the Tunics
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the Tunics

London, England, United Kingdom | MAJOR

London, England, United Kingdom | MAJOR
Band Rock Rock




"Albums – The Tunics - **** - BMG"

Indie guitar is alive and well. It’s easy to be cynical about the latest products to roll off the indie-guitar band production line, and if that’s how you choose to view The Tunics, then dismiss them as a more calculated upgrade of, guitarist/frontman Joe Costello’s favourite band, The Libertines, and move on. They prove there’s more to them than that over the course of this record, though, and their more introspective moments (Radio, Slaves Ride On These Waves and A Moment Of Clarity) reveal musical depth behind the in-yer-face bluster. From the deceptively complex, energetic riffery of Wit and Acid Tongue and Shadows, it’s clear they’ve built their sound on the solid bedrock of a well-drilled, dynamic live outfit. [BW]
Standout tracks: Radio, Slaves Ride On These Waves, Low, Stolen Hearts
For fans of: The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, Supergrass
- Guitarist (March 2011)

"The Tunics - Dabblers Handbook - BMG - ***"

Neo-skiffle newcomers. Big with German students

Any convictions regarding the diminished influence of The Libertines are comprehensively quashed by the Croydon quartet’s debut. Given their youth-vocalist/guitarist Joe Costello formed the band in 2006 when he was just 16-it’s easy to understand why they’re in thrall, but less easy to excuse. The Tunics have talent, as the Suade/Magazine-styled “Stolen Hearts” and plaintive, strings-bedecked “Radio” attest, which makes it all the more depressing that they’ve gone down the road of consensual UK indie rock (Cast, Oasis) for much of the rest of the album.

Sharon O’Connell
- UNCUT (April 2011)

"New band of the day - The Tunics (no 927)"

The guitar band is back. Well according to this Libertines-inspired indie outfit. Shame they sound like a great band doing an impression of a terrible one.

Hometown: Croydon.

The lineup: Joe Costello (vocals, guitar), Scott Shepherd (bass), James Booth (keyboards) and Simon Hargreaves (drums).

The background: There has been quite a lot of talk recently about the Return of the Band, and certainly there are significant new ones – and that’s not an artistic judgment, just a prediction about their impending commercial fortunes – most notably Brother, Mona, and the Vaccines. But it’s hardly the case that there’s been a band drought these past few years. Remember the Strokes and the White Stripes? The Libertines? Franz Ferdinand? Arctic Monkeys? Yes, there has been a preponderance of soul girls and synth duos, and in terms of the focus of the music press a lot of attention has gone on urban and grime acts, on musicians who broadly speaking fit more in the electronic (a) category than the indie-guitar one. But does the balance need redressing that urgently?

The Tunics-like Mona, the Vaccines and Brother-believe so. “ GUITAR BANDS ARE BACK!” proclaims their press release, bemoaning the fact that 2010 has apparently been “dominated by synths and sampling”, adding that 2011 will be “the year the guitar bands come back fighting to reclaim the land the synths stole momentarily”.

Meanwhile, their frontman Joe Costello has vowed to lay his part in this battle for musical justice, his intention being to bring back “good old guitar songs”, declaring: “ Not to be too overblown about the whole thing but we’re ready for a proper fucking guitar band with actual songs. I think that’s what the world needs.” Wonder what he’ll come up with when he does say something overblown?

If nothing else, the Tunics and Brother have signaled the return of indie bigmouths who talk themselves up something rotten in interviews. Cotello, like Brother’s Lee Newell, is prone to making the sort of swaggering su-shines-out-of-our-behinds/we-are-the-resurrection statements not heard since the heydays of Ian Brown and Liam Gallagher.

