There's something in the water around here, and it's a disease that's spreading fast. It's already turned four average Yorkshiremen into rock and roll icons seemingly overnight. Forget them for a minute, though, and let's take a look at the bug's latest potential victims: a foursome who tell tales about lives anything but ordinary. With quirky lyrics bordering on the perverted and song topics including a bisexual menage-a-trois, a skinhead cross-dressing football fan and cybersex, Little Man Tate clearly move in different circles to most, and they're shaping up to be an unconventional 2006 Sheffield success story.
Already this year the four-piece from Greystones have tasted success, winning Zane Lowe's first 'Fresh Meat' competition of 2006 and they are about to embark on a nationwide tour of Barfly venues. But, admits singer Jon, they're not solely responsible for these achievements. “It wasn't down to us. This kid who came to our second gig, to see the headline band, really liked us and signed up to our mailing list. We sent out a song to everybody on that list and he put it up as a download on the Arctic Monkeys forum. Then he set up our Myspace and it all sort of snowballed from there.”
Little Man Tate, completed by guitarist Maz, bass player Ben and drummer Dan, still have a long way to go before they storm the charts a la the Monkeys but, for now, they're just happy to avoid full-time employment. “I couldn't handle a 9 to 5 job” says Ben, “I really couldn't. But I'd like to test beds, a couple of hours a day for 60 grand a year. I don't think that would be a problem!” Failing that, they could always work for their drummer who runs his own fruit and veg delivery business. Jon works in the box office at the Boardwalk, the legendary Sheffield music venue that also boasts a couple of Arctic Monkeys as alumni.
Inspired to pick up instruments by watching Pulp's rise to success in the 1990's, they cite influences ranging from Cocker's troupe and Half Man Half Biscuit to The Clash and Blur, as well as Madchester legends like The Inspiral Carpets, The Charlatans and The Stone Roses. “My claim to fame,” says Ben with a proud grin, “is that my first ever purchase was 'There's No Other Way' on seven inch vinyl.” With similar pride, but to much derision from his bandmates, Dan announces that “Genesis and Phil Collins had a huge influence” on him as a young drummer.
The band formed after Maz picked up his dad's twelve string guitar one Christmas and started jamming with Jon, a childhood friend. Several years and failed bands later, the pair met Dan and Ben through Sunday league football acquaintances, and Little Man Tate was born. It's not been all plain sailing for them, though: on just the second date of their first ever tour last year, the band's van was stolen from outside the venue in York. They lost all their equipment and the recordings of an unreleased demo. “It was an absolute nightmare,” says Jon, “but ironically enough we started to get much better after that. We stuck together, because at the end of the day we're mates. If anything, it made us even more determined.”
Combine their new-found hunger with a repertoire of perverted pop songs (“all based on true stories,” claims Jon) and Little Man Tate are shaping up to be quite a proposition. They're almost certainly infectious, but believe me it's something you'll want to catch.
Little Man Tate release debut single 'The Agent' on February 20th. Click here to view the video.