Interview : Tendons in Ten Questions8th October 2016
Having listened repeatedly to their mesmerising debut EP, Safehouse Sessions, I met Tendons' lead singer Tomos Lewis by accident at Sesiwn Fawr, as I was stood next to him and the band's percussionist, Gethin John during the Sunday morning session. Readily willing to talk, Tomos is open and affable, but also gives the impression of being a potential force of nature, we had a brief chat - and this is the transcription of a follow up quick-fire ten question interview a month or two later:
Tomos, for those unfamiliar with Tendons how would you describe your music in four words?
"Timeless, heartfelt, harmony-driven .... and honest!"
Where did you all meet?
"We're all from different parts of Wales, England and Scotland but met in Cardiff."
And when did you first seriously start writing songs?
"We've all written in different bands in the past but the writing for Tendons started seriously about two years ago - meaning actually writing while being mindful of Tendons' different elements."
How do you write - as a band or individually?
"I bring the songs to the group with lyrics and a basic structure. Then we learn the instrument parts, melody harmonies and finally add the counter melodies. It's an organic process once the group get hold of them."
Who are your influences?
"With 8 members in the band they are massively varied, but we do all agree on a few : Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Ray Lamontagne, Damien Rice, James Vincent McMorrow, Ciaran Lavery, Father John Misty, Nick Drake, James Blake, Radiohead, Sigur Rós, The Maccabees, Scott Matthews, The Staves, Laura Marlin, Fionn Regan, Joni Mitchell, Sufjan Stevens, Michael Kiwanuka, Iron and Wine - and of course - SFA."
That's quite a list! If we took your phone and deleted all but three songs, which ones would you plead to save (if you meet him, don't try this - we are on opposite ends of phone line and it's very hypothetical)?
What has been the highlight for the band so far?
"We've had an amazing year of gigs and every one seems be getting better and better. Our EP, 'Schizophrene' - our first single, appearing at the Hay festival, and a packed room at Hub Festival at Four Bars was a really special gig on the bank holiday Sunday a few weeks ago."
Although they have come out quite quickly after each other there's quite a gap between recording the first EP and your single Schizophrene? Why was that?
"It's simple - I think we've not felt pressured to release material for the sake of it. We're in the studio currently working on the debut album for next year and will release another single before Christmas. There will be plenty from us soon!"
You are gigging a lot - you must have seen a lot of music yourself this year - who is your favourite Welsh artist / band at the moment, and why?
"Label mates Climbing Trees, their first album was great, this second one is a step up to epic; Maddie Jones, great writing and attitude on stage, then Sion Russell Jones, is a hugely talented singer songwriter, he's got it all, songs, voice and guitar are all top quality."
"SFA, still relevant and with a huge back catalogue they're forever going to stay a favourite. Finally Sam Fowke, just saw a gig of his a week ago, so young and yet a great set of songs and fully realised sound."
And finally - what do Tendons have planned for the rest of the year?
"We're spending September in the studio getting the ball rolling on the album. While we expect a big run of gigs towards the end of this year all around the UK."
And that is the end of it for now - if they carry on along the trajectory of their releases so far, and build on the reputation of their live shows, then Tendons' first album will be worth the wait, and potentially very special indeed.
TENDONS I Safehouse Sessions