Two Day Rule

By paul

Who are TDR and where might I have heard them?

Personnelwise, we’re me, Neil Murray, guitarist and singer, Andrea, who also sings and plays guitar, Craig the bassist and Matt the drummer. We’ve done about 300 gigs now I think so you may have seen us playing on the toilet circuit. More likely though, is the fact that we were on one of the Rock Sound cover CDs about four years ago. People are still recognising us from that, so there’s a testament to the power of the media for you! Even more likely, though is that you saw us play with Billy Talent or Allister this year. I think we doubled the size of our fanbase in those ten gigs alone!

Why on earth did you call yourself two day rule?

It was because I came out of my previous band, Panic Button, with a burning hatred of fake-sensitive artistic type bands. Part of the reason that band broke up because I’d been dumped and spent a whole year going out drinking heavily every night, and chasing girls. Everywhere I went and everywhere we played there’d be a band or a guy whining about how bad their life was now their baby’s left them and I was sick of it. I was in that situation, and I took the bull by the horns and threw myself into life and celebrated it, but no-one seemed to understand where I was coming from and I got a really bad reputation around Bristol as a drunk and a womaniser, whereas guys who were pretending that they weren’t the same escaped with reputation intact. “Two Day Rule” is a reference to dating, girl chasing, and I wanted that to be upfront in this band, the band is a reaction to that kind of fakeness that everyone seems to fall for, and I hated. As a result, I probably hindered the progress of the band because people didn’t seem to want that, everyone was, and still is into maudlin pseudo-depressive music, and I wanted to be the opposite, celebratory, belligerent.

How do you guys write your songs? Is it a joint effort or does one person do all the song writing?

When we started it was more of a joint effort, but as time goes on it’s more and more a solo effort with songwriting. I come up with a tune, work on it at home til I’ve got at least a verse and a chorus, then bring it to the band with an idea for a rhythm so I can hear if it’s gonna work or not. If it’s working I’ll go home and finish it off. Then we’ll all work together on arranging the thing. Every song has got to have a great tune and plenty of hooks before we’ll even start learning it as a band, I throw away a lot of songs before they get to rehearsal. We’re getting quicker at arranging though, coming up with harmonies, riffs and little tricks do drop into tunes is getting easier as time goes on. You can push an audiences buttons with certain things to make a song more memorable. But the basic songwriting stage at home with an acoustic guitar or a piano is getting harder.

What influences your songs the most and is there a particular lyrical style that you like to bring across in your songs?

Lyrically, my favourites are Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, Ben Folds, David Lee Roth and Steven Tyler. They all use a lot of wordplay in their songs, which stems originally in pop music, as far as I can trace it, to Smokey Robinson. I’ve done a lot of homework on songwriting so I’ve got all sorts of weird artists in my record collection, Lyle Lovett is great, so’s Paul Simon. I only own one “punk” record (Life Won’t Wait by Rancid, in case you’re interested) and the rest vary from singer songwriters like those above, hip hop & R&B, which I study for rhythmic ideas to use. And hair metal, which I grew up on and obsess over. I kind of rediscovered it in the last couple of years and have been forcing the rest of the guys to listen to it in the van. Having said that, my lyrics have gone from being non-stop wordplay to hopefully getting something earcatching in once or twice per song, it just got to be too labour intensive trying to make every line clever, so I’ve had to settle for less just so we can get the tunes out there. As a result, there’s a couple of lines that I always sing badly onstage so no-one can hear what I’m actually saying, ‘cos the words are just too embarrassing…

Do you think you have grown as an artist since joining TDR and who do you credit to be your main influcences?

I think I have grown as an artist. For a while there was a feeling of “I’ll never beat Johnny & Loretta” off our first album. But “Nothing Serious” put that to bed. Then just before the Been Around album came out I had a sudden spate of songwriting, about 8 songs in a couple of months that were just clearly better than anything I’d written before, and they formed the basis of the new album. That spate came from me buying a lot of songwriting books, learning covers, studying other songwriters and I also wrote a whole album to showcase to the record company, just as an exercise, which I then pretty much threw away. But it was good to get those bad songs out of my system so that the good ones could come through. As for influences, those in the above answer inform my songwriting, but when I bring the basics to the band, we all muck in with ideas, so the arrangements are influenced by The Wildhearts, Green Day, Silver Sun, QOTSA, Aerosmith, The Rezillos, a lot more punk rock kind of influences basically, which is how we end up sounding like we do.

When did you get your first geeetar? What type and make do you currently use?

