This year saw one of the more important punk albums in All Aboard The Crazy Train from London Punk Rockers The Duel with songs inspired by and moving on from the 70’s punk and 80’s new wave. With much excitement The RingMaster Review had the opportunity to ask The Duel about themselves, the album and punk.
Hello and big thanks for sparing time to talk to us here at The RingMaster Review, would you be as kind as to introduce the members of the band?
Tara Rez Vocals/ Songwriter
Andy Thierum Keytar /Songwriter
Chris Mcdougall – Bass
For those still not as aware of you as they should be, could you tell us about the beginnings of the band, how Tara and Rex met etc?
Funnily we met thru an ad in the melody maker. Andy s Manager was auditioning singers for his band & I had just walked away from my then Manager, who wanted me to do ‘pop’. I was in the pub feeling gloomy, saw a melody maker on the table, flicked thru it, spotted this ad that sounded like me, sent them my stuff, got invited for an audition, we both liked each other’s stuff a lot and within half an hour of meeting we wrote an amazing song, and then we both ‘knew’ we were on the same page and we d found what we were looking for. We then literally turned our lives upside down in order to be together and create the songs we dreamed were within us.
As someone who only ‘discovered’ music when punk exploded in ’76, how and when did you guys first absorb the sound that runs through your veins?
Both of us at an early age were obsessed with music and writing. It’s always been there. Andy was writing music very early and me writing songs. I spent a lot of time on my own growing up. But I had the radio & John Peel. The first song I fell in love with as a child was ‘This Is Not A Love Song’ by PiL, after PiL I listened to the Sex Pistols! Funnily I just found out from Andy it was ‘Love Song’ by The Damned that got him. Typical Duel yin & yang!
What were the strongest influences that help shape your sound to some degree and which band is THE punk band for you? (Ruts is ours)
I guess we are Punks spawn from the Rave Generation. Though we have a vast musical taste it’s the Ramones & Dead Boys that have been a very heavy influence on us. Their music and songs always scratched our itch & have really helped us not to give up and keep going despite the struggles and opposition we’ve faced. Hence we covered a song from each of them on the first album to pay homage. FOLLOWED BY The Clash and many other well known & more obscure 77 punk bands.
On the surface it feels that apart from a few great exceptions like you that real punk is a dormant sound lost to the pop punk brigade, what is the reality that you guys have found?
Andy: Exactly that! It’s been a pleasure for us hearing bands from ‘77 that made you feel like you were hearing something new.
Tara – the reality is that you can copy the formula and you can copy the clothes, but you can miss the point and (un)fortunately that missed point will also shine thru your sounds. Punk bands back then had a great way of being able to express themselves in a free, original new way – Every musical explosion that changed the world had its own unique sound – this is what we want to be a part of in our times –that euphoria - in 2012 !? .. bring it on!!!
Has your sound changed much from your previous albums, Let’s Finish What We Started in 2007 and Childish Behaviour in 2009?
Andy: In one way but the format has stayed the same and the song writing has always been about new ideas.
Tara: Our first official album Lets Finish What We Started – was great fun to make but took sooo long. We couldn’t get any support from anyone to help us release it despite great reviews of the demos discovered from all over the world! The music industry especially in Rock and Punk was on the decline so we had to record it our self. Took forever to work and pay for the studio fees – tho’ we are happy with the album and the whole band as we were – but very frustrating times for us moving at a snail’s pace.
By the time it came to writing the second album, we were like, there’s no way we’re gonna wait years before it’s out. In hindsight, we should have just released it as soon as we wrote it but we didn’t for fear of getting slated for being too raw. We were trying to be ‘pro’ about it like the first album. It’s hard to get a good perspective of something when you’re living and breathing it with no outside support. We couldn’t strike the balance with making the recordings sound how we wanted ‘cos we didn’t have the money. Especially after touring etc. So we did the only thing we could do, we just re-recorded it all at home with what we had, and gave it to the world. It was a humble release. All within 6 months, we released a double album of brand new songs that were all written in that time. That attracted more fans from a wider audience and got great reviews from people that could ‘see through and beyond’ the recording quality. What was also great about this album was seeing punks from different sub genres being turned onto it. Yeah that’s we like! when we all unite! : )
Come ‘All Aboard The Crazy Train’ By now, we’d taken so much shit from nay sayers (why do they always have the most audible voice!) that we we’re now just defiantly walking our own path. If we hadn’t have made the first two albums, we wouldn’t have learnt what we needed to create the 3rd – both emotionally and technically.
How about the actual recording, what is the difference now to when you first stepped into the studio
We have access to better recording equipment and have learnt a lot about how to record our sound on a shoe string budget. We do the bulk of it at home and finish as little as possible in a ‘pro’ studio.
