Dot to Dot Festival - The Other Tribe (Interview)
Aside from the obvious exception of being listed as a headliner, I can't imagine a much scarier prospect for a band than being asked to appear first on the main stage at a festival. The audience are expectant - excited for the day ahead and thirsty for their first taste of live music, but not yet drunk enough to dance along regardless of what happens to be playing on stage. You may have a few fans present, but as a largely unknown entity, the audience know very little of your music - and so, from the word go, it's a challenge to try and win over the crowd before they wonder off to see who's playing on one of the many other stages.
Yep, being the first band on stage is a big ask. So, when planning a festival, who do you choose to play first? Well, if you're the organisers of this year's Dot to Dot Bristol, you schedule in a band with seemingly boundless energy and a big stage presence; a band that are guaranteed to get the crowd going and to start the day with a bang. The band in question is Bristol-based six-piece The Other Tribe.
The Other Tribe are an interesting group, both to listen to and to watch. Combining samples of tribal music with live instruments to result in a sound somewhere not too far from Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Friendly Fires on the musical spectrum. With each track running straight into the next, at times their set has the kind of intensity you might expect from a techno DJ. At the same time, with lyrics, live drums and infectious slices of pop, it's evident that the right break could see the band attracting some serious mainstream interest. It's the kind of sound that would be the perfect accompaniment to a red-sky sunset at a festival at the peak of summer, but (luckily for us Brits) works equally as well indoors at 4pm on a rainy Bank Holiday weekend.
After their gig at the O2 Bristol Academy, Charlie, Alex and Max from the band took a few minutes to discuss their set, plans for their début album and their recent signing to Relentless:
So you guys have just finished your set on the main stage at O2 Academy Bristol. How was it playing on the main stage?
Absolutely awesome. We've seen a few bands play in the Academy and for us to be on the main stage, it feels great.
I bet. You guys are from Bristol, is that right? Do you all come from Bristol?
We're actually at university here. We all met through a common love for music.
How long have you been together as a band?
In this format? Probably the best part of two and a half, three years. It's developed - individual members have probably been working together for maybe four or five years, as part of an indie band or an electronic band.
OK, so The Other Tribe has gone through a few incarnations, by the sound of it. Are you happy now, do you feel like you've found your sound?
Yeah, we've found our sound now, I think. It developed more when we started to write our album. And with the tribal thing, we've got enough room to branch out in various directions. But for now, we've got a clear idea of what we're about.
And for those of our readers who haven't heard your music before, how would you describe it, who do you get compared to?
It's live dance, a live techno-electro sound. Lots of exciting, tribal percussion and primeval drums with catchy vocals over the top. And our set is continuous, so playing a live set really gets the crowd going. We try to emulate a DJ set whilst also being a live band, bringing bits of samples. We try and take it a step further than most live bands and try and be the kind of band that, if you're out in a club, you wouldn't be thinking “this band is on. They're too loud and abrasive, we'll go somewhere else”.
It's interesting you say that because, having heard your music online before I came to see your set, I was expecting a DJ set. I wasn't expecting a live band.
I think that's an exciting element from when people listen to our tracks. They don't know if it's just a producer, sitting in his bedroom making tracks, or a live band. And it's exciting when they come to see us, not sure what to expect and we're performing everything, with all the live percussion that's going on.
How long is the longest set you've done? Do you think you could keep the energy going for an hour, hour-and-a-half long set?
We've done hour-long sets before. Obviously, we need to have some quieter tracks in there for variation in the dynamics. But for a half-hour set, you can afford to have it at full blast all the way through. We're the same level of sweaty at the end of every set though.
And what are the biggest sets you've played so far?
Beat-Herder Festival last year was really good. We played on the main stage last year. There were a few thousand people there, we didn't realise just how big the gig was going to be. We walked onstage with only about ten minutes to set up and then suddenly, there was a huge wall of people in front of us. We're looking forward this year to going to Beat-Herder again, and Bestival, Isle of Wight Festival and Glade Festival, which should be a lot of fun.
That's quite an eclectic mix of festivals. Do you find that your music works well in any type of crowd?
Absolutely. It works well at somewhere like Glade, which is pretty much just dance music, but we've got the live band element as well. We can work on a stage that's otherwise just DJs. And I think we fit well with a festival atmosphere, whatever festival it is. We're all about having a lot of fun onstage and off. And we hope that our music is accessible enough that people with any kind of music taste can go “yeah, I like that, I like that”. And it's an important part of our music that we know that wherever we perform, we're gonna have the best time at every single one of our gigs.
Do you have to fit your uni work around the band, or have you finished uni now?
We've actually just finished.
And how is that going to affect things going forward? Do you all have individual plans or is the band the main focus?
It's all about the band now. We're just in the process of signing a three-album deal with Relentless, who are part of Sony. And we're getting a house in Bristol, hopefully moving in at the beginning of July. Setting up our own studio there, to start writing, recording and producing our album by ourselves.
Given how loud your music is, I think you might have to find some very sympathetic neighbours!
*laughs* We've actually managed to find a farmhouse, which'll be perfect.
And you mentioned your album there, is that going to be all new material?
Some of the tracks we played today, most of them will make the album, if not all of them. I think we've probably got about fifteen tracks at the moment. We'd like to have over twenty to be able to pick and choose the ones we felt were right for the first album. I think we all want to write a lot - we're all bursting with ideas, there being six of us. And we're always fighting over whose songs are going to be on it, whose songs are going to be next. So we're going to have more than enough to go with. I think we're probably looking at the early part of next year, probably February/March.
Can we expect any EPs in the meantime?
We'll be releasing a couple of singles over the summer; releasing Skirts towards the end of the summer, which will hopefully be a big summer tune. I think we'll want to release one or two others before the album comes out as well, probably one before Christmas. That will happen regardless of whether we choose to release an EP beforehand or not.
And have you got any provisional album titles?
No, not yet. We'll probably go down the Aztec mythology vibe, something along those lines.
Are you going to have chance to check out any of the artists playing at Dot to Dot today?
Yeah, we're done for the day now! We're going to go see The Scoundrels, and see Wavves, Willy Mason. I've been wanting to see Willy Mason for a very long time, since his first album.
For links to The Other Tribe's social media pages and a host of other goodies, visit the band's Tumblr site: http://theothertribe.tumblr.com15 June, 2012 - 07:59 — Craig Stevens