Emerging from the noise-rock three pieces KILL YOURSELF, this English (Leeds) duo judiciously borrow the groove from bands like OXES to enrich it with THE FUCKING CHAMPS’ impertinence and SHELLAC’s minimalism. Quasi conceptual concerning their choice of a purified instrumentation, THAT FUCKING TANK play with all our expectations to cloud us better. Having played with HOT SNAKES, Q AND NOT U, PILOT TO GUNNER, LIGHTNING BOLT or HOOVER, they are currently (December 2004) on their first European tour. A rich interview to widely discover the various facets of a well adjusted band.
Well, stop me if I’m wrong but, to begin, we can present THAT FUCKING TANK as two guys interesting by artistic creations and together thanks to this same interest that was at the beginning of the KILL YOURSELF history, isn’t it
Andy : It was actually me and Giles (guitarist/singer in KILL YOURSELF) that met at Art College. Me and James went to school together for a couple of years when we were 11 and have kept in touch since then. We've been doing music on and off all that time and have lived together (with other people as well) for the last 4 years.
As I just said, you play in KILL YOURSELF... How old are you ? And how old is KILL YOURSELF now ?
Andy : I've just turned 24. We started KILL YOURSELF almost 3 years ago after me and Giles finished art college. KILL YOURSELF was the continuation of a trashy noisy band called REAL FUCKY FUCKY me and Giles did at college. We used to do loads of stuff with KILL YOURSELF but since Giles moved to Glasgow to study art we do less one-off gigs and try and do big tours a few times a year. We've recently returned from our 3rd trip to Europe which was the best yet by far.
James : We've done a lot with KILL YOURSELF in that time : a seven song EP, and five 7"s of which four are splits. We've played close to 150 shows also.
Who is the genius responsible of this amazing band name : "THAT FUCKING TANK" ???
Andy : I think it was divine inspiration. Graham and Rachel (who we live with) were watching Full Metal Jacket the other day and apparently one of the soldiers in that says 'That Fucking Tank'. Maybe i picked it up from that. I've got no idea. It was actually one of quite a long list of ace band names me and James came up with which included stuff like I'M TRAPPED IN A CUPBOARD, TELL ME ABOUT THE WAR and shit like that. I still want to be in a band called SWAN COCKS at some point.
Do you play as a duo, together with Andy, for a long time or is this format relatively recent compared to your experience in KILL YOURSELF ?
Andy : We started doing THAT FUCKING TANK just as a joke one off performance in October 2003. It was for a gig we were organising for 2 other 2 piece bands so we thought it would be funny. I bought a baritone guitar a month before and wrote some riffs. We tried to have a practice in our house but got asked by one of the neighbours to 'stop doing that' within minutes. We got together and practiced for about 6 hours and pretty much wrote the set we play now. Since then we have played the gigs that KILL YOURSELF couldn't do (because of Giles living far away) and toured Spain but I think we've still only practiced about 6 times.
James : It seemed like a very new and strange thing to do, just playing as a two-piece. But relatively quickly you get used to doing it and realise what you can get away with and what you can't. The dynamic of two people playing together is very interesting because of how bare it can be. To make something texturally very dense and big is a challenge and forces you to play better.
In fact, the duo format is certainly the most exciting for those considering music creation as human/sentimental exchanges thanks to its proximity and the minimisation of obstacles that suppose a quartet or quintet format... So, was this the "key" factor that maked you begin this duo adventure or were there other parameters...? Why didn't you stop as your neighbours ask you !?!
Andy : The 'human/sentimental exchange' is quite an interesting factor of a duo. It wasn't something I necessarily expected before we started THAT FUCKING TANK. We really did just start it as a joke or something to keep ourselves entertained whilst Giles is in Glasgow. Only having two instruments (and quite bare ones - just bass drum and snare for the drum kit, only three different string tunings on baritone guitar and no 'effects' as such) means that the audience can focus a little harder on what you are physically playing (the actual movements of your hands/fingers/arms etc) which is a facet of live performance I am becoming more and more interested in. Each little change you make can have quite a dramatic effect and hopefully this 'absorbs' the audience. I love watching a band and after about 10 minutes you realise you've got lost in what the drummer is playing. Also me and James have been playing together long enough to react to what the other is doing. There isn't a lot of counting for pauses or anything. We just kind of watch each-other and I think that kind of concentration between two people is quite nice to watch, whether its music or otherwise. I suppose there is a voyeuristic aspect.
James : It is really just a vehicle to allow me and Andrew to play music together and rehearse. It is a very direct way to play music, I guess you could say 'call & response.' We play off each other, and whoever is playing the more interesting part becomes the lead player in a way. A duo forces the listener/audience to take note of what the individuals are playing, they can't just stare and swoon over the lead singer! People pay us a lot of compliments after shows on our playing and that tends not to happen when we play with kill yourself. People just say 'your singer sings through a gas-mask!'
Why did you decide to record (so quickly after your beginnings !) these five tracks ? Did you consider "A Document Of The First Set" as material just to help you to find shows, a "demo" in other words ?
Andy : We recorded the CD because Jealous asked us to. I quite liked the idea of doing a band that never released any recorded music at all, so it becomes a pure live experience. Then people who saw us play were asking if we had any records that they could take home and it felt quite pretentious to say 'No, we will never record anything', ha ha. Around the same time Ian (from Jealous records) was asking if we would record something so I saw it as an opportunity to both distribute the music further than we could physically travel, and also spread the word about us playing in peoples' houses or getting extra musicians involved. That’s why the inlay for 'A Document Of The First Set' has that soviet socialist style poster advertising our ability to play anywhere and asking people to sing/play/perform along if they want to. Its a serious offer but people don't seem to have responded to it yet. As for recording it cheap and quick. I think its a very true and honest recording of what we sounded like at that time so I never considered it a 'demo'. That sort of suggests that you could make a much better record. We might well do a 'Second Document Of The First Set' at the same time as we do a 'Document Of The Second Set' to capture what we sound like currently. To me, I'm quite happy to record as minimally as possible. We are able to record perfectly good records for little or no money and I think that's a good example to set for other bands or people that want to start bands.