What’s going on in the world of Ten Tonnes? That’s a question we wanted the answer to, so we thought well, let's just do the smart thing and corner him for a chat. That’s the best way of doing things, right? Aside from storming stages up and down the land, it’s starting to look like 2018 is a pretty bloody important year for Mr Tonnes - ready for those huge moments and looking ahead to an album that’s not just all ‘dadadadadadas’. We’ll let him explain…
Hey Ethan! How are things at the moment, feels like there’s loads going on in your world?
Yeah, it’s been really good. Last year it was nice to have that time putting out releases when we wanted to and doing little shows here and there, and doing a bit of festival season or whatever. It feels like this year we’re ramping up a little bit. We started off the year with a massive chunk of touring, which I was so pleased for because I’ve never done a big amount of touring and you want to earn your stripes, doing two months solid. When all those tours came through, we did three tours back to back, and it was like, yes, this is exactly what I’ve been wanting to do. It was great.
Nice, so loads of big nights all over the place right? Any memorable runs in particular? You’ve done some pretty big rooms supporting Rat Boy…
Yeah - the Rat Boy tour was just nuts, because his crowd’s a lot of like, 16 and under. It’s a lot of their first gigs, and they just go absolutely mental. It was so nuts; massive mosh pits for every single song. You’re like, what the fuck?! It’s so cool though. We didn’t really know what to expect, then the first gig we were like, oh my god.
I got a new guitarist at the start of this year, so his first gig was on the Rat Boy tour, and he was like, ‘Mate is this what all your gigs are like?!’ And I was like, yeah yeah yeah… not at all.
Don’t worry, we won’t tell him. Must be amazing to see that reaction and people really getting into what you do though?
When you see songs like that reacting well, more upbeat songs, you just want to do a whole set of that. That’s the fucking stuff! I think that’s one area where maybe gigs and the album need to meet in a nice way, but you also can’t have a whole album of dadadadadadada, you need to have a few breaks in there.
We’ve just heard the A word - are you working towards that at the moment?
I had a bit of time off after the tour ended, then it was just doing loads of writing. I’ve been in writing sessions since then, like a month, two months, just a lot of writing. We’re finishing off the album, I feel like we’re pretty much there now, but we’ve just started recording the rest of it.
Have you been taking influences from those support shows and certain bands in particular? Your tracks always sound ready to be anthems.
Yeah definitely. I’m always one for a big chorus, but then you see a band like Stereophonics playing their hits, and it’s like, what the hell?! These are massive songs. I knew all the hits, and I knew a few album tunes or whatever, but then you’re sitting there like, fuck, I know all of these tunes. I didn’t know I knew them! Seeing a band like that absolutely smash it, it’s amazing.
It’s weird because the more gigs you play in front of people, it can be easier to think about - I always imagine what a certain person might think of this song, like someone I went to school with ten years ago. I’m like; I wonder what that kid in my maths class would think if he heard this? It doesn’t matter. You’ve just gotta write good tunes for yourself I guess. I try and write songs that I would want to hear, that’s the best way to do it.
We’ll have a look to see if we can find that kid, can report back when we get his verdict. It must feel like life has changed quite a bit then?
Slightly. When you’re sitting at home you’re still the same old boring wanker; I’m still me. I guess it just happens. It’s like when you don’t see someone for ages, and they’re like, ‘Oh you look so different now’, and I’m like, do I?! You don’t see it when you see yourself every day. When it’s just every day you’re doing it, it’s like cool. The weirdest thing is if someone’s like, ‘Ten Tonnes!’ and you’re like, what? Oh shit, that’s me! That’s always weird. I always feel weird when people go like, oh hello Ten Tonnes. Please call me Ethan.
It’s changed definitely though. Just starting to do what I love to do as a job for the minute is fucking nuts. I’m happy as Larry.
We’ve heard Larry is usually quite happy, so that is definitely a good thing. Have you had to change your mindset a bit as you gear towards creating an album?
I think the closer you get to an album; you realise that it is a body of work. I know not everyone listens to albums back to front, but you become more aware of what your voice is, to use a wanky term. You’ve got an opportunity to say whatever you want. I’ve become more aware of what sort of artist I want to be, I guess.
Your confidence must be growing as a songwriter?
Yeah, and the more writing sessions I do, you maybe write a song, and you’re like, okay that’s completely not right for what I’m going for. I think that’s an easier way to see what you don’t want. There are people now; it’s not just me - I’m not just making songs for myself. Well, I still am, but there are other people who like it. There’s a bit of reassurance; I’m not just going mental. The fact people like this a little bit, I can then explore different ideas.
Sounding swell! And now the next few months must be extra busy with the work happening with the album too alongside loads of festival shows?
It’s funny cos festival season is a very, very busy time, but only ever at the weekends really because you’re only ever playing a Saturday or Sunday, maybe a Friday, so the rest of the time - you’ve got most weekdays off. That’s when I’m doing it; I’ve got the weekdays for recording and writing, then weekends doing a show.
Perfect diary management there Ethan, so hopefully once the summer is done and dusted there should be a Ten Tonnes album mostly together?
Yeah exactly. There’s a label involved now, management involved. Everybody has a say and rightly so, but at the end of the day it’s my tunes, it’s not them releasing it, so I get the final say, but that’s the beauty of it - you’ve got other sets of ears that can be like, ‘Maybe you should try this…’.
So I’ve written loads and loads of tunes, you just get those standout ones that would be such a cool moment on the album, and we’re just writing until we get those last few layers, so it’s a really, really great record instead of a good record.
Taken from the August issue of Dork, out now. Ten Tonnes will play 110 Above, Rize and Reading & Leeds this summer.
Featuring Pale Waves, Maggie Rogers, Death Cab For Cutie and more.