Interview: Left Of The Dealer

Photos: Kevin Lake
Interview: Alex Kocan
Tuesday 31 May 2005
reading time: min, words

Once a three-pronged acoustic guitar attack with a Mansfield-like disregard for electricity, Left of The Dealer have beefed up as of late...


The three original members are Tommy G (vocals), Jakey B (guitar, backing vocals) and Russ (rhythm guitar, backing vocals). In the last few months they have been joined by Adam (bass) and Saimon (drums). Together the five of them work well, singing and playing their instruments whilst displaying precocious songwriting ability. These traits have marked them out as one of the freshest and promising new bands in the city. We cornered them in the Trip to Jerusalem for a chat about cover versions, The Wonder Stuff and Damian Rice beatboxing...

You were recently described on the LeftLion forum as 'the best boy band in Nottingham'. What do you think to that?
(Everyone laughs)
Siamon: Really? Were we? Amazing!
Tommy G: Our music is about nice sounds and harmonies. The harmony thing is probably where the boy band thing comes from. I guess we write music which is a little bit cross over. It's accessible music. Anyone can appreciate it no matter what they're into. We're also all good looking chaps as well.

How has the band formed and grown?
Russ: It was originally me [rhythm guitar] and Jake [lead guitar]. Then we met Tommy in Bar Humbug. He had a golden voice, we needed him in the band. We stole Adam from a band called PBS. We then spent three years writing and singing in kitchens. Tommy met Saimon in the Coco Lounge.

You used to be a three-piece acoustic band before you beefed it up a bit. What's that done to your sound?
Russ: As the rhythm guitarist I can do a little less work. I don't have to make up for the lack of drums anymore. I can just ring out a chord and the drums and bass carry it on. I can also concentrate a little more on the song writing.

Has it changed the songs you play?
Russ: Enormously!
Adam: We've added a lot of stuff in that would never have been played before.
Saimon: We were quite lucky that these guys have been together so long, doing things like hour long acoustic sets. So they had to make things really tight. It was easy, as a drummer, to step in and play something that was already interesting, rhythmically.
Adam: Yeah, they're really musically intelligent.
Tommy G: It's changed, there's almost less dynamics. Adding drums and bass guitar has changed us from a acoustic act into a Rock 'N' Roll band. It also means I have to change the way I sing. Listening to Damien Rice has taught me about dynamics. With acoustics you can bring the volume down lower and really chill it out. But when you're a band you have to sing louder. We've got a rubbish PA at the moment. I really have to shout to hear myself over the drums.
Jakey B: Oi!
Tommy G: Yes, I know the PA system is yours, but still. The song writing has changed since the introduction of other instruments.I met Saimon in the Coco Lounge, heard he was an average drummer, who turned out to be a legend.

Where did the band name come from?
Tommy G: Left of the Dealer is about poker really. But it's more about passing a spliff to the left once you've rolled it.
How would you describe your sound to someone that's not heard it before?
Jakey B: Acoustic rock minor folk funk.

Who are your musical influences/ icons?
Jakey B: John Martin, Pink Floyd, Genesis.
Russ: I'd go with Pink Floyd again, not to copy Jake, Nick Drake, Miles Hunt. I think Miles is one of the greatest song writers ever.
Saimon: I think the different musical tastes within the band makes a real difference. Tommy, Russ or Jake will write a song then Adam and I will come along bring something else to it due to our slightly different backgrounds.
Adam: Me and Saimon are really into Root. But I also like stuff like Chilli Peppers and Jamoriquai. I, sort of, grew up on that stuff.
Tommy G: I grew up listening to Motown, my mum's really into that. Also I like listening to funk. I think I’ve got a bit of funk in my writing as well. We're all into Hip Hop separately. I'm also into Jurassic 5 and Damien Rice definitely. He can Rap! .
Russ: He does actually beatbox though!
Jakey B: He's about as good as Syd Barrett!

What's been have been your best and worst gigs to date?
Tommy G: It has to be Shakedown. Shakedown was a brilliant event, apparently. But we went on five hours late and for most of it we had drums and one mic working.
Adam: Basically, the PA wasn't working at all. These guys were going through the PA system, but I was going through my bass amp so that's all that could be heard of our set.
Saimon: What was the best, what was the best!
Tommy G: Definitely Stealth! It was our first time with the new line up. That was our tightest gig. Stealth was a really good gig. The PA system was good and my voice sounded crystal clear. It was the most people we've played in front of anyway. We also supported our good friends The Magic Heroes on that night as well. The Malt Cross gig in February was really good too.
Adam: I'd say it was Stealth as well. We'd literally had three practices and Saimon had picked up everything. He'd, due to his amazing technical ability, picked up every drum part in about four days.
Jakey B: This is irrelevant for this interview but my worst gig was with my old band in 1999. One person stayed for one song. And that was my dad! Yeah, even me dad fucked off after one song! That's really bad!

How do you write the lyrics for your songs?
Tommy G: When writing I write about my emotions. To write an emotional song you have to be in the moment. I also sometimes just write interesting words that sound nice.
Jakey B: We have a really strict filter regarding lyrics. Songs need to be about something.
Russ: What music is about for me is trying to convey emotions and feelings that you can't when talking to someone normally. It's nice when people hear it and think 'Oh my god that's what he's feeling. For me, that's what music is all about'.
Tommy G: The sound and the lyrics are what it's all about. Next question!
Jakey B: I wanna get really famous and have someone asking me 20 pages of questions, like..."so, who was the best celebrity to have sex with?"

Do you still do cover versions?
Tommy G: Yep, we do. We want to learn more covers. People love to hear stuff they know the words to. But our focus is on our own stuff. Our songs are accessible to all, that's what it's always been about for us.

Who are your favourite Nottingham bands?
Jakey B: The Magic Heroes.
Adam: Computer Man. They're just fantastic.

I understand that you are big fans of The Wonder Stuff singer and LeftLion contributor Miles Hunt.
Russ: When I was about 10 my sister was heavily into the Wonder Stuff. It was the lyrics and the song writing that hit me.
Tommy G: The lyrics are really inspired.
Russ: He's really aware, he writes about real shit. He's just a really beautiful person who writes about stuff I'd want to write about. We've covered a song called Manner from Heaven that he wrote. If he wanted to do an acoustic gig, on his own, at The Malt Cross, we'd love to support him.

Do you think Michael Jackson is guilty?
Russ: Not in my eyes!
Jakey B: I don't give a shit about his personality. I just listen to BAD.
Tommy G: He doesn't know what he's doing most of the time. He's lived in a fantasy world most of his life.
Adam: I think he just didn't have a childhood and wants to friends with children.

What's your opinion on the comeback of Dr Who?
Tommy G: I don't think any of us have watched it and don't really care. Except Adam, but he's a bit different.

What's your favourite cheese?
Russ: Mozzarella
Tommy G: Edam
Adam: Edam, but going with brie.
Saimon: Don't like cheese, but Lurpack.
Adam: Hold on, Philadelphia, it's better than crack!
Jakey B: There's one I can't remember the name of.

What’s your position on the chav?
Adam: Put them down, put them fucking down!
Tommy G: I don't like the fact that they are now proud to be chavs.
Saimon: Live and let live.
Jakey B: He's too nice. My opinion is: do you talk to your mum like that you fucking chav?

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