Interview… Drummer Turns Singer
You know a pub is little bit classy when they supply drinks with odd names. More so when they serve your drink on a frilly paper doyley and supply your change on a tray. Branded soap and nice towels are also an indication and a chap that sprays you with expensive scents and polishes your shoes in the toilet are the final clear sign.
It was, however, none of these that told me this pub had been upgraded to a chic and gentrified offering. I discovered that my pub-destination was a bit beyond your typical local by being mistaken for a porter on my way in. Don’t they know who I am? How offensive! However, with all the bags neatly stacked in the room, I made my way to the bar to order a drink.
With the precision movement of a Swiss timepiece, Rat:Daddy arrive just as I reach the bar and the first round is eventually organised and distributed to the comfy leather chairs at the back of the pub where we all look a little out of place amongst the business-casual dress code.
The big news from the Rat:Daddy camp is a dramatic line-up change that sees drummer Tim Hardwick stepping out from behind his kit to take over the lead vocal duties from brother Ian. Ian explained. ‘I had problems with my throat. It was causing a lot of trouble with our live shows and delaying the recording of our album. I found out that I had a scarred voice box, which explained why I had been losing my voice on tour.’
‘We were going to look for a singer,’ Tim adds, ‘but I jokingly said I might as well do it and then I started to think that maybe I actually could. Jon called me and said I should give it a go and that gave me the confidence to try it.’
Jon explains the reason for making his call: ‘I thought to myself, if someone turned up with a voice like Tim’s, we’d think they were good and want them to join the band.’
‘I had to get my head around it though,’ says Tim. ‘Eventually, I decided to try it just with acoustic guitars – then through a sound system and finally by getting Ian to play drums one night so I could try it with a full band. It was a new challenge and I really enjoyed it.’
‘… and you didn’t need to set up a drum kit!’ Ian laughs.
So, with the front-man position suitably filled and on the look out for a drummer, Rat:Daddy started writing some new material.
Ian explains. ‘We wanted to move on musically without losing the catchiness and energy. We didn’t want our music to be perceived as cheesy anymore.’
‘…we wanted to lose the cock but keep the balls!’ Tim interjects.
‘We had a new line up and we didn’t want to try and make it sound like the old one. It was time for a fresh Rat:Daddy with more innovation; still us, but better. It helps that I can concentrate more on playing bass so the lead vocal can be more separate from the instruments.’
With a subtle but important change of direction, lead-guitarist Gavin left the band and on the drumming front, ex-Bushbaby drummer Kev Bonett slotted in to fill the all important gap – not only on the drumming front, but also contributing to the creative process.
‘I had been on a 10 month break from being in a band,’ Kev told me, ‘and I hadn’t touched a drumstick until that first rehearsal.’
However, Tim was concerned that they might scare off their potential bandmate. ‘We have an odd sense of humour and we were quite worried that we would put Kev off, until we found out he was weird too!’
‘No one human could have come up with some of the strange time signatures that Kev invents!’ Jon adds.
Kev raises and eyebrow and, deadpan, says ‘I thought they were obvious!’
Clearly, the new line up is getting on like Arthur Brown and fire. So was it all hugs in the R:D practice room? Ian answers candidly.
‘There is always going to be some tension between me and Tim.’
With a sparkle in his eye, Jon adds ‘It’s mostly sexual tension.’ Before Kev explains ‘it’s a brothers thing.’
But perhaps the brothers were holding back, as Ian explains: ‘I was worried about Kev getting put off if me and Tim really went at it.’
‘We did get quite bad when the music wasn’t right.’, Tim admits. ‘We had some terrible gigs that were making us pissed off, after which we had to endure a three hour drive home confined within a small car.’
But according to Ian, things are looking up. ‘That’s all changed now and I feel the pressure is more evenly distributed with our current line up and none of us are scared to tell someone what we think, or if we want to try new ideas.’
Tim agrees: ‘It’s all open and honest, the suggestions are good and none of us mind asking for help. I feel quite a lot of pressure at the moment trying to learn all the words. It doesn’t help that I’m a bit retarded!’
‘Ultimately we all share a lot of respect for each other,’ Jon sums up the forumala. So, with this new caring and sharing line up, what is the new material like? Kev describes the new sound.
‘It’s rock. It’s melodic. There are indie elements too. It’s all about huge vocal hooks and guitar hooks.’
‘Tim’s singing has taken us away from a big belt-out vocal,’ Jon adds. ‘It’s more dynamic and it changed our sound instantly.’
‘It’s more contemporary,’ says Ian, ‘and there are less lyrics about doing it! It’s more mature, although that sounds like a dangerous word.’
‘The danger is that Rat:Daddy will become more credible,’ says Jon. ‘We’ve always been an entertaining band, but we want to be remembered for our music. No more comparisons to White Snake and no more leather trousers.’
Kev explains that they are looking for more depth: ‘It’s got to have more to it than a 40 minute cock rock show.’
Jon adds a vital disclaimer: ‘Not that we’re about to go up our own arses.’ A statement that Ian is quick to support.
‘No – we think we will still appeal to all our fans. In fact, I think we needed to move in a new direction for them. They’ve been so supportive in the past, we just hope they haven’t forgotten us!’
At this point I’m chomping at the bit to hear the new material, so when do we get to hear it?
‘We will have a demo ready within a month,’ promises Kev. ‘We’re working with a great producer who’s worked with Rachel Stamp, Gay Dad, Ace, and Ginger and The Wildhearts.’
Jon points us to the Rat Daddy website. ‘Some of the songs we had just finished are on there – but the new ones are even better.’
A new demo is great news, but everyone who has heard of this band wants to know when they are plaing live. When will fans get to see the band play the new songs?
‘We’re playing on the 20th December at the Railway Inn,’ Ian answers, referring to the legendary Winchester music venue.
Tim continues. ‘We want to do plenty of good gigs with great support bands so we can get our reputation back. We’re really enjoying ourselves now and we think that’s going to come across.’
With the regulars growing increasingly upset by our energetic discussions, laughter, and dirty jokes, it was almost time to leave, but at least the chances of being mistaken for staff were now greatly reduced.
So, if you’re anywhere near Winchester on 20th December, get along to see Rat:Daddy at the Railway Inn. If you’re not – keep an eye on their website for samples of their new material
If you’re anywhere near The Clump in Chilworth any time at all, try not to dress like a hotel porter. You won’t even get tipped!
Written by Fenton on