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Miscellaneous - Interview

  by Olga Sladeckova

published: 9 / 3 / 2004

Miscellaneous - Interview


The Scoundrelles are the new project of former Scientists guitarist Tony Thewlis. He, and fellow band members Hugh Gulland and Yan Quellien chat about their debut album ‘Organic Molecules In Action!’ which had drawn comparisions with the Flaming Lips

The London-based group the Scoundrelles formed in 1997. Since then the band has gone through many changes in its line-up and musical development. The latest and most settled line-up features Tony Thewlis (vocals, guitar), Hugh Gulland (bass), Diggory Kenrick (vocals, guitar) and Yan Quellien (drums). The name Tony Thewlis will sound familiar to fans of the Australian punk band the Scientists. Tony Thewlis used to be the band's guitarist and toured the world with them. The Scientists eventually relocated to Britain, and Tony decided to stay on there even after the band split up for a final time in the mid 90's. The Scoundrelles recently released their debut album ‘Organic Molecules In Action!’ on Negative Records. While it’s still early days , it seems the album is finding fans already. It has been said to have abstractions of the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev and also of Lee Hazlewood and the Monkees. To find out more, Pennyblackmusic talked to Tony Thewlis, Hugh Gulland and Yan Quellien one cold evening in a pub in South London. PB (To Tony Thewlis): To start from the complete beginning, before the Scoundrelles were formed you played with the Scientists. How did that come about and was that the first band you were in? TT: Yeah, it was the first proper band. They were a band that I used to go and see with a friend of mine when I used to live in Australia. We first saw them on telly and liked them so went down to see them. One time we went to see them and the next day we saw an advert in a record shop that they were looking for a guitar player and I phoned them up and asked if they might want me to play but they didn’t. (Laughs) Then, a few years later, Kim Salmon(The Scientists' frontman-Ed) was in another group - the Scientists had by that stage broken up-and I was in another group and we played together a few times. And then one day I met him on a street and he told me he was going to reform the Scientists. I went for a few drinks with him and talked him into letting me play with him. PB: The Scientists were quite popular and played with many famous bands, is that right? TT: Yeah, we played with Alan Vega, the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Gun Club and many more. It was great. PB: I read somewhere that you were going to be reforming. Is that true? TT: A couple of years ago we were asked to reform for a TV program in Australia and do like half an hour set. On the back of that somebody asked us to do a tour. We were supposed to do the tour in America and Europe last year but that fell through but it might still happen. PB: How did the Scoundrelles start? TT: I started playing with Rob Coyne, who was the Scientists drummer and bass guitarist and helped me out on some demos, but we didn’t have enough people at first. That was about 1995. PB: Diggory Kenrick who is in your band is the frontman in Venus Ray. He also runs Negative Records which released your debut album ‘Organic Molecules In Action!’. How did you get to know him? TT: It was a real coincidence really. The Scoundrelles spent about a year and a half looking for a bass player and a drummer and it was just me and Rob for quite a long time. Rob was getting bored so he answered this advert in papers to someone looking for a guitar player. It was for someone who was into Stooges, the Velvet Underground and things like that. And then it turned out that it was Diggory who was at the time looking for a guitar player for Venus Ray. Rob joined Venus Ray and we realized that we knew half of those people anyway as they were friends of our friends. It was really strange as we thought we would meet some new people but the world is just too small. At the time we had already had Hugh in and Yan joined just after Diggory. It was strange because at the time we got quite a few record labels phoning up us about our music. HG: That was couple of years ago about '99. One of them was actually Mercury but nothing came out of that. PB: Except your new album did you put anything out before that? TT: No. It was almost impossible as the line-up was changing a lot at the beginning. After Diggory joined, he got really busy with Venus Ray. At the time he was also in another band and was too busy and kept cancelling rehearsals so I kicked him out (laughs) and we got Joe, who had been our previous guitarist before him, back in. Joe lost interest so we kicked him out and got Diggory back again (laughs) and we are all still friends. PB: Your debut album ‘Organic Molecules In Action!’ has 11 tracks. As it’s your first recording and you have been around for quite a long time now are the songs relatively new or is it also older stuff from the time you first formed? TT: Some of the recordings are older but quite a lot of it is very new and have been written since Yan joined us. It’s probably about half and half. PB: As regards song writing how does it work in the band? Who writes the lyrics and music? TT: I write most of the lyrics and some are written with Rob, who while he is no longer a member of the band still helps out there. One that I wrote with Rob was ‘Don’t Forget We’re Visiting Kim’s Website For Christmas’ . He had the music to the second half and he gave that to me to figure out what to do with it. And I wrote the words but it still needed concept so I had to write the first part so it made sense with the second half. PB: There is an instrumental track on the album called ‘Many Moods Of Charles Bronson’. Why did you decide to call it by that title? (Both laugh) HG: The music existed quite a long time before the title. I think that we had this discussion about the title and people were having different ideas. TT: I remember me and Hugh were at Camden Tube Station and we were trying to find the title and we were talking about The Goodies and we remembered this page in one of The Goodies. There were all those pictures of Charles Bronson which were the same but showing different emotions underneath like fear, hate, love and many others. So it was just the same picture with many moods of Charles Bronson. Basically we stole it from that. HG: But it has some kind of connection to music and moods. It seemed appropriate. And I think he got really far in his profession on one expression so I kind of admire that as well. PB: Do you have a favourite song each? YQ: That’s a tough one... I guess it has to be 'Charles Bronson'. Yeah, it’s the reason why I joined the band. (laughs) HG: I think for me it would be 'Down With You'. TT: I quite like ‘As Demons Go’.Rob helps out on organ and I really like what he does there and the words. HG: There were a lot of discussions about what songs to use on the album and we still have a lot of stuff that is waiting to be used. It’s hard to get all 4 of us to agree on this sort of thing. PB: What are your plans for the near future? TT: We want to see how it goes with the album. We are skint but hopefully will be able to get some money from the sales of it for the next album. We have enough recordings and are just waiting to break even and then we can do more. PB: I nearly forgot! I was reading the credit list on the album. At the end of it Sarah Michelle Gellar is listed and I had to ask about that… HG: (laughs) PB: Is she just a good friend of yours? TT: Yeah, she is. At least 8 hours a day. Well I’m Buffy fan and I put it in. This lot grumbled about it and threatened to take it out but they didn’t so it stayed in which I’m happy about. PB: Well, thank you very much. The Scoundrelles will appear live at the 5th Penny Black Music Night at the Spitz supporting Nectarine No 9 along with Applecraft and Air Formation on the 15th Apirl.

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Miscellaneous - Interview

Miscellaneous - Interview

Miscellaneous - Interview

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