Bristol based Paul Tierney, aka Lonely Tourist, and now part of Plume of Feathers, has been featured here before, picking up a gong in the Alternative Friday 2014 Awards, as well to appear in the Best of 2015 Mixtape and a New Tunes.
Plume of Feathers is not just a band either, but a debut album, and a former pub, which is where the album takes its inspiration from – being based around unfortunate decline of pubs in the UK, so read on to find out what soup, swimming pool cleaners, and an ‘arewefinishediwantapint-ist’ have to do with indie rock ‘n’ roll, and (depending on the day of the week you’re reading this) what his preferred hairstyle is!
~ Where are you right now, and what can you see?
In a living room (East Bristol)… I can see some 60p flowers from Tesco round the corner.
~ You’ve written that “Lonely Tourist is one bloke, while Plume of Feathers are a band”, so how did the wider band come together?
Chris Webb and myself got together to write songs around the theme of the decline of pubs. We went to Glasgow to record them with Jim Lang and brought them back to Bristol to get a drummer (Brian Price from The Flatmates and Peru) and bass player Jim Evans (who’s also an established solo act) to make them a live band. Stephanie Black (a Bristol based) artist is going to do visuals for the live show.
~ How would you best describe your music for those who may not have come across it yet?
The album is mix up of upbeat breezy indie tunes and downbeat strums around the themes of wine, bereavement, and the gentrification of pubs.
~ Part of the inspiration for the album’s lyrics is about the demise of pubs. What led you down this path?
I’ve played hundreds of pub gigs as Lonely Tourist. Good ones and terrible ones. A few of them I played just before the pubs shut down (live music being something they try to put on to bring folk through the door). I’ve had some great nights but then a few months later you find out they’ve closed down (sometimes forever). So the sentimental side of me wanted to write something about it.
It just seemed that social history is being erased at a fast pace now that a lot of the pubs are worth way more as real estate than they are a business. The example I picked is a pub that was a fairly random choice (I had only been in it once) but it sort of symbolised what’s happened to loads of pubs all over the UK. Pubs survive all sorts of stuff… bankruptcy, bombing during the war, the complete loss of all surrounding businesses and housing, but in the past few years the buildings are suddenly worth millions and are put on the market.
~ When did you first pick up a guitar, and can you play any other instruments?
I always wanted to be a drummer. I can play them a bit, but I got a guitar when I was 13 and was taught some Wedding Present and Billy Bragg songs and I’ve been playing (badly) ever since.
~ Are you a perfectionist?
Whatever the opposite of a perfectionist is… that’s me! A ‘thatlldo-ist’ and an ‘arewefinishediwantapint-ist’. Fortunately I work with people who are perfectionists. So I owe them a lot!
~ If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
I don’t know if I’m qualified to say. I do my thing. All the people I know who play music do their own thing too, and the music industry seems to exist in another world that I only cross paths with occasionally. Like getting an email from a mate who’s become a millionaire but still keeps in touch. You’re still mates but you find it hard to show that much interest in the trouble they are having finding a swimming pool cleaner! I still play all the time but there’s so much that goes on outside the big boys music business (the one that involves pluggers, management, reps, lawyers etc) that you can exist and do quite well, but have almost no interaction with it.
~ Who were your musical heroes when you were growing up?
Freddie Mercury when I was about 12, then Morrissey for a bit, but I still think Mark E Smith is a genius (I’ve loved the fall since I was 15). I also liked Loudon Wainwright when I was 15, and still do, and David Gedge was a hero as a teenager. I still think he’s great.
~ What’s the best gig you’ve been to?
Loads. John Grant with the northern philharmonic in 2014 was really incredible. Quasi at Mono in Glasgow a long time ago. Mogwai – every time I see them I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen.
~ Are there any other new bands or musicians from the Bristol area that you recommend we check out?
Chris Webb / Poor Old Dogs / Montgomeries / Slap ya Mama Band are all great and worth looking up too.
~ Aside from music, do you have any other creative skills?
I can make nice soup, but I have no skills at all. I’m fkn useless tbh.
~ What are your plans for 2016?
A number of Plume of Feathers and Lonely Tourist gigs, and another Lonely Tourist album before the end of the year. I’m playing the 6music Festival Fringe too.
~ Lager, bitter, cider or stout?
I’m off the cider cos it sends me mental the next day. Maybe some ale thing maybe. Nothing too feisty… and maybe not too much like Hoegaarden either. I never object to a pint of lager though. Stout is undrinkable pish.
~ And finally, whose hair would you like to have for just one day?
Monday – Rod Stewart
Tuesday – Alex Turner
Wednesday – Tina Turner
Thursday – Georgios Samras
Friday – George Jones (mid 70’s)
Saturday – Robert Smith
Sunday – (am) Art Garfunkel (around about 1973) / (pm) Dougie Donnelly in the mid 90s