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Who do we have here?
This is Tied to the Mast, a rock outfit that was formed at the end of 2009 by a group of friends who were all in different bands.

A supergroup eh?
Maybe on a localised level! Guitarist Lee Martin and bassist Ali Waite were and continue to be in Blue Stragglers, who will be familiar to anyone who takes even a vague interest in the local music scene. Drummer Andy Head is also in Blue Stragglers and also played with Kept by Casino with guitarist and vocalist Rhys Stubbs. They played live - mostly in Brighton, where they had also come across guitarist and vocalist Jim Faulkner, who was performing with several good bands in Brighton.

And it all worked out?
After much talk the friends got together and started jamming in Ali’s basement. Jim then came up with a name for the band. Each member believes they are now making the best music of their lives. Rhys said: “In the first few months we had no intention of writing tunes or anything. We would just jam for an hour or so, then look up and think ‘wow that was cool, was anyone recording that?’

Haven’t I seen them in AAH before?
You have! They were at number one in our Top 10 songs by local bands feature a few months ago with their wonderful slacker anthem ‘Plain Lazy’. You can view that here

So who do they sound like?
Rhys said: “We’re all massive fans of Supergrass and Blur but it’s not a Britpop sound.  We’ve taken  influence from British music.”  Lee added that he and Jim are both fans of The Small Faces and The Kinks, so unlike much of the current crop - who in the main are looking stateside for inspiration - Tied to the Mast are creating a very English sound. Lee said: “There are very few bands around at the moment that are quintessentially British. Hopefully we are a breath of fresh air.”

You mentioned a new track, Heartbreaker...
We did. Heartbreaker is the band’s second single. At first listen, we didn’t think it was as good as their first - Plain Lazy - as it takes a minute or two to get going. There’s a strong Blur influence in it - in fact it’s very similar to (Blur guitarist) Graham Coxon’s solo singles - and after repeated listens it’s really catchy!

So what’s their USP?
The band pay close attention to getting a chorus right. Lee said: “I think having a good chorus is a dying art. We’re looking for something that you’ll find yourself humming when you get home, part of a song that sticks in your head. Traditional songwriting like that never gets old.”

Has the band actually released anything yet?
Yes, they’ve been pretty busy. They recorded two CDs from their jam sessions and much of this material formed the basis of an eponymous debut album released in 2010. Lee recalls: “To begin with it was just an awesome communal thing, meet up and make this massive amount of noise. Then, slowly but surely, the structure to tunes came and over time we introduced the vocals.”

And what’s next?
The band has turned a warehouse in Henfield into a studio and they are busy preparing tracks for a second album, which will hopefully be ready by the middle of 2012.

Where is that being recorded?
Drummer Andy said: “We went to Sawmills last April to record four tracks initially. Sawmills is an awesome studio in Cornwall  that you can only get to by boat when the tide is in! We’re back down in Sawmills this  April to lay down six or seven more tracks to complete an album. We’ve got about 20 tracks to choose from already.”

Who actually writes the songs?
It’s a group effort. Rhys said: “A lot of the time someone will have a verse or a chorus and we just all expand it, but often it comes out of thin air in rehearsals. Someone always has an idea and you always have someone to bounce off. It’s nice listening to an album and hearing different voices.”

Sounds a bit like The Beatles?
It is a similar set-up in that they can all write and contribute, while several are capable vocalists. But unlike drummer Andy Head, Ringo Starr never took his top off when playing live...

Is that the guy with the long hair?
It is. The look actually helped Andy get a role as an extra  in a big budget film called Snow White and the Huntsman, due out later this year. He is one of the peasants! 

So, can I see them live?
They play regularly in Brighton and London, and recently supported Husker Du, one of Jim’s musical heroes, at Monto Water Rats in London. They are hoping for some festival gigs this summer. Lee said: “We’ve got to aim for Guilfest and maybe small stages of festivals like Reading.”

What about Horsham Festival of Sound?
Tied to the Mast did perform there in 2011. Lee recalls: “Before we played I didn’t think anything would work as we were sweeping water off the stage. But it stopped raining as we started playing and we had one of the bigger crowds!”

Do they have commercial ambitions?
Lee said: “This band is definitely the most commercial any of us have got, without meaning to  really. Ultimately the goal is to release a record through a label and then see what happens, but you’ve got to get yourself out there - you can’t assume someone’s going to knock on your door and sign you.”

Are they worth checking out?
We think so. Watch a couple of the band’s videos on YouTube. Heartbreaker and Plain Lazy are good places to start. The former has a video of the boys in their Henfield studio and was shot by Jim with an iPhone. The Plain Lazy video features a friend of the band walking around in bandages!

I just might take a look...
If you really like them then you can buy Tied to the Mast T-shirts at www.tiedtothemast.co.uk

Tied to the Mast (Pic: Toby Phillips)

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