wed 13/12/2017

10 Questions for Musician Tad Doyle | reviews, news & interviews

10 Questions for Musician Tad Doyle

10 Questions for Musician Tad Doyle

The Seattle legend talks Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Witch Ape and Donald Trump

Tad Doyle lets loose

Tad Doyle was the mainman in grunge first-wavers Tad, who helped to put Seattle firmly on the rock’n’roll map in the late ‘80s with such fine discs as God’s Balls, Salt Lick and 8-Way Santa. He’s now back in action and back on the road in the UK and Europe with his new outfit, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth: a sludge rock beast whose self-titled debut album showcases some truly heavy music with real soul.

GUY ODDY: I remember seeing your first group, Tad, on the first Nirvana tour of the UK in 1989 and to be honest, I thought that you were the more entertaining act. Did it frustrate you that you didn’t reach Nirvana’s levels of commercial success or do you regard it as a lucky escape?

'War Pigs' by Black Sabbath came on the radio and it brought me to tears

TAD DOYLE: Probably the latter. You know, I am completely and 100 per cent comfortable with where I’m at and consider myself very successful and I think that all the bands that I’ve been with have been really successful as well. I don’t measure success based on popularity. It’s not a popularity contest. For me it’s how happy I am, how much integrity I carry with my music and what I do and that’s what really matters to me.

You stepped away from music for a while before you formed your new band, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth. What were you up to during that time and what made you return to music?

Well, during that time, I stepped away because I just needed to reset myself and become more in touch with my spirit and what’s going on. I worked jobs here and there. I was a mortgage consultant for a while for sub-prime loans for people to refinance. I was a tax consultant for a tax firm for a while and I just realised that I can’t really work for other people. I’m the kind of guy that likes to make my own reality and my own choices in my own life. I like to blaze my own path.

I had met this woman through a mutual friend, a film-maker friend, Michael Dean. He made a lot of things like $30 Film School, he’s shot numerous videos and he’s done really well. He introduced me to my current wife, Peggy. She had a solid career going for many years and I had just been doing spotty jobs here and there. Trying to stay afloat. So, I decided that after we had met, talked many times and I fell in love with her that I was going to live with her and move to San Diego. So I spent a lot of time down there. That was really great because you know from living in London what the weather’s like. It’s very similar to here in Seattle. For me it was really great. Everyday was nice. Everyday is sunny. So, it was just a really good change.

One day, when I was driving down Interstate 805 in San Diego, I just happened to turn on the radio and “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath comes on and it brought me to tears. I remembered as soon as that started playing that when I was a kid, the energy and the power of that song just consumed me and I go “Wham!” This is what I always wanted to do. I’ve got to play music again. So that became the start of Brothers of the Sonic Cloth.

You formed Brothers of the Sonic Cloth about 10 years ago. Why did it take so long to put out an album?

We started properly in 2005 and we had our first vinyl out on 2009. That was a split 10-inch with a band called Mico De Noche. We then put out the album about a year ago. We work pretty slow.

Have you been surprised at the positive reaction that the Brothers of the Sonic Cloth (pictured below) have generated so far and can we expect some more material before too long?

I don’t know if surprised is the word, but I feel grateful for that and it’s really great to be a guy that’s almost in his sixties and still making relevant music to a lot of people. Albeit not popular. I don’t think I’ve ever written music to be popular. In fact, I’m sure that I’ve never written music to be popular. It comes genuinely from the heart and the soul and the mind.

New stuff will probably come out in 2017. We’re going to be playing a couple of the new songs on the European tour. We have two new songs that nobody has heard. So we’ll be bringing those with us. So, that’s at least the first side of the next vinyl project and we’re going to be doing it with Neurot Recordings again because we love those guys and they treat us right.

Brothers of the Sonic ClothYou mentioned your wife, Peggy, who also plays bass in the Brothers of the Sonic Cloth. Does it get stressful being married and in a band together or do you both just take everything in your stride?

We’ve got a great relationship both in the band and out. There’s certain times that we have small disagreements on the personal side but we’re a unified force with the band. And the band’s really good about letting me be pretty much the musical director. Other than that, when she was first telling me “I want to play this music when you’re ready”, I was a little apprehensive but it was only because I’d never been in a band with a girlfriend before. And I didn’t know how that was going to play out. My relationships are really important to me, both personal and musical. That was my only apprehension. It wasn’t anything other than that because, honestly, she is a very seasoned, capable and awesome player in her own right.

As well as the Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, you have your own recording studio, Witch Ape. What kind of a set-up is it and who have you had through the doors and recording there?

