Friday, December 10, 2004


Bob Tilton

Bob Tilton ruled the roast in the mid to late nineties, performing at the pinnacle of hardcore. They were one of the most exciting bands I have ever seen live and possessed perhaps my favourite homegrown vocalist ever. Emerging from Nottingham, the band took its name from a smart evangelist (in other ones a bent one) and soon out performed and outgrew the scene in which it remained lumped with. Far from the confines of conventional hardcore and or suffocatingly wet emocore the band pushed more musical boundaries by fusing and including elements of the bands that inspire them while still maintaining a fierce sense of urgency and venom.

The band seemed cursed throughout its existence. From the start they were stuck with the comparison and label of being the UK equivilent of Fugazi (which I must admit was what prompted me to first check them out), which was horribly misleading for those who investigated but also the tag seemed to stick harder down to the bands given stance of refusing to speak to the press, the same as Fugazi. And again, later as bands and the press discovered Spiderland by Slint, Bob Tilton were once more lumped in with another scene, very briefly called Slintcore. It all served to really misrepresent what Bob Tilton had been attempting and achieving. During their last two years in existence live shows being more sporadic as other priorities began to show.

They have a no compromise way of working which results in the mass music press mostly ignoring them, barring the occasional live review or single of the week. I have to admit even my knowledge is sketchy but to date they have released the Wake Me Up When It's Spring Time Again EP, Of Penknife And Pocketwatch 7" and earlier this year they released their debut album called Crescent. These have all been released on Subjugation. The proposed joint single release by Subjugation and Lovetrain seems off but hopefully two singles will be released together soon. One by Subjugation and the other jointly by Ambel and another label. Todays answers are coming from Simon in the absense of Neil, Mark and Allan and Chay

NP: Bob Tilton, he's a bad 'un?
S: Oh he is a very bad man, yes.

NP: Where do you come from?
S: Three of us are Nottinghamshire born and bred - no, scratch that, four of us although Mark is now living in Leeds. Chay is a Lincolnshire lad.

NP: How many records have you put out?
S: Oh, a small handful. One twelve inch record, two seven inchs of our own plus appearances on a few compilation records. We haven't been prolific in our lifetime.

NP: How long has the band been going?
S: Oh almost five years now. How time flies.

NP: Were any of you in any previous bands?
S: Judging by your next question you know the answer to that cheeky. Allan and I were in Downfall. I don't think Mark was in a band previously. Neil and Chay I'm not sure about.

NP: Did Downfall release/record anything?
S: We released one seven inch and one demo.

NP: How do you feel about always being compared with Fugazi?
S: Cheated. Personally they have never been an influence, nor do I particularly like them much, although I can't speak for all of us. Reviewers that compare us to Fugazi do so because they don't have any other handy reference point.

NP: You sound a hell of a lot more like them than most bands who get compared with them, don't you?
S: I don't think so. Fugazi gets mentioned because the reviewer is familiar with them and is doubtless familiar with no other bands that could be remotely compared to us. We sound more like Fugazi than we do the Beatles.

NP: Do you regard yourselves as hardcore?
S: No. Everyone has their own ideal definition of 'hardcore'. For many 'hardcore' is nothing more than a major label funded mosh pit and a pumping overpriced metal soundtrack.

NP: How about emo-core?
S: No, I don't like silly name-tags.

NP: And do you feel like you fit into those scenes?
S: See above. We came from a 'hardcore scene' background and played shows with hardcore bands pretty much exclusively shows put on by friends of ours, with bands that are friends of ours. We still play those shows and they're generally really good, but it's good to play with bands that aren't tagged by any sort of scene too; it's more interesting to pay before different audiences for one thing. I've definitely discovered some really good bands around that I had not been exposed to previously; bands that aren't labelled 'hardcore'. Labels can be quite limiting and alienating.

NP: I asked because it seems strange that you gig so much with Mogwai. HC bands generally don't crossover do they?
S: We've played a few times with Mogwai and we all really like them so playing gigs with them is fun. As for 'crossover' it's interesting that you, and of course and the press and indeed the public should draw such - a picture of a little cat - distinction between Mogwai and hardcore bands, when Mogwai don't differ much at all musically from a lot of HC bands, but just don't claim that label or play those type of gigs.

NP: Do you think they'll go far considering the style of music they play?
S: I think that depends on how good a manager they have, and how much good press they get. That goes for any band irrespective of how good they are.

NP: How has the Lovetrain single come about?
S: It hasn't. We were going to do the next 7" as a Subjugation/Lovetrain split release but neither Ian nor Bob Tilton has heard from Lisa (Lovetrain) in ages so I think it's off.

NP: Like Fugazi you used to be anti-music press (mainstream). How did you feel about the NME On feature?
S: We were never 'anti-music press' as such, just that I don't think we were comfortable with becoming involved with that sort of coverage and the vulnerability it entails. After a while we were approached about the 'On' thing and kind of thought 'OK, why not'. Once the feature appeared then I realised why not. I think it was shit.

NP: Did you feel that you needed wider coverage?
S: Maybe. The idea was just to try and let people know that we had a record out we were relatively pleased with....people who might otherwise would not hear of us or our record, but it finished up being a dumb waste of time.

