbled gossip synonymous with Hello or OK magazine, then I would not be much of a writer.In fact, if this was the product of my effort, then I would heartily welcome a stoning or perhaps even invite myself to be thrown to a lion den.Frankly, any Biblical punishment would probably suffice.I suppose what I am trying to say via a lot of tangents and wild gibberish, is that my real aim was really just to ask the questions I wanted to know about what was fast becoming my own, and many others favourite band.If I could put across the salient points as to why Tango in the Attic are drawing praise from anyone and everyone, in my usual jovial and eccentric way, then this Field Officer in Acts of Mayhem would be more than content.

   First question that I deemed fitting to pose to them was to establish why Ellipsis – their former name – reformed into Tango in the Attic?

All:We changed the name for a few reasons…Jim – our Bassist had just joined…we had been Ellipsis for a quite a few years, but honestly hadn’t really been a band at all…it was kind of like out growing a high school thing, almost tinkering on the edge of being part time…every now and again we would maybe decide to do a gig or something which isn’t really the way a band should be.

Paul:Also, we felt that the name Tango in the Attic sounded little bit darker and fitted the style of the music we had started writing…Ellipsis was just a pain in the arse…nobody could spell it.People would always come away thinking they had just seen Eclipse or something, which is basically nae use!

T-Bird:So who came up with the name then?

Daniel:I’ve got to take full credit for that one…I’m sorry, lads, but I do.It was during the first batch of recordings with the Monomen aka Q and Chris.(As a side note, Q is also known for being Fife band “Sergeant’s” sound engineer).We were down finishing the CD to submit to T in the Park regarding our T Break Stage application and the subject of should we also change the name came up…because this is kind of the time to do it.Only thing is you can’t force a name!Anyway, I was flicking through this magazine from America called the Onion and spotted an advertisement for Tango lessons and I was like, Tango is an underused word…Tango is a nice word.We then ensued on possible names such as Tango in the Circus etc.Then as all these names were being floated about, all our eyes drifted up to the ceiling and I was like how about Tango in the Attic?

Flo:So out of that you are taking full responsibility for the name…haha ace banter.

So with the line-up as we know them to date sitting before me, and the explanation as to where the name Tango in the Attic came from sitting appreciatively in my note book, I asked the question that surely has been posed before every band since the dawn of music:How do Tango actually go about writing their songs…was it a collective effort or is there a chief song writer?

All:It’s definitely a collective effort…20% each.It used to be that someone would come up with an idea and then plan the whole song, but now everyone adds their own input to whatever idea we’ve locked on to.

Jordan:It was like with Jackanory, we had this sort of chorus for ages and then Jim came up with a Bass line but then that’s all we had for about two months.

Jim:Yeah, when I came up with that, me and you (Jordan) ran through to your room to record it but when we listened to it back, the chorus on its own sounded a bit serious and dark and we couldn’t really go anywhere with it.

Daniel:To give you an example using Jackanory, we were at practice but it wasn’t going that well, so we decided to warm up ourselves up a bit with this Jackanory idea…practice was meant to be 10 – 12, but then at 1am the guy came in and said “no offence, guys, but are you planning to go any time soon as my wife is on the phone saying she’s made my dinner?”.We hadn’t even realised the time as we had been too busy cracking this song – that hadn’t been going anywhere for months – by working together…everyone’s comments brought the whole song together…for me Jackanory was definitely an important point for us.

Jim:Also we’re quite strict…if we’re not enjoying the feel of what’s going on; we’ll leave it…maybe go and play a bit of football for half an hour.

T-Bird:Fucking right…there’s no point trying to be creative if you’re not in the mood or you’ll just come up with something that sounds shit…also it’s cool to hear that people are literally missing their dinners because of your work ethos.

Next thing I wanted to know was where would Tango in the Attic’s ideal gig be?I’ve always been a massive fan of bands that play in obscure places such as caves and oil rigs.For instance, I’ve always thought that Luva Anna should play in a Lighthouse.Anyway, no sooner had the question left my lips when the whole bands eyes lit up – almost like a roomful of children at Christmas time who are about to open up their presents filled with hilariously daft and creative banter.Listening back to the rabble of noise that greeted me I was able to sum up that their ideal location to play a gig would be Edinburgh Castle, opened up to look out onto a beach in the Bahamas, the stage would be a revolving jungle and they would be supported by a 30 piece Samba band…for someone’s wedding.Well, I did ask!!

You all play a variety of instruments on stage, some of which include the Saxophone, Keyboard, Bongo Drums, a frying pan and a converted road bollard…I wanted to know if they had any plans for acquiring any new pieces of percussion etc?I felt it necessary to point out to Paul that he doesn’t need to crash the bus this time in order to do so though.

Joe:Life throws you percussion…it’s not something you can actually just go out and buy.

T-Birds note:Normal percussion is readily available at all good music stores, however the percussion that Tango normally opt for is a little harder to come by or possibly even think up for that matter.

Paul:Haha, aye.Our kind of percussion calls out to you, you don’t call it.