Well, it’s a hybrid analogue and digital recording studio and it’s basically in our home. We have one room that’s separate from the house and the control room is based in a bedroom in the house itself. Verdun have a record coming out at the end of the month from here. I’ve done an Heiress record that did really well and that still continues to do well. We've had a lot of hardcore underground bands, and most recently I’ve been recording Gary Thorstensen’s new band. He was one of the guitar players in Tad.

Now that you have Witch Ape, I guess that it gives you a different perspective on the whole recording and production process than when you were playing with Tad. Which producer did you most enjoy working with in those days?

It’s kind of like asking me which is my favourite Tad (pictured below) record. I love them all. I consider them children. So far as all of the producers that I’ve worked with from Jack Endino, Steve Albini, Butch Vig, John Agnello: all those guys are amazing. They all have their things that they do that’s very unique to them and they’re all very, very good at what they do. So, I feel that I got a world-class education just from working with them. I think that that really helped me with the engineering thing that I do now. I think that I’ve been doing it long enough now where I have my own style but working with those guys was like going to college in a way and now I wish that I’d paid more attention. But then, I had no idea that I was going to be doing this.

TadYou are about to tour Europe with the Brothers of the Sonic Cloth. Do you still enjoy long distance overseas tours? Do you get to soak up a bit of culture or do you pretty much just see the inside of a bus?

The first few times that I went to Europe was with Tad. Hog Molly [Doyle’s next band] was scheduled to go there but 9/11 happened a few weeks before and the band that we were going to be working with cancelled. It was going to be a co-headlining tour and they decided that they didn’t want to go. So, it’s been quite a while but I tell you that with age and experience comes a new insight into how to do things in life and I’m definitely going to enjoy every minute of it. I’m going to immerse myself in the people, the culture, the sights and sounds and the architecture too. Europe is just teeming with amazing architecture and that’s not always the case here in the United States.

It’s also going to be great to see Peter and Carolyn of Pombagira again. They’re friends. They actually came and recorded with me back in 2007 or 2008. So, it’s going to be good to see them again. They’re really good. In fact, I can’t wait to see all the bands that we’re playing with. It’s going to be pretty fun for me.

You talk about having an older head on your shoulders these days, but rock’n’roll has traditionally been viewed as a young person’s game. What do you think has changed so that people like yourself and others like Bob Mould and even Slayer  have been able to keep going, keep putting out great material and that people have paid attention?

I think that a lot of it has to do with the listening public. Especially the younger people being more open to things and not as closed-minded as say a guy like I was when I was growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s. I think that kids these days are really smart. They’re definitely a hell of a lot smarter than I was when I was that age and they’re just more open to things. I say “kids” but that’s a pretty funny statement in itself. The kids between the ages of, you know, 10 and 35. That’s what I call “kids”.

I hear people say 'Well if he's elected I'm leaving the country', and I think that's a real cop-out

I think that the internet has helped to an extent too. You can cruise around and now there’s so much music out there and with so much ease of access. It wasn’t that way when I was growing up. One of the things that I really like about it is that these age groups idolise and love the classics like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and a hundred thousand other bands that I can’t even list right now and they consider those to be the masters and rightly so.

I can’t really avoid asking this question of someone who is living in the States at the moment. But what is your take on the US Election and the whole circus surrounding Donald Trump?

I’ll preface my answer with this statement: I never really get into politics and I think it has no place in music. But I think at this point, that some people are believing the smoke and mirrors that Donald Trump is projecting and the whole “Make America Great Again” thing is just ridiculous and I’m saddened that educated people even consider that guy being anything more than a circus clown. It’s an important time in American history and when you have somebody like that running for President and actually being a front-runner of a political party, it’s scary business.

I hear people say “Well if he’s elected, I’m leaving the country” and I think that’s a real cop-out because you’ve got to stay. I don’t think he’s gotta chance in hell of becoming elected. I hope he doesn’t. But I think that you’ve gotta continue to fight for what’s right and not just bail when times get tough. It’s been ridiculous that there’s been two political parties that are always the ones that seem to be changing guard there in the upper echelon. It’s just saddening to me and I think that as time goes on that’s going to become less the case. I do think that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are great alternatives to the insanity on the right end of the spectrum though.

  • Brothers of the Sonic Cloth play the Black Heart, London on Saturday 2 April with Pombagira before moving on to dates in mainland Europe  

 

I was a tax consultant for a tax firm for a while and I just realised that I can’t really work for other people

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