Last week I was listening to the radio. I liked it. So I wrote about it here on Backseat Mafia (thanks Jim !). One of the bands I told you about in that piece was The Tuts. Before that piece, I had been moaning more and more (mainly to myself, under my breath) that I never wrote anything anymore. Time to put up or shut up eh ? So I tweeted The Tuts to see if they’d like to be interviewed, partly for themselves, partly because this Friday is International Women’s Day and, as their latest single the previously-written-about “Tut Tut Tut” makes clear, this band has some things to say about equality.
Well. They only went and said yes. And they gave me a pretty short deadline. I was in the middle of composing questions for a set of interviews that I chaired at work (they went very well, thanks for asking) so I mined the rich vein of form I was in and carried straight on into the things that I wanted to put to them Tuts.
Questions penned, off went the email.
I’ll admit to a touch of the refresh-crazies, checking my mailbox a bit too often to see if they had responded. It’s my first time out, see ? Pauvre pettoir… I needn’t have fretted. On the way home from work there they were: The Tuts’ answers. I saved them until after dinner as a treat and I was not disappointed. They’re some funny people, and they had me laughing out loud several times. For the pleasure of your eyes and minds, dear reader, here are The Tuts.
“Me”: What sort of a reaction are you getting? ‘Tut Tut Tut’ has some clear points to make on this score – at least in terms of the way other groups and the industry feel about girl bands.
Bev: It’s just an amazing song so people are gravitated towards it and connect to the words.
Nadia: Frigging fucking sexy. I’ve been told it’s the best Tuts song people have heard yet, because people like a song with an intro. When they hear the intro they start smiling. It’s fucking mental.
[I can concur with this. It IS good to have a song with an intro. Some might say that The Ramones had this trick nailed down. They’re wrong. The Ramones took it too far. And not so far that it came back to good again, just TOO FAR.]
N: It’s made people think, it’s causing a stir.
B: There’s so much trash on the radio where people say words for the sake of saying words. We wanted to put out something refreshing.
Harriet: Yeah, the song content really means something to us as a band, every line of it refers to something that happened to us, some of it even quotes. It’s like we needed to get this song out of our system and tell people what it’s like to be in a girl band starting out, doing gigs.
Would you ever go the whole hog and change your surnames to Tut ?
H: Well I’ve got to say yes now! Yes. Harriet Dovetut. [this partial change leads me to believe that Harriet ‘Tut’ is not as committed to the Tut Manifesto and that this will eventually lead to the break-up of the band…]
Girl is all over the chat on your twitter stream, your tumblr pages etc. Plus you’re touring with Kate Nash in April and the write-ups of her record are citing a lot of 90s bands as influences – was the Riot Grrrl movement something that inspired you to start in the first place, or something that has helped encourage you since kicking things off?
N: What is this fucking Riot Grrrl thing?
N: Yeah I’ve got a Bikini Kill patch. I’m a natural Riot Grrrl, I didn’t even know about it but I always want more girl fans and girls at the front at our gigs.
H: Yeah it’s been a big inspiration on me and on my other band as well. I introduced more of that to The Tuts when I joined.
B: I’ve got more into it recently as the band is growing. And I’ve heard more people talk about it, I’ve realized the importance of it. Feels like Riot Grrrl is so far away from where we are though in little old Hayes (where we live). Since it was mainly around in America in the 1990s, we’re almost a bit detached from the excitement that was/is around it.
Have you read Sara Marcus’ book ‘Girls to the Front’ ? I’m obsessed with it. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re welcome to a lend.
H: Yeah! Yeah! I love that book!
B: Lend it.
H: Yeah I’ll lend it to you.
N: I want it but I can’t fucking read.
H: It’s a really great summed up history of Riot Grrrl and makes you realise how much shit girls went through, while still creating great music. It also points out problematic areas in Riot Grrrl though, cos there are obviously problems in every movement.
Whose support has been most important to you while you’ve been playing music ?
B: Jennifer! Harriet’s sister from Colour Me Wednesday. I like the way that bands help out other bands, that’s the best way forward, instead of competing with each other.
N: Kate Nash and her fans. Sam Brackley and his girlfriend.
H: All of the above but also Martin K Smith and members of Thee Faction, my mum and dad who cry when they listen to us haha. Ruth Barnes too.
Which song is on heaviest rotation at the moment for each of you?
B: Yeah. N: Kate Nash, 3am.
How hard do you work at learning to play? Do you have any particular bass, singing, drums, guitar icons whose styles you particularly like or whose playing ability you admire?
N: I don’t work hard enough. When I was 15 at my creative peak I was banging out tunes. Now I’m not doing half as much as I’d like to do but I’ve got some tab books on ebay and I want to start learning some new techniques. Plagiarism is the way forward.
B: It’s the best form of flattery.
H: We’re all self-taught basically.
N: My sister bought me a guitar at 15 for £50, a classical guitar with nylon strings. First songs I learnt were Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous by Good Charlotte and Buck Rogers by Feeder.
