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Interview: The Travelling Band

Ahead of their UK tour, Manchester's The Travelling Band spoke to Skiddle about the new album, working with Iestyn Polson, and hometown gigs.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 7th Mar 2013

Manchester’s much loved The Travelling Band are back, and this week sees them set out on the road for a hefty UK tour ahead of the release of third album ‘The Big Defreeze’. Famed for their delicate songcraft and harmonious, melodic tones, this album sees them take on a heavier sound and something of a new direction.

We collared Jo Dudderidge from the band for a quick chin-wag before they left to find out how it all came together.

This week sees you embark on a mammoth 24 date ‘Hands UP’ UK tour; are you looking forward to getting out there to every corner of the UK?

We can't wait! We've been stuck in the jam room and studio for a year so it's definitely time to get out there and play some shows.

You’re regulars on the touring circuit by now, where are some of favourite venues and crowds to play to?

The Bury Met is always a special show and and I think Manchester is blessed with some of the best venues in the UK. Further afield there are some great spots we've played in Europe. Parterre in Basel, Switzerland sticks in the mind.

What’s on The Travelling Band rider? Any weird and wonderful requests?

Our touring rider is quite practical and not too mad really. It's the band who pays for it anyway in the end. We're happy with a fine selection of real ales, water, a couple of energy drinks for the driver, some honey in case our voices are battered and a bowl of fresh fruit to keep the tour bugs at bay. Shitty lager will upset us though. Five bikes at each venue would be cool so you could see the town you play in easier.

Nestled in the middle of the tour, on March 12th, is a date in your hometown at Sound Control in Manchester with Biederbeck. Home gigs are always a bit special aren’t they?

Indeed they are and this one will be no different. We've been out the loop for a little while so it’s going to feel great to play to a friendly crowd and not have to stay in a Travelodge afterwards!

And you have Ellen & The Escapades joining you on the majority of dates too, great accompaniment. Were you allowed to choose who to take out with you?

Yeh... We thought it would be a good fit and they're lovely guys.

Presumably it will be the first chance for a lot of people to hear the new material from the forthcoming album ‘The Big Defreeze’ too? Is it a daunting prospect playing completely new material?

A little bit to be honest, but that's natural. We know the songs are good but finding a rhythm in the set and getting a flow to it all is something that can only be worked out by doing gigs and testing stuff out. Part of what makes a long tour interesting for us is that the songs and the set develop from day to day.

You teamed up with Pledge Music for the album didn’t you? It’s a great way of funding an album, but is there always a bit of doubt in the back of your mind about whether fans will actually put their hands in their pockets and pledge?

It the first time we've done anything like this but I was confident that it would work and we hit our target in just three weeks. Our fans are amazing and we've stuck to our side of the bargain which is the main thing. They're getting the album before anyone else, which feels right.

The album was produced by Iestyn Polson who’s worked with the likes of Patty Smith, David Bowie and Simple Kid; that must have been an honour. How did it come about? Did you have him in mind?

White Ladder was a huge album when we were in our teens so we were all aware of his work. Until you meet a producer though, get a vibe off them and actually try and collaborate you just don't know it going to work. We had a connection to Iestyn through an American buddy of ours and Iestyn flew over from New York and came up to see us in Manchester. He got stuck into the songs straight away and we were on the same page. It was a gut feeling as much as anything.

You’ve gained an enviable reputation as a very tight live band and you’re famed for your gigs. Do you relish the opportunity of putting a record out and showing a different side to yourselves?

Absolutely. I don't think we get the credit we deserve as recording artists and we believe this third album will show that we're more than just road hogs who put on a good show.

What can we expect from the new album? I hear a “new vivacious flavour” has been added to proceedings?

I guess that must be our new merch (TTB brand chilli sauce) that's done that. Dorset Naga Chillis. Pretty brutal! The new record is heavier yet more dynamic whilst keeping the elements of what our fans are used to like our vocal harmonies. We've been using more synths and also piano features more heavily than previous records. It's a fresher, tighter sound and we have captured moments by recording live in a big studio space rather than building up tracks like we did on the last album.

You’re known for your songcraft and harmonies; how do you go about writing new material? Do you all have specific roles in the creative process?

Traditionally Adam and I bring in ideas to the band then we develop the arrangements and harmonies together, often changing the vibe completely. This started to change with new album sessions as Steve and Chris are both writing and we are developing songs from jams more now too.

Will you be gracing any festival stages this year? Michael Eavis has long been a fan… will we be seeing you on the Glasto line-up?

Glastonbury would be amazing but we can't confirm anything as yet. There's a few thing lined up that we can announce though -  we'll be heading up to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis for the The Hebredian Celtic festival in July. We've never been that far north and it's meant to be an amazing festival.

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Catch The Travelling Band on the following dates in March:

07: GLASGOW, KING TUT'S

08 LEEDS, BRUDENELL SOCIAL CLUB

09: YORK, DUCHESS

10: LIVERPOOL, ERIC'S

12: MANCHESTER, SOUND CONTROL

13: NOTTINGHAM, BODEGA

14: LEICESTER, DONKEY

15: BIRMINGHAM, HARE & HOUNDS

16: CHELTENHAM, FROG & FIDDLE

17: CARDIFF, BUFFALO BAR

19: BRISTOL, THELKA

20: OXFORD, JERICHO TAVERN

21: SOUTHAMPTON, CELLAR

22: BRIGHTON, GREEN DOOR STORE

23: GUILDFORD, BOILEROOM

24: TUNBRIDGE WELLS, FORUM

26: LONDON, LEXINGTON

27: NORWICH, ARTS CENTRE

28: CAMBRIDGE, PORTLAND ARMS

29: CREWE, BOX

30: HULL, ADELPHI