Interview with The Towers Of London frontman Donny Tourette & lead guitarist The Rev

- Apr 25, 2006 at 11:09PM
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Remember the days of down and dirty, rebellious, hard hitting punk rock? Probably not since most of you likely aren’t old enough to remember the days of the Sex Pistols and their raw and sometimes violent redefinition of rock and roll in the late 1970s. A band that has resurrected some of that Pistols’ rawness and attitude in 2006 is the aptly named London band, The Towers of London. The Towers are a five piece who are relatively new to the music scene. The group’s debut album Blood, Sweat and Towers is just about ready to be released in May and they have just wrapped up a number of North American tour dates. PGA was fortunate enough to catch up with the band’s guitarist The Rev and frontman Donny Tourette recently just before the Towers rocked the El Mocambo in downtown Toronto. Here’s what they had to say....

Alright, here we are with Towers of London. Just introduce yourself first man.
The Rev: I’m the Rev, I play lead guitar.

Okay. Cool. Your band has been getting some major attention for a while now, but I was just wondering how you guys came together and how you met.
The Rev: Well the two brothers in the band, Donny and Dirk – they’re the songwriters – they’ve obviously known each other their entire life. They were in a band together with Snell and Tommy called the Tourettes for a few years, and they’d all known each other from high school. They all lived in the same town, same area. They formed the band, the Tourettes, and then a few different members changed and I joined the band in 2004 – summer of 2004. I’d been down from the North of England – I met the guys over the internet. So that became Towers of London as it is today, and we just started playing man.

Cool. Speaking of the name Towers of London… it’s a very cool, unique band name. Of course you just said you used to be known as the Tourettes – how did you come up with the name Towers of London, and why did you change it from the Tourettes?
The Rev: Dirk, the rhythm guitarist, he dreamt the name, or so the legend has it. So the story’s told, he had two names – Battle of Jafalgre and the Towers of London. Obviously Towers was the better choice. And I think the reason for the name change from the Tourettes to Towers was that the band had changed over a period of time – over a year – and a couple of band members had left, and Tommy had joined in on bass and I’d come in on lead guitar. It was kind of like... it was a new band now, a new sound. The sound had progressed. The songs were getting better. I think it was time for a complete change; a new start, a fresh start. Towers of London – that’s what it was.

You guys of course are from London, England. I was wondering what the response to your music has been like here in North America compared to the response you’ve gotten back home.
The Rev: Really good. For a band as new as us to have the opportunity to come over and play North America and Canada is a big deal. We’re only just releasing our debut album and we’ve been embraced with open arms at a lot of the venues. We’ve only done a short tour last year, which was about 10 dates, and all those dates were highly successful. The press and all the media, and especially all the fans from America have been really, really good to us. We’ve been having a lot of fun at the shows.

That’s very good. Your debut album, Blood, Sweat, and Towers, is just about ready to be released. The rumour’s circulating – I read that producer Rick Rubin was going to work with you guys on the album, but it never materialized. Why’d you guys end up not working with Rubin, and who ended up eventually producing the record?
The Rev: Basically the rumours were true – we were going to work with Rick. At the very start of the band, before we actually signed to TVT records, who we’re with now, Rick Rubin was the first person to actually discover us in London, and actually flew us out to LA. We did a private showcase for Rick and we did a couple of shows in LA, and the deal was off unfortunately, due to record company politics and Rick moving to a different label and sort of all that kind of bullshit. We never signed the deal with Rick, we signed with TVT, and therefore Rick only signs contracts to produce bands out on his label or that work on his label. So we never got a chance to do that, but Rick always expressed his want to work with us. We always tried to get that sorted out, but it never materialized and it never happened unfortunately. But who knows for the future? And in making this record, we’ve actually been recording it over the period of 10 months because we’ve been touring so much. We’ve only had the chance to get into the studio weeks here, weeks there. We’d been through three different producers until we actually found the guys who we re-recorded the entire record with – Bill Lefler and Stacey Jones. Stacey Jones is the singer in American Hi-Fi. Two new guys who really need to sort out the producing world. We basically found our... I can’t really think of the right word. We basically found the right guys for the job. We’d worked with a lot of really big producers - Walter Noose from Killing Joke, Bob Marlett. The sound sounded great, and the songs sound awesome, but it just wasn’t kicking it for us. When we hooked up with Bill and Stacey in LA, basically the music projected through the speakers like it’d never done before, and so we ended up going back and re-recording the whole album just before Christmas in LA.

