Monday 22 October 2012

K&A with Thank You So Nice

Photo by Anna Drobczynska
Regular readers of this blog should be well aware of this well-mannered Edinburgh-dwelling trio.   So far, Thank You So Nice have already bared their lonely, "socially-awkward" souls to me in their pursuit of their musical other half, and revealed their geeky admiration for a certain French philosopher when they kindly donated their album track Foucault to KEP#24 a few months ago.  Socially-awkward geeks... is it any wonder why I feel such an affinity with their debut album!   

Make Friends, Not Money was released last week on a very special day for the band.  Well... two thirds of them, as I found out when I asked them a few questions.  Here's what they had to say, plus a few of my favourite musical interludes from their brilliant debut.         

Kowalskiy:  Who are Thank You So Nice?
Rea: Three stage awkward people.

Kowalskiy:  Let's get the expected ones out of the way first... how would you describe 'your sound'?
Alex: Indie rock with krautrock aspirations/pretentions, depends how you look at it I suppose.

Kowalskiy:  And I'm sorry... but I'm curious... what's the story behind the name? Are you just that polite and appreciative?
Rea: As well as being very nice people we are pretty big geeks, primarily when it comes to history and video games. The name comes from the new Nintendo DS Super Mario Brothers. When Mario finishes a level and has pirouetted off the flagpole, it’s what he says, or should I say what we think he says, either way we like it although increasingly we're going by the acronym TYSN so we don't get sued.
Alex: It has been described as "the worst band name in Edinburgh". When I read that half of me wanted to, yes, evolve to the acronym, but the other half of me thought, well, if we achieve nothing, at least there'll be that.

Kowalskiy:  You've just released your debut album Make Friends, Not Money featuring previous single Let's Make Money... mixed signals folks!! So what's the deal?
Rea: Mixed message indeed, but Let's Make Money is more ironic criticism while Make Friends, Not Money is more sincere message.
Alex: I wouldn't take either of them at face value. I know it's a cop out, but I prefer to let the listener find their own meanings, if they really want to. We actually recorded a title track for the album but it didn't make the final cut. It probably would have made the whole thing make more sense.

Kowalskiy:  The album came out on Monday there, the same day as Michel Foucault's birthday... him from Foucault surprisingly.  Remind us who he is again, and what inspired you to write a song about him?  
Rea: I let the boys geek out about that, despite being half-French. 

Niall: Michel Foucault was a French postmodernist theorist who dealt with ideas of power and hegemony. While it's sort of grown that I am greatly acquainted with Foucaut's theories, my main admiration of him is that he was prepared to change his mind over almost anything, which is extremely unusual for an academic.  
Alex: What Niall, the Quiet Man of the group says. Foucault is an in house TYSN hero though. Whenever we rehearse or play live we put up a portrait of him on the bass amp. In a metaphysical sense.

Kowalskiy:  Other than that, what else can you tell us about the album?
Alex: We wanted to make something that was short, sharp, guitar based, and hopefully fun to listen to, with strange references if you really want to go looking for them. I find a lot of current bands, particularly in Edinburgh, po-faced and frankly dull (isn't pop music meant to be enjoyable?), so I wanted to do something that you don't have to take so....fucking....seriously.

Kowalskiy:  Are there plans afoot to tour the album?
Rea: We'd like to do a mini tour of Scotland, the smaller and intimate the venue the better.  
Alex: We'd like to tour the new towns of Britain. Playing outside of Edinburgh would be good... Our next gig is in Leith, so that's a start.  

Kowalskiy:  What would be your ideal gig?  
Rea: Ideal gig to watch would be somewhere where it's still warm at night and you can get close enough to the front but not be crush and have a good jump about with your friends into the wee hours of the night. I got pretty close to this when I went to Prima Vera Sound Festival in Barcelona years ago. But if I was performing, I'd want a small intimate venue, packed with friends and great fans; with them being as much as part of the performance as us and then we all go eat cheesy chips together afterwards.  
Niall: To watch? One of the 1979 Fabrizio De Andre concerts with PFM as the backing band. To play, I'd love to play any gig in Italy, either something huge like the Circus Maximus in Rome, or some little venue packed out.  
Alex: I'd like to play in Outer Mongolia c1200. If they didn't like you, you'd be in trouble though. I reckon they might be into Schlager so we'd probably do an hour long version of that. The roadies would take care of themselves and the rider would probably include some kind of highly alcoholic fermented milk drink.  

Kowalskiy:  Who's this Katie?  
Rea: I'll defer this answer to Alex  
Alex: Ah, Katie, a chance encounter on a London to Glasgow train over a decade ago. I thought she'd be a good subject for a public transport themed song with a semi-ironic ska bit. Her name wasn't Katie.

Kowalskiy:  Last one... what can we expect from TYSN in the future?  
Rea: More stickers.  
Niall: A constant experimentation of sounds, directions and a willingness to repeat things if necessary.  
Alex: More repetition, more references to obscure leaders of the opposition, and a krautrock album.

I for one, can't wait!  Their music may be fun, but despite what Alex said, they are very much a band to be taken very seriously indeed.  Make Friends, Not Money is out now on a name-your-price download over here, with CD copies available from Elvis Shakespeare, Avalanche Records and their own website.  All that's left for me to say is Thank You TYSN!

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