Interview: Tuff Love
November 19, 2015
It’s 5:10pm at Leeds’ Headrow House, and I walk in to the gig space to see Tuff Love, one over the other’s shoulder, spinning wildly while their drummer and tour manager look on with smiles that say they’ve seen this before.
Lost Map Records-signed Tuff Love, comprising fast Glaswegian friends Julie and Suse, have seen a steady rise to critical and cultural acclaim with their own irreverent brand of self-proclaimed ‘apologetic pop music’. They are touring with the release of their third E.P., Dregs, and have kindly offered to sit with TSOTA prior to their show in Leeds, on the 13th November. Their spin slows, and they unfurl from one mass into two discreet humans. We are all – Julie, Suse, tour manager Kate, drummer Iain, and interviewer James – wearing near-matching beanies.
One of the first things we talk about is their own, aforementioned, description of their genre. “I just feel like when we play,” Julie says, “we project an attitude of…”
“Sorry!” Suse suggests. She continues: “There are so many people making stuff and doing things, and it’s like, we’re apologetic because we’re just another group of people doing stuff, making stuff, filling the world with crap… ‘Sorry’.”
Tuff Love’s albeit self-deprecating rush to define themselves as ‘just another group of people doing stuff’ is a refreshing thought, especially in a world of immaculately-presented major-label ‘artistes’ made marketable by the scarcity principle. They represent a growing trend in the indie underdogs, wherein the fictional sheen of the popular artist isn’t aspired to but subverted – an act that only serves the music they’re wont to make, and the fans who are wont to listen.
One part of this holistic, irreverent whole (a word that will, inevitably, crop up again at least once) is the band’s online presence. Their website is a pre-broadband love letter, replete with links to their label ‘Lust Mop’ and a sub-heading entitled ‘Quotes’ including negative soundbites from Radio 6 and Youtube, amongst other places. When asked if this was a calculated effort to throw back in tandem with their early punk influences, Suse simply says: “I wanted to make a website.”
When asked how they felt about the current tour in general, Suse speaks candidly of its beginning: “I personally feel I didn’t mentally prepare myself for playing nine dates in row – I suppose it always takes a bit of warming up, like when you go to the first shows and are like ‘oh, this is happening’.”
“It’s like the first bad pancake,” Julie interjects, to peals of laughter.
This night of the tour is unlike the others though, in that Lazy Day are supporting. This London band befriended Tuff Love through two support gigs, a split-single 7-inch and “lots of Skype meetings”. Seeing them live later in the evening, I can see how they became friends. Lazy Day’s vim and vigour creates a perfect odd-couple partnership with Tuff Love’s trademark irreverence, both moods coming from the same place: a mutual love of their craft, minus the theatrics.
As for Tuff Love later in the evening, their easy-going demeanour matched with that mutual love shines from the stage brighter than the spots. Between songs the trio share laughs and in-jokes that have weathered the storm that has been their UK tour, a flurry of gigs across the country night after night after night with the only break being a blissful working week before their hometown show. This easy-going, convivial stage presence is testament to their stance as a band without pretence, a couple of friends who are glad to be making music without all the bullshit included.
As the band close up their set, an astonishingly addled three-some work and twerk their way towards the front of the stage, faces gurning with all the endeavour of an over-eager child with one of Willy Wonka’s Neverending Gobstoppers. Perhaps a happy accident that they stumbled across Tuff Love’s gig, they still throw themselves into every tune without a care – for ‘another group of people filling the world with crap’, they’ve certainly made at least three people’s nights.
Before we wrap up our be-hatted early-winter reconnaissance beneath the veranda, Julie acknowledges the 5-day break between their York show and their final UK show in Glasgow: “We’ll spend it in the bath, getting nice and rusty for our E.P. launch.” With Dregs, a blistering live show under their belt and an upcoming compilation album entitled Resort, Tuff Love have managed to become the least shit-giving band to engender the most deserved hype. Rust on, guys. Rust on.