Friday, April 16, 2021

Talking with Tillerman - The Beatles, the '90's and everything in between

Straight from the heart of Leeds, four-piece indie-rock outfit Tillerman are a force to be reckoned with. Rife with hypnotic melodies and woefully catchy lyrics, the boys are known for their no-nonsense, no-pretentious-crap attitude. 

Their love for '60's/'70's brit-pop shines through in their creations, with subtle tipping-of-the-hat gestures to the Beatles and Fleetwood Mac, their sonic creations are no doubt going to see them rise through the Leeds underground indie scene with a certain ease.

Working alongside Grant Henderson, Tillerman produced their latest single 'Rainbow', a tale of the transition from love to loss in a wonderfully delicate and honest manner.

Following the release of this single, I had the delightful pleasure to delve a little deeper into the minds of Tillerman to see where all of their creative majesty stems from.

Tell us about ‘Tillerman’ how did you guys meet and form a band?

Way back during student/uni days myself and Shaun (lead guitarist) met whilst working in the kitchens of a local pub/restaurant, we instantly hit it off and became good friends. After a year or so I had fashioned a band made up by myself, my brother Tom who had taught himself drums, and another close friend who had previously taught me rhythm guitar. We wrote our own stuff and looking back we were pretty awful but that was the beginning of our journey. We managed to blag the use of an empty old church near Leeds to practice in (now burnt to the ground) and Shaun came to watch us jam one night, whilst sat in the pews he had picked up an old acoustic and started playing some lead ideas to a track we were writing, it was perfect - he was then invited to become our lead guitarist. Our lineup changed somewhat over a 3 or 4 year period but always had a core of myself, Tom, and Shaun. Seeking a new bassist, Tom met Iain when they both worked together at a well-known Pizza chain in Birstall. Tom found out he could play bass and invited him to practice. Iain blew us all away on that first Jam and we immediately asked him to join. 

Under the name Satellite we wrote, recorded, and played in and around West Yorkshire, The Cockpit in Leeds was a regular haunt until that shut. Unfortunately, there is a time where other interests and careers take over and due to our own personal circumstances, the band stopped playing together for about 8 years although we all still kept in touch.  

But music is our passion and Shaun started playing again as the lead guitarist of another great Yorkshire Band 'The Hijacked', that inspired me to get back to writing, demo'ing and getting back in the studio. All four of us came back together to work on the EP 'Gathering' under a new name and direction 'Tillerman'. This has been so good in many ways, we've all matured as people and as musicians, and the stuff we are all writing and recording now as Tillerman and in separate side projects is just on another level to what went before. Whether or not our music gets heard beyond these local borders or not is not our main concern. But to be able to look back on a body of work that you love and can be proud of is a great driver. We are looking forward to taking the material into live venues once the world returns to normality! 

Being from Leeds, you’re at the heart of the Northern Indie scene, who are some of your favourite up-and-coming bands?

I can't speak for any of the other lads but there is one great band from York called King No-one whom I first stumbled across on youtube. They just write great pop tracks with a twist and have fantastic videos. They've put in the hard miles from busking on the streets to selling out local venues.

What’s the story behind your latest release ‘Rainbow’?

The song is a reflection on a relationship that once was full of vibrancy and colour, but which after years of familiarity has become stale, dull, and feels as if it’s set in black & white. But even in that moment, there is hope and a realization that everything you think you’ve lost, is still there, you just need to remember what you once had and reignite those emotions once more. A song that brings Hope! 

The bones of the song came whilst I was trying to find a better chorus for another track of ours (yet to be recorded), but as it developed it became it's own song. Shaun's guitar work throughout this is amazing, I'd sent him the rough demo I'd produced on my 8 track and he pinged me it back with the lead on and it just took the track to another level. One of the strengths of the band is the connection we all have but in particular myself and Shaun. He always plays the right thing and is uber-creative, likewise, if he presents music to me I think I can interpret his feel and tone into melody and lyrics.

Tell us about the music video!  (I sense some Beatles inspired imagery)

The Rainbow video and the previous one for My Eden have very much been set in the '60s, an era we obviously pull on. For Rainbow, we wanted to stay retro and keep with the theme of the song which imagines a relationship in Black & White which originally was full of colour. So the concept is Vincent Price flicking through the tv channels but as he is doing this all those films and our studio performance is getting mashed up together, hence our appearance in the films. This was great fun to shoot using a Green Screen Studio in Leeds (Big Brown Doors), we used GRiT Pictures of Brighouse once again as they completely buy into what we are trying to create and bring so many ideas to the table. Can't wait to work with them again on the next project. Every resource we've engaged with along this project has been from West Yorkshire and we're super proud of that!  

You’re known for your no-nonsense sound and lack of pretentious crap – is there anyone, in particular, you draw inspiration from? 

Yes, they are called John, Paul, George, and Ringo! 

What do you think was the best decade for music?

The 60's! By a country mile! Without that explosion of Rock and Roll and the birth of Pop we wouldn't have had Zeppelin, The Eagles, Free, Fleetwood Mac! The '90s as a decade was phenomenal but those great Indie guitar bands would all say that they pulled influences from The Beatles, The Stones, T-Rex etc. I could go on and talk about Motown and Soul Music which too were a great influence to me.

Covid-19 no longer exists – what’s the first thing you do?

Book a gig! Play the gig then head to Akbars for a massive family Naan and a chicken Tikka Keema balti!

Have you got anything currently in the works that you’re exciting for fans to hear?

Yes, a bunch of new tunes, we've recorded a solid 3 track EP in follow up to 'Gathering', Rainbow is the first release from it but we have the other tunes we can't wait for people to hear. But our desire is to make every single release an event and match it with a killer video. This costs money and as an indie band on a budget, we have to pick our times to shoot. The next release is a rewritten version of a song we've had in our locker for years, it's called 'Hear Angels Cry'. This is where you will see Shaun, Iain, and Tom really upping the stakes with their musical input. It's 70's classic rock, but it still has that Tillerman sounds, layered harmonies, and powerful melodies. 

Lana Williams


Image: Provided by PR

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