Bad news! Rat Daddy split up a couple of months back following a long and promisingly busy career in terms of touring and just after the recorded material started to show the same promise.
Good news: The Rat Daddy lineup (circa 2003) have found themselves thrown back together, and it could well be for keeps for new band Idiot3.
While drummer/vocalist Tim Hardwick hot-foots it around the globe in search of rare exotic diseases, we spoke to Ian, Jon, and Jimmy at Bar Code in Southampton.
Welcome back! How did you all end up on the same tour bus again?
Jimmy: I was brought back in for the tour of Holland that had already been booked. I had to come in and learn all the songs in a couple of weeks. It was very much a case of in at the deep end! The new songs are much more mature and a bit more heavy – that’s one of the things I needed because I have to rock out.
Jon: The new stuff represents another change. We want to be a bit more clever and a lot less cheesy than our old stuff.
Ian: We’ve taken what we learned from the last songs we wrote in Rat Daddy and we want to take it a step further. We’ve got three vocals now and we switch the lead vocal depending on whose voice suits the song. On the new single, I sing ‘Reasons’ and Tim sings ‘Alive in Blue’.
Jimmy: The new sound is a bit darker than the Rat Daddy stuff too.
Ian: That’s true – no more songs about doing it all night. In fact, now I’ve stopped singing about it I’ve got more energy should I ever need to!
Where did the new band name come from?
Ian: It’s a new band so we needed a new name, but we didn’t want to spend months choosing a name so we set ourselves a deadline!
Jon: Each of us brought a submission and tried to pick one of the names.
Ian: Everyone hated the name we were going to choose and in the end we decided that Idiot 3 was a stronger name.
Jimmy: Now there are four of us, it’s even better!
What’s happened to Tim?
Ian: When Rat Daddy split up, Tim wanted to travel, so he booked tickets to go once we got back from a tour of Holland. We had to do the tour first as we decided not to cancel it, so we put the band together and played some new stuff. Because Tim already had the tickets to go travelling, he had to go – but we all worked really hard to get some tracks recorded before he went. We’re now getting the word out so we can hit the ground running when he gets back.
How did the new songs go down in Holland?
Ian: Tim wrote a song called ‘Alive in Black’ a while back. We’d tried it out a couple of times before but we’ve changed it a lot since then. It was the song that really took off in Holland.
Jon: It was the song hat everyone liked and they were all singing along in Dutch accents.
Ian: We’ve just recorded two of the new songs so far, but we’re writing all the time and me and Jim have been recording demos on an 8 track We have a quality control process where we have to get them past everyone in the band before we decide if they’re good to go. We have to get all the new stuff past Tim when he gets back.
Jimmy: We’ve got a good album’s worth or songs on the go at the moment.
Ian: We’ve also been working with Roger Tebbutt again on the new songs. He still manages to find the time to break off and tell us a story when the clock’s ticking in the studio!
Jon: They’re good stories, but some of them cost £50!
Ian: We’re going to record as much as we can to get all the songs down and see what works and what gets interest. In the meantime we’re going to promote the single and then keep building on it.
Jon: As long as Tim doesn’t come back to the UK too diseased.
Ian: Yeah, he got hook-worm in Thailand and it didn’t get diagnosed properly so he didn’t know until he got to Australia. It buries itself under your skin and lays eggs – then they all start hatching like something out of a horror film.
Inspiration, perhaps, for a song…?
Ian: Yeah, ‘That bloody hooky hook worm’.
Did you almost quit the music game altogether?
Ian: Although we decided to call it a day with Rat Daddy, I still wanted to do something and so did Jon and I think Tim did too. We didn’t want it to be Rat Daddy with a different name though, it was something new and we had to cut away from all the old stuff.
Jon: We still get some people asking for the old stuff at gigs though!
Ian: Yeah, but we shoot them as part of the stage show!
What about your Rat Daddy tattoos?
Jon: When we had them done, they represented what was the best time of our lives. We didn’t set the world on fire, but we were on tour and we had some amazing memories.
Ian: I’m pleased I’ve got it, it’s a big part of my life. I’m trying to get Jon to design an Idiot3 tattoo at the moment!
Jon: I designed a few of my own tattoos because I couldn’t trust anyone else. I designed Ian’s too because I’m the only one that can use a computer.
