With gigs looming and an album to work on, it’s customary for a band to spend long, painful hours in an enclosed space, rehearsing until they’re ready to drop. But with miles between, geographically dispersed folk trio Tyde had to find a new way to successfully ‘get together’.
“Andrew plays stuff down his phone to me … and it works!” says fiddle-player and vocalist Heather Gessey of her accordion-playing counterpart, Andrew Waite. “He’s there, playing away… and I can play along.”
Scattered around the North East, Scottish Border, West Midlands and occasionally further afield, the phone-sessions have ensured musical connections between members has remained strong.
“Because we all live so far apart, doing something like that, or recording yourself on the phone and sending it over, is so useful,” Andrew exclaims. “When we do then come to meet up to rehearse, even if you’ve only heard something once before, it makes it easier.”
“We don’t have to rehearse together, we can rehearse on our own and I think that keeps the music fresh when we do play [live],” Heather continues. “If a band over rehearses, it doesn’t sound as fresh.”
As part of Kathryn Tickell‘s Folkestra project – The Sage Gateshead’s youth ensemble – Heather, Andrew and guitarist/vocalist Seth Tinsley came together in 2008 by chance.
“We were in Madrid [on tour] and Kathryn said we were short of some material so could you, you and you – pointing to me, Andrew and Seth – get together and do some tunes,” Heather recalls. “So we went off to a room and we found each other so easy to work with, so we just kept going, and entered the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards the same year.
“Then we recorded our debut album the following year.”
Their self-titled debut album (FRUK review here), released in December 2010, was accompanied by a string of well-received festival dates and live shows, but the fact that each member was – until this year – studying at different universities in the North East, Scotland and West Midlands, has meant the band haven’t been as active as they’d have liked.
“Because we had to be at uni’ in the week, it did stop us from touring,” says Andrew. “But being free now, we don’t have those restrictions. We have a mini-tour lined-up and festivals, then we’re trying to organise an October tour. That’d be nice, to do that after a summer of festivals.”
Accompanying the forthcoming dates is the trio’s second album, The Hidden Spoon, a well-balanced collection of instrumentals and songs that clearly shows a step-up from their debut.
“The Hidden Spoon is very different from our first album,” agrees Andrew. “There’s a lot more range to it. The other one is less arranged, this one has got more: better tunes, and we’ve done more with it. There’s more substance … the songs are a lot better too.”
“We do raucous tunes as well, and also complicated and interesting to listen to tracks, but ultimately the progression is in the songs,” says Heather when comparing their debut with the new collection. “Katrina showcases Seth’s voice. He sings lead, whereas he only sang backing on the first album. There’s lots going on, there’s pizzicato strings, harmonies, it also showcases Andrew’s voice too, and he’s never sung before. It definitely shows a more mature sound.”
As examples of their newfound maturity, Seth cites The Hidden Spoon’s opening track and a later two-parter: “Pietros is the one we make the most noise on and it includes some of Andrew’s best tunes. And Skytehound Part I and Part II is a massive set, especially Part II which takes us to somewhere completely new. It has this big ending section that has more in common with a contemporary music composition that folk music.”
While the band remain very much a three-piece, the album does feature contributions from percussionist Jim Molyneux (4Square, Old Dance School) and bassist Pete Thomas (Megan Henwood).
“We weren’t going to originally,” says Heather, of the decision to add bass and drums. “But when we recorded the stuff, the music just needed that extra oomph to bring it alive on the CD. Live, we have our personas on stage, pedals, and musicianship, and that works. But on CD, we felt it needed an extra dimension.”
“We have got a few gigs as a five-piece,” adds Andrew, “some more festivals, like Towersey where we’re in the dance tent. The five-piece will be good for bigger gigs.”
“Jim and Pete are excellent,” Seth interjects. “The addition of bass and percussion really adds a new dynamism to the band. We’re still definitely a trio, but we’re adding that extra weight to bigger gigs.”
“We really enjoyed making this album. It’s a huge step up for us,” Heather concludes. “People really enjoyed the first album, and I want people who enjoyed that to love this one more. The last one was easy to listen to, you can tap your feet along to it; this one is more demanding, you have to listen to it a few times before it sticks. I hope we’ll have lots of chances to play it over the summer.”
The Hidden Spoon is out now on Mrs Casey Records.
Buy it here: www.tydefolk.com
Interview by: Dave Freak
Forthcoming live appearances include:
Wednesday 6 February 2013, Slaughtered Lamb, London, 7:30pm, £10
Thursday 7 February 2013, The Fleece Inn, Bretforton, Nr. Evesham, Worcs, 7:30pm, £7/£8
Saturday 9 February 2013, Cheltenham Folk Festival 2013, Cheltenham Town Hall, noon & 7pm, £10
Sunday 17 February 2013, Topsham Folk Club, Topsham, Devon, 8:00pm, £8
Sunday 21 April 2013, Folk Weekend Oxford, The Old Fire Station, Oxford, £30/£12
Sunday 26 May 2013, Chapel Arts Centre, Bath, 7:30pm, £8/£10
Monday 27 May 2013, Fishguard Folk Festival, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Friday 14 June 2013, Live@215, Sheffield, 7:30pm, £6/£8
Monday 26 August 2013, Towersey Festival, Towersey, Oxfordshire, 10:00pm, £110 (5days), £30 (1 day)