"We had free reign on this record, and went slightly mad making it" In Conversation with Turbowolf
Bristol based Turbowolf have just released their third record, The Free Life, and we were able to sit down with vocalist Chris Georgiadis to find out their plans for the album, their upcoming tour and the state of the record industry in 2018.
How're things going?
Yeah, things are going great.
Turbowolf are celebrating ten years together as a band in 2018. Has that crossed your mind going into the new record? And how does it feel being ten years old?
It hasn't really crossed our minds during the making of the new record as we've been so immersed in it but it's a good milestone to have I suppose in this day and age. We did actually get together a little before then, maybe 2007, I guess so yeah it's been about ten years or so.
Let's talk about your new album The Free Life and its beginnings. How did it all come about?
Well it all starts with us in our individual homes working out sounds and ideas and then we'll meet up and bash them together and try and make some sense of it. The recording of it was mostly me and Andy with Tom Galgetti. He helped us record the drums in the studio in Bristol. We spent about two or three days doing that and then we spent about two or three months in my apartment in Bristol making it into a makeshift studio and we recorded the rest there. All the guitars, vocals, the bass, the synths, everything really. We also mixed it all together with Tom Galgetti at the end.
You've used Tom before on your previous records as well...
Yeah, we used him on the previous record. I say used, that sounds really arsey, but yeah we used him last time so we decided to use him again. This album he was pretty busy doing other stuff which kind of suited us as we wanted to take a lead role in producing this record. That kind of meant that Tom was available on the phone when we had questions on how to do this or that.
Did that increase the pressure on the band while in the studio?
From day one we kind of always wanted to do that. On the first record we tried to do that and we kind of did but we didn't really know what we were doing. We made a lot of mistakes and wasted a lot of time. When we went into the second record we had Tom, we got Tom in as an engineer to start with and it turned into a co-production and he helped us make it sound less shit. On this record, we felt we had paid our dues and were able to walk on our own having learnt a lot over the years. We were like "Fuck it, let's just do it ourselves" but Tom was at the end of the phone regardless. It was a lot more freeing doing this by ourselves. We could go mad all night long and there was no one there to really to stop us. That can be good...but also bad (laughs).
Are there any musical left turns on the record or is it locked into the Turbowolf sound?
It's always so hard to know. The angle we come at it from is one where we just want to make interesting music that appeals to us and gives us something to explore. Some of it works and some of it doesn't. If it doesn't work then we will dismiss it quite early on in the songwriting process. The stuff that does sound good to us, we really dig into and explore, and turn it into something. I think the Turbowolf vibe is there and fans of our band will see that there is something there for them. Ultimately it comes from the same place in me and Andy's head.
I think we would find it very difficult to write something that wasn't Turbowolf-esque. In terms of surprising people, it's very hard to work that out. On our second record, we felt it had the Turbowolf sound but a lot of people thought we had made a left turn on that where we didn't think it was that much. Expectations can be very different across our fan base, but I'm confident that if you liked our band before you are going to love us even more now with the new material.
The record feels very collaborative with many guest stars on it. Was that an idea before going into the studio or something a bit more organic while you were recording?
It was something we had always wanted to do going into the new record but we didn't know who would guest on it initially. On the last record we had Tom from Pulled Apart By Horses and Chantal from Vodunm, who is also on this one as well. So that was something we dabbled on the last record and we wanted to increase that more this time, mix it up a little and shake up the monotony of my voice for forty minutes or whatever.
It kind of happened really organically from that point on, like Mike from Royal Blood, he contacted Andy and asked if there was a spot on the record as he would love to do something. He kind of fell into place on the track 'Domino'. Seb from Death From Above we approached him as we had toured with him about two years ago and they are one of our favourite bands. That was a dream come true after he said he was up for it and he's in the video as well. Joe from Idles is a Bristol lad, we've known him and the band since they started. We really love his baritone voice and thought that would work for the record, that low, gruff vocal really accentuated the track he appeared on. Chantal is a friend of the band for the last 15 years or so and her vocals are spread throughout the record, we spent two or three days tracking her golden vocals.
The band grew out of the Bristol music scene. Tricky recently said that there wasn't a Bristol music scene to speak of. Would you agree with him?
I think that when people say "music scene" I think people are talking about different things. I did see the Tricky segment you're referring too and I think it's been taken a little out of context. I think he was saying that it was more based on a lack of industry and that other than Massive Attack not much has moved out of Bristol and made it big. To say that Bristol doesn't have a music scene though is incorrect because there are a lot of acts out there playing the smaller venues on a nightly basis and you only have to explore the back alleys to find the truly great bands.
You do have to be savvy with social media and the internet these days as well. You have to get on the right tours or platforms to get your music out there as well. Even after all this time you still need to head to London to make sure you have a record label spot you though. Nobody really wants to travel to Bristol as London is so big and there are more opportunities there.
Lastly, what do you want Turbowolf fans to take away from the new record?
Hopefully they will take away that they've had an enjoyable experience, because we always want people to enjoy our music. It's all we really hope for plus that they come and see the new material live. There are two sides to our music, the recorded side and then there's the live show, which is where our music truly lies I think.
For more information on Turbowolf or to find out the UK touring schedule visit their website. You can also see what Chris and the band are up to by following them on Twitter or liking them on Facebook. The Free Life is available now on all streaming services.