Five Minutes With ... Tibet
Words: Linn Branson
We take time out with Welsh four-piece Tibet. Formed towards the end of 2014, they released their first song 'She Don't Know' online in February 2015, then delivered their debut EP ‘Fridge’ a few months later. They have since been winning plaudits from the great and the good and hailed as a band ready to break.
So, hello....who is answering here?
Joel: Hello Linn! Joel and Tom here. Hope you’re well!
And how and where do we find your good selves at this point?
Joel: We’re good! We’ve just come off a run of dates around the UK in support of our latest self-titled EP, which has been awesome!
Now, you are not a solo venture so don't hog the limelight, introduce us to your fellow band members and their respective parts within the unit.
Tom: To my right we have Joel Hertz, lead singer and guitarist, along with his younger brother and absolute drumming animal Ethan Hertz. Rhys Carey joins us on lead guitar and vocals, and myself on bass and vocals.
Tibet, then, weird name, no, for a Welsh band? Why and how?
Joel: We’re big fans of an old TV series called ‘Twin Peaks’ created by the legend that is David Lynch. He’s a huge inspiration to us artistically, the man has a great vision! There’s a bit of a recurring theme of the Tibetan movement throughout the show, and one night when we were all watching it together, we though: “Yeah, Tibet sounds good!”.
You didn't think about calling yourselves 'Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll-llantysiliogogogoch'? Wouldn't it have been much easier to pronounce?
Tom: That was actually our original name, but it was too long to have as our Twitter handle, and we LOVE Twitter, so we went for Tibet.
Now three of you are still students, I believe: that still a diet of baked beans, in bed til midday and lounging around watching Countdown and Jeremy Kyle?
Joel: Well, two of us are! Tom and I are at university, Ethan's finishing his A-levels this year and Rhys works full time at Vue Cinemas, which is handy when you don’t want to spend £10 on a Coke. Baked beans and lie-ins is correct; however, we rarely watch those shows! We’re Netflix addicts: just finished Making A Murderer and completely obsessed with New Girl and Friends!
What are you all studying - Joel, I think you are doing Fine Arts at Camberwell, right? And how do you and the others see this fitting in with your music careers?
Joel: Yes, that's correct! I have tried and epically failed to create artwork for the band, being a student of the fine arts, but it’s not so easy translating that into the world of graphic design. Tom studies music technology at The Atrium in Cardiff. Him and Ethan are very much into their gear and recording, so that makes quality home demos quite easy!
Tom: We love gear. And Twitter.
Joel, you are a left-handed player, which is still not too often seen. Have you had a chat yet with Macca about the problems of being such - if, indeed, there are any difficulties being left-handed?
Joel: Thats the dream! There are difficulties; companies only sell a limited number of left handed models, and on top of that it’s an extra £300 for the exact same model if I were to get a left-handed guitar rather than the right-handed version!
How did the Tibet music style come to be? You have been described as something akin to a latter-day Beatles, would you agree with that?
Joel: Yes, we definitely cite The Beatles as a major inspiration, and it’s probably quite easy to hear in the music, but hey, why not learn from the greatest band of all time? We like to think that we take 60s music’s best qualities, the harmonies, the classic British songwriting and fuzzy/jangly guitars and give them a modern edge.
Tom: We feel a lot of modern pop at the moment has lost a bit of it’s British identity, so we love trying to work that back in. It’s all about the songs for us: if you hear a great song, and you can’t get it out of your head for weeks on end, that’s truly great music.
Joel: I write the sweet love songs, Ethan adds the Bonham- esque attitude, Rhys’ britpop guitar style and vocals give the swagger, while Tom’s blues-funk bass lines supplies a generous dose of groove. It’s 60s, psychedelic, garage, funk, pop, rock. Coz y’know, every bands gotta make up some ridiculous genre these days!
Acting as your own PR, given us a short spin on Tibet: the band, the music.
Joel: Four lads from Cardiff, playing music inspired by the greats in our bedrooms. Our main focus is great songwriting, and an energy-fuelled live show. Our gigs are more like parties, a celebration of music rather than a spectacle to be seen.
How long have you all known each other? Tell us one defining thing about each of you.
Joel: Me and Ethan have know each other for about 17 years! The others only for about two years.
Tom: Me and Joel knew each other a little from playing a few gigs together. I was in a different band previously playing drums, so every now and again we’d catch up at gigs. Somehow it got around Cardiff that I could play bass, so Joel asked if I wanted to jam and the rest is history! Rhys came into the mix a little earlier than myself, Joel had just finished watching that really bad remake of Godzilla in the cinema, and saw Rhys busking outside a Hugo Boss in the city centre in Cardiff. Joel asked Rhys if he wanted to join...and yeah, I guess that’s it!
