“Swan Lake” By Thomas Tantrum
“Blase” By Thomas Tantrum
Thomas Tantrum is not a character in a Horrid Henry novel, which will no doubt come as a relief, I’m sure you don’t fancy sitting through a review of Henry’s gormless adventures alongside his charm free pals, Perfect Peter, Moody Margaret, Brainy Brian and Rude Ralph. In any case Horrid Henry is an unmitigated little shit of the highest order and if there’s any justice the day will surely arrive when there are consequences to his disgraceful behaviour. “Horrid Henry Goes To A Young Offenders Institution” would be a fitting finale to this rather irresponsible series, I feel! Happily Thomas Tantrum is a fabulous four piece band from Southampton , home of Benny Hill, King Canute and erm Craaaaig Daaaaavid, whose mercurial type of idiosyncratic adrenaline fueled punky fizz-bomb pop has been getting rave reviews this year, resulting in sagacious nods of approval being cast in their direction from the likes of Glasvegas, The Futureheads and Lily Allen. Fronted by Indie poster-girl-in-waiting, the winsome and charismatic Megan Thomas, the band ooze, style, nonchalance, and charm, they have produced a glittering debut album and have illuminated the pop firmament this year with the sheer incandescent life affirming power of their tunes.
The fragile beauty of Megan’s extraordinary vocals which seem to come from the very vault of heaven, combined with the bands unusually structured songs and playful oblique lyrics really do make Thomas Tantrum stand head and shoulders above their Indie peers. To call Thomas Tantrum “random” would in this case, not be a misuse of the Queen’s English as they do produce the unexpected. Some have lazily compared Megan to Kate Nash in terms of her delivery, which can at times be half-conversational and also to Kate Bush in terms of her pitch which can climb to a tremulous falsetto, but whatever the merits or otherwise of such comparisons the fact is Megan’s voice and inflection contain a unique allure, it’s a voice which readily adds a poignant beauty to some of the bands finest moments, when she sings “Dancing with you/When I’m falling apart/ Dancing with you, when you don’t have a he-aaart” (Swan Lake), the numbed heartbreak is palpable-you feel it !
Megan, is of course not alone and is part of a tight musical outfit made up of Dave Miatt (guitar), Ken Robshaw (drums), and Jim Shivers (bass) whom expertly perform all manner of stop- start machine-gun heroics with their instruments, often wrong footing you with a change of pace in an incredibly exciting and spontaneous fashion. Heck! This is the reason I love music so much, which in turn is the reason I love Thomas Tantrum so much (and so on and so forth.) Listening to their album is a dizzyingly, giddy affair, rather like rolling down a hill head first at breakneck speed with a mouthful of sherbet, whilst lemonade bubbles explode up your nostrils! It’s disorientating and full of energetic, spiky effervescence, it’s knowing, yet naïve, tough, yet vulnerable, it’s as catchy as hell and it is of course, hugely enjoyable. The album bounds forth from your speakers like an endearing puppy, full of enthusiasm, eager to please and with an innate sense of fun, it’s chock full of bounce, vigour and sass and it just won’t rest until you join in the fun too. Thomas Tantrum produce the sort of sound that you’d imagine Eddie Argos’ sister would make whilst discovering Elastica/The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s/Lush/ Lena Lovitch and Fight Like Apes, yes it’s that good! So don’t “Rage Against The Tantrum”, embrace it, hang on for dear life and enjoy the rollercoaster ride that is Thomas Tantrum! I grabbed a word with Megan on the phone just before the band flew out to Florence to commence another round of relentless gigging!
VP: How did the band actually come about and where did the name come from?
MEGAN: Well I’d been friends with Dave for a while and we used to play like, acoustic jams together, we always wanted to be in a band and felt we could expand the sound, then we met Ken and Jim and it started from there really. The name wasn’t about my surname as such; it was just mentioned by a friend at a party, “why not call your band “Thomas Tantrum”. I thought actually, yeah that sounds a bit different and stands out. I mentioned it to the guys and they agreed.
VP: Your debut album is ace, was it fun to record and did the finished version meet your expectations?
MEGAN: Ahh thanks to be honest it was quite a shock, we’d only ever recorded some demos before so when we went to Halifax to record the album, we had like twenty different guitars to chose from . Ken had this amazing drum kit , we were definitely pleased with the result, I think early Thomas Tantrum was quite jagged and edgy , and the album took some of the rough edges off and took it to the next level .
VP: What have been your personal highlights of 2008?
