Here I am in a tiiiiiiiiiny little van, no bigger than my thumb, nicely decorated with red wallpaper and little yellow lanterns. In fact, it’s strangely reminiscent of a miniature French brothel, not that I’ve ever been in one of those of course, but It’s all very cosy and belongs to one of EMI’s newest bunch of hopefuls – Tetra Splendour. Crammed in with the two “faces” of Tetra Splendour (what do you mean, “there are two others?!”), Gareth (Vocals and Keyboards) and Peter (Guitar). Oh, and they are exceedingly polite young men. Very, very serious, but certainly nice and polite. I’m not here on a social visit, for Tetra Splendour it’s evidently clear that this is business.
So… ahem… I’ll cut to the chase. These are straightforward, no-messing people, so what follows is an adequately straightforward, no-messing interview…
You used to be called ‘Robots In The Sky’, why did you change the band name to Tetra Splendour?
Gaz: There was another band releasing an album at the time called ‘Robots in Disguise’. It was so early on for us, it was either go into a legal battle to keep the name, or just not even bother and it was pointless [to keep it] really because we hadn’t really done anything, so we bit the bullet and changed it.
Peter: It was quite early on, but we still felt the repercussions of people having to find out that we’d changed our name, even though we hadn’t really done that much. But it doesn’t really affect us now, it was so long ago.
Why did you change it to Tetra Splendour? Where did the idea for the name come from?
Peter: We were watching this Jazz festival on TV and there was this Italian quartet that were called something like “Quatro Elsplendido” and basically we just translated that to English as best we could and ended up with “Tetra Splendour”.
What are your ambitions for the band? What do you want to achieve?
Gaz: Play a lot of festivals… Just gig a lot throughout Europe… and do Japan and America hopefully.
DiS: Do you want to be really, really famous all over the world?
Gaz: Well, yeah it’d be nice. But ultimately just record a lot of albums and progress really. Get respect off people we respect I s’pose.
DiS: What if you had to make a choice between commercial success and your artistic integrity? Which would you choose?
Peter: We’d probably be lying if we didn’t say commercial success. All that dying for the cause stuff is just bollocks, really. At this stage of our careers, we just want to *have* a career and commercial success is obviously a part of it because, it’s a business at the end of the day. Three albums down the line, we hope we’ll still have our artistic integrity and will have sold enough records to be able to do what we want. That’s the nature of true prog-rock, I s’pose.
Some bands argue that the use of computers in recording takes away the emotion and soul from a piece of music. Do you think that’s true?
Peter: Some people say recording with ProTools take it away but it’s just - ones digital, ones analogue and unless you’re a computer, you’re not gonna know the difference. But we did record to 2” for a bit, which kept the grainyness to the sound, it wasn’t entirely on ProTools, but we did use it quite a lot as a quick process for recording. The instrumentation was all done live but at least if you’re using a sequencer you can use it to trigger samples of real instruments, which is pretty organic.
A lot of your lyrics are quite unusual. Where does your inspiration for them come from?
Pete: Just living in Porthcawl really. It’s where we come from and where a lot of the songs were written when we were at school. It’s just the boredom and psychologically having nothing to do. The lyrics are quite funny, I find. Quite sarcastic. I suppose it’s a frustration but it’s more sarcastic than aggressive.
How do you feel about being constantly compared to Toploader?
Gaz: It’s just a scandal, I think.
Peter: It’s since we did that ‘On’ piece for the NME and a lot of people started picking it up just because the actual word was written in the same context as our interview. We don’t like them and we don’t see where any comparisons can be drawn between us.
What really pisses you off and annoys you more than anything?
Gaz: Erm… Toploader. Or being compared to Toploader.
Peter: Musically, it’s just not comparable. It’s really annoying.
DiS: What bands piss you off? Or have you met any bands that have been a complete let down in person?
Gaz: I think Brian Molko’s a complete tosser. I went somewhere and he was there and he was just behaving like a complete wanker. I don’t know what the lead singer of Toploader’s called… And Green Day. I think they’re not very nice.
Peter: Have you met them?!
Gaz: I haven’t met them. I’ve visually met them.
Peter: I don’t really like slagging off bands, to be honest. It’s pointless. I like all bands.
How do you feel about the album? Are you proud of it?
Peter: Yeah, it’s great! The only frustrating thing it that we finished writing it about 2 years ago and finished recording it about 9 months ago, and it’s not going to come out for another month. We’ve been writing a lot because we haven’t been on the road a great deal, so we’ve been doing a lot of rehearsing and our productivity has been really good since we finished recording. So, we’ve kind of already moved ahead to the next album in our minds because those songs are so old. At the beginning of your careers you’re bound to be more productive than in the later stages and that’s quite frustrating at the moment.
DiS: What are your favourite tracks on the album?
Peter: Global Village is my favourite track.
Gaz: I’m not sure. It’s too close to call.
DiS: Are there any that you consider to be weaker?
Gaz: Pollen Fever.
Peter: Yeah, the singles. We just kinda hate the singles generally… And we never really listen to the singles when we release a record. The B-sides are more interesting, we’re more of an album-orientated band, I think. Albums are what we prosper from. We had 16 tracks for the album and they were all really as good as each other. We chose the track listing not necessarily on the strength of the songs, but tried to make as diverse an album as possible. We tried to draw in as many different sounds as we could rather than using the 11 best tracks, which all sounded to similar for our liking.
Do you know what the next single will be?
Peter: Not really, no. I think we could possibly be re-releasing the first single, which was just a limited release, Mr Bishi. We re-mixed it to make a shorter version of it to maybe release it as the next single.
…and with that, the interview is over and I leave in search of food.
For however polite and nice Gareth and Peter are, it seems to me that there’s a distinct lack of enthusiasm and evident enjoyment for what they’re doing. It’s a persona that not only comes across in interviews, but onstage too. Don’t get me wrong, I like Tetra Splendour, I really do, and they seem like really nice people... But it all comes down to that rock star thing. I want a personality behind the music; someone who inspires me, intimidates me, or at least vaguely interests me. Perhaps it was a bad day, or perhaps they’re just not very excitable people, but either way, one thing’s for sure; if I were to play at being a rock star, I’d enjoy it a hell of a lot more than this!