Need To Know: Tunng

3.31.2010

By Gregory Miller

London-based folk group Tunng may have lost one of its co-founders, but that hasn't stopped Front man Mike Lindsay and the band from releasing their fourth album, 'And Then We Saw Land. We caught up with Lindsay to talk about the group's new direction, The OC's devastating cancellation, getting remixed by Bloc Party, and metaphorical seahorses.

Out: What does the name Tunng mean?
Mike Lindsay: It's very much open to interpretation really. It's one of those names that more just has a kind of feeling and a symbol that sound like almost onomatopoeic sort of noise word. At the time, we thought it represented our sound. I don't know if it does anymore, but anyways, it's become whatever it's become. Oh and in Swedish it means 'heavy' as well.

Why heavy?
[Laughs]. It was more like where it's a meaningless word. I just quite liked it. We were just writing down letters and things that kind of sounded like they represented what we were at the time.

Sam Genders, your fellow co-founder, left the band. Did that change the dynamic?
Yeah, massively. Massively. It was a really interesting change. There were three records very heavily musically and vocally [intertwined] with Sam, and me and him working together. Obviously him not being involved at all this time, it really opened up a lot of sort of gateways for the rest of the band to get more involved both vocally and lyrically. It was a big hole that needed to be filled, and it took us a while to figure out how to do that. And then we did, and actually it's this really cool thing that we're really, really excited about.

Do you and Sam still hang out?
Yeah. In fact, we played a gig for a birthday party for our record label in England last night. He came on stage and sang a few songs, and I helped him out with a couple of instrumentals -- he's got another record coming, I think.

Your last album came out in 2007. Why did you take such a long hiatus?
One of [the reasons] was Sam leaving, but we were touring for the [last] record, doing shows, stuff like that. The first three records were one a year. This one took a couple of years. It's not like we were writing from 2007 until now, but it definitely took over a year to come together. That's partly because of Sam leaving and us finding new ways of writing music.

Your press release calls the new album 'epic folk disco brass magnificent.' What is that supposed to mean?
I don't know. It was a friend of mine actually who told them that. I was giving out demos to people I trust to get their opinions awhile ago, and he called me up in the middle of the night and that was his description. I just kind of really liked it. I don't know, it's a pretty good description of a bigger sound, which we were aiming for. He thought it was epic and brass and magnificent, so I'm going with that one.

Do you think folk music is still relevant today?
It depends how you define folk really. It's really just sort of storytelling, and it can be relevant to whatever situation you want to talk about. I got personally into that really acoustic guitar style ['with the] revival in the '60s, especially in England. I don't know, I think it's always going to be relevant. It's timeless music.

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