Introducing: Tomahawks For Targets

Well, I guess I have to ask… where does the name Tomahawks For Targets come from?

Ross Harley: There’s an old Lalo Schifrin piece called “For Targets.” We put the word Tomahawks in front of it because we hoped that a butch name would stop people from getting all up in our faces.

Your album seems to have some tracks on it that are fairly complex in their structure. Who would you say has influenced your sound the most?

James Haselhurst: We’re influenced by a lot of very different things—when we’re writing and recording we’ll suggest ideas that come from very different places and attempt to bolt them together. We’ve all been individually influenced by some progressive music—I think Zappa and King Crimson are ones we agree on—but most of the time we’re actually drawing more reference from fairly mainstream stuff and certainly from a lot of pop music.

I think most of the complexity comes about from having a few different ideas or themes we want to include and that we’d rather find a way for them to all coexist in a pop song framework rather than thin them out.  That way there’s a lot happening in our music at any given point.  We certainly don’t actively try to complicate what we do though.

I’m inextricably drawn to your track “God, Down The Coal Mine.” What’s it about?

JH: Lyrically it’s a song about misplaced religious fanaticism in small industrial town circumstances. We really love Steely Dan and we love the kind of acerbic noir humour you find in a lot of their lyrics. I think this is our tip-of-the-hat to that way of writing;  we’d certainly never do anything ha-ha funny in any of our songs, but we do have a penchant for the absurd.

It went through a few changes in its formative existence, but we really like it because we managed to glue together the most extreme elements we came up with and it still sounds like a pop song. It started off being just a very simple vocal line and around that we just tried to fit in ideas which were the opposite of what we thought other bands might do with it.  That seemed to fit the gist of the song nicely.

Your album, Invasion On A Budget is being released on 180 gram vinyl. That’s not exactly the norm in this digital age—what was the thinking behind this?

JH: We’ve all released records in other bands we’ve been in, but none of us have ever done anything on vinyl before so that was certainly an initial incentive. I think we were all drawn to the possibilities that vinyl gives, certainly sonically in as much as you’re not entering into a “loudness war” and squashing your audio into oblivion in order to compete with other artists’ mixes on radio or online etc.

I’d never mixed for vinyl before so I did a lot of reading and took a lot of advice and really tried to keep the dynamics of the songs intact. Certainly from a producer’s point of view that’s really great to be able to do. Another massive factor was that we really wanted people to listen to the whole album in order and that’s very much a rarity if you’re only offering it as digital or on CD. Although we are totally happy for people to listen to whichever fragments they choose of course.

We were totally smitten with the idea though when we saw Emilee Seymour’s artwork and for us the cover became a very important part of the release—when it’s in large form on the vinyl sleeve it certainly feels like much more of an “artistic event.”

You have been lucky enough to get some great support from national radio. What has been your stand out band moment so far?

JH: I think the week we were playlisted on BBC Radio 1 was a big standout for us. We really didn’t think our music would exist happily in that kind of environment, but the feedback we received from the DJs and the listeners was amazing. It was more than a little odd to hear a song we’d recorded in our tiny practice room being played alongside Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas. Not unpleasant at all, but nonetheless weird. We wouldn’t mind in the slightest if it became a regular occurrence.

Playing Reading and Leeds was also brilliant.

RH: Seeing the finished album all shiny and new and ours.

What is the first life-changing piece of music that entered your lives?

JH: Probably hearing Zappa for the first time. He died a couple of months after I started playing guitar and I remember hearing “King Kong” being played in a documentary about him. I think I spent a week pausing and rewinding the video until I’d figured out how to play it.

RH: “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses aged 8 years old. From that moment on guitars were cooler than Thundercats. It’s an idea I stand behind to this very day.

David Baron: “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. Because it’s my mantra.

What are your plans and hopes for this year?

JH: We’d like to play a few more festivals this year and hopefully we’ll be doing a couple of singles and a couple of videos. We just like to do as much as we possibly can—it’s hardly an unrewarding job!

RH: That the Alien prequel Prometheus isn’t rubbish, that Stevie Wonder is amazing at Bestival, and that Tomahawks’ keep on keeping on.

Finally, name one think no one knows about the band?

JH: We have a combined height of 742cm.

RH: One of us was born in a laboratory.

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