From the University city of Oxford, Gunning For Tamar play intuitive indie rock that is proficient with sensible melodies.
It’s a style that has led the band to receive attention and praise from BBC Introducing and numerous print and online publications. More importantly it caught the attention of nearby indie label, Alcopop Records, who the band joined in early 2012.
Now with a new EP in the form of “Time Trophies” and a UK tour with label-mates Jumping Ships, 2012 is set to be a year of progression for the quartet.
Guitarist Dan Pollard recently talked to Already Heard to discuss the new EP and it’s interesting physical release format, the Oxford music scene, signing with Alcopop Records and more.
Already Heard: Could you introduce yourself and role in Gunning For Tamar?
Gunning For Tamar: I’m Dan Pollard and I play guitar, keys and occasionally rock the mic in a backing vocal stylee. I have blonde hair.
Already Heard: For those who haven’t heard you yet. How would you describe your sound?
Gunning For Tamar: This is always tricky but to borrow JackPoP’s (Alcopop Records’ Jack Clothier) words: ‘Tumultuous, rock drive, tender melody meets smash anthems’. Also once got described as ‘Spastic math on ice’ don’t really know what that means but I like it.
Already Heard: Last year you released an EP titled ‘Deaf Cow Motel’. What has the band been doing since then?
Gunning For Tamar: Playing a lot of shows mainly, as well as recording, writing and all the promo and organisational stuff that goes into putting out a record. We were really lucky with that EP in that we managed to do three tours off the back of it including our first trip to Europe.
Already Heard: You spent a fair bit of time on the road playing festivals such as Truck Festival and Guilfest and with bands like Tellison, Johnny Foreigner and Maybeshewill. Have these shows help develop the band in anyway?
Gunning For Tamar: There’s really no substitute to playing live, you can play songs hundreds of times in a rehearsal room but they feel like completely different animals when you set them loose on a real audience. Playing with some really great bands is awesome too for a bunch of fan boys like us and is also a massive incentive to put everything we have into each performance to hopefully justify being on the same stage. I’m also happy to report that all the bands you’ve mentioned are ace people, Maybeshewill and JoFo have even been kind enough to work on remixes for our new record, it’s a bit mind blowing to have musical heroes of mine contributing versions of our songs.
Already Heard: I understand you spent some time touring in Germany. How was that?
Gunning For Tamar: Unbelievable, to drive across four countries and turn up to shows full of such welcoming and enthusiastic people was amazing. It’s rare for a band like us to get treated so well in the UK let alone abroad. There is a real DIY punk spirit that has produced some incredible venues and promoters as well as a pretty solid structure to the scene over there. Bratwursts are also king of the sausages.
Already Heard: You’ve also received national press attention from the likes of Rock Sound, XFM, and BBC Introducing. What is it like to receive praise from outlets like these and has there been any affects from it?
Gunning For Tamar: It makes us feel like we may be doing something of worth, something that other people value. As much as we write what we enjoy and try not to think too much about what people want or expect of us, we can’t help but crave that connection that comes from someone getting, or being into what we do. When you get a whole room full of people like that, to a band there’s really nothing better. It’s difficult to get peoples attention starting out as there are just so many bands, getting positive press from Rock Sound for example has really helped spread our music to people who would never have heard of us otherwise. Having one of our songs on the RS cover mount CD was a big moment for me as I’ve discovered some of my favourite bands listening to their samplers. BBC Introducing have been great too, we’ve played some of our biggest shows on their stages and are really grateful for that.
Already Heard: 2012 has started off well for you. You’ve signed to Alcopop Records. How did the deal come about and what attracted you to the label?
Gunning For Tamar: We met Jack a while back and have been fans of his label for a long time, he always seemed to have nice things to say about us without ever being bribed into it so it made sense to talk to him about putting something out. He has a really strong roster and it’s great to work with someone who is constantly so excited and passionate about what he does. We like to try and be creative with everything we do and Alcopop is a real hub for that sort of thinking. It feels a bit like some rogue laboratory with everyone firing off some pretty far out ideas sometimes, but it really helps keep everything fresh and interesting.
Already Heard: Your new EP is called ‘Time Trophies’. What should old and new fans know about it?
Gunning For Tamar: There are three tracks which should be familiar to anyone who’s seen us live recently, ‘Time Trophies’ which will be the main single, ‘Chocolate Hooves’ and #Astronaut/Abort’ as well as the Maybeshewill and JoFo remixes I mentioned earlier . Hopefully if you were into the last EP you’ll dig what we’ve done on this one.
Already Heard: How has the bands sound developed on this release compared to ‘Deaf Cow Motel’?
Gunning For Tamar: It’s definitely go our sound but we tried a few new things we’ve never done before, we recorded a grand piano for one of the tracks which was well… grand. Production-wise everything feels a lot stronger too, we had a bit more time to work on stuff like guitar tones and we recorded the drums in a different way this time round. As it was our second session with Tom Woodhead it felt like we really hit our stride working together and we really couldn’t be happier with how it sounds.
Already Heard: The EP is being released as a strictly limited edition orange wristwatch. How did this idea come about and how has the response been to the EP?
Gunning For Tamar: It may seem like a bit of a crazy idea but it simply came about because the title track is called ‘Time Trophies.’ When we looked into the possibility of getting it done and found out it would actually be possible it quite quickly changed from ‘one of those ideas’ to a reality, we really didn’t expect them to look so snazzy! There’s been a great response to them already, seeing as they won’t be released until March. A few journalists and press people who’ve received them have been tweeting pictures of themselves wearing theirs which is ace.
Already Heard: Do you think unique releases like wristwatches are important for labels like Alcopop in the era of digital downloads?
Gunning For Tamar: Yeah definitely, it’s understandable that people don’t want to bother with physical releases if all they are going to get is the same thing they could have instantly, with the added hassle of going to a record shop or waiting for it to be delivered. If you can offer something that can’t be downloaded and is actually worth having along with music then physical releases don’t need to die out, they just need to evolve.
Already Heard: You’re heading out on tour with Jumping Ships in March. What can fans expect from a typical Gunning For Tamar show?
Gunning For Tamar: Sweat, un-choreographed but enthusiastic dance moves, some songs you might know presented in their loudest possible form. Basically four young men trying to work out the best ratio of rocking as hard as possible:not falling over.
Already Heard: You’re from Oxford which has produced bands such as Radiohead and Supergrass. What is the current state of the Oxford music scene like?
Gunning For Tamar: It’s hard to keep up with how many bands there are in Oxford, I’m pretty sure I read something the other day that said Oxford has the most signed musicians per resident out of any city in England, that might not be true but it certainly feels that way. I think it might be something to do with the amount of decent venues we have in such a small city, things like the Nightshift and Oxfordshire Music Scene magazines as well as numerous local blogs really help produce a pretty fertile environment too. It’s rare to meet anyone in Oxford that isn’t involved in music in some way.
Already Heard: Are their any up and coming bands from the area would you recommend?
Gunning For Tamar: Fans of Ute will be pleased to know that Ollie and Mike from the band are working together again on a new project called The Old Grinding Young. It’s got everything I loved about their previous band but is taking it in a really cool new direction, we were lucky enough to have them play with us recently and their live show genuinely gave me goosebumps.
Already Heard: Is there anything you’d like to say to close the interview?
Gunning For Tamar: Thanks for taking the time to read about us if you made it this far and hopefully catch you at a show soon!
‘Time Trophies’ by Gunning For Tamar is available now on Alcopop Records.