London-based folk group Tunng may have lost one of its co-founders, but that hasnt 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 groups new direction, The OCs devastating cancellation, getting remixed by Bloc Party, and metaphorical seahorses.
Out: What does the name Tunng mean?
Mike Lindsay: Its very much open to interpretation really. Its 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 dont know if it does anymore, but anyways, its become whatever its become. Oh and in Swedish it means heavy as well.
[Laughs]. It was more like where its 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 its this really cool thing that were 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 -- hes 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. Its not like we were writing from 2007 until now, but it definitely took over a year to come together. Thats 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 dont 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 dont know, its a pretty good description of a bigger sound, which we were aiming for. He thought it was epic and brass and magnificent, so Im going with that one.
Do you think folk music is still relevant today?
It depends how you define folk really. Its 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 dont know, I think its always going to be relevant. Its timeless music.
Who here in the States do you think you has a similar vibe to yours?
You guys are making amazing music at the moment. Better than we are. I love Animal Collective, Out of Sound, Grizzly Bear -- those kind of bands. I think theyre doing really important things. I dont know if weve got a similar vibe to them or not, but Id love to play with them. And theres certainly a certain attitude that I think we might share.
How did the Bloc Party remix of your new single Hustle come about?
We did a cover of their tune Pioneers about three or four years ago, and that got released and was on The OC and stuff like that. We just asked them. We wanted a remix of that tune and I wanted to create the story. And they said, "Yeah." Its a pretty big club mix. Becky [Jacobs, from Tunng] loves it -- its all about her, you know.
Are you friends with Bloc Party?
No, not really. Ive never actually met them. We just got mixed up with record labels. Ive got a couple of friends that know them
Were you as distraught as I was to see The OC go?
[Laughs]. Oh devastated, devastated. No, you know, I didnt set my alarm at the exact time and watch The OC. Im sure people got over it.
On your Twitter, you asked people to sign the Save 6 Music petition. Why are you promoting that?
Its the best alternative music station there is -- in England, anyway. And I guess its international with digital radio. Its just a fantastic station, and its a real shame to lose it. Its been great for us as a band. Theres a lot of people I know who listen to that station all day, every day. There are more specific stations out there, but I think for alternative music station, its the best.
What inspired the seahorses on the album cover?
Good question. Its called And Then We Saw Land, and theres quite a few nautical references and adventurous references. You know, we wanted the feeling of an adventurous sea world. So there they are.
Okay, finally, prove yourself. Why should the gays embrace Tunng?
The gays. [Laughs]. Well, hey, whatever. We just make sweet, lovely music! Gay, straight, children, old, whatever. Weve got some beautiful boys in the band as well.
Tunngs new album, And Then We Saw Land, hits shelves April 6.
For a free download of the track Dont Look Down or Back," click here.
For a free download of the Bloc Party remix of Tunngs Hustle," click here.
For more info on Tunng, visit their official website here.