THIS WEEK: OLD TRAMP
Old Tramp is… ah, that’s the question. Who or what exactly is Old Tramp?
Here at Fresh On the Net we do our darnedest to try and keep a level playing field for all artists, regardless of age, genre, gender or reputation. It’s our proud boast that we always pick tunes for our Listening Post based 100% on what comes out of the speakers and nothing else. We listen without prejudice for songs that have That Certain Something that sets them apart from the mundane, the ordinary and the run-of-the-mill.
That’s why we were so pleased when Adam, Hear The Sea first elbowed his way onto our Listening Post – and then got himself voted into our Fresh Faves – before anyone even realised it was our old friend The Adamski Kid. A banging tune by This is Ethmo last year turned out to be the work of another of our regular lofi Home Counties favourites – though I believe his cover is still officially intact. It’s the talent that counts, not the name.
And that’s why, when the tune below dropped into our overcrowded inbox in late 2012, I didn’t give a thought as to who Old Tramp might be. I just hit “play” (for the hundredth time that morning) then jumped up and down with glee at the noise that started to play. Sharp, upbeat and funny – with classic songwriting chops and a singalong pop groove to die for: within 60 seconds it was on the shortlist for my BBC Introducing Mixtape.
Of course I duly ranted and raved about the lack of any biographical information on this ancient wanderer to be found online. It was only after Kiss My Arse had been aired not once but twice on BBC Radio 6 Music that a close friend tipped me off that the elusive Old Tramp was in fact the alias of an artist who was extremely well known to me.
But by now the Old Tramp genie was well and truly out of the bottle and taking on a life of his own – quite separate from that of the musical wag who had dreamed him up in the first place. Further radio airplay followed, along with invitations to play at the opening of several new nightclubs in London and Hertfordshire with his “five piece indie-dance backing band”. Which didn’t even exist. Two years on, he has an album’s worth of material in the can, a record deal with Californian label Three Sixty Records, and an EP due for release this Tuesday, April 15th called This Is Tramp Pop. Why, there’s even a video for another of the tracks to have made my BBC Radio 6 Music shows, Koksure:
There’s always been a soft spot in my heart for Musicians With A Manifesto, and this aged vagrant has a good one: “Old Tramp offers a unique electronic sound with a gritty and mischievous British undercarriage. Why not invite an Old Tramp into your life – and let your own inner tramp run wild and free.”
It won’t have escaped your notice that our Prick’nDing interviews are normally conducted by Team Freshnet’s very own Mr Johnno “Snippet” Casson. However this week, when Old Tramp’s PR company offered us an exclusive interview, Johnno was mysteriously nowhere to be found. So it falls to me to proudly introduce the following dialogue with that unique and cheekily groovesome talent who is… Old Tramp.
1. What are you up to at the moment?
At the moment I am dusting down my glad rags for the release of my debut EP This is Tramp Pop on 15 April on Three Sixty Records. I’ve enjoyed shaking things up a bit with this project, being cheeky and taking the gloves off, I feel dirty and cleansed at the same time and that feels bloody wonderful. Sweet is the taste of fresh tramp pop in your hands :-)
2. Favourite childhood memory?
Eating cockles with my Dad outside a pub in Lea Bridge, Hackney. Just being with him was always enough
I’ve never really had heroes, they are always destined to disappoint you. I admire people but don’t raise them too high on the pay scale, just tap into their best parts to feed the psyche like a borrower with his own agenda. I tend to look inside myself for the inspiration, I’m not saying I’m a national hero (“Jesus – but with better dance moves” anyone? haha) but I know myself and what I can achieve, its usually a few words spoken by someone or a small action someone takes that lights my way forward. It always comes down to the simplest things.
Greed, injustice and shitty dance moves.
5. What/who makes you laugh?
Licking dinner plates and drinking tea from yer saucer and watching peoples faces, cold sea water on warm sockless feet, dancing with socks on on shiny wooden floors, pissing in the wind & upsetting the norm. Oh and watching Nick Clegg’s sudden realization that he really is shit.
6. Describe what you do?
I press record then bash the life out of junk drum kits, stamp on the nearest synth and shout noises on top of it all, that’s basically how I get the sound of Tramp Pop.
It’s my new elixir for life.
7. Whose hair would you like to have for just one day?
Margaret Thatcher – I’d booth it up good’n’proper then touch myself like only an Iron Lady could.
8. Best musical experience to date?
Debunking the often-held theory that you have to read music to make great music. I can’t read a note and pride myself on my vibrant colourful music that kicks in all the right places. If you can – great. But if you can’t – just feel it and fuck the rest.
9. What artist inspires you?
There are really so many, often its everyday people or artists working in a DIY way and not always in music but in life too. Musically I’d say Eels, Bobby Womack and Merz to name a few but if it was one artist it would be Damon Albarn, I like what he does and how he spreads it over many projects as he produces a wide range of music. If a lot of tunes come to you, you have to get them out of you – it’s good to share them and enjoy the whole process.
10. What does Fresh On The Net mean to you?
The lights are always on at Fresh On The Net Towers, always someone there to give you a helpful word of advice or a gentle supportive nudge in the right direction. I know first hand how hard it is to get your music covered in this music-maker heavy world. FOTN gives a little light and support to new music makers – and that’s to be cherished, I reckon.