Top Buzzer Interview
The debut album from punksters Top Buzzer, Outside Is A World, is not only a definite contender for album of the year here at The RingMaster Review but gathering a wave of new followers for the band. We had the fortune to catch up with the band as they prepare for the Chaos Festival in Guernsey over 15th to 17th July,
A warm welcome to The Ringmaster Review gentlemen, would you please introduce yourselves?
Dukey: Dukey is the name. Singing and playing bass are two other things with names that I partake in.
Welshy: My name is Sir Welshy the Fourth and I try to hit things with sticks.
D: We’re one Buzzer short today as Becksi our guitarist is elsewhere.
W: Possibly the hairdressers?
Firstly could you give some background to Top Buzzer?
W: We all met about six years ago in Jersey while Dukey was over playing in one of his previous bands (Push To Fire). An old band of mine (Sneak Read-Out) were playing with them. Becksi was at the gig too but was just there on the piss. We all then ended up at a house party afterwards. We all drank too much and decided we’d start a band together one day. Four years later, it actually happened.
D: John Nettles would be proud.
Are you all Channel Island boys and lately there has been quite a few bands from Jersey and Guernsey finding recognition but all have moved their base to the UK mainland, do you think that is unavoidable even with the internet?
D: I’m a London boy myself but my two partners in crime are from the mighty island of Jersey.
W: I think you do have to been seen to be playing more places than justJersey to receive any credible recognition and also to gain a bit more respect. Who’s gonna be interested in a band that come from a small island? “Oh, they’re fromJersey, how good can they be?” is the kind of mentality people have. It puts people off straight away. I do think you have to get out there to bigger and better places. There isn’t really a music scene inJersey anymore either. I think it’s too small. Or people just don’t seem to go to gigs anymore. We don’t really get any established bands over in Jersey so people would just rather stay in and see what their favorite band of the moment are Tweeting online than get out of the house and see some local bands. Jersey’s tiny and it can get boring seeing the same band every week at the same venue as well.
D: The gestation of “Outside Is A World” took place when the three of us were on tour. Being in a “tour bubble” for a prolonged period is a strange and wonderful existence but it IS unreal. From city to city, country to country and coast to coast – it increasingly felt like we were slipping through the margins of society. Yet it gave us a unique perspective of being outside and looking in on mainstream society. Hence “Outside Is A World” as a title and an opening line to one of our songs (“No More Yesterdays“). Our new album contains a hefty number of themes concerning how humans are increasingly becoming slaves to the media and how millions of seemingly “deeply shallow” people have acute addictions to reality shows, games culture, social networking websites and gossip. Writing on these themes from the perspective of the first person means that most reviewers wrongly assume, particularly with the fun nature of the band, that the three of us are just exploring banality. This is not the case. We’re fascinated by mankind’s addiction to banality. You’re one of the few reviewers to pick up on the fact that there’s more to the material than what meets the eye at first glance.
W: And with me and Becksi coming from an island too which is inhabited by a lot of dicks who’ve probably never left the piece of rock, you can look at it in that sense as well. The planet does stretch further than the water that surrounds our island. Go and explore it.
Lyrically at times the songs are quite personal but always overlaid with humour, something that is obvious a big element to the band in all aspects, but how hard is it to get that balance in the songs to avoid losing the points you want to share?
D: Getting that balance right is challenging. And with the type of material we’re doing, there’s always a risk of being misunderstood. And to come across as a trio of banal idiots as a result. To say we’re misinterpreted on this front quite regularly would be an understatement of huge proportions. But I would never want us to compromise what we’re doing. And it goes without saying that it would be extremely easy to modify the material so that a track like “Deeply Shallow” is not delivered from the first person perspective. But that would make us come across as preachy. There is a sufficient quantity of artists/bands out there on that particular bandwagon already. Thankfully people like yourself “get it”. The majority, however, just wrongly assume that “Deeply Shallow” is Top Buzzer’s mantra.
How do your songs come together? Music first or the words?
D: A lyrical theme or, at the very least, a subject matter to explore is usually what comes first. And that often conveys a feel for a song. And then the pieces of the musical puzzle gradually, and sometimes VERY gradually, start to present themselves. This usually gets the skeleton of the track together at the very least and then the three of us can have at it. And that’s where the fun starts.
Outside Is A World includes a cover of ‘Pop Muzik’, a surprising choice and may I congratulate you on making a bad song very bearable haha, but why the inclusion over another of your own songs?
