Fin Logie chats with frontman Jamie Giles of shoegaze meets post-punk group Tourists about their upcoming debut album Another Slate, music inspirations, planning gigs with a baby on the way and working with War on Drugs and DIIV producer Daniel Schlett.
Torquay-based dream-pop outfit Tourists’ debut album Another State has been a long-time coming. They’ve had a consistent output of material since their beginnings, with a batch of singles and EPs making the rounds on Spotify and Bandcamp since 2013. After being discovered by Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, the band secured an impressive Glastonbury set in 2017 on the BBC Introducing stage and have acquired a substantial fan following. On Another State the band offers up a grand, reverberating sound, carrying the legacy of 90s shoe-gazers with that of 80s synth-pop groups, and with a healthy dash of post-punk thrown in for good measure.
Frontman Jamie Giles hopped on Zoom for a chat about the upcoming album, their sonic predecessors, and what it was like working with War on Drugs producer Daniel Schlett.
The Glasgow Guardian: Thanks for sitting down to chat with me! So, you’re from Torquay: is there much of a music scene there, or did you kind of have to pave your own way?
JG: Yeah, I’m from Paignton, which is a neighbouring town, similar sort of tacky seaside town. We’re all from the area. When I was younger, Muse were kind of like a local band and they were playing around here like before they were famous, and then they just blew up. I remember everyone in school loved Muse, so I think they had a big impact on the vibe down here. I’ve always loved Radiohead personally; I’ve been a fan ever since my dad introduced me to them when I was 15. It just completely opened my eyes, I was like “Wow, I didn’t realise music could be this great.” So that’s been sort of my main inspiration.
GG: Another Slate is your first album, but you’ve released singles in the run up to it. What’s the lead up to releasing an album been like?
JG: Yeah, we’ve had singles and EPs out previously. Up until now, I feel like it’s been more like trial and error, trying to figure out our kind of sound. In the older stuff, there’s some really 80s synthpop songs, and then we adopted a sort of low-key jangly guitar sound, kind of Beach Fossils-inspired. I was really into them for a while and I was definitely going down that route. So, some of the older singles and EPs are a mix of different vibes, but I think with this album we really stumbled on the kind of sound that we want, and it’s all quite consistent, I think.
GG: Definitely. So, there’s been a kind of ongoing sonic evolution?
JG: Yeah, and I think we’ve finally kind of cracked it with this album. We’ve been together for a while now and I think we’ve finally developed the sound that we want. We messaged Daniel Schlett, this music producer who’s worked with bands like DIIV and the War on Drugs, some bands that we really love; we all love DIIV especially. We emailed him and we were just like “fancy producing our stuff?”, and lo and behold he agreed to do it. He really understood the sound we were going for. It wasn’t like “we want to sound like DIIV”, it was just kind of elements of that spacious, slightly wishy-washy, dreamy vibe. I think he really helped us with that.
GG: Five of the tracks from Another State have been released as singles. What made you choose those five tracks?
JG: It was a difficult one because we obviously liked them all. It’s difficult to have an external perception of them because they’re so ingrained in us. We’ve played them so many times and we know them so well, sometimes it’s hard to step back and think “which one is actually the best? Which one will people like?” You do get some feedback at the gigs; people will come up and say they liked certain songs. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I think we went with the ones that we thought would have the biggest impact. You know on albums there’s a few songs that take a few listens to really connect with. But we thought those five songs delivered more of an instant impact. We’re a newish band and we’re trying to get this new album heard, so we thought those would be the best ones to lead with.
GG: What’s your personal favourite track on the album?
JG: I really like Another State, the title track. It’s kind of different from all the others, a bit more mellow and kind of dreamy. I really like Beach House; I don’t think you can get more lost in music than you can with Beach House. I remember going on a family holiday when I was about 21 and I had just discovered Beach House, and I just spent all this time on the beach in Jamaica just listening to them. It was just perfect. I think that was a big inspiration for that track. Also, the last part of Another Slate, with just the guitar, was a really nice moment when we were recording the album and Lloyd was just playing the last bit with those dreamy chords, it was really hot and we were all just lying down just feeling it and in the moment. So, I think I’ve just got a special connection with that song in particular. It’s difficult cause we’ve all got our favourites, so there’s a lot of debating which songs to release as singles and which ones to play live and stuff. I think the good thing with having an odd number of people in your band is that there’s always an outcome to a vote, so that helps with that stuff. It’s a democracy, basically.
GG: I understand that you met one of your band members when you were performing acoustic solo stuff. Can you tell me more about that?
JG: Yeah, this was ages ago. I’m 33, and Scott, our drummer, is 36; this happened when we were about 20. I had a little Myspace music page, and there was an indie dive club here called Rude, and he just came up to me and was like: “Oh my god, are you Jamie from Myspace?” It was just really weird, he was acting like a little teenage girl, but he’s this big ginger bloke with a beard. It was a bit surreal. That’s how we started, it was just kind of me and the drummer, trying to figure out what kind of band we wanted to be. I was just an acoustic guitarist, and I didn’t really know whether to be like post-punky or more kind of heavy, or to keep it that sort of jangly stuff.
GG: Did you carry over any of your song-writing style from that time, or have you mostly departed from it?
JG: I think at that point we used to just go out all the time: I love the kind of indie scene that was out back then. It was The Strokes, Kings of Leon, early Arctic Monkeys, and the post-punk revival was coming in as well. So, I think we’ve always had a post-punk kind of element to our music that I’d say has remained all the way through from those early days. Scott’s always wanting to do some kind of Strokes-y drum beat and we’ll have to say like “oh, you’ve just copied that.” Some of our songs start off like that, we’ll say, “let’s do a song like this” and then we’ll have to twist it into our own sound.
GG: Have you been inspired by any Glasgow or Scottish bands? I can definitely hear some Cocteau Twins or Jesus and Mary Chain in some of the songs.
JG: Cocteau Twins definitely, I really love the Beta Band too. Glasvegas are a band I used to love because of their really big sound. Simple Minds too are a band I’ve always loved since I was a kid.
GG: It’s obviously difficult to plan for the future with the pandemic, but have you got any gigs on the horizon?
JG: Ideally, we would want to be touring to promote the album just now, but obviously that’s not an option. We do have a gig on 22 April next year, but I’m expecting a baby around that time so I think I might need to be here to welcome my child, so I don’t know if that gig is even going to happen. I know people are doing socially distanced gigs and things like that at the moment, but I think we’re just kind of focused on staying safe. We’ve been using this time to write some new tunes and refine the ones we’ve already got.
GG: You’ve already got new material in the works then?
JG: Yeah, we’re already working on album two. We recorded Another State back in 2018 so we have been waiting on it for quite a while. We just wanted to get the right time and release it with the right kind of people.
GG: Thanks for chatting with me, I’m looking forward to the release date on 20 November. And you’re releasing the record on white vinyl, I see…
JG: Yeah, we’re really happy with the white vinyl. When we first started the band, we always said our band bucket list things were to perform on Jools Holland, to be played on 6 Music – which hasn’t happened yet. We’ve been on Radio 1 and 2, so getting close – and to have our own vinyl. Just the fact that we’ve got our own vinyl, we’re so happy with that. I think it’s really cool that it’s white as well!
Tourists’ debut album Another State is out on 20 November via Modern Sky. Find them online at:
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