MEGAN: Playing the Reading festival was definitely a highlight, we were put on the bill quite late, and we’re a bit worried we mightn’t get a good crowd, some of the bands on earlier, hadn’t pulled a huge crowd at the smaller stages. Luckily when we came on we had an amazing crowd, there were a lot of photographers there, and we got televised on BBC Three so we were delighted! Supporting Glasvegas has been great too, they are amazing and we just felt we clicked with them.
VP: Do you ever get nervous playing to big crowds like Reading and the Glasvegas shows
MEGAN: Not anymore, as we’ve played so many gigs now, I suppose it depends on the crowd, if they are really up for it it’s great. Occasionally an audience just stand there and you think, why bother coming to a gig if you don’t try and get involved ! Mind you when we supported the Dirty Pretty Things at The Roundhouse I looked out and it was so HUGE, I felt a bit wobbly!
VP: What’s the scene like in Southampton is it difficult for new bands to get heard?
MEGAN: Well it’s quite a small town, and sometimes you might think there’s nothing going on, but actually there are a lot of decent promoters who want to put on new bands so it’s a pretty good scene really. We did an NME –In The City feature and wondered initially what we’d say about Southampton, but it went pretty well.
VP: Had an weird experiences in your time in the band?
MEGAN: Hmmm Weird experiences? Well there was one guy on myspace, who had no profile picture or anything, who used to send me photos of spanners!! Every week he’d send me a different photo of a spanner , I’d be like “Ah here we go, here’s this weeks “spanner of the week” Then it stopped ! -That was pretty weird!
VP : Ok so on to your songs and writing style, now I haven’t stop playing the album, but I must confess I’m a bit unsure what some of the songs are actually about ?
MEGAN: I suppose people mightn’t get them in one sense as they are very personal, but I also think music and lyrics work best when people take their own meanings. Sometimes you can say something by putting an emphasis on certain words it’s not just what you say, how you say something can add a certain weight to it , mind you I suppose a lot of people don’t know what I’m on about sometimes ! Hopefully people can take what they want from them..
VP: What have been your records of the year so far?
MEGAN: Well I don’t want to sound like I’m sucking their arse, but I really do love the Glasvegas album , it’s such a great record. Have you heard Bon Ivor? His albums incredible, when his band split up he just went off to a hut on his own in the middle of nowhere and recorded this amazing album about an old girlfriend.
VP: Who would you say your musical influences are?
MEGAN: We all come from different musical backgrounds, but influences are stuff like Television, Elastica , Sonic Youth ,The Yeah,Yeah,Yeahs (who we are often compared to) and a band called the Delta 5.
VP: Blimey I remember the Delta 5, I didn’t think many people had heard of them!! I had a song on 7” by them from years ago called “Mind Your Own Business.
MEGAN: Oh yeah that’s a wicked song! We all like different things, for example our drummer Ken is into dance music and has his own side project 22 10 In The Pen. I do my own solo stuff and Jim and Dave have their own side projects too.
VP: What was the first single you can remember buying?
MEGAN: Haha, well it’s a bit embarrassing …my taste was very different back then …It was “Gangsta’s Paradise ” By Coolio. I even performed it in a music lesson; complete with a little dance and a backwards cap, but ermmm…I think we’ll leave that one there.
VP: Hahaha! If only they had Youtube in those days eh ? So you could have been a Hip-Hop R &B gal?
MEGAN: Yeah, ha-ha I could of gone either way, actually my sister is a big R&B fan, I don’t really see the point in it.
VP: And finally what have you got planned for the remainder of 2008 and for 2009 ?
MEGAN: Well we have some more dates with Glasvegas, then we are off to Japan with Cajun Dance Party which should be wicked. I think next year we’d like to spend a bit more time writing, as we haven’t had much time this year apart from a few acoustic sessions in hotel rooms! 2009 I think we’ll tour the album a bit more, and then maybe record a single? I don’t think we’ll be looking at recording another album until the end of 2009
VP: Ok Thanks Megan I’ll let you go as you’re off to Florence in a few days?
MEGAN : Yeah should be good but it looks like we’ll not be getting much sleep -nice to talk to you Andy, cheers.
Order The Thomas Tantrum Album
NME: 8 / 10 “A rare example of genuine danceable twee indie disco-pop”
The Times: 4/5 “An art rock party band. All wit and fizz here.”
The Guardian: 3/5 “A hot and sweaty hissy-fit, both guileless and knowing, frustrating and charming”
The VPME: 10/10 “The best album this year”
Get It From
“Work it” By Thomas Tantrum
“Pshandy” By Thomas Tantrum
I love this band!