When Tender Trap first entered our eardrums, we were charmed by its indie-pop prowess. Great songwriting, wonderful guitar lines and delicious vocals made us anxious to learn more about the band. You can imagine the sense of charm we felt when we discovered that the band was fronted by the great Amelia Fletcher. Having previously played in Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, and Marine Research, she has already contributed to the soundtrack of our lives. Joined by Heavenly and Marine Research alum Rob Pursey, John Stanley (Marine Research), Katrina Dixon and Elizabeth Darling, they have continued to make the music that we treasure. Their newest album, Dansette Dansette shimmers with the beauty and light that we’ve come to expect from this group. Amelia Fletcher talked to TDOA writer Leilani about their latest effort.
TDOA: The newer material, judging from the Do You Want a Boyfriend single that came out at the beginning of this month, seems to be sort of a concious effort to return to your C86 roots. Film Molecules, on the other hand was definitely more of an electronic record, whereas 6 Billion People seems to be kind of a melding of both styles. Was there a specific reason why you decided to come back to your older sound after 9yrs?
AF: When we recorded FILM MOLECULES we were thinking that we’d not be playing live any more. Maybe we’d got a bit insular, maybe we’d just got fed up with carrying drum kits around. And we wanted to produce something completely by ourselves. Just to remember why we really loved doing it, irrespective of whether anyone else wanted to listen. We did a few gigs with a drum machine, but I think we looked very anxious most of the time in case it didn’t do what it was supposed to. And then we really missed the proper live thing, the noise of drumkits – and 6 BILLION PEOPLE was recorded while we were in the middle of changing our minds. We also had Claudia Gonson of the Magnetic Fields playing and recording with us at that time. Having a girl drummer who can sing great harmonies…. that was enough for us to change our minds completely. So then we made a deliberate effort to recruit at least two more women, including Katrina, who can sing and play drums. (She only uses a side-tom and a snare so we don’t even need to worry about carrying too many lumps of metal around.) Finally, we wanted to have as much harmony live as we’ve always had on record. And we were really lucky to meet Elizabeth, who plays guitar and sings too. Three girl voices! In some ways it feels like we’ve finally worked out how to do live what Talulah Gosh and Heavenly always wanted to do.
TDOA: Your new album, Dansette Dansette, is being released later this month in the US by Slumberland which makes you label mates with The Pains of Being Pure At Heart. Often they get compared to bands that you have been involved with in the past, like Talulah Gosh or Heavenly. Here you are in the present with Tender Trap, releasing music at the same time as other bands like TPOBPAH …. How does this effect your approach to creating new music? Is it harder to write songs knowing that your contempories are kind of approaching the sound as though it were a revival of twee/indie-pop, while it effectively never really died for you?
AF: I don’t think that bothers us at all. What is great is to be part of a vibrant scene, one that knows instinctively that pop music and punk have a lot in common – inventiveness, anti-corporate attitudes, independence. Age doesn’t make much difference (although if you asked younger bands what they think about having veterans like us around, they may say a different thing). We’ve always composed and recorded new songs, only occasionally playing old ‘hits’, and I think that’s why we have more in common with the newer bands than older ones who just play their old stuff.
TDOA: Now that Tender Trap is a 5 piece, do you feel less limited as to what can be performed live and when you’re recording? How was your experience recording your latest album different from your previous albums?
AF: 5 people means that more surprising things can happen when new songs are rehearsed, and it all happens very quickly. And we are released from the tyranny of playing with a deviant drum machine. Recording the new LP was really really great fun: the band is a good gang to be in, and I think that comes through on the LP.
TDOA: Between the 5 of you, we could probably make a list of over 10 bands that each of you have been a part of or were linked to – That’s a lot of music! How do you keep things fresh for each project? Do you ever feel pressure to make sure each of these endeavors has it’s own distinct personality?
AF: I think that a few years ago we did what a lot of bands do when they’ve been making music for a while – they try to be more sophisticated. That’s what FILM MOLECULES was like. Very thought-out and controlled. It’s much more dynamic again now though, because there are five strong personalities in the band none of whom are arsed with sophistication and control. Having said that, we spend more time trying to get the lyrics good. Maybe because we are thinking that there are more people listening.
TDOA: Are there any other projects that any of you are currently involved with outside of Tender Trap? How do you balance out the responsibility or decide which venture takes precedence?
