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Port Erin - Interview

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 12 / 8 / 2017

Port Erin - Interview


As Port Erin prepared for a set at Glastonbury and the release of their excellent fourth album ‘Ocean Grey’, Ben Howarth speaks to Reuben Myles Tyghe, the frontman of the west country three-piece Port Erin to learn more about their ten years as a band

That Port Erin, the three-piece rock band, are not yet a household name is confirmed by a quick google search. Amid plenty of information about the small town on the Isle of Man (population:3,500) with which they share their name, updates on what the band have been up to are scarce. And yet, the three piece from Broughton Gifford have, slowly but surely, built up a devoted live following and, with their fourth album ‘Ocean Grey’ have a record that will demand your attention. Music journalists tend to prioritise recommending the "next big thing", preferably before that new thing has even released their first new single. But here, we have a fully formed band with a lengthy back catalogue and it's somewhat to be regretted that we are only getting to know them now. With their new album still on heavy rotation on my stereo, I got in touch with vocalist and guitarist Reuben Myles Tyghe, who introduced us to his band and took us through the story of their first decade. PB: You celebrated a decade as a band recently, but will be a new name to many Pennyblackmusic readers. To begin, tell us about how the band formed and your background as musicians? RMT: We all grew up together in a small, Wiltshire, UK village. Jacob (bassist) is my (younger brother and Cerys (drums) grew up a mile down the lane! We all had instrument lessons at various points during our early and teen years that lead to us being in many different secondary school and college bands. Port Erin was formed in January 2004 with Cerys joining in 2007. In the summer of 2006 Port Erin (with a different line-up) had a UK Tour booked, Cerys' band at the time, Coaster, also played as main support. It was on that tour at the Portland Arms in Cambridge, sometime in August 2006, we had our first jam. I remember it, D min, loads of hall reverb with Jeff Buckley on the mind. We officially formed on 5th January 2007. We have since released four LPs, one live LP, three EPs and have played 700+ live shows. PB: Looking back over the last ten years, is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known when you started the group? RMT: There's nothing I regret or feel that we missed out on as such. Everyone has to learn lessons and we're all dealt our hand to work with. One thing I'd say as advice to younger bands is to watch out and get clued up about the industry and how it works! Sharks patrol the murky waters of the industry and they're ready to bite, so you've got to know and learn how to bite back twice as hard but with understanding and intelligence. We've seen friends get screwed by the industry and watched many a band over the years go through the process. Scrutinise contracts, hustle for good deals, don't let your age mean that someone owns you or your work. Be yourself, do it yourself and own your own material for as long as you can. PB: You come from a small village that, I think it is fair to say, doesn’t have much of a music scene. Do you think that’s changed the way you operate as a band? Has it made it harder to build up a fanbase? RMT: I think, or rather hypothesize, that growing up in a remote place makes one's imagination run free to mad levels. Perhaps this is true for our music and the way we write too. We weren't influenced by 'local' bands as such - Manchester has its Stone Roses, Bristol has its Massive Attack, London has the indie scene - we had hay bails and the Wurzels (though later we found XTC, Nick Harper and Subhumans which made us very happy and proud to be from Wiltshire!). We didn't know what a real city was like, so you dream up ideas of how the bigger world works. It makes everything an unknown, which is why we were so hungry, and still are, to tour and visit new cities and countries. We love meeting people on the road, seeing how different cultures think and operate. Being loners stuck out in village makes you an observer with nothing but green fields and the odd moo cow to draw comparisons with. We now live in the city, but having our music as a vehicle to learn about our world and it's people is very much part of what and who we are as a band. In the early days it was really hard to establish a fan base. The old dichotomy of "you can't gig if you haven't got a fan base/you can't get a fan base until you gig" was up against us for a while. Though down to some helpful and trusting venues and promoters, some amazing friends and fans and our relentless touring we've been able to build a great following in the South West and other cities where we've put the effort in. PB: You toured as the backing band for Nick Harper last year. How did that come about – is it something you would want to do again, or was it more of a one off? RMT: We