Is it difficult to be a record label owner, the singer and keyboard player for Berlin Black, all while being the bass player for Luxury Stranger? I didn’t have the chance to listen to the band Screaming Banshee Aircrew but, thanks to a common friend, today I had the opportunity to ask the man himself… Mr. Chris Tuke.
Tribe4mian: Is it my imagination, or has the gothic scene in England become much more active during the past few years? Since you also play in other countries, what is your impression of the goth scene elsewhere? Is it a healthy revival or just a glimpse?
Chris: I think there is a definite resurgence in the UK with regards to “Darker” bands. I think the introduction of several main stream bands taking a gothic edge has probably helped a lot. Bands like O Children, The Horrors and ROMANCE for example.
In regard to abroad the Gothic scene seems to be very healthy. Well attended gigs and very passionate fans. I wish we could tour abroad more often as the vibe I’ve got from previous visits has been very positive.
Chris: Its actually ten years since SBA did our first ever gig in the back room of a local pub (16/11/11) it was also Christopher Sherrington’s first ever gig too (who is now the organsier of one of the UKs best alternative festival DV8 fest in York)
SBA enjoyed all the highs and lows of any hard working rock n roll band. When we started I think we were lucky that there seemed to be a gap in the market for our kind of band. People either loved us or hated us. There seemed to be no middle ground.
We landed a 3 album record deal with Resurrection Records. We’ve had several line-up changes which saw us go from a 4 piece to a 6 piece fully live band (I’d recommend checking out MR Hyde Live at Whitby goth Weekend on Youtube) then down to a minimal 4 piece with a much darker starker sound.
Our three albums are Fishnet Messiah, When All is Said and Done and our final (and the best IMO) Sugar
Tribe4mian: How did you come up with the decision to make Trash Vogue Records? What difficulties can arise for an independent record label nowadays?
Chris: After SBA I wanted to do things my own way. Its always something I’d wanted to do so I thought I’d try it, with Berlin Black as my first signing. I wanted the label to be more of a collective of like minded bands and people. Myself and Ed (my brother, now front man of Partly Faithful, ex SBA singer) had half talked/joked about the later SBA sound being “Trash Vogue” So I thought it would be a good name for the company.
The difficulties at the moment is getting distrobution in shops. Companies are scared to take a risk with independent businesses due to the ressession and the current state of the music industry.
Luckily we can make up for this by having a strong presence on the internet. It’s a slow process but we are securing a loyal customer base who love the bands we represent.
Tribe4mian: Were you playing with any other bands before the Screaming Banshee Aircrew? Are the artists that influenced this band the same as the ones that influence Berlin Black? Is there any connection between Berlin Black and The March Violets?
Chris: Before SBA I was just in covers bands with friends. SBA was really an education in both recording and performing live.
I think a lot of the bands that infuenced SBA definitely still have an inpact on Berlin Black’s music.
Bauhaus, Bowie, Iggy, The Cure, The Psychedelic Furs all play a part in how Berlin Black sound.
The connection with the Violets is rather interesting. The March Violets were a huge influence for myself and my brother in the SBA years. We supported them on their first reunion tour back in 2007 which was great.
Since SBA split Jo Violet (SBA singer / violinist / bassit + Berlin Black bassist) now plays Bass for the March Violets. I’ve also had the pleasure of supporting them playing with Luxury Stranger.
Tribe4mian: Which format do you prefer to collect and which to issue releases through Trash Vogue Records: Vinyl, CDs or MP3s, and why?
Chris: I think CDs are still the main medium people want to buy music on. The shift to MP3 and other online formats are great from a business point of view as the costs are lower to put them out there.
I’d love to put our stuff out on Vinyl but at the moment the cost is too expensive. Watch this space though any record junkies. There are plans to release some future products on 7”
Tribe4mian: Which gig of yours is the one that you will never forget and why?
Chris: There are too many. Some because they were amazing crowds. Others because of the people I have met. It would be rude to single out one over another.
Tribe4mian: How did you meet Simon York and what is your part in Luxury Stranger?
Chris: Luxury Stranger were a band SBA really liked while we were writing our last Album “Sugar”. We played with them several times towards the end of SBA’s life and we all got on really well. When Chris and Paul decided to leave LS Simon asked me if I was interested to join. The rest is history.
Chris: Berlin Black currently have 2 CD releases –
Burn It Down – Our original E.P
The Only Ones – the single we released in the summer of 2011
You can buy these along with T-shirts badges, patches etc from Trash Vogue Records
We are looking to release a new E.P in the first quarter of next year and possibly a single but it hasn’t been finalized just yet.
Tribe4mian: Which song would you choose to listen to in the morning to get you in a good mood?
Chris: Anything by INXS usually hits the spot. Or something like “ U got the Look” by Prince and the Revolution
Also been listening to a lot of Oingo Boingo lately.
Tribe4mian: What are your future plans for Berlin Black? I won’t ask for Luxury Stranger; I will try to keep this question for Simon…
Chris: Next year we are planning to step things up a level. More gigs and more media exposure. Expect some videos and new material.
Tribe4mian: What are your next plans for Trash Vogue Records?
Chris: I’m looking to expand our client base and I’m also looking into starting something reminisant to the “peel session” idea.
Inviting bands to play in a studio/venue and videoing and recording the perfomance. I think it’s a concept that could work really well.
Tribe4mian: Can you describe the on-stage differences between being the singer and being the bass player?
Chris: Being a singer I want everyone to look at me. Being the bass player I want everyone to look at me………oh you want differences😉
The main difference I guess is that as the singer you are aware that you are kinda like the band leader on stage. You’ve got to keep people interested and engaged.
As bassist in Ls Im one part of a three piece. As the dynamics of the band are a little different to BB. Because there are only three of us we need to do our equal part to engage the audience but make sure the music is still strong.
Berlin Black gives me the opportunity as singer to “perform” more. Because I know the other guys are concentrating on the music I can concentrate on the theatrics of the show.
Either role I’m told I do a lot of pouting
Tribe4mian: Do you find music to be a way out? Would you encourage young people to play music, or, does it get to be too much sometimes?
Chris: Definitely. I don’t know where I would be if I wasn’t interested in music. Even if you just listen to it.
Its helped me through lots of things.
It’s a great way of expressing yourself.
Thank you very much for this interview, Chris. I wish you every success with your bands and with the record label!
Band members: Chris Tuke, Alexander King, Thomas McLean, Joanna Moy