Ten Fe, who headline The Hope & Ruin in Brighton on May 1, are fresh back from a north American tour with a new album in tow.
Straight off the plane from Seattle, Leo Duncan was pleased with the way things went.
“The album came out in March and we had not really played many of the tunes from it live until this tour. We started off in New York and we made our way across the States. We really broke the album in.
“We did a couple of small tours to the States for our first album, but that’s really where most of our fans are… or a lot of them, at least. It’s complicated in terms of why that’s the case. I think Spotify has a lot to do with it, but maybe I think the music has got more of an American music feel to it than a British sound.
“And we also had in our favour the fact that we are British – and that makes us exotic. But then again, in Milwaukee anything that comes from outside Milwaukee is exotic!
“But it was a good tour. It wasn’t easy. It was a tour of duty. We were driving everywhere. We did 22 shows in 30 days. But it is luxury to be on the road. It is almost a dying thing. Lots of venues are closing, and the support is dwindling in terms of what record companies will provide for. If you go on tour, it is expensive.”
The business is changing: “The idea of being on the road and doing lots and lots of shows is quite an old-school way of doing things. Back in the day, there were not that many means of communication to spread the word and so you just had to get into the van. But now there is the internet and media… and maybe the artform of going out and playing loads of gigs is fading out. It is very sad.”
And that’s why the band got behind the Music Matters campaign a couple of years ago: “I think in this country things are pretty bad with venues closing. I don’t have a juicy statistic, but it is not good.”
It means you have to be more innovative: “This band’s first gig we did was in a disused parking lot in Walthamstow. To be honest, it was more exciting than being in an actual venue. We were able to curate everything. But yes, the situation with venues is complicated at the moment.”
More cheerfully, the band are delighted with the second album. Future Perfect, Present Tense.
“With this album, we took a little bit more control. We co-produced it. We co-directed the videos. We felt that it was a lot closer to how we wanted to come across.
“The album was a progression (from the first one). The thing that is consistent between the two is the song-writing. We set the bar high with the first album and we knew that we had to have it just as high or even higher with the second. We were writing the second album for quite a long time.
“But the style has changed. We recorded the first one in an electronic music room in Berlin. We recorded this second one with analogue instruments. We felt that that would allow us to get closer to the songs. And I think we have done that. We really went back to how Ben and I started and that was just playing acoustic guitars together and busking, to do it all really simply. You have to find simplicity. Simplicity comes at the end sometimes. Picasso said that he had waited all his life to be able to draw like a child. Simplicity doesn’t always come at the beginning. We are trying to get simpler all the time, and we think we are doing it.”