Cool, so that kind of worked out well. The band just shot a video for the new single “Air Guitar”, a few weeks ago with director Allister Simmons. A lot of bands, especially rock bands, absolutely hate doing music videos. How do you personally feel about doing videos?
The Rev: Well, Allister is a good friend of ours, or has become a good friend of ours. We met him when we started filming the documentary a couple of years ago when we first started getting out on the road and before we signed the deal. As far as recording music videos, we wanted to make really fun, entertaining, and exciting music videos, and it’s really not a chore for us. We’re very hands-on in everything we do, as far as the recording and the production of our music, the stage show, photo shoots... Everything. We put 110% effort into everything we do because we want to be able to look back at this stuff and be proud of it and make it ourselves. So as far as making music videos, it’s just a lot of fun. In the video for “Air Guitar”, the only downfall of it was that we recorded it in London, and it was –6* and we recorded it at night, so we were freezing our friggin’ ass off. It was really cold. But y’know what? We had a lot of fun doing it. We worked really closely with Allister on the ideas for the video and we’re very proud of it. I think what we came out with was a very fun, exciting video. Everything we do is good; nothing’s hard work. We could be working in an office, after all.

Yeah, I know. Totally man. I just wanted to ask you… Donny was recently quoted in an interview in Hit Parade saying, “Why should we care about what anyone’s saying? We know we don’t fit in because we look different, we act different, we play different. The rock kids don’t like us because they think we’re punk, punk kids don’t like us because they think we’re rock. Indie kids hate us because they think we’re too commercial, and mainstream kids hate us because they just hate us.” If your fans don’t fit into these categories, how would you personally describe the average Towers of London fan?
The Rev: I don’t exactly know during what part of the evening that quote came from Donny. I would guess by that quote it came from straight after the gig, y’know? You have to give Donny a half hour to cool down because he’s so hyped up and just so charged up after the gig. Someone obviously caught him within that half an hour space of time after he came off stage. In some respects, he’s right – a lot of people don’t like us – but I think we attract all those brackets of fans. Basically the point we’re trying to put across is that we have a love/hate relationship and people either love us, or they hate us. If they hate us, then they really hate us. If they love us, they really love us. There’s no sort of in-between people. So as far as that quote... I reckon if you asked Donny today, he’d probably squash that quote. We attract punk kids, we attract rock n’ rollers, we clearly do attract indie, and it’s just... basically take us for what we are, and don’t read too much into it. Just because we look different, we play different, it doesn’t mean that you won’t like us. I think we attract a wide range of people, and that’s a very hilariously interesting quote.

Yeah it is. It’s a good quote, definitely.
The Rev: Donny thinks that everybody hates him. [laughing]

Alright, as I’m sure you know, there’s been a lot of comparisons between you guys and the Sex Pistols. I just was wondering what it felt like to be compared to such a huge, legendary group, and if you embrace the comparison or if you think that Towers of London have something much different to offer?
The Rev: Who wouldn’t embrace that kind of comparison? Sex Pistols are one of my favourite bands, certainly the biggest inspiration in the punk world, and they’re about the most famous punk band ever. They’re a great band, and what they did is that they basically changed music history. They were something else, but I mean, we’re not a copy-cat band. We’re not copying the Sex Pistols. We have our own edge, our own sound, we have our own style, but we’re totally welcoming and grateful for the comparison to the Sex Pistols. We’ve met a couple of the Sex Pistols, and they’ve been very gratuitous to what we’re doing, and we can only be thankful for what they gave us, which is their music, their style, and attitude. But yeah, so the answer to the question is yes, we’re very grateful for that comparison... but we do have our own way of doing things.

