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Cherwell Introduces: Tongue

Joining me this week are the up-and-coming Oxford rock band, Tongue. After a gorgeously hot and sunny day, I had the pleasure of watching their electric set on my home turf, the Christ Church bar.

Consisting of front-man James (2nd Year Mathematician at Worcester), bass player Tilly (2nd Year English and French student at Pembroke), guitarist Doudou (2nd Year Mathematics at Christ Church), and drummer Jack (2nd Year English at Wadham), the band met me after their set to discuss who and what Tongue are, their favourite memories as a band, and their love for the humble Dyson Airblade…

So how did you guys meet and form a band?

James: I was on a total crusade during freshers’ week of 1st year, after introducing myself I would tack on ‘do you play guitar’ or ‘do you play drums’, and Doudou plays guitar. We met at this introductory maths lecture. And I met James because he’s part of a different band…look at his t-shirt!

Jack:  I’m in Blue Bayou, and we both played at Wadstock, and James found us and liked us!

James: We came across Tilly, because I know Alec, and he knows Tilly, and she plays bass, and plays well!

Jack: Very well.

James: Everyone I know who plays an instrument has played in Tongue at some point. Basically 10 people? Actually, 11. AND a chairman, Jacob. He may or may not be here tonight.

Taking a brief break halfway into their set, James was keen to help me continue my journalistic endeavours – so I asked, accompanied by a lovely drumroll from Jack: Who is your biggest musical inspiration?  

James: It’s Pavement. Yeah. Official answer is Pavement. Anyone else got any suggestions?…no? Yeah, Pavement!

What is your favourite song to perform as a band?

Doudou: Say it on three?

James: Yep, ok let’s do it on three….

Tilly: No wait, I’m between two and I wanna say the same as you guys…. ok ready.

All together: One, two, three… Dyson Airblade.

I had to ask: What was it about this hand-dryer that was so special for the band?

James: It’s just the best type of dryer. You know you’re going to have dry hands, the physical intensity of it is just incomparable.  I have a belief about hand dryers, you’ve got to put one hand on top of the other slide them in and out alternately, it should be systematic! And that’s what a Dyson Airblade is…systematic!  What on earth is better than an instructional hand dryer? You’ve got clear communication.

Tilly: I like the Dyson V version; you know the ones with the handles that jut out (like the ones at Society café? I ask) I don’t know about the society café toilet, but all I can say is there’s something very powerful about the stance of that Dyson.

What exactly did you mean when you said that you embody: ‘The typical machismo of post-funk jazz fusion?’ – I could sense the irony but thought I’d get some clarification.

James: Just a little joke about jazz-fusion – not to get sincere, but local music is an old-boys club. Our Spotify is 59% male listeners, an all-time low for us. It’s a joke about how machismo the industry is.

What is your creative process like? Do you write all together, or do you bring ideas to one another. Tell me how it gets thrashed out.

James: I’ll come in with a skeleton, and everyone else will put the meat on. I encourage them to put their own special meat onto the bones. To me whoever is playing IS Tongue, and I am always saying I want you to make this your own.

What is your favourite memory together as a band?

James: Mine is when we first rehearsed. Doudou was late as shit, and me, Fin, and Mathias played Dress Like Shit, and it was…fine. But Doudou arrived and we ran it again and it sounded beefy, and fun, and just so much better.

Tilly: I really like when we ran onto the train at the last minute, and we all went to Didcot together. We were just ambling without a care in the world and then all had to frantically pile onto the train.

Any special business in Didcot?

James: I live there, and I have a shitty little studio in my garage called the box where we rehearse.

What’s the story behind the name?

James: Deep down I wanted the name to be Feral Beast Club – Doudou and Mathias, everytime I suggested it, were like yeah, ok, that’s an option….

Doudou: someone just said Tongue one day, right?

James: Yeah, someone who isn’t in the band anymore suggested we call it Tongue. As an 18-year-old getting a text from a 23-year-old saying ‘I like Tongue’ was something I’d never experienced before…

And finally, please tell people why they should buy your album!

James: They should buy the album because Jack couldn’t buy his cigs from the Tesco opposite Christ Church.

Jack: Because there’s music on it!

James: Because Mathias Franz plays drums on it and he’s a god incarnate.

Tongue’s debut album, Tongue! is out now. 

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