Tell It To The Marines

By paul

We sent some questions over to the guys in Tell It To The Marines. Here’s what they had to say…

PT: Hey guys, firstly who are we speaking to and what is your role in Tell It To The Marines?

Hello, I’m Timi, I sing & play guitar.

Dan, I play lead guitar and sing backing vocals.

John. I also play guitar.

PT: Where are you in the world and what are you up to today?

Timi: I’m currently in Portsmouth (where I go to university), sitting with a cup of tea, surrounded by pieces of paper & scruffy sticky notes.

Dan: I’m in my room, curing myself from a hangover and pondering what to write on my Tumblr.

John: I am in Bury St. Edmunds, and today I’m enjoying a lazy Sunday watching animal documentaries.

PT: For those who haven’t heard of you, give us a brief life story of Tell It To The Marines…

Timi: The band started out in 2007. It was made up of me, Dan & three of our best friends at the time. We played a lot of shows all over England until early 2009 were we decided to have a bit of a change. After numerous line-up changes & a whole new revamp on our sound, we recorded our EP ‘Bridges’ in June 2009.

John: I joined on guitar about 18 months in. Lewis joined in April of last year and then we set about writing ‘Bridges’. Jason joined about two months ago, as our old drummer didn’t feel he was right anymore.

PT: Where has the TITTM sound originated from? What music did you grow up on and what bands were the biggest influences on your sound?

Timi: I think the beauty of our band is that we’ve all grown up on such a variety of different bands. When it comes down to this question we all have such different answers to who we’re influenced by, so it’s always “well personally”. For me, I grew up on a lot of British bands my step dad introduced to me. There was a lot of Joy Division, Wedding Present, The Smiths & The Cure growing up. I remember me & Dan both discovering Jimmy Eat World & I Am The Avalanche, who have both had a huge effect on me musically. Recently, bands such as Sigur Ros, Album Leaf, Brand New, Frightened Rabbit, Great Lake Swimmers, The Antlers, Manchester Orchestra & Death Cab For Cutie have all had a really big influence on me.

John: I grew up listening to bands like Million Dead and Reuben, which influenced me a lot in the way I play guitar. I’d say that the band’s sound on a whole is influenced by bands like Death Cab For Cutie, Manchester Orchestra, Sigur Ros, Nirvana, Coldplay and Brand New. We all come from such different musical backgrounds which I think really reflects in the way all our separate musical styles come together. We also all essentially started out playing in hardcore and metal bands, which is something that you can still see in our live shows and the passion we have while playing our songs!

Dan: I grew up with mainstream radio such as Madonna, Michael Bolton and Boys 2 Men with the occasional imprint from my Dad, which meant Eagles and Supertramp! Then I started listening to stuff like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park. Then I got happier and got obsessed with Blink 182. Now I listen to a range of stuff, from Doves to The Auteur.

PT: The dictionary definition of the phrase ‘tell it to the marines’ is ‘a scornful response to a tall and unbelieved story’. Discuss.

John: At the time the band started I’m pretty sure the name was just chosen as it was kind of catchy and the band needed a band name to go on the flyer of the first show. But as our music has grown and our band has grown up, the bitter and angry background to the phrase is a good reflection of our music and Timi’s lyrics. You face a lot of hard times when you’re in a band and often have to tackle a lot of egos so the name is very fitting! Although I get a lot of texts from friends and family asking if we got the name from The Simpsons or Pearl Harbour, but that is definitely not it.

Timi: I remember our guitarist first bringing us this name & I originally accepted it just because of the “ring” it had. After we put some nice research into it, it actually became really interesting knowing the story behind it. Without sounding overly pretentious (as if we set out purposely to reflect our views within our name) I think it really is a perfect reflection on a lot of our characteristics as a band. We’ve never been a band who has licked arses to receive a place in a top friends or a crap support bill from an overly egotistical band, so I think the whole ‘pffft’ approach to things is a rather nice coincidence. I’ve never really wanted to be in a band who will ride off someone else’s back to become big or gained fans through having a bright colourful layout with gimmicky ‘kid’ songs. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just not what I personally want to do, even if it is the “cool” and “easy” approach to this business lately. I’m not saying we are in any way groundbreaking, but we certainly don’t approach the business as many bands do in this day and age, through the need to get big or to impress. That’s probably why the egos which float around in the underground come in huge numbers.

PT: You guys are part of the UK underground that as a whole seems to be getting more and more exposure. Why do you think it is that people seem to be paying more attention than ever to smaller home grown bands and labels?