Ian: A seven year old could do it…. But I can’t. I’m having a tattoo designed by Dan at Crazy Hog too at the moment but he still hasn’t called back.
What are your plans for touring the UK?
Jon: We want to focus more on the South. We keep playing a long way off and we want to build up our profile along the South Coast and London. When we used to tour we would play places like Aberdeen, but then we couldn’t get back there for two years.
Ian: In the meantime we’ll be playing some acoustic shows. The first one is February 10th at The Railway in Winchester. We can’t play everything as Tim’s vocal is missing but we’re playing new songs and a couple of covers so we can give it all an airing.
Jimmy: The 10th is our first ever acoustic show. If it goes well we’ll play a few more.
Ian: If it doesn’t go well, we’ll just keep chatting up young’uns on myspace!
So you’ve joined the myspace revolution?
Ian: We’re using it properly now to keep in touch with people. People say it’s brilliant and there’s a lot of buzz about it, but you still have to do the work – it’s not a quick fix solution.
Jon: Our hits are shooting up and people are listening to our music now. We don’t just add loads of people to our profile and then plaster massive posters on their pages, we’re just keeping people updated with what we’re doing.
Ian: We talk to people and get on with them and maybe they’ll come along to a gig. I need more friends generally anyway so I can ditch these guys and run off with my cyber buddies.
Jimmy: I’ve had a couple of stalkers, I’m keeping hold of them just in case!
Ian: We don’t tend to get much weirdness – if we do, it’s usually in person rather than on the internet!
Jimmy: They’re all lovely though.
Jon: Our proper website has just been launched too, it’s going to have demos and videos on there that won’t be available anywhere else.
Ian: And you can buy the CDs and official merchandise like the Idiot 3 Satchel or a signed photograph. Maybe a signed picture of us wearing satchels! I did an interview once where they asked whether I’d prefer to sign an autograph or see our band name tippexed onto someone’s satchel. I told them that if I saw our band name on someone’s bag I’d ask them why they didn’t buy the official one – I’m not sure they realised I wasn’t serious.
Jon: I like those email interviews because you can take the time to think about your answers. We don’t want to come across too big about it – we’re not doing anything major at the moment so we don’t want to answer the questions like we’re taking over the world… Don’t talk like you’re Bowie!
Are your lyrics subtle and enigmatic or obvious?
Jon: Ian used to email his lyrics with an explanation. He doesn’t do that anymore. He wrote a song about The Bargate in Southampton about it being used to store scrap metal and as a toilet.
Ian: We’ve made a conscious effort to make them more meaningful. Rat Daddy songs were written with the audience in mind so it would have a chant along chorus but wouldn’t necessarily mean anything. We still want that appeal, but we also want the songs to make more sense and be more real. It’s actually easier to write the lyrics when they mean something.
Ian: We want to get a management deal. We can write songs, record them and book a load of gigs, but we can’t deal with the business side of things. We’ve had a few offers but sometimes you’re not sure what’s being offered. I’m not 100% sure where we fit in, but the new material is better than anything we’ve done before and we’re not swimming against the tide anymore.
Jon: Swimming with leather trousers and make up on.
Ian: Yeah, with Rat Daddy we wanted to look like we were meant to be there so we really exaggerated our image on stage. We don’t wear leather trousers anymore… We do want to make a music video too, but we can’t think of an idea that doesn’t need a massive budget so we’re holding off until the idea comes. We don’t just want to do a performance video.
Jon: Maybe we’ll have to film Tim in front of a green screen and decide what goes behind him later!
Ian: We thought about doing the Men At Work idea of dressing up in wigs and stuff but in the cold light of day, it’s not a good idea. We also tried animating some freak animals that we cut out of magazines, like a three legged dog, but we had to ditch it because we couldn’t think of anything to do with them – and that took Jon three months.
Jon: We even tried to draw our own video. We thought it would look funny if the drawings were bad but it wasn’t bad like if a kid had drawn it – there was too much effort in it and it still looked crap. Whatever we do has to be quite DIY. We don’t have the idea yet, but when we get it we will do it all ourselves.
So there’s plenty to watch out for in the future, but right now, there’s the new single and a handful of acoustic shows to keep you busy!
Written by Fenton on