INTERVIEW: Bad Amputee | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Rog Peppe

At what point do bands cease to be ‘new?’ Certainly, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Bad Amputee for a fresh addition to the circuit, yet despite gathering considerable momentum over the past 12 months the outfit have in fact existed considerably longer – largely as a side-project for local folk luminaire Phil Tyler.

“I’d had a few half-formed songs on the go for a while and thought I ought to try and actually do something with them,” Phil reveals. “I knew I wanted something on the slower side, with repetition and melody in there too. And a trio – I’d never played in a trio before.” After several false starts, the current line-up finally took shape in 2017, with vocalist and guitarist Tyler joined by bassist and co-vocalist Claire Welford and drummer Robin Fry. “There’s been a lot of different incarnations of the band with Phil the only constant member,” Robin acknowledges. “For a band who have only played a handful of gigs we’ve managed to work our way through a lot of musicians before finding the winning combination!”

Pitched somewhere between the bare rhythms of slowcore and the lo-fi aesthetic of the ‘80s US indie underground, the group have indeed settled on a sublime sweet spot; its disciplined “less is more” mantra culminating in jewels such as Rhona and Leave Today which would stand tall on certain prime era Low or Sonic Youth records.

Pitched somewhere between the bare rhythms of slowcore and the lo-fi aesthetic of the ‘80s US indie underground, the group have settled on a sublime sweet spot

“We wanted to keep things simple, play less, but play well,” Robin reveals. “The music came first, with Phil regularly introducing new part-formed songs at each rehearsal. Most of them didn’t have names, but they developed their own form over time, especially once Claire joined the band and added her vocals. That really moved things up a notch.”
Indeed, having met at Cath & Phil Tyler’s Sacred Harp gatherings, Claire and Phil’s pre-established chemistry (the pair also perform together in Claire’s Yakka Doon project) quickly became an integral element in Bad Amputee, enriching their transcendent minimalism with two contrasting yet perfectly harmonised voice qualities. “Phil doesn’t like being the frontman, so having sang together in a group setting and loved singing in harmony it seemed a natural thing to have play out in the band setting,” Claire says.

With significant live outings at The Cluny’s Brave Exhibitions festival this month and Sage Gateshead supporting Richard Dawson in December, the past month has finally seen the trio hit the studio, laying down tracks for an as yet undetermined release (“Probably some kind of short run self-release thing” – Phil).

“We’ve been playing together in the band’s current line-up for a while now, and the finishing and ‘polishing’ of the songs has really come along in the last year or so – we now have more than an album’s worth of material” says Claire. “The process was great,” Robin elaborates. “We recorded all the instruments live in the plush surroundings of First Avenue, where Phil has recorded previously with other bands. Dave [Curle, engineer] seemed to have a good idea of how we wanted to sound so it was all pretty straightforward. We’re currently open to offers if anyone would like to release our music!”

Bad Amputee play Brave Exhibitions festival at The Cluny on Sunday 17th November



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