John: I think the breakthrough of the UK underground scene really kicked off with bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Gallows – bands that had been going for a long time under the radar but then people suddenly started taking notice. Those bands made American audiences realise what Britain has to offer, which is an amazing thing. The United Kingdom, in my opinion – has always produced the best bands and the best music. Closer to home though, I think the growth of the scene is the result of a few genres dying down, the rise of popularity in people going to shows again, and the fact that bands are starting to take risks with their music and not just churn out the same song-by-numbers.

Dan: It’s all about choice, and now that the Internet is such a big player in a band’s exposure, you have a bigger scope so it’s easier to find these smaller bands that no one knows about.

Timi: I love that English people have started taking more notice in the home grown bands rather than over the pond, because we have an outrageous amount of good bands over here, especially lately. I don’t really know why people have started taking more notice, perhaps because we have an ever-improving selection of bands coming out from the underground? I think people are finally noticing that England can provide bands on par, if not better bands than what is usually forced down your throats through certain magazines or radio stations. The beauty of these websites (such as you guys at Punktastic) is that we all have a say in what is good & what is bad in the underground scene at the moment (no matter what Mr. Big Bollocks over in his London office says). A band doesn’t have to wait around hoping for a magazine to pick them up so people can start taking notice of them, all they need to do is log on here & post a thread.

PT: You recently released your debut EP ‘Bridges’ through All Aboard Records. Briefly tell us what inspired each of the five songs on the EP. What’s the story behind each of them?

Dan: ‘Fireworks’ was inspired very much for me by Coldplay. I’m not sure how, but it was. ‘My New Best Friend’ was a song we wrote as we were moving out of our pop-punk days, in my head it had a huge divide compared to the rest of the E.P but after we recorded it, it kind of moulded in with the rest. ‘806’ was a song I think we wrote just before we went on tour so we rushed it and it just stuck. It’s surprising how many people like it compared to the amount of time we spent writing it.

‘Bridges’ was a track that we just wanted to be really big and epic. I think it worked, and it’s a track I’m proud of; I’d say the gang vocal hook is my favourite part. ‘Flare Guns’ is my favourite track. I love the verses and Lewis’ bassline in the pre-chorus is just something we wouldn’t have thought of before, then John’s guitar part really makes the track more rocky. I think it was one of those tracks where I had realised that we had matured as a band.

Timi: Lyrically, I didn’t really try to do anything outrageous or make any statements, it was all very natural whilst I was in the studio. Pretty much every lyric I write is bitter & angry towards something. When it comes to venting myself, music seems to be a great release, like I’m sure like it is with most front men. ‘Bridges’, ‘Fireworks’ & ‘Flareguns’ were pretty much self-involved & sour lyrics aimed either at over-rated bands, God, or my friends & family in general. I think perhaps it’s due the fact I’ve grown up on miserable British bands, but it just seems like a perfect time to be fucked off.

PT: You guys have suffered a few setbacks with drummers this year. How did you come across current sticksman Jason and how is he settling in?

Timi: The nice thing about our band now is we all have links to the same old dingy pub we grew up in, so we knew Jason through one of the bands who played there one time. He’s settling in amazingly, he’s a very laid back & chilled person, which is a lovely change. We had a drummer called Wilkes who plays in a band called ‘We Found the Fox’ before, who fitted in really well but he was too much of a fox than a marine. We’ve had the worst luck with drummers, so hopefully this one will work!

Dan: Yeah, he used to play gigs at our local pub that I used to go to when I was 14. We didn’t speak then but we’ve managed to cross paths again and he contacted us on Myspace when we were looking for someone new. He’s definitely a Marine, he just hasn’t been on tour with us yet. It’ll be a nice surprise for him!

PT: What can you tell us about life on the road with Tell It To The Marines? What’s your favourite thing about being on the road?

Timi: I absolutely love being on the road. The tours we have been on so far have been so bloody good & I always feel so comfortable doing that normal tour routine of sleeping rough & eating badly. I think we’re a stereotypical band on the road though. In the van we’ll watch a couple of Alan Partridge DVD’s & read our conspiracy theory books, then when it comes to the rider we’ll drink enough beers to numb the fact we’ve only had 3 hours sleep. Simple.

John: Going on tour, aside from writing – is our favourite thing to do in this band. We live to play live and it is amazing getting to see new cities and new venues with my best friends. My favourite thing about touring is waking up on a different floor every morning – no matter how uncomfortable it may be! Meeting new people, making new fans and playing new crowds are always really satisfying.

Dan: It’s alright! We can be quiet when we want to or as lairy as we want to. Stonehenge was fun. We met a real life druid, his name was Dave. You’ll probably find us sleeping, reading a book or needing the toilet.

PT: What about the worst? How do you keep morale up when it gets tough?

