Tourists: their journey to unveil debut album ‘Another State’
Blog by Stef Loukes under Artist Managers, Creative & Branding, Finance, Law & Music Business, Live, Media, Music Publishing, Music Training & Careers, Record Labels, Recording & Production, Selling & Distributing Your Music
Of course we’re always a sucker for a success story here at The Unsigned Guide, especially when our very own Spotlight blog has played a role. Back in April, when lockdown was a mere novelty for many of us, a track by Torquay five piece Tourists caused our ears to prick up. We felt it our public duty to include ‘Align’ on our Spotlight blog and share it with the world.
Fast forward 7 months and, after being discovered on our blog by independent label Modern Sky UK, Tourists are now signed to the label and about to unleash their debut album, ‘Another State’. Produced by Daniel Schlett (DIIV, The War on Drugs), we’re incredibly keen to hear the magic he has weaved with Tourists’ shoegaze sounds, layered with lashings of cavernous post punk and hazy dream pop.
With the album dropping tomorrow, Friday 20th November, we thought it was a good time to catch up with Tom (synths) to hear about the recording process, working with Modern Sky, and how it feels to unveil your album amidst a global pandemic...
Making your first full-length can be equal parts daunting and exciting. What was your favourite part of the album-making process?
I’m not sure it ever felt daunting for us, it felt more like a natural progression for us to make the album and was something we knew we had to do if we wanted to step things up.
After we played at Glastonbury in 2017 for BBC Introducing, we had pretty much an album’s worth of tracks. There felt a bit of a pressure to keep momentum up and put a single out but we weren’t totally satisfied with the sound of previous recordings and wanted to change things up, capturing more of a live, lo-fi, atmospheric quality. So we decided to record the album but take a step back first in order to find a new producer to work with to do this. The whole thing took longer than we’d hoped so there was eventually a two year gap in between our last single and first release from this album, ‘Align’. To be where we’re at now, with a deal on the table and our album being released on vinyl feels really exciting and a bit of a relief.
We love playing live but recording is our favourite part of the process. We love spending time demoing and perfecting tracks and seeing their natural progression. Then to get in the studio together, or wherever we are recording, is always a really fun process. We recorded this album at our rehearsal space (Scott’s parents house) so it all felt very relaxed and we were able to capture that energy of when we rehearse and practice, which is how we’ve always wanted to sound on record.
How has your relationship to the songs changed during the time that has gone into making the record?
I can’t speak for the others but I have a lot of love for these tracks. They’ve been in the set for a few years now but we’re really proud of them and they are the reason that we’re now working with this great label and the album is being released on vinyl which is a total dream come true for us. ‘Strangers’ is the newest of these album tracks and I think that’s our favourite to play live and practice, maybe for that reason. It’s a break-up song so there’s a lot of heart and feeling in it, and it’s always fun to play an extended version and jam the outro when we play it.
Whenever you release something and you start getting feedback on tracks from fans and listeners that’s always cool too. Jamie recently did an interview with the Glasgow Guardian and the writer was picking out intricate parts of songs, like the bassline in ‘Faults’, stuff that Jamie hadn’t even noticed when he wrote the track. So these things and bits of feedback can give you a new appreciation for the songs and hear them in a different light which is nice.
You're signed to the highly respected Modern Sky UK for the album's release - how did it feel when they made contact? What has it been like to work with them?
To be honest it felt pretty crazy. It was in April, maybe a week or two into lockdown when Simon from the label approached us totally out of the blue saying he had seen the video for ‘Align’ on The Unsigned Guide Spotlight blog, loved it and wanted to hear more. We had actually signed the tracks to another company so there was a pretty stressful period of sorting that out and getting the deal out of the line, especially when there was already all this crazy shit going on in the outside world with the virus, lockdown, etc. There were a few sleepless nights and questioning whether we were doing the right thing, but things have all worked out great and we’re really grateful for this opportunity.
Working with the team has been great and it has helped us tighten up on things that we weren’t great at from a marketing point of view. We’re musicians at the end of the day and that isn’t our strong point, but it’s been helpful and interesting to think about how we can engage with our fans better. We’re enjoying that process and the interaction.
Do you have any tips can you offer emerging bands looking to turn heads in the industry?
It sounds a bit obvious but focus on your sound and get good quality recordings. Prioritise your money on that. One of the good things about the situation we’re in is that everyone is using social media and it’s free to promote yourself on that. If you do that right then you can really engage a fan base, so I’d always advise to spend the money you do have on working with a great engineer and producer who is going to help you achieve the sound and production you’re striving for.
The other thing is, stay authentic. It’s great to have different influences but be careful if you’re starting to sound exactly like them! If you want to turn heads you need to be individual and have an impact on people. You can only do that by staying authentic and true to yourselves.
You've worked so hard on the record and its release has obviously coincided with an uncertain period for the music industry. How have you coped with having to put 'Another State' out during lockdown?
The situation is what it is and there’s not a lot anyone can do about it, so we’re trying to take the positives. It’s a weird time and it’s unchartered waters for everyone, especially the music industry. The album’s out on 20th November when we’re all locked down in the UK so one benefit might be that more people are indoors listening to music. It’s difficult times like these when everyone realises how important and crucial music and the arts are for our wellbeing, and I know for me personally, music got me through the last lockdown.
Do you have any kind of celebrations planned for the release?
I don’t think we’ll be able to go too hard, but I think probably some beers over Zoom and a virtual listening party. We’re definitely going to celebrate big as soon as we’re able to though! The one thing we’re really gutted about is not being able to tour this album and play these songs live for people, but it would be nice to think we can still do some sort of album party – probably in our hometown Torquay - when normality returns.
What's next for Tourists?
We’ve been pretty productive during this whole pandemic and we’ve almost got album two written and demo’d. The good thing about having nothing to do is that we can focus on the music and writing, which we love. We’ve been holding on to this debut album for a long time now so I personally will feel a big sense of relief when it’s out there in the world and we’re all excited about moving on to the next phase and recording some new stuff now. And like I say, we can’t wait to get back playing live, so hopefully we’re able to do that soon. People need that, to be able to come together, watch a band or an act they love, feel that energy in the room and embrace each other. That togetherness is what makes us human. So I hope and pray that day will come soon.
Grab your copy of Tourist’s album ‘Another State’, out on Friday 20th November, here
Tourists debut album Another State released on Modern Sky label