AF: Elizabeth has her own band, Allo Darlin. which is doing really well and plays a lot more gigs than we do. We have to juggle dates with hers, but it works out ok. I do Economics, Rob makes TV drama programmes, John has about three jobs and Katrina works for The Guardian newspaper.
TDOA: A lot of your songs (I’m thinking of “Fireworks” specifically) sort of hearken back to that carefree 60′s girlgroup sound, but I can also detect a bit of even a psych-pop influence on your first album (the opener “Fin” had me thinking of The United States of America and Stereolab) and of course, the band also seems to be influenced by indie rock as a whole. Is this reflective of the music you grew up with? What albums do you think of as creative touchstones? Can you remember the last album you memorized from start to finish?
AF: The last LP Rob pretty much memorized from start to finish was Sumday by Grandaddy. Mine was You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever by Orange Juice. A long time ago, but as you get older your memory starts to weaken.
TDOA: Your last full length (6 Billion People) came out 4 years ago, so there’s be an obvious lag in release time between LPs. When you put a project on hiatus like that, what sort of things do you do during that downtime to ensure that the creative process doesn’t die? As older artists, how do you deal with juggling the more “adult” aspects of your life (i.e. work, kids, jobs) with your lives as musicians?
AF: You don’t really need to do anything to keep it alive – we find that ideas for songs keep coming. The question is whether you can find the time (and the collaborators) to do anything with them. We did have to stop for a bit because our two daughters (Dora and Ivy) were too little to be left alone. But they’re old enough now, and they have formed a band of their own (called ‘The Fire Girls’), so they seem to understand our activities. Jobs are always an obstacle, but that’s always been the case.
TDOA: It’s an obvious statement, but times have definitely changed for the music industry since your C86 days. I remember catching Heavenly’s video for Trophy Girlfriend on MTV’s 120 Minutes but today you’d have to probably resort to YouTube in order to watch a band’s newest video. Each of you has matured past the golden years of indie rock and into a time where one can simply type an album’s title into Google and download it. How has your experience as musicians changed in the past 15 years? Can you share with us how you’ve adapted as artists during a time where information is practically instant?
AF: Well, we make our own videos for no money and edit them at home for no money, and then people get to see them – so that’s good. People seem to love 7inch singles, all over again, but in a way that is mildly nostalgic and fetishistic. They remind you of a time when it really felt like a triumph to get hold of, say, the new Fire Engines single. You had to really seek it out, which made it feel very special, and meant that the scene was full of very committed, determined people. But is that so different from now?
TDOA: You recently came over to the US in May of this year to play some shows in NYC and Philadelphia. NYC seems like an obvious choice, and I personally LOVE Philadelphia as I spent a good portion of my 20′s living there, but what made you choose to play there out of all of the other east coast cities? Do you have plans to do a broader tour of the US at some point?
AF: We would love to do a bigger tour of the US. It was painful to come all that way and only play twice. But we will definitely be back. Philadelphia? That was because Herbie, who runs ‘England belongs to Twee’ invited us to play there, and we are very glad we did. Herbie and his club are very cool. We’ve never been in a frat house before. And Philadelphia is a great place – Katrina took a lot of photos!
(Entrevista aparecida en el portal The Dumbing of America)
Ha pasado ya algunos meses desde que Dansette Dansette (2010), el tercer álbum de Tender Trap se publicase. Pero no quiero dejar de hacerle al menos una reseña en The JangleBox, ya que es un disco de lo más ameno y divertido. Como tal hay que tomárselo, porque no se trata de un material sesudamente parido y registrado. Antes al contrario, se trata de un disco muy divertido, y de una sonoridad muy agradable. A medio camino entre el Twee-Pop y el C-86 de los comienzos de Amelia Fletcher (Danger overboard), el disco tiene un sonido muy particular. Sería algo así a como sonarían The Ronettes o The Supremes con un puñado de voltios (2 to the N, Counting the hours, Grand national). Aunque finalmente la impresión que queda tras escuchar Dansette Dansette es la de Fuzzy-Pop con toquecitos C-86. En cualquier caso lo realmente serio es que Amelia Fletcher se ha sacado de la manga un discazo con todas las letras, y temazos como Dansette dansette, Fireworks, Girls with guns, o Capital L (que podría interpretar la mismísima Dusty Springfield) son de lo mejorcito que se ha hecho este año en cuanto a Indie/Twee-Pop se refiere; y guarda toda la inocencia del disco de una principiante. De este álbum no os pongo directamente el enlace, porque Fortuna Pop! son amiguetes. Si hay alguien que todavía no lo ha escuchado o lo quiere tener, que me envíe un mail a la dirección del blog, que está arriba a la derecha.