Timi: Last tour we had with Scholars & Hearts under fire (2 weeks all over England) I only had £15, if that, to live off. I mean, there was no money from merchandise or left over from petrol, so it was just £15. Full stop. I remember walking in to Tesco’s planning to ration it well & leaving with a bottle of vodka and some crepes. Worst mistake of my life. Lewis brought a little campfire, so we dipped bread in a tin of beans for a while whilst I waited for my work to put some cash in my bank account.

There are a lot of tours we’ve played, were we will drive 9 hours up north to play to the promoter, his girlfriend & the other bands, that’s always tough. Especially when you put 110% in to it every night like we do, it’s always so draining for us. I remember playing in Stoke to a man & a dog – If anyone has ever seen “Bad News” the Rik Mayall & Ade Edmonson mockumentary, it was exactly like that. I remember another time we’re we nearly flipped our van on the way to Luton. I remember us hitting something & me just thinking, “right, this is me dead, 18 years old, and I’m going to die in an ex-postal van”. We’re a very unlucky band.

John: We’re a really, really unlucky band Tim! We always seem to crash our vans or have them break down, and that is pretty much the worst thing that can happen on tour – so as long as that doesn’t happen you can pretty much handle anything else. The only way you can really be on tour and handle the bad times is to just laugh it off.

I remember once we’d been on a two-week tour and it was something like the third from last show. We were all very tired and very unwashed and were stuck in traffic next to Stonehenge – the next thing we know, we’re in a thunderstorm and there is rain pouring through the roof of our van all over us. Timi tried to block it up with a Tesco bag, but that just filled up and exploded. I’m pretty sure that we all could have had breakdowns during that moment but we just laughed it off because of how ridiculous it was. We’ve all fallen out at times but we know that at the end of the day we are all in this together and each of us needs each other!

PT: Do you have a headline tour in the works for the next few months?

John: We should be hitting the road as support for another band in March if everything comes together, and we’ll be doing a headline tour at some point this year. Nothing is set in stone yet as we’ve just spent a few months having discussions and meetings with people and basically getting the ball rolling for the next step up for our band.

PT: I know some of you guys are still at university. How tough is it juggling the band and studies? If it comes down to it, would you give up one for the other?

Timi: I’m actually the only one at university & it is so tough juggling it. The boys will write to me saying they’ve written a new song & record a little demo so I know what I will expect when I get home. Then, a 4-hour train journey later I can have my input. It’s a strange way of writing, especially after the way we did our last record, which was us all in one room doing it together. I miss the boys so much every day, not only as a band but my best friends in general, so that part of it is fucking tough. It’s hard to balance both things, but so far I’m coping. If it came to it & it came to the point where I could really excel in this band I would always go ahead with it. It’s something I would regret otherwise. University I can always come back to & music has been a passion of mine ever since I was a very small boy. Hopefully studying film will pay off & I can use it to my advantage though. We’ll see.

John: The rest of us work shitty jobs or go to college – basically just things to fill in the time between doing band stuff. We all know that this is 100% what we want to do and we would give up everything else we have to do this band full time!

PT: So it’s now 2010. As a band have you guys set yourselves specific goals to achieve this year? Where do you see yourselves in a year’s time from now?

John: This year we’re planning to re-release the EP in Spring time, finish writing the full length in Summer for probably a Winter release, and basically just tour as much as we possibly can in between that. We’re currently tying things down with a sweet management company that we are super stoked on, so hopefully this should be a good year for us! Who knows where we’ll be in a year’s time, but hopefully we’ll have a full length out and be rising rapidly!

Dan: Yeah, Write a full length and tour, tour, tour. There’s nothing more I could want right now.

PT: Thanks for your time, anything you’d like to add/plug/whore?

Dan: Our single ‘Fireworks’ is out on iTunes, and our EP, ‘Bridges’ is available in HMV, iTunes, Amazon, We’ll be touring our arses off in the New Year so come to a show. Make sure you check out our label All Aboard Records & the other bands on the roster. They have some tees at too!

John: Everyone check out Survive Atlantica, There Were Bears, Deaf Havana, Protect The Target, We Found The Fox, Giants and Darwin & The Dinosaur!

Timi: Bands such as; Survive Atlantica, James Page, The Deaf Havana lads, Scholars, Francesqa, Sometimenever, Lower Than Atlantis (2010 is going to be there year, you’ll see) Hearts under Fire, They Sink Ships… There is also an amazing writer called Robyn Taylor (, so any of you who are into reading, check her out. She’s fantastic. 3 amazing photographers, Jack Margerison. Ally Jade & fugitive photography. You can also check out our Tumblrs, which are on our Facebook group page! (just search Tell It To The Marines). Thanks!

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