Tandem Felix - Tell Yer Loved Ones
tandem felix
Isolation's Aidan Kelly Murphy once again lifts the lid on the bubbling cauldron of talent that is Dublin and reveals another gem of a band.

'Four gentlemen, playing polite and intriguing music for themselves and their friends.' So say TANDEM FELIX, but we feel they may well be on the way to making a whole host of new friends. Don't miss out - and tell yer loved ones. Aidan does the talking and takes the pictures.

2013 represented a breakthrough year for Dublin’s Tandem Felix. After a few years gigging and building a solid reputation on the local scene, the band released their debut EP Popcorn in April. Not to rest on their laurels, December saw them follow this up with 'Ryan Hoguet'/'How Strange, The Weather', a stand-alone single released via local independent label Trout Records. While the former was a collaborative studio affair, the latter saw the band return to their earlier creative template of lead singer David Tapley crafting the core of the songs himself. Both methodologies show the group’s undoubted ability to explore the inner workings of a song and create something altogether different from the standard 'alternative guitar band' mould.

Popcorn won many plaudits and fans throughout the year and was selected at number three in Isolation’s favourite Irish releases of 2013. But it is not just the impeccable recordings that mark the band out; Tandem Felix are also renowned for their expansive live performances. These see the foursome exploring the musical themes documented in their recordings, pushing songs past their limits to produce invigorating and memorable sets. 2014 is set to be a big year for Tandem Felix and the week prior to Christmas Isolation caught up with David to discuss the year to date and his plans for the future.

tandem felix
How did Tandem Felix form?

We formed in 3rd year French class. Myself and Evan (bass) were both troublemakers and made to sit beside each other at the front of the class. Quickly we both realised that we had a similar taste in music and we were both into the idea of forming a band. Christmas was coming up and Evan was threatening to get a bass guitar. He eventually did and that forced us to actually go ahead and do it. We then invited Conor (guitar) to join the band and we’ve been playing together ever since.

Do any of you speak Latin?

No, none of us speak Latin. I assume that’s hinting towards our name which is a Latin translation of “happy at last”. It was the epitaph on a famous scientist's tombstone (Andre-Marie Ampere after whom the Amp is named). I just liked the sound of the name; because the words are also English it's got this extra meaning. People sometimes think it has something to do with cats or bikes. It’s got good visual overtones.

In 2009 you release Tweedledee with the blurb “This is not an album. This is not a release. This is a collection of songs in a comprehensive manner for friends, but also for networking.” Do you feel there’s a pressure on bands these days to have songs online immediately?

I guess there is to be honest. I have a horrible fear that the live music scene is dying, that people don’t like going to gigs anymore. It’s always an uphill struggle to get people to come to gigs. We will always try to charge as little as possible to get into our shows. In a way this is playing to the fact I think people don’t enjoy going to gigs anymore, excluding the ardent 'gig-goer' who makes a hobby of it. In generations before more people casually went to gigs, which was great. You could go and see a band you’d never heard of before and they could become your favourite band. I just don’t think that happens anymore. I think this has forced a necessity to put music on the internet in order to make it as convenient as possible to the listener. I guess this is the way that the trend of listening to music has gone.

At this point the interview is interrupted as we spy Bono out of the corner of our eye and approach for some photographs; he duly obliges.

How come there was such a long gap between Tweedledee (2009) and Popcorn (2013)?

It was more a case that we didn’t think about releasing something. When we started Popcorn, we didn’t set out to put out a single, EP or anything. We were approached by Steven Dunne and Gary White from Windmill Lane who wanted to record some sessions. We would regard Popcorn as our debut release so in one sense there was no gap. We spent well over a year working on it; we started in January 2012 and it was released in April 2013. The songs themselves are quite old; I had considered releasing a sequel to Tweedledee called Tweedledum and a lot of the songs off Popcorn came from that.

tandem felix
The latest single saw you return to the recording style of your earlier work: solo home recordings as opposed to using a studio as you did with Popcorn. Was this informed by constraints at the time or a conscious decision you took?

Both of the songs were written when I was in America last year. 'Ryan Hoguet' began as a song on my phone and laptop and by the time I got back it was almost done. We thought about releasing them on a seven-inch as a pair of songs from the States. I hadn’t recorded like that since Tweedledee. I realised that so much had been learnt from the experience of recording Popcorn in a studio, especially technical things like compression and mixing. For this release a challenge was set. I wanted to see if using those older techniques and recording at home these songs could be immortalised on a seven-inch. I think the songs were captured and this has opened the possibility of recording more tracks in this way.

Is Ryan Hoguet a real person?

He is. In the summer of 2012 myself, Conor and my girlfriend Lesley were in New York. I played a gig in this bar called Goodbye Blue Monday and a band were playing called Slowness. They were a husband and wife duo who told us to come see them the next week in a place called Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn. This time they had their full line-up which included a guitarist called Ryan Hoguet from San Francisco. We began chatting to him and he told us to call him when we got to San Francisco and he’d put us up. We thought it was a passing comment but it turned out he was deadly serious. I think there’s a culture of that in America. So many people in New York are not from New York, they come from all over America, and it seems they have been given a favour along the way and this is almost a repayment. He let us stay for a week and even cut us keys, bought food and threw a barbecue in our honour. We played a gig together, he did a set of Steve Earle songs and we did a set of Tandem Felix songs. Of the three months in America that was easily the best week there and was also maybe one of the best weeks of my life. He was such a nice person, I decided to write a song about him. A mild mannered thank you, in a very sincere way. He gave me his blessing and we’re sending his vinyl for a Christmas present. A lot of people don’t think he’s real, that he’s an elaborate hoax, but he is.


tandem felix
How did the relationship with Trout Records come about, as well as the decision to release something together?

I met Neil from from fellow Dublin band SPIES while we worked together in Trinity and after that we started playing gigs with SPIES. Through that I met Conor their guitarist and Mr. Trout Records. After he took over the label he started looking to put out vinyl from local bands. We were very keen on putting out a record and had initially wanted to put out Popcorn on twelve-inch but unfortunately we weren’t able to. We expressed our interest and in the end it was something we both really wanted to do.

Was putting out a seven-inch vinyl record something you always hoped to do?

It was something I’d always wanted to do, tick it off the list. I’m not a romantic when it comes to audio quality but at the same time there is no escaping that in the right controlled environment it can have superior sound quality. Some people would never buy a record but at the same time some people would only buy it because it’s a record. I guess that’s the magic of what they are.

How did the artwork come together?

Salvatore Fullam is a good friend of mine from school. He wanted to paint a sleeve cover for us, so I suggested he paint 250 of them with each being unique. The image is a self portrait of Salvatore. It was originally from a piece called Self Portrait with a Common Girl. It’s a distorted view of two people. The sleeve was a cropping of the original image with different colour schemes.

What are the plans for 2014?

Continue recording in a similar vein to 'Ryan Hoguet'. Our sound engineer, and frequently our live engineer, Steve, is setting up his own studio so we might do a hybrid collaboration together by mixing the two styles of recording. We are looking to put out an EP in the summer which might be called Birthday Present. The more I tell people what it’s called the more real it becomes. Some festival slots and obviously more live dates. We have to take a break around Spring to finish university and then it’s time to try and become a full-time musician.



You can listen to Tandem Felix and order your copy of 'Ryan Hoguet' (limited to 250 copies, each of which comes with a unique cover, hand-painted by Dublin artist Salvatore Fullam) on the band's Bandcamp page.



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