Got my first guitar when I was sixteen, and you can tell from my academic record exactly when I got it ‘cos my GCSEs were all As & Bs until the date I bought it, then all Cs from that day onwards, and my A-levels were totally fucked ‘cos all I wanted to do was play guitar. I worked all summer in a printer’s to afford that guitar. My current main guitar is a custom made Gordon Smith SG-2 I think? It took ‘em nine months to make and when I went to collect it they’d made it right handed, so they had to send it back to the factory and it took ‘em another three months to make me a left handed one. I’ve also got a right handed (Jimi Hendrix style) strat that I built from bits and customised myself, cost about £180 in parts and it sounds great.

How did you wind up on Sugar Shack Records?

Mike Darby, who runs the label and manages us, came to see us play when we’d been going about 6 months, he called me the next day and asked for a demo, but we didn’t have one ‘cos we couldn’t afford it. He kept calling me up but we never got round to it, so I asked him to see us play again. He did, and we played a cover of an old trad jazz tune from 1924 called “Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)” which he loved, and he offered to sign us the next day. When I heard which song was the clincher I thought “well this guy’s got his finger on the pulse hasn’t he?”.

How does the new record compare to “When You’re Ready” and “Been Around”? Did you do anything differently this time round?

Well, Sugarshack withdrew funding from the Been Around album because they didn’t want me singing on it, as a consequence we had to pay for most of that one ourselves, if we wanted to do it our way. We did, and it paid off ‘cos we outsold the first album in three months. I wasn’t totally happy with it though, and this time around, ‘cos I had so much faith in the songs, I really wanted to get it exactly right, so we went to a more expensive studio, with a great engineer, and worked on it til it was right. It’s cost us about £6000 so far, three times as much as the last two records, and I’ve gone back in to redo bits, and overseen everything so it’s right. Right down to commissioning a painting for the cover and having meetings with the designer about the typeface. Since we’ve done a LOT more gigs this year than ever before, we were coming straight off the road into the studio and it paid off in our performances, it sounds a lot more live, and recording the backing tracks was a lot quicker, so we had more time to concentrate on getting the vocals right, which was very important. Finally, we got it mastered by Shawn… Thomas I think, the guy who mastered the Rival Schools album, among others, so it’s got a really professional finish on it. I’m proud of my baby, can you tell?

You’ve played with some established bands, what’s been your favourite show / most memorable tour?

It’s got to be the Islington Academy date on the Billy Talent tour. We’d played the night before in Portsmouth and the crowd was a bit lifeless, and no matter what we did, we weren’t getting much of a reaction. This got to us a bit so we were all a bit worried about going onstage in London, what with London crowds supposedly being harder to please. It was sold out and it seemed to take ages for stage time to come around, we arrived late ‘cos we were working our day jobs too, and that pissed off the soundguys, so all in all we were expecting the worst. I sent Matt out onstage first… and this massive cheer went up! Couldn’t believe my ears, so we all rushed out and had a great time, the audience was absolutely lovely to us, the soundmen forgave us and it was a sold out show. Best night of my life!

If you were doing a stars in your eyes style gig, what band would TDR be and why?

As it happens, we’re in the process of learning a bunch of Aerosmith songs, mainly as an exercise to improve our musicianship, and because we’ve run out of our own songs so rehearsals are getting boring, but we might actually be doing a Stars in their Eyes type gig on the tour so it’ll come in handy. Aerosmith is pretty much the only band the whole of Two Day Rule agrees on. Their albums are always on the stereo in the tourbus.

If you could cover one (and only one) song from the eighties, what would it be and why?

Well we’ve done “Call Me Al” by Paul Simon, and “When You Were Mine” by Prince before, and whenever I try and think of cover tunes to do, there’s always a massive list of Prince songs there. I could do a whole Prince tribute album I think. So if I’ve got to narrow it down to one song I’ll say… um… “I Love LA” by Randy Newman. I think that was eighties anyway, certainly sounds it. I’d change the arrangement to make it sound more like Van Halen though.

If you could merchandise one item with the TDR logo on it, what would it be?

Hold-up stockings. Rrrrawrrrr. At least that way you know everyone would be checking out the logo.

If I got onstage at a gig and tried to kiss you would you get all emo and cry?

I’m sure I could handle it, It’s been known to happen before. Gifts of beer are also welcome.

If you came across a magic lamp and found a genie, what would you wish for if you had three wishes?

That’s too tricky. So off the top of my head, as a musician I’ll have to do the usual and ask for a studio. I’d like to have an album written for the band by Jim Steinman (of Meatloaf fame) and the physical appearance of Ryan Reynolds. That’d pretty much seal world domination. As an additional wish I’d like Paul to plug our album and tour (After Dark is out on Sugarshack Records on the 21st of February, and the tour starts on January 21st)

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]