The songs on the album are strong with social commentary and sense, but do you feel people ‘listen’ to the words and react as they did back in the late seventies?
Andy: It would be nice to think that if enough people heard it would invite their emotions to lean to that way.
Tara : they’re not gonna react like they did in the seventies, ‘cos that was then and our times, tho’ history repeats itself – our times, have moved on and are more challenging than ever for every generation on all corners of the earth.
If the sound wasn’t right, I wouldn’t want to sing with it so the sound of course is the most important. On this album, I admit I ranted on about the same things a fair few times. I really annoyed myself. But that was what was in me & it troubled, plagued me a lot and Andy was very supportive of this. All my poems/writings at the time were sorta on the same track, tho’ once we wrote ‘Two Suns’ the last track on the album, I felt a real sense of release, and I felt free to move on lyrically. Hopefully the music & lyrics combined will awake, ignite & re-ignite the ones that it is for! The rest of us can enjoy the ride together on the wave of beats and melodies.
Though studio recordings the songs on All Aboard The Crazy Train come over with a live feel, was this conscientiously aimed at or just a natural thing?
That’s a hard question, it’s definitely a conscience aim to be able to record our sound how we like to hear it, our aim is always to bring across the feel of the song we’re working on.
Talking of live music, you have shared stages with the likes of Dead Kennedys, UK Subs, Vice Squad, Buzzcocks……the list goes on, which show has been your favourite and most personally influential?
All of them have been great honour & experience for sure. Playing with Walter Lure at The Continental in New York in 2006 was a very special gig for us & the things he came up and said about us afterwards really really encouraged us not to give up being ourselves – as imperfect as we were !
Peter Hook , The Tights, Angie Bowie, Charlie Harper – UK Subs, Knox – The Vibrators , Rebellion Festival, Toxin – they have all played an important role to our individual growth
Watching the videos on Youtube of your performances at UK Rebellion Festival where you have played for the past five years. It was interesting to see the audiences. Is it a varied audience in type and age that come to see you generally?
Online our larger audience seems to be the under 18s & under 24’s (thanks to the stats on Facebook!) I guess it’s a varied age group at live shows tho’, but it’s real nice to see people coming back to shows who’ve liked us long time
Coming back to the album and a song’s political and social comment, tell us about what is for us the best track on the album with its Clash, Transplants, Ruts feel, ‘The Way London Used To Be’.
We first wrote that song many years ago, we could probably release an album of just different mixes we’ve done of it! But this song just keeps coming back to us in different guises so it’s hard to escape its importance & relevance for today. Now we see the protests and riots around the world its kinda freaky seeing the reality of the words come true!
Your new video is for ‘I’m On To You’, also on the album. Where was that recorded? It looked cold haha.
Video was made in Shoreditch about a week before Xmas last year, and yeah it was ffffreezing!
How will you be promoting the album upon release, live shows planned?
In true upside down DIY style, we did the tour of the album earlier this year, even though the album wasn’t ready, was frustrating but we had some hiccups recording wise and so it couldn’t be released at the same time, as we hoped and planned. We will be doing more select shows – we can’t stop gigging – it’s our love! But we are currently making some more videos, as this is the high demand we’re getting from a lot of people around the world who want to see more of us but can’t. If we got a call tomorrow to say pack your things you’re gonna tour the world to promote this album, the whole band would be ready & up for it ; )
Lastly, on the album we were reminded by Tara at times of the likes of Pauline Murray, Siouxsie Sioux and Poly Styrene who was her biggest influence vocally?
If you know Tara, you d know she’s really not trying to sound like anyone & you’d know her influences really come from herself and her life so far, but songs/music she loves and is influenced by comes from a wide variety of singers that include both male & female.
And Hilly shaking his head, looking confused & replied ‘well which one does she sound like? She CAN’T sound like all of them!’ he said
And Todd replied incredulous, ‘but she can …and she does!’
Many thanks for talking with us and good luck with the album, not that you will need it, would you like to leave us with any last thoughts or words?
Yes, thank you so much for taking the time to listen to our new album, for the review and the really interesting questions you’ve asked – was fun answering them.
Hope to see many good things come from this album. A big Thank you to Gary Hutchinson for helping us promote it, takes the pressure off and allows us to do what we really are. His support ‘lightened the load’ to the point that we have already started work on the fourth album. ; )
All the best & big love from The Duel coming at ya X
Oh yes she can and as Todd said does Hilly haha and for more information on All Aboard The Crazy Train and The Duel go to https://www.facebook.com/thedueluk
Review of All Aboard The Crazy Train @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/the-duel-all-aboard-the-crazy-train/