first saw Nick Harper in 2013 where we were booked on the same bill at the awesome Sound Knowledge record store in Marlborough. Two years later and the same show and bill was booked but Nick didn't want to play solo after a band (understandable) and we didn't want to follow the one-man-powerhouse force of nature that is Nick Harper (sensible). So I put it to him that we learn a bunch of his tracks and morph into his backing band. He said yes and we got to work. It was meant to be a one-off but Nick dug our work and a full band tour was booked. It was an incredible experience and we're very happy to say there is going to be a more extensive Nick Harper & Port Erin (as The Wilderness Kids) tour later this year as well as the release of our first album that we're writing together. PB: In your wildest dreams, if you could tour as a backing band for whoever you wanted, who would that be? RMT: Morphine. The greatest band that ever existed. PB: Has the experience of playing as a backing band changed the way you write your own songs as Port Erin, or do you keep the two completely separate? RMT: We've done similar work before, working as a trio for various different song-writers and bands. It's inevitable that if we work closely with someone, and have to deconstruct their work in order to learn it properly, it will have some influence within our general musical palette. I think seeing it from another songwriter's perspective can change your outlook, conduct and the way your approach writing more than directly influence the music. We've had the pleasure of working with some incredible artists and we've certainly taken something from those experiences, not so much in a sonic sense, but more artistically. PB: Your new album 'Ocean Grey' has just been released. It’s already been getting some positive reviews, including from us here at Pennyblackmusic. What are your views on it, now that it has been released? RMT: We are just very happy and grateful that this record has had the best reception yet. We put many hours into making 'Ocean Grey' and so it feels like some kind of affirmation that we're doing okay knowing that people are enjoying it. It feels great playing the songs live too, knowing that there's a positivity behind them really helps. Classically though, all we are focused on now is bettering it and delivering our next record. We made a start on album five on January 3rd this year and can not wait to get it recorded and out there. PB: You worked with a number of collaborators on the record, who clearly play an important part in the sound – especially the jazz touches. How did they become involved in the recordings? RMT: Simon Williams (saxophone) has played sporadically with Port Erin since 2011. We first met at a jazz jam in Frome and he's featured on the last three records and often tours with us. Pete Judge (trumpet) we know through his great bands Eyebrow and Get The Blessing. Both inspirational artists to us (we first saw Eyebrow play back in 2005 when we went to 'check out' the mecca of The Louisiana for the first time). We sent Pete the demos and asked if he'd be interested in playing - thankfully he was. These two guys made the record. PB: What are your plans for the rest of the year – will you be touring and playing festivals? At what point would you start thinking about recording more new music? We are touring heavily throughout the rest of the year. As I type we're on a day off after just getting back from our first shows in Malta. Tomorrow we head to Glastonbury Festival ready to perform on Friday night. The rest of the summer we're playing a bunch of other great UK festivals, August we have our first tour of Scotland and festival shows in North Italy later that month, October another 12 date UK tour in support of 'Ocean Grey', November shows in Brussels, France and then from late November 'till December we'll be on tour with Nick Harper. So we're going to be busy on the live front. Whilst this is happening we have writing sessions every Monday and Tuesday night from now until late September. We aim to demo record the album before Christmas meaning we'll be looking to record the next album early next year. PB: Final question, are there any other bands or musicians whose music you are enjoying at the moment that you would recommend Pennyblackmusic readers look out for? There's so much good stuff out there right now. Here's a few that we're really digging as a band and often have on the Port Erin stereo whilst rolling out the tarmac : Syd Arthur, The Evil Usses, The Brackish, Thought Forms, Sugar Candy Mountain, The Ranch, Outside World, Subhumans, Vels Trio, The Comet Is Coming, Meeking, Charivari, Stone Cold Fiction, Nobody, Kelley Stoltz. PB:Thank you.

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Port Erin - Interview

Port Erin - Interview

Port Erin - Interview

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Ocean Grey (2017)
Enthralling jazz and post rock-influenced third album from Port Erin who spent last year working as Nick Harper's backing band

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