W: At last! Somebody else who actually thinks the original sucks. I don’t wanna blow my own trumpet, but I think did a pretty good job at making a shit song sound… not bad.
D: We originally did the cover for Rodney Bingenheimer who is a famous DJ in the USA and a big supporter of British music over there. He’s the “John Peel of the USA” and has a long running show at KROQ in LA. He was one of the first DJs in America to playlist Top Buzzer and even ended up introducing the band onstage at our very first gig in the states. He’d mentioned to us that one of his fave tracks ever was Pop Muzik so as a thank you for his support, we covered it and “Buzzed” it up for our US tour. We thought it sounded so good that we recorded it. One thing led to another and it ended up on “Outside Is A World”.
There is a 70’s punk pop feel to your sound at times, band like The Flys and Leyton Buzzards springing to mind, is this era an influence on your musical direction or personal tastes?
W: Defo. It’s all about the 70′s punk stuff for us. Pop punk seems to be huge right now but not the pop punk we know and love. It’s all this new American sounding stuff that people are referring to as pop punk at the moment. Bands that we love like The Ramones and Buzzcocks are what we refer to as pop punk and we’re definitely in that vein of things, not all this new You Me At Six and All Time Low stuff. It does suck trying to explain to people you’re punky and poppy but don’t sound anything like New Found Glory.
D: Stripped down, fast and well crafted tunes – what’s not to like from that era? There’s an urgency and energy to a lot of 70s punk pop that’s still incredibly infectious today. The three of us have definitely been influenced by that era but we also get equally excited by newer bands. We’ve been listening to Baddies on tour a lot lately. They’re fab.
Tell us about the video for ‘Deep Shallow’ and the reaction it has raised already (personally the only thing disturbing about it was a certain drummer’s legs). Was there anyone you missed in the piss take?
D: Welshy’s got the best legs in the band. That’s why he was cast in that role (laughs). The video for “Deeply Shallow” has definitely been creating some strong derision amongst viewers. But this isn’t surprising or a bad thing. Ultimately, getting an equal number of likes and dislikes on YouTube is a sign we’re doing something right. Not that we’re ruled by approval in this arena. The only thing that we’ve been surprised by on the video feedback front is that the parodies in the promo haven’t been the culprit for dissent. Good old fashioned “you guys ain’t real punks…..Sid Vicious is pogo-ing in his grave because of you lot” type of fodder seems to be the catalyst for negativity here. Not that we’ve ever claimed to be punks. We’ve not claimed to be anything. The only think that I’ve claimed, on a personal level, is that Welshy has got the best legs in the band. But that’s just a fact.
W: I think the fact we parodied as many videos as we did on our budget (that budget being no budget) is something that we’re proud of. I think we pulled it off well considering it was just the three of us, a bunch of mates and a video camera. We had a few more videos in mind we’d of liked to take the piss out off but it just wasn’t gonna happen. U2′s Beautiful Day with the plane taking off was one of them. Security is pretty tight around airports though.
Your excellent Hands Up EP is available for free now, where can people find it and what is next for Top Buzzer?
W: Everything you need to find out about the band is at www.topbuzzer.co.uk but as most people just prefer to use social networking sites nowadays anyway, you can find it and us on most of them as well. And talking off free EP’s, there’s another one in the works as we speak, so sit tight. It’s gonna be a belter!
D: Next is to keep doing what we’re doing, play live as much as we can and get as many people onboard the Buzz Wagon as possible. Yes, I just said Buzz Wagon. I don’t even know what that means.
Thank you for telling us about the world of Top Buzzer, would you like to give a last word for the readers to The RingMaster Review and then each of you honestly give us the first track that comes up on shuffle on your mp3 players.
D: Thanks for your ongoing support and I’m sure this won’t be the last you hear from Top Buzzer.
W: Right. This could get embarrassing now. (mp3 players out) Ah, “Rollin’ Bones” by The Cramps. Not too bad. I got worried for a second there.
D: Errr… (speaks very quietly) “Bus Stop” by Tin Machine. That band featuring Reeves Gabrels, Hunt Sales, Tony Sales and that other guy.
W: Great band. And as Becksi ain’t here we’re gonna have to guess what’d come up on his. It’d probably be either Katy Perry or Lady Gaga. He’s a big Miley Cyrus fan too. He still won’t believe that Miley and Hannah Montana are the same person.
Top Buzzer are also played on The Reputation Radio Show @ www.reputationmedia.net