We made note of your matching tee style at a recent gig, but all in a different colour. Was this just happenstance, or did you purposely co-ordinate? Would you describe yourselves as a fashion-conscious band?And while we're on the subject, tell us your favourite colours, just so your fans know for socks and underpants gifts...
Tom: The image of the band is really important to us. When you go and see a band it should be a whole package deal! We just noticed that other bands we loved had very subtle but genius imagery tying them together, and we needed something that encapsulated our personalities well to tie us together, and we love colour so the shirts were a winner!
Besides all that, you see so many bands dressing in all black nowadays, it can get a little bit intense, so we thought we’d mix it up and splash some colour into the mix in true Tibetan style!
Joel: This was recently co-ordinated actually! We noticed that all our favourite bands, despite the music also had a very strong image, whether it be The Strokes denim and converse, or Kings Of Leon’s shaggy-hair and 70s flares. Simplicity is key in Tibet’s image, the reason we love ‘Twin Peaks’ so much is cause visually everything is so simple but so pleasing to the eye, especially that dream sequence scene.
As for favourite colours, I like blue very much. I know Rhys is fond of green, Tom loves red and Ethan loves yellow. We’re all a little fashion-conscious in our own way, but the shirts idea was a great way to tie us all together!
You are called a 'Cardiff band' but I think I that you are not all based there or even from there?
Joel: Me and Ethan we born and raised in Cardiff. Tom was born in Barry - home to the show Gavin and Stacey - but now lives in Cardiff. And Rhys was born in Swindon but has lived in Wales the majority of his life, so it’s safe to say we’ve all got Cardiff in us!
Joel: It’s been a great year since we first released ‘She Don’t Know’, and radio has been really great for us! Every single song released has been playlisted on Radio X, as well as plays by Annie Mac, Huw Stephens and Nick Grimshaw on Radio 1, which is absolutely outstanding!
And we’ve had an amazing amount support from local DJs Adam Walton, and Bethan Elfyn, who are the foundations of our radio success, without them, the rest wouldn’t have happened!
You have been variously touted for 2016 as a band to 'break', 'watch', 'make big' this year. Feeling the pressure?
Joel: Not at all! We’re still just doing our thing, and it seems to be capturing people’s imaginations. We’re trying to stay away from the record industry for the time being as that puts unnecessary pressure on us. We’re gonna continue with what we’re doing as it seems to be working, and when the time is right, we’ll think about signing a deal, but right now we’re in the privileged position of creating the music we want, without any deadlines or external influence. Thats a rare position to be in and something we can’t take for granted!
Tom: Yeah, just having the opportunity of being considered as a band to break out of their local scene is a HUGE privilege, and we can’t wait for the year ahead.
There seem to be a hell of a lot of fine Welsh bands up and coming. Apart from yourselves, who else are you rating from that part of the UK?
Joel: The Cardiff music scene is indeed very exciting at the moment. Fellow band Estrons are making waves in London and it’s about time! They’ve done their time on the local scene, and with great songs to back them up, they’re gonna do big things this year. We also really rate singer Maddie Jones and psychedelic legends Rainbow Maniac. You should definitely check them out! We plan to play a gig in Cardiff with all those acts in March so we’ll keep you posted. Not one to miss!
Joel: We all love a variety of different things, which helps create the sound of Tibet! We all love The Kinks, The Beatles, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Led Zeppelin, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys.
Tom: Individually though, we love a bit of everything. I’m pretty sure Joel wants to marry Lorde, and I believe he will. I know Ethan loves the heavier electronic and experimental stuff like The Flaming Lips, Chemical Brothers and Faithless.
Taylor Swift is my guilty pleasure, I think she kinda annoys Joel, but ‘Bad Blood’ is a massive tune, I really dig the old soul guys too, like Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye. Rhys is a big fan of bands like the Libertines and Reverend and the Makers too.
Joel: There’s too many to count really, we just love BIG CHOONS.
What plans do the band have both record and gigwise coming up?
Joel: We’ve actually just finished recording our next EP which will hopefully be an official release this summer - with hard copies too!
We’ve got a number of ‘This Feeling’ shows coming up soon with some of the most exciting bands in the UK indie scene at the moment, we’re super excited to be a part of it!
You now have a few sentences for your big plug to push whatever you might want to promote. Use it wisely. Go.....
Joel: We’ll do the usual! Just released our second EP ‘Tibet’ which you can download for free if you visit our website! You can also download our first EP for free too! That’s 8 songs in total - woop woop! Click the link: tibetband.co.uk.
Like us on FACEBOOK, follow us on TWITTER. And come say hi at one of our shows next month!
Last word: spill your word or words of wisdom. Say 'pass' if you have none.
Joel: Hear me now.
Tom: Touch me there.
Joel: Show me what you’re working with.
Thanks, guys. Joel - we've been all ears. Tom - on the grounds of respectability we have to unfortunately decline your request!
Tibet are on tour in the UK from January 31. See poster below for full list of dates.