But then the phone goes and we all fall eerily silent.Staring at each other, our thoughts all intertwined and we found ourselves asking the question: could it actually be percussion on the other end of the receiver?Surely not on a week night I thought!As it turns out, it wasn’t, and I for one am personally glad.I’m not even sure Tango in the Attic would know what to say to percussion if it did phone up one day with a few suggestions as to their set.I would suggest that that improbable conversation would be best left to Joe at 3.30am when his thinking is at his most inspired.Anyway, I feel as if I’m digressing…

Joe:We had this song that we played at the end of our set and it had a sort of Jazzy feel to it and I was like well, I played a bit of a sax at school so I’ll try and work something out for this song…I still can’t really play it!

Flo:One thing that I really like about you is all the different stuff that is going on on stage…I think you pull it off really well and you definitely have your own sound.

Jordan:It’s quite funny though sometimes because I’ll have an idea for a song and then I’ll think right what is Joe going to play?

Paul:The thing we do consciously watch out for with our on stage antics is that we don’t want to make it too gimmicky.

That’s the perfect thing about Tango in the Attic though, is that there is so much going on, yet it is all so eccentrically harmonious.A saxophone solo fits in just as well as a road bollard / cow bell combination and I think that it is only fair to say that I think that Joe could be the finest lead frying pan player the UK currently has to offer.It is the little things like these, which make Tango so thoroughly enjoyable.I look forward to seeing whatever else gets added to their set in the future.

Next thing for the boys was the mandatory blushing question, because Tango in the Attic are definitely a name that is being touted as one of the most talked about bands around... I wanted to know how they felt about that.

All:It’s really exciting, man.It’s amazing to get so much positive feedback when we put so much into it.We love playing…we love recording music…we love going out and seeing other bands and one of the biggest thrills ever is when people get up and dance about and have a great time…that’s why we put on buses every week and try and get places for people to stay.We wouldn’t do all that if we didn’t love what we were doing and for compliments like that to be made, well that’s what makes it all worth while.

Although a fully fledged member of what essentially is a new band, Jim is still the newest member of an established group of musicians and I wanted to know Jim’s favourite thing about being in Tango in the Attic?

Jim:The whole thing about being on stage.In fact, I think my favourite thing could be walking off stage.It can be quite surreal.I mean we’ve all been in bands at high school and after the gig, it’s sort of like your friends would all uncomfortably say you were good, almost as if they feel they have to…but with Tango, when you play a good gig and you get random people come up to you and congratulating you…that’s special man…that really means something to me.

Joe:When you put a lot of work into something, be it recording or playing a really good gig…the satisfaction is immense.

Jim:Yeah totally, I mean we put everything into every gig.One of things that I’m strict about is that we never skip or play a half hearted show…it doesn’t matter if there only like two people there…if you play your arse off, then these two people are likely to come and see you again and that’s when a following could start.I’m really proud of our work ethics.

Throughout this interview, the recurring enthusiastic theme has been phenomenally refreshing, possibly even more so than the beer I have been guzzling – which is a very rare thing.First and foremost, they are five best friends and have been for some time.If they’re not playing music together, then they’re playing golf or football or whatever else they can all get involved with.They even manage to all rip Jim – formerly in a heavy metal band – for actually being “a big cheesy pop merchant…sort of like Barney the Dinosaur…but with a Bass”.It seems a shame that time is pushing on, so with a final impression from Daniel of Barney, I decided to round the banter off with one final question.

How do you want to end a successful 2008 and what do you have planned for 2009?

Joe:Well we kind of work towards wee mini targets…what we first said was let’s play 10 really good gigs before the end of 2007 and we achieved that.For 2008 we said, let’s work on some fucking ace and productive recording sessions and I feel we have achieved that.

Paul:Then we were like right, we’re starting to get a bit more notice so instead of playing every gig we can get our hands on, let’s maybe try and pick what feels like the right sort of gig…maybe up the capacity…take it a stage at a time, which is working out really well for us.

Jordan:So now we’re at the point where we’re ready / starting to look for some sort of management…we would like to get something sorted before the end of the year.

Paul:Yeah, we’re struggling with the whole organisational thing…with writing, playing, recording, booking even more gigs and then to top it all off Uni…it can be a tad tough.

Jim:Also, too round off 2008 I would like to release a Christmas single.

And that’s when – after I stop chuckling at Jim’s banter – it hits home as to why Tango in the Attic have genuinely turned into one of my favourite bands.This is a group that write and play interesting music.Their lyrical structure is the best that I’ve heard for some time, and the good natured chaos that seems to emanate from everything holds an enormous appeal over me.Daniel pretty much summed it up for me when he comically acknowledges that his band haven’t struggled in the same context as American rap stars such as 50 cent (easily the most priceless comment I’ve ever ever heard), they are privileged enough to have had support from their families, but in terms of hard work – no band puts more into it than Tango.From their live shows to their monomental recordings, it’s blatantly obvious how much goes into this fermenting concoction of pure happiness and fun.Just remember that as well as all this mayhem, all five of them are also working towards proper tough degrees – Chemical Engineering to name one – which I think deserves to be recognised as amazing dedication.

  They never did mention as to what they had planned for 2009, but I suspect that we’ll be in for a treat.They did however agree that if they were all to participate in an egg and spoon race, all five of them would win.It was an absolute pleasure to interview them…if ever Playdays is brought back, I’ll definitely be petitioning the BBC for a Tango stop.

Tomas Bird

Field Officer in Acts of Mayhem