by ngaire ruth
MX Tyrants’ music is for wriggly-hip-dancing, raised, lilting arms and pouting, with confident stare. The guitar has the swagger of Roxy Music or Duran Duran but with TONS more energy, poise and playfulness. Go Charley Stone, guitarist, and Lolo Wood, keys.
ngaire: Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?
lolo: You have seen Charley Stone in a million squillion bands, famous ones on the telly an’ all. You have seen the two of us together in Ye Nuns, who play the music of The Monks, and you have seen all of us in another certain all-female band [Joanne Joanne] who play the music of another certain all-male band [Duran Duran].
charley: You’ll also have seen me and Melanie Woods together in one or two other bands… and she’s been in a fair few herself (Knifeworld, Sidi Bou Said, loads of others) …
l: I have been in other bands but we mostly played to 2 people and half a dog.
c: Actually, Ngaire, I think you’ll find that you first saw me and Jo Gate-Eastley in the sensational Frantic Spiders back in the early 90s. You gave us our first Melody Maker write-up!
n: Why this type of melodic, traditional four-piece band?
c: Can’t help it.
l: We were all playing the same instruments in [Joanne Joanne], and it sounded so good that it was a natural step to start writing our own tunes in rehearsals.
c: There are 4 of us, we can’t help that.
n: What sort of bands do you see yourselves billed with?
l: Good ones! Ones we like! They can be similar, they can be contrasting, they can be chicks or blokes, or chicks and blokes.
c: Charley: Or persons who are neither, or persons who are both. Let’s not get all binary about it.
l: Our songs are good to dance to, so it would be nice to be on the bill with other acts who are good to dance to.
n: Since you are experts: How do you actually go about starting a band? Beyond getting the idea in the pub?
l: Decide the concept of the band. What will you sound like, who will do what? How will you fill any personnel gaps? Decide how you want to approach the writing – are you going to jam together, or bring along ideas/ fully formed songs you’ve already written? Then pick a date and a place to make noises in. Turn up and make noises.
c: “turn up and make noises” is the tl;dr version of this. That is basically it.
n: How much money do you need to get started?
l: You need instruments unless you’re going to be an acapella vocal band. But you can pick up cheap secondhand stuff or free things from Freecycle. Warning: some instruments need amplifiers, but these can also be cheap or free. Unless you have somewhere you can keep all your amps together and be as loud as you like, you’ll need to rent a rehearsal room. Tip: the more people in your band, the cheaper your share.
c: Back in the late 80s when I started, I began with a cheap “Axe” guitar, which I bought mail order from an ad in Smash Hits. It included: guitar, strap, lead, plectrum, carry case, really good practice amp (which I used for actual gigs for several years) AND a book and cassette teaching you How-To-Play. It was about £70 I think? I saved my allowance and got it. Didn’t bother paying for rehearsal space for years, just borrowed school halls and/or played quietly in our bedrooms. I recommend it.
n: Is this your art?
n: Is making art your political protest? e.g. even though you all work full time, for high rents and little relaxation time, you still belong in so many bands, and make new ones.
l: I guess so, but we would be still doing it if we were ladies of leisure. I have curtailed a lot of activities (cinema/ theatre-going, eating out, holidays, hairdressers) as a sacrifice to the London Rent Gods, but playing in bands is one of the main reasons I’m in London. So it may not be protest, more obstinate doggedness. And it is kind of relaxation time, even though it’s also work.
c: When everything is terrible, I always say “at least we’ve still got our #art”
n: Does your art always involve working with others, making music?
l: I work better collaborating with other people, but I still want to be a novelist when I grow up.
c: Personally I think bands work always better as collaboration rather than several musicians helping a lead song writer realise their #art, but I also like writing/recording on my own. But wouldn’t impose that on a band. The brilliant thing about a band is seeing what happens when other people put their ideas into the mix and change what you had to begin with.
n: Why then release a single?
l: It’s an easy way of getting people’s attention.
c: Assuming anyone bothers listening / watching, ho ho. BUT seriously, what else would we do? If you record a song you are pleased with, you must release it into the public, so that it can have a run around. No point keeping it cooped up in your room. No point at all.
n: Am I neglecting the obvious and most interesting question: Band name?
c: MX Tyrants, that’s the name, don’t wear it out. It’s MX, not Mx, incidentally. We are tyrannical about the fact that the MX bit of our name is pronounced MX not Mx. And therein lies the reason as well. It’s one of those answers that goes back on itself, like a Möbius strip, like the universe, like 2001: A Space Odyssey. And it can only be observed from within itself.
You’ll get nothing more sensible out of us.