Noise Annoys: Touts on Belfast show, Weller and how to get ahead in the music biz

Jason Feenan, drummer with Derry trio Touts tells Noise Annoys about the punk rocking teens' Belfast show tomorrow night, their recent trip to SXSW in Texas, supporting Paul Weller and Liam Gallagher and maybe inspiring a new generation of Guitar Heroes

Touts play The Duke of York in Belfast tomorrow night

FAST-rising Derry punk rock trio Touts hit Belfast tomorrow night for a guaranteed to be jam-packed headline gig at The Duke of York with grungy indie kids Hand Models.

Matthew (vocals/guitar), Luke (bass/vocals) and Jason (drums/specs) have just returned from the US of A following a run of performances at the South By South-West festival (SXSW) in Texas, where by all accounts they knocked the Septics for six.

I quizzed 'drummer who can't see' Jason about how they got on, their debut Dublin headliner, the Belfast show and some other important Touts matters:

How was SXSW? Does the festival live up to the hype?

SXSW was f***ing unbelievable. It was our first time in the States, the sheer madness of [Austin's] Sixth Street every night was amazing.

All the gigs were unreal, the crowds seemed to buzz off us every show we played, despite our accents. We played on a boat for Output Belfast as one of the shows, which was a mad experience: we felt like the Sex Pistols floating down the Thames only with decent weather and no cops calling it off. We did the BBC Introducing show as well, which was madness.

It definitely lived up to the hype for me. I saw some lethal bands; Idles and The Strypes and a load of other class stuff. We'd played a few industry-type festivals before, but SXSW was different gravy altogether.

Did you enjoy your debut headline gig at The Loft in Dublin last Saturday and are you looking forward to The Duke of York tomorrow night?

It was f***ing class, we were blown away by the response: we've been told Dublin can be a complete nightmare of a city to break your way into, but that gig gave us great hope. The crowd were loving the craic.

Aye, I'm buzzing for the Duke of York – it's some bar and we've a lot of good friends in Belfast we're buzzing to see.

You’ve supported a couple of bigger acts now including Kasabian, Liam Gallagher and Paul Weller. What’s your approach to playing to other people’s crowds and what was Weller like?

Weller is the biggest gentleman, puts on one of the best live shows I've seen night after night. The best way I can describe him is as a person to which the smoking law does not apply. He watched our set every night too, made us feel really easy about it.

We have no bother playing as a support band, it's the best way to win fans like, ye go out and do your own tunes. You see people in the crowd who get it, they latch on to the tunes and f***ing love it.

On the bigger stages – like Liam Gallagher or Blossoms at Castlefield in Manchester – everything is so surreal. Ye just get up and do it, and we've had more people react well than badly, a lot of heads say they like the energy.

Are you looking forward to playing the BBC Biggest Weekend in Belfast this May? How do you approach festival gigs?

Aye the BBC show is gonni be f***ing class, good to get a big gig a bit closer to home than England too, a good few Derry boys are gonni make the trip up.

Festivals are a different beast to clubs. The stages are usually a bit bigger and the crowd are always up for it. Clubs, sometimes ye have to get the crowd into the pocket for the gig sometimes; in festivals they're usually already well in there and all you have to do is get up and deal out craic.

You’re one of the first really good bands I’ve heard citing Guitar Hero as a big early influence. What were your favourites back in the day and which Touts number would you like to see immortalised in Guitar Hero form?

We all loved a good bit of Paint it Black, Matthew in particular, thinking he's Keith Richards. I always stuck to the easy ones.

Luke's parents never let him play it cause they believe video games lead to violence and drug use.

I'd like to see Bombscare in there or maybe the new tune, Asleep. The idea of some other wain in their living room on Christmas morning trying to get 100 per cent on one of our songs is a lovely wee thought too.

There’s not many bands citing Dr Feelgood, The Jam, SLF, The Clash and Them among their influences these days. What draws you to that 60s/70s era of music and are there any ‘modern’ bands who inspire you?

The music drew us first, just the quality of the songs stand the test of time a lot better than what a lot of music nowadays will, I think.

Like, ye hear people my age talk about number ones from last summer as "old songs" and suddenly they're unfashionable to play. That, to me, is madness: songs are for life, not just for Christmas.

We're inspired from a lot of different places, everywhere from The Clash to The Dubliners and Simon and Garfunkel. I think we look at modern bands more for live performance rather than musically sometimes, like the way Idles or Cabbage or even Blossoms own a stage.

Then in terms of fashion as well we tend to look back a lot more than we look at our peers, but maybe that's us trying too hard to be cool.

Which local bands have been influential/helpful to Touts along the way?

Locally, a band called Lost Avenue used to give us support slots flat out. Plus Waldorf & Cannon are always good lads to us, we still gig with them a good bit too, sound lads.

What’s your experience of The Music Business been like so far? Are there any labels you would like to work with?

We've found that no-one gets far without being sound and working their holes off. Don't waste people's time, do your utmost to not cancel shows and never be a creep.

We've enjoyed working with Hometown for the past year and a bit. There's plenty of labels we'd love to work with too; Domino, Rough Trade, Sub Pop etc – we're an open book at this stage.

When's the album coming out and how about 'Touts Will Be Shoot' for a title, after the infamous 1980s Belfast graffiti?

The album is being worked on, don't you worry. We've thought about [a title] but we'll wait to hear what it sounds like first, we reckon. Always thought 'All Touts Are Targets' is another good one.

What’s the longest you’ve ever played Gloria for?

Long enough for me to realise I need to learn more stuff to do in a drum solo.

Any advice for those who are inspired to pick up a guitar/form a band after hearing your music?

Practice like f***, write all the time, gig as much as ye can, be sound.

:: Touts, Saturday March 31, The Duke of York, Belfast. Tickets £6 plus fees from Katy's Bar, and Ticketmaster outlets.

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