Yeah, definitely. Just a few more for you. Right now, the UK music scene… I don’t know, it’s going pretty strong, but I was just wondering what you thought of the state of the current UK music scene?
The Rev: The UK music scene is all over the place. Everyone’s talking about it. There are a lot of bands being signed, and there are a lot of bands out there. I mean, we just recently played South By Southwest, and the amount of British bands compared to the amount of American bands that were there... everyone walking down the street was English. That’s a good state for the English music scene. Unfortunately, for my tastes, there’s a lot of music out there that’s boring. There’s a lot of boring bands out there. There’s nothing really that’s excited me, but it’s certainly a healthy music scene, and you can’t really complain about that. It’s good for British bands out there getting signed, but I would hope for my particular tastes that there would be something a bit more exciting, a bit edgier – which is one of the reasons why we put this band together. We were going down to the clubs in London and seeing bands and weren’t getting excited by it, so we basically put a band together that we wanted to see. But yeah, it’s definitely a healthy music scene.

Cool. Is this your first trip to Canada for you guys?
The Rev: Second.

Second?
The Rev: Yeah.

Just wondering what you thought of Canada so far.
The Rev: Like in the States, we’ve never had the chance to really get to see anything of the places we played. We played Montréal and Toronto last time on the tour, and we were here for like, a day in each town. Toronto, we were here for a couple of days last time. I definitely got a better vibe of Toronto than I did with Montréal... maybe it’s just the venue, or the place, but the people in Toronto were pretty cool. They treated us really well. Generally, Canada is a really interesting place. It’s the hardest place to get into from the airport, though. They give us so much shit at the airport, it’s unbelievable. It takes hours to get into this country, but once you’re in, it’s a really picturesque, nice place to be. Last time we were here, it was really hot, and this time we’re here, it’s fucking freezing! So there’s extremes, but it’s cool. It’s a cool place.

Alright… [to Donny] actually Donny? Can I just ask you one question please? This is kinda directed towards you.
Donny: Okay.

I just wanted to ask you, in the December 14, 2005, NME Christmas Factor, when asked to comment on the Coldplay song “Speed of Sound”, you’re quoted as saying, “I’d rather strangle myself with fucking tinsel than listen to this. They bore the tits off me.” I was just wondering why you think this band has become so huge [Coldplay] and what is it about the band you don’t like?
Donny: Chris Martin’s nose to start. I don’t like his nose. I don’t like the way he walks, talks, or breathes. The reason why the band has become so huge is because they’re middle of the road bullshit, and there’s a lot of people who like that sort of stuff... who like to have a coffee in the middle of the day and have a fucking bunt cake with it. I say if you’re gonna listen to Coldplay, go and watch them live, and take a bunt cake and a cup of tea.

What about Oasis? What do you think about them?
Donny: I fucking hate them, too. [laughing] No, no... they’re alright. I love ‘em man, brilliant band. One of my faves. All-time favourites.

Do you think you guys could out-drink the Gallaghers?
Donny: Out-drink ‘em? Any day of the week! The challenge is on!

I’ll try and get the challenge to the Gallaghers, then. Alright, just one more question. So you guys are touring endlessly right now, but I was just wondering, what’s the rest of 2006 going to hold for the band?
The Rev: Well, our debut album’s going to be out in June time over here in Canada and North America. We just finished up this short little tour now, we’ll fly back to London to go on a two-week tour of Germany... another UK tour, a single album release, back over to America for a big tour. Generally, our ass belongs to the road for the next couple of years. We’re looking forward to it. We’re looking forward to getting out there, like I said before, playing in every hole and pocket, taking it to people’s front door steps, playing in every town, playing to every kid. We just wanna get out on the road and tour, and just show them what a great album we’ve recorded and play some great shows and meet some great people. Generally that is what we’re going to be doing for the next year or so.  [ END ]
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