H: Yeah I picked up a guitar when I was 17 and taught myself Juliana Hatfield songs in my room. Then started doing music with my sister and her boyfriend in Colour Me Wednesday. I used to do violin at school, I got to grade 2 in that and grade 3 in piano so I guess those skills transferred. I only started playing bass when I joined the Tuts. I love writing basslines, it’s one of my favourite things to do musically.
B: Message to any girl who wants to learn drums… don’t bother, it’s too much responsibility. Haha.
N: When Harriet comes up with a good bass line, me and Bev get a boner.
[enough of this seriousness, time to get down to business]
If you had to go on 8 out of 10 Cats whose team would you most like to be on, Sean Lock’s, or Jon Richardson’s ?
The Tuts: TOO MANY MANS
N: We don’t wanna go on that show, we wanna go on Dickinson’s Real Deal. I wanna sell some shit.
B: Jimmy Carr does not pay his taxes so he can fuck off!
I am an unspeakably huge fan of the greatest TV show ever made – Buffy. I love the writing, the underlying tenderness of a loving group of friends, and Xander’s comic relief. What are your favourite things about the show?
H: My favourite things about the show are the female empowerment, the Bronze, Joss Whedon’s story writing, the dialogue, and just the nostalgia and emotional attachment I have to it.
N: I like how she’d beat people up and not have a hair out of place.
B: I never got into it. But Harriet’s a good judgement on programs. I like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Parks and Recreation – I like the female empowerment in that!
How do you feel about the Justin Bieber late on stage ‘outrage’ ? What is your approach to playing live?
B: We’re late all the time.
N: We’re fucking late all the time, we’re late for soundcheck… he should play a free gig for them though, or give them a refund. Why was he late? I bet you those tickets weren’t cheap. Send those kids down to a Tuts gig…
H: Justin Bieber’s fragrance looks like a vagina.
[note to readers: Justin Bieber has a fragrance. I didn’t know this before Harriet soiled my life with this fact. Does it look like a vagina ? How would I know ?]
Which question would you like me to have asked ? And how would you have answered it?
N: I would have said ‘do you shave your arse?’
B: ‘Which way do you wipe, front to back or back to front?’ ‘Do you ever pick your nose and a bogey comes out and you just… you just stare at it?’
H: I’ve gotta choose something about bums now. ‘Which Tut has the perkiest bum?’ I don’t want a man asking me that though really! Speaking of Perkie, you should have asked about her and Colour Me Wednesday too! BFF bands.
N: ‘Have you ever been arrested?’
B: Another interview asked us about how much we think being attractive young ladies has helped us. I feel we haven’t had that, as of yet, but we are expecting these questions to come up in future interviews. Like with actresses, they are asked about their diet or what dress they’re wearing, you’d never ask that to a man.
N: Yeah and if we’re so attractive, how come we never get laid?
[and now, at the end, the big question]
It’s International Women’s Day this Friday. This is massive in Russia, but not so big here. Why do you think that is? What is the biggest problem for women and girls in Britain today?
B: People think that it’s okay as it is, Russia might have many issues and be very conscious of those issues, so perhaps that’s why the day is so much more important there…?
H: I think a lot of people think sexism doesn’t exist as much in Westernised cultures, so it’s not as big of a deal to celebrate it when in fact sexism is still happening around us, it’s not all in the past.
N: We’re playing a gig for International Women’s Day, it’s gonna be great. North London, the Gunners Pub. It’s being organized by a guy who looks like Craig David.
B: The biggest problem is that we don’t celebrate each other, there’s no camaraderie. People’s views to women in society have changed but girls are still competing with each other and we want to change that.
N: The biggest problem is people can’t handle a woman that’s just a bit feisty. Some men can’t handle a woman who isn’t girly and ultra-nice, she’s seen as a problem. If a guy is loud and funny he’s just one of the lads, but if a girl is like that, it’s seen as unladylike.
B: She needs to be silenced quickly.
N: I don’t like the stereotype of a ‘wifey’. Like there’s two types of girls: the girls you fuck around with and the wife material.
B: Yeah a guy at uni is seeing someone and this girl was saying to him ‘hold on to her cos it’s hard to find a good girl’.
N: It’s okay for a guy to sleep around with these girls and call them slags, but they [men] aren’t considered slags. If a girl does want to sleep around that’s alright, it’s up to her…
H: The idea of the ‘slag’ or the ‘slut’ is a myth used to keep women in their place. That’s why slutwalk is a good idea, we can reclaim the word, because it’s always going to be around so we may as well take it for ourselves. We were told recently that someone called us ‘slags’ on the wall of a London venue’s toilet. It’s so funny that that word is used against us as a band, because we’re women.
N: Even if you cover yourself from head to toe you still get called a slut, like it’s supposed to be the biggest insult to women, it’s meant to scare us or shame us into… being quiet and well-behaved. But it won’t work, hahaha.
And there you have it, the last laugh goes to The Tuts. Thanks to them for agreeing to the interview and to Jennifer ‘Dovetut’, Harriet’s sister, for being me for the purpose of making the interview feel real. If you get the chance, check out The Tuts soon like, er, today at The Gunners in N5.