NP: I think the album sounds a bit like Tool at times, but with a bit more kick. Is that all right with you?
S: Whatever. I've never heard Tool before.

NP: How was the Lovetrain All Dayer for you?
S: OK. I don't think we played too good. I, at least, didn't enjoy it, and felt very uncomfortable on that 'Garage' stage.

NP: Did you meet Michael Stipe?
S: Was he there?

NP: Are you for or against summer festivals?
S: I suppose they're OK. People seem to enjoy them don't they. I'd rather play at one than go to watch. It seems that in order to play a festival you need the persuasive influence of a manager. Am I right?

NP: Does the emo-core sound too much like Emo Phillips to you?
S: There is an 'emo-core' sound?? Is Emo Phillips still performing the gag about his apartment being replaced by an exact replica while he was asleep??

NP: Would you do a session for Peel?
S: We did. Two years ago.

NP: Will you ever be on costly disc?
S: We have two album tracks on a compilation CD out of Swedan called 'Love Is A Dog From Hell', along with some Swedish bands and such. I wouldn't want our album on CD until we had enough new songs to add onto it.

NP: Do you like fanzines (and what do you think about them)?
S: I don't really read them, no.

NP: What do you think of Understand?
S: I've not seem them in over a year now. I think they are really good, though not really my thing musically. Lovely lads too. I only know a couple of the band, particularly Rob the guitar player, he is the most awesome guy. Don't know what their new stuff is like.

NP: And what about Fabric?
S: The same goes I suppose. I knew/know the band members pretty well and love them lots....great band live. We played with them quite a bit.

NP: You appear on the Carry On Sabbing tape. Is that a cause you strongly support and believe in?
S: It's a cause that we all agree with and support, yes. Although none of us have ever participated in Sabbing itself I don't think.

NP: Who are your favourite bands?
S: So many, so many. OK personal loves of mine: Palace, Smog, For Carnation, Mossican, Phil Ochs, Tim Buckley, Rex, Loren Mazzacane Connors, Rachel's, Gastr Del Sol, Tori Amos, Sunny Day Real Estate, Springsteen (yes, Bruce!)

NP: If you could be on any label, which would it be?
S: We have been happy remaining with Subjugation, they are nice folks.

NP: I think there is another band called Static now. Have you heard of them?
S: No, I've not. That name was used by us when we played our first gig as we hadn't decided on a name at that point and needed something for the flyer. Bad choice, as was it's successor.

NP: Are there any bands that you believe have signed to a major without selling out?
S: I really am no longer concerned with which band signs to whatever label. It may be something I wouldn't want to be involved with myself, but other people have different ideas. I love the music people make. I have criticised some bands in the past for dealing with big labels. I have also sat in my room with my thumb up my arse for long periods of time.

NP: I read somewhere that Mark wouldn't buy a CD player until he had to. Has he got one yet?
S: No I don't think so. You have been reading 'Earzone' fanzine haven't you? (yes, you've rumbed me guv)

NP: Are you still strongly against Barcodes on records and how would you feel if one was put on a record by yourselves?
S: I don't think we would ever be in a position where we didn't have the control to decide whether we wanted a barcode put on one of our records or not. And we don't.

NP: Why are you against distributors?
S: I'm not really. It's great ot have a record distributed by mail-order and independent distros that sell records at shows etc... Still I'm not against putting a record through small distributors that supply shops although I wouldn't want to go that route exclusively and not bother with the non-profit distros/mail-order etc side. I think that will always be the priority.

NP: Would you let a label use a distributor to sell your records?
S: Subjugation has actually begun to use Shellshock distributors. Some copies of our LP went through them to shops. I'm not sure if they'll continue with them or not.

NP: Whats your experience of Newtown Grunts?
S: Scottish 'punk rock' band prone to playing live wearing black dustbin bags spray-painted with pictures of genitals and words like 'fuck'.

NP: Have you heard of Gold Blade? What do you think of them?
S: It is my understanding that the Nation Of Ulysses were from Washington D.C. and split up a long time ago. Is James Brown out of prison yet? (hope so)

NP: Why didn't you play the Brighton Melting Vinyl All Dayer?
S: Allan met with an unfortunate injury to his right leg. It was suggested we play minus a drummer but, of course, that would have been foolish.

NP: Have you heard the rumours that you have actually split up?
S: Can't say I have, although I would like to. (see Stuart Mogwai and my friends)

NP: What is the most disgusting thing you have ever done?
S: Played a gig in Bradford thus missing Palace Brothers playing in Nottingham.

NP: Beyond the single what is next planned for Bob Tilton?
S: Oh we just played 6 shows in Europe which was great. We'd only ever been out of the Country for one gig in Belgium previously. So next should hopefully be two seven inch singles, but when is another question.

NP: What else would you like to put?
S: Watch this space.

selected discography:

"Wake Me When It's Spring Time Again" 7 inch EP (Subjugation)
"Songs Of Penknife And Pocket Watch" 7 inch EP (Subjugation)
"Crescent" LP (Subjugation)
"Crescent" CD (Southern)
"Leading Hotels Of The World" LP/CD (Southern)

Jason Graham (taken from No Pictures 6)


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