“Tender Trap’s new album ‘Dansette Dansette’ might at first listen sound like a tribute to the innocently sweet girl pop of the 60s. The female harmonies of Amelia Fletcher and the newly added Elizabeth Morris (Allo Darlin’) and Katrina Dixon seem to mirror those of the Supremes, Betty Everett and others who sang songs about the love of a good man. On closer listen you realise, however, that these are not love songs, but a collection of feminist empowered pastiches. The title track ‘Dansette Dansette’ opens the album and is a lovely piece of harmonic pop in the vein of Motown’s greatest female artists, but, however, it is an answer to their lacklustre leanings towards love; Amelia sings sweetly in her whispery waivery voice but her lyrics poke fun at the likes of Sandie Shaw and the Supremes and their naivety. In ‘2 To The N’ Amelia sings, “It’s the end of an era/And love comes no nearer” highlighting the distinction.
Amongst the 60-esque soul pop can also be heard punchy punk and fuzz pop numbers such as ‘Do You Want A Boyfriend? ’ and ‘Girls With Guns’ which adds gusto to the girl power. Instead of advising how you might be able to tell if he loves you (“It’s in his kiss”), Fletcher and co’s answer to ‘Do You Want A Boyfriend?’ is that he has to please you “Psychologically” and tease you “Gynecologically.” These are songs about vengeance; “Do you know what you’ll get if you do that again?/A bullet to the brain!” and sisterhood; “You can sink or you can swim/All you need to do is stop your thinking about him/and pull each other through.” Influences such as Riot Grrl punk and Shoegaze also shine through – Fletcher shamelessly namedrops the Jesus And Mary Chain. It is also distinctly reminiscent of Amelia Fletcher’s earlier outfits Talulah Gosh and Heavenly and it is refreshing to hear such deliciously powerful pop.
Aside from the punk pop and pastiches, it is important to mention, that there are some wonderfully grown up aspects to the album. ‘Suddenly’ is one of those moments, still superficially 60s in sound, it has a wonderful soft and deep feeling with a wonderful chorus that drops as Amelia sings huskily, recalling Dusty Springfield’s ‘Breakfast in Bed’. ‘Dansette Dansette’ is therefore an album of many angles and depths; it is both an exploration and answer to pop, both serious and hilarious, grown up and childish. Great” (pennyblack/fortunapop.com)
Tras un prolongado lapsus de tiempo, el proyecto de Amelia Fletcher Tender Trap vuelve a tomar carrerilla y prepara un nuevo disco. Como aperitivo, el sello británico Fortuna Pop! nos regala este single, Girls with guns, para descarga gratuita y disfrute generalizado de todos los amantes del Twee-Pop, en este caso, revigorizado y con energías guitarreras. Un animoso tema de venganzas que acompañamos además de un divertido vídeo. Como sabéis, la trayectoria de Amelia Fletcher ha estado salpicada de momentos memorables en bandas como Heavenly, Marine Research o Talulah Gosh. Para esta nueva andadura del grupo, ha contado con la colaboración de Elizabeth Morris (Hello Darlin´), Katrina Dixon (Police Cat) y su inseparable Rob Pursey (Heavenly, Marine Research).
“Fresh from their upcoming long player, “Girls With Guns” demonstrates the newly propulsive, harmony-heavy edge that Tender Trap have acquired with the addition of Elizabeth Morris of Allo Darlin’ (fuzzy guitar) and Katrina Dixon (stand-up drums). It’s a riot-grrrl-esque tale of sisterhood and revenge that wouldn’t be out of place among the punkest moments of Amelia Fletcher’s previous outfits. While guitars and drums rush by in a blur, Amelia and her new girl crew swear a cold-hearted vengeance on the unreliable and untrustworthy menfolk of the town.
In other Trap news US indiepop fans will be able to catch them live at this year’s New York Popfest on May 21st alongside Allo Darlin’, as well as in at Pilam in Philadelphia on May 22nd. UK fans have a chance to see them before then, when they support The Dum Dum Girls at The Luminaire in London on May 13th, with further shows in the pipeline in July to coincide with the release of their third album “Dansette, Dansette” (fortunapop.com)