Takotsubo Men, arguably Liverpool’s finest post-punkers, might just be proving that the independent, grassroots path can still work in this day and age.
Lead singer and bassist, Ste Williams, along with guitarist, Paddy Harrison, have already done the record label thing - their previous band, Cecil, were signed to Parlophone Records in the '90s, with singles Hostage In a Frock and The Most Tiring Day not doing too badly in the charts. Almost two decades later, Ste and Paddy, joined by drummer Stu Carswell, are utilising Pledge Music for all its grass-roots power to fund their music. I spoke to singer Ste about the Liverpool music scene, how he’s getting by as an independent artist, and how the band got their peculiar name.
“We’ve finished the album mate, 14 songs in five days,” Ste tells me, his accent leaving no doubts about his Liverpudlian origins. “Then we went back in the studio in October to mix it, and then just need to find a way of getting it out there!”
Takotsubo Men released their first single using music crowd funding site Pledge Music, and they pulled it off, even though it was their debut.
“We had a single out on Pledge and we just asked for 1,000,” Ste explains. “Because we knew it would be enough to get a vinyl, and money for t-shirts. We got our money back easily, and the money we made went towards the album.”
Doing the same for the album "seems like the only option,” Ste says, “Unless you’ve got a rich parent or something funding! My job doesn’t bring that much money in; we struggle just to pay for the studio. It’s £300 a day to record, and we manage to get it for £160 because we know someone.”
Ste and Patrick were in Cecil for almost a decade, between 1993, and 2002, in which time they supported bands such as Feeder and The Levellers, and had several festival slots including Download (back when it was known as Donington), and T In the Park. Despite their single, Hostage In a Frock, making it to no.68 in the UK charts (very respectable for a post-punk band), it’s little wonder that Ste sounds a bit jaded with the music industry. Cecil were dropped by Parlophone Records during the recording of their third album.
Back to the present day, and I enquire as to how Ste would describe the Takotsubo Men sound in his own words.
“Heavy, nasty at times, energetic, noisy, melodic, and no gimmicks! Post-punk alternative,” comes the response..!
The band’s name is derived from the Japanese word that has come to be used to name a stress induced heart condition, in which the muscular portion of the heart becomes weakened.
“We just thought it was a cool word, but people are often saying ‘what the fuck are you called again?’ It’s basically a broken-hearted syndrome, so maybe we should have called ourselves that. Easier to remember!”
So with the challenges plain to see, I’m still interested to know what ambitions the Takotsubo Men have.
“Not kicking Paddy’s teeth in, and him not kicking mine in,” Ste jokes. “Play bigger gigs to more people. More people hearing us, just the usual stuff. One thing that doesn’t run us is cash. We’ll come and play any toilet! We do it for the love, not for the money. I know that sounds cheesey, but it’s the truth.”
It’s no lie that Takotsubo Men take every gig they get, and have played an enormous number of venues in the north of England. With their debut album coming out later this year, it will be interesting to see if they can keep utilising their grassroots power. Providing they keep doing it for the right reason, the love, then hopefully more and more doors will open for them.