TURIN BRAKES released a new single, 'Emergency
72', on Source records earlier this month. Their
album The Optimist LP has just turned Gold, selling
over 100,000 copies in the UK alone. Following the success
of their last single 'Mind Over Money', which went to
number 31 in the singles chart (and before that 'Underdog'
which went to 39), the album has been continually in
the top-30 album chart.
In July the album was nominated along with 11 others
for the Technics Mercury Music Prize.
Persistently portrayed by the perpetrators of the NAM
noose as 'quiet Jeff Buckley copyists', Turin Brakes
have resisted all derision and pigeonholing. With a
predominantly 'word of mouth' promotional campaign they
have succeeded so far beyond all expectation.
Turin Brakes will play a headline tour of the UK throughout
For Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian it was always
going to be about the music. Olly: "We went on a school
trip and everyone had to do a play. We cut out two cardboard
guitars and drew strings on them and sang Johnny B Good."
Over the years the two wrote and played music both separately
Whilst at film school Olly asked Gale to collaborate
on a score for his student film and before long the
two were making music again, on a digital four track
originally intended for mixing film soundtracks. Olly:
"After graduating I felt a little lost and began writing
songs on a guitar. These songs felt very close to my
filmic ideas and as they developed they seemed more
successful in communicating these feelings than film
had, perhaps because they were more immediate and less
intellectual." Olly and Gale decided after a trip to
New York to take these "skeletal songs" and continue
developing the atmospheric music from their film score
time by combining the two forms. "I guess it was around
this moment that Turin Brakes was born although we had
no name. Gale was developing a really cool mixture of
slide, rhythm and lead guitar which slipped into these
songs perfectly; it gave them a very distinct atmosphere."
Together they restructured and rewrote a whole batch
of material until it was time to start playing live.
Gale: "We were only making this music for ourselves
and our friends, so when Anvil Records turned up and
wanted to release an EP we were totally blown away."
They needed a name to release under and after much discussion
Turin Brakes was settled on. Gale: "We thought up many
terrible names but this one stuck. We liked its openness.
It felt like we could move anywhere under this name."
'The Door EP' was released in summer '99.
Turin Brakes began performing live at venues like the
12 Bar and the Social. "We have been big
fans of Chris Whitley's music for years and his one
man live shows were an inspiration. He performed with
such primal power he could stun an audience into silence,
and we loved the idea of doing that."
After much label interest from the likes of Mowax,
Heavenly, Domino and Skint they decided to sign
to Source. "We liked Source straight away. Philippe
has a great passion for music and he had a clear vision
of how we could fit in, he wasn't just obsessed with
the UK. He has a more universal approach which really
appealed." The deal was signed on a Friday and they
started working in the studio on the next Monday.
So where do these songs come from? Olly: " I spent years
listening to Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen from a
very early age. I wasn't always sure of what they were
saying, but they still made me feel extremely emotional.
I knew these were people confessing fears and ideas
in a beautiful way, they were painting pictures with
words. I'm attempting something similar, I guess. Musically
what me and Gale do is quite organic - it has something
to do with our relationship, it's an instinctive thing."
August 2000 Turin Brakes released the 'State of Things'
EP and played their first ever gigs with a full
live band at the Reading and Leeds festivals. Gale:
"It was always heading towards a full band sound. It
took a while to find the right people though." They
then released their third EP, 'Fight or Flight', in
October. Dates supporting Kathryn Williams and Doves
and a tour with Lowgold followed.
In February a new version of 'The Door' was released
as a single, followed swiftly by Turin Brakes' debut
album, 'The Optimist LP', which entered the top 40."We
produced it ourselves; we didn't want any filtering
of our sound. We kept in the things that a lot of producers
would probably cut out."
In March Turin Brakes played their first ever headline
tour of the UK, then went straight back on the road
as support to Stereophonics. They headlined the Source
'Alone In London' festival at the beginning of April,
and a second single, 'Underdog (Save Me)' followed at
the end of the month. It entered the UK Top 40 and earned
them their debut performance on Top of the Pops.
When 'Mind Over Money' was released at the end of July,
the third single to be taken from 'The Optimist LP',
it charted at 31 and the band again appeared on Top
of the Pops. Amongst other festival appearances this
summer they played Dublin's Witnness, T In The Park,
V2001 and Glasgow On The Green.
In the week that they sold out their largest ever London
headline show at The Astoria, Turin Brakes 'The Optimist
LP' was nominated for The Technics Mercury Music Prize;
the winner will be announced on September 11th.
During October Turin Brakes will headline their own
UK tour. After this they will play Europe, with some
dates as double bills with I Am Kloot, some as
guests to Travis
A fourth single, '72', will be released on October 15th
and Turin Brakes play London Shepherd's Bush Empire
on 20th and 21st October
Thu 11 Sheffield, LEADMILL
Fri 12 Manchester, MDH
Sun 14 Cambridge, JUNCTION
Mon15 Norwich, WATERFRONT
Tue16 Brighton, CORN EXCHANGE
Wed17 Exeter, UNIVERSITY
Fri 19 Bristol, ANSON ROOMS
Sat 20 London, SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE
Sun 21 London, SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE
Late October through to early December will be spent
touring in Europe, some double bills with I Am Kloot,
some as guests to Travis