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Interview with Tung in Cheek
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I think we all have sort of different experiences with music. Our influences of music come from different people and experiences. Some from family, others from friends or gigs. We would all have a similar general taste in music. However we each have some personal influences which shape the band into our own unique sound. Andy (vocals) listens to a lot of hip-hop which gives him a unique edge to his vocals. Eoin (guitar) takes a lot of influence from the John Squire (Stone Roses) with regards to his lead playing but also delves into the dreamy side of the likes of King Krule and Brad Stank. Gavin (bass) is originally a guitar player who plays in quite a unique way but takes influence from more rock-orientated artists. Brody (drums) has experience on different percussive instruments, playing in a percussion orchestra which takes him to New York annually. He takes his drumming style from a range of influences including math rock which gives him quite a diverse style.
We all work full time in various different jobs unrelated to music. At the moment the band is a hobby so if we weren’t in the band we’d just be doing our jobs and playing from our bedrooms!
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
We all have different hobbies. I think for most of us, our hobbies mostly revolve around music. We would also go to a lot of gigs and festivals. We definitely pick up ideas from these, whether it be stage performance ideas, how the setlist is laid out, interactions with the audience or inspiration from a nice riff. I think that we try not to take life too seriously and that relaxed attitude definitely comes across in our music.
How long has your band been around?
As Tung in Cheek we have been around since late 2018. However we never released anything until 2020 (the worst possible time with the arrival of coronavirus). Gavin (bass) joined in 2021. Myself and Andy have been messing around in bands with different people since we were 13 but it was never anything too serious.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We are all from Dublin, 2 southsiders and 2 northsiders. We definitely take influence from many Dublin and Irish bands and artists. Artists we would be a big fan of include The Murder Capital, Fontaine's DC, Just Mustard, Bicknasty, Fizzy Orange, Really Good Time, Basht, Big Sleep and Scustin.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
There isn’t much of a story behind this to be honest. However, when the band started off, we had big opinions about certain things and we expressed them in the lyrics of our songs in a sort of sarcastic nature - this can be heard in the likes of TIC. We still use sort of tongue in cheek humor at our gigs on the mic, and in some of the new lyrics but not as much as before. However, I do think it suits us and it tells people a little bit about who we are. With regards to the spelling, we just thought that ‘Tung’ looked better than ‘Tongue’, however it does cause confusion which is not ideal.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
I would say one of our most memorable ones is our first ever headline gig in London in MAP Studio Cafe. We were a bit nervous about going overseas as we weren’t sure who would show up. But it ended up selling out! The place was hopping and it was a real bucket list moment.
Another one which stood out to me was our first one after lockdown at the Grand Social. Which had to be a seated gig due to restrictions. However, by the end of the gig people were standing up, standing on chairs and going mad. It was deadly.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Our favorite venue would possibly be The Grand Social in Dublin. The main stage is such a cool venue with a deadly sound system, deadly lights and a fairly ideal size capacity for a band like us. It also has a nice smoking area and often has DJs on afterwards for people to hang around for if they're interested. Venues on our bucket list would probably be Whelans mainstage, Roisin Dubh, the Olympia and Vicar St. We would love to play some Irish festivals like Electric Picnic, All Together Now and Body & Soul.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Opening up for Fontaine's DC or The Murder Capital would be crazy.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
I'd say go out and play with as many people as possible. It's so important to be comfortable playing with others and the more people you're comfortable playing with the better a musician you become and the more doors that will open for you. Be sound, be hard working, be reliable and be the best musician you can be. Be kind but a bit selfish as well because if other people are holding you back from other opportunities and aren't as passionate then move on. Practice hard and don't ever think that you've mastered your instrument because there's always room for improvement.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Play music with more people. For too long I stuck playing with some musicians who weren't that passionate about music and that held me back.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Command Z. It is our most popular song on Spotify and always gets the crowd singing along at the gigs. It's quite unique as a song as well, the arrangement and structure is all over the place. It has lots of different sections but comes together beautifully. It was written on Ableton and then brought to rehearsal.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Rib Cage would be my favorite to play as it seems to have the most energy live with a deadly breakdown in the middle. Sometimes we get requests for older songs by some of our OG supporters - we are currently looking at reintroducing some new arrangements of them into our live set for our tour in May.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
We primarily write our music through jamming in the moment or else someone coming to rehearsal with a riff or chord progression. We jam it out and work on it ourselves between rehearsals and hopefully an idea grows and molds into something cool. Lyrics are usually the last piece of the puzzle. We have also written some songs on Ableton. We have also tried to write songs with working titles or themes or genres, this can be a hit and miss process but we always enjoy the challenge. I think we are in a fortunate position where we are inspired to write music by a desire to keep spicing up our set. We want to keep things fresh and interesting for ourselves and our listeners. With the wave of gigs we experienced post covid it was easy to end up playing a lot of the same material, so lately there's been much more emphasis put on our creative forces. The buzz of writing a new song and playing it live and getting a good response is hard to put into words, and this is something we are constantly trying to capture. A song really needs to be played live a few times to refine it as a track and only then would it be ready to record. The recording process is also something that gives us immense reward and enjoyment. We really enjoyed doing our EP with Dan Doherty of Darklands and would recommend him to anyone.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Our music is unapologetically bold and audacious. Our songs have themes of humor and sarcasm and certainly poke fun at various topics. They aim to focus on life through the lens of young people growing up in Dublin, and all that goes with that, the rough and the smooth. The songs however can be open to interpretation to each listener which can be quite liberating. We like our listeners to feel energized but relaxed when listening to our music. Our live set certainly ebbs and flows from tranquil dreamy ballads to abrasive post punk head bangers.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
We certainly grind each other's gears from time to time, some of us do it deliberately. However, generally there's a very positive attitude in our camp and we manage to work well together as band mates and as friends. If there's ever an issue we have always managed to sort it out quickly. We have heard some stories of bands eating the heads off each other, so we are very fortunate that we manage to maintain a strong relationship between the 4 of us. It's like being in a 4 way relationship, it takes a lot of work, sacrifice, effort and good communication.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We are currently working on some new original material to have for our EP tour, as well as trying to refine our live show, excavating some old material. We are also working on our EP release. Getting mixes and masters together. Artwork and photoshoots. We are booking venues for our EP tour in Ireland and the UK. Trying to get our latest single "Rib Cage" which is the debut single off the EP in as many ears as possible. This was released in early March. We are working on a music video for our next single "Lucid" which will be out April 14th. We are also going to be shooting a live performance video in April which is exciting. We have a lot on in the coming weeks and months so it's an exciting time for us as a band and we really hope the EP "Knockoffs & Dummies" is well received and helps to give us the platform we need to progress as a band. It was recorded and mixed by Dan Doherty who recorded Fontaines DC in their early days. We are delighted with how the mixes and masters are sounding. We would love it if you spotlighted our upcoming EP and tour. So far there is just one single out but the rest will all be announced shortly. If you want to catch us live, you can see us in a number of places in May: 7th London, 19th Cork, 25th Dublin. More to be added.