Question is, does the music back up the chat? Well, it does if trad indie – and the Tunics are proudly upholding trad indie values – is your bag. Costello was 16 when he was inspired to form a band called the Tunics after learning that his all-time hero Pete Doherty used to wear them a lot. You can learn a lot about Costlello and his outfit from this misplaced delification of junkie buffoon Doherty and hi merry band of overrated minstrels because that’s who the Tunics’ punky skiffle most resembles. There are nods to other groups – the “shee-ii-ne” in their song Shine On is vowel-stretching in Liam’s league while You Already Knew is Oasis-ish bluster.
Some of the time they sound like a great band doing an impression of a terrible one – on Berlin they make us think of Magazine ripping their way through a Cast song. It’s not all mediocre jingle-jangle: on occasions Costello employs a pleasing Devoto/Shelley sneer over the snarling sonics, and they play a mean (mellow) ballad: Radio is wan acoustica worthy of Nick Drake. Like that other Liverpudlian band, the Beatles, the tunics have, ahead of any fame back home, accrued a sizeable following in Germany where they are currently at No 4 above Kanye West with a pre-release of their debut album Dabblers Handbook (a title with Doherty’s witless smirk all over it) and they regularly play 2,000-capacity venues there. This week we learned that Cast’s 1995 album All Change was the biggest-selling in the label’s history, ahead of the Who, Hendrix and the Jam. In which light, fully expect the Tunics to outsell everyone on BMG, ever, in 2011.

The buzz: “Listen to the music, Invade the stage, and go love the Tunics as much as we do..” BBC

The truth: retro and in hock jangle-pop past and present they may be, but we already prefer the Tunics to anything Pete Doherty’s ever done.

Most likely to: wear tunics

Least likely to: Use synths

What to buy: The album Dabblers Handbook is released by BMG on 7 March

File next to: Cast, Libertines, the Bluetones, Brother.


Friday’s new band: Starlings

- Paul Lester
- The Guardian (December 2010)

"Ones to Watch The Tunics"

Already hailed by any as the musical savours who will usher in Britpop’s second coming, The tunics are a Croydon four-piece who write straight, guitar-based indie songs. While it’s traditional for our as-yet lesser-known acts to be big in Japan, The Tunics are actually huge in Germany, where they holed up in Berlin to recod their forthcoming second album, Dabblers’ Handbook. Singer Joe Costello cites The Libertines as a formative influence, one which can be heard in The Tunics’ tuneful, jangly indie and in his droll, emotionally open and at times socially acerbic lyrics. With Costello joined by Scott Shepherd on bass, James Booth on keyboards and Simon Hargreaves on drums, the record’s first single, Low, is a perky but poignant depiction of love’s frustrations with a catchy chorus. With their collection of witty and gritty tracks, The Tunics might find themselves riding high on the wave of the synth backlash predicted for 2011.

Amy Dawson

Low will be released Monday on BMG.
- Metro (December 2010)

"The Tunics ‘ Dabblers Handbook’ (BMG)"

It was back in 2008 when the Tunics first burst out of Croydon. Channeling the zeitgeist created by the likes of the Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines, their erudite and socially aware songs displayed an intelligence often lacking within that bandwagon. Three years later, there’s a wonderful sense of nostalgia that permeates their sophomore album. Songs like the gentle ‘Radio”, the I Am Kloot-esque ‘Slaves Ride On These Waves’ and the upbeat, angular shadows create a wonderful sense of English melancholy and romanticism. It’s slightly erratic-‘Shadows’ is somewhat clunky and clichéd – but this is an accomplished and enjoyable second record.

The Fly March 17th 2011


Mischa Pearlman
- The Fly (March 2011)

"The Tunics Dabblers Handbook (BMG) ***"

The Tunics will be big, there’s little doubt about that, partly because their sound hooks itself upon a faintly predictable roll call of classic acts from The Verve to The Libertines and Oasis
What they do with these influences is less uninspired however: ‘Low’ has a gospel-like glow to it, walking the line between regret and strutting resurgence. On ‘I’m Broke You’re Bored’ singer Joe Costello can’t work out if he wants to be tender and intimate or arrogant and whiny, but he does at least see through a memorable tune come chorus-time. Later, the cinematic strings which bring closer ‘Dear God’ to a close suggest that there’s ambition to these chaps which, though sometimes evident on ‘Dabblers Handbook’. May yet contain untapped reserves.
T Bone Jones
- Artrocker (April 2011)

"New Blood - Tunics"

“ Forget Shoreditch, Brooklyn, Silverlake and Berlin, Tunics look set to put Croydon on the map”

words: Toby Rogers

Great cities give rise to great music. The skylines of New York, Liverpool, London and Los Angeles sweep across post-war pop’s finest moments. But few, if any, places have a soundtrack to rival Berlin’s. From David Bowie to U2, Bertolt Brecht to Iggy pop, some of the most innovative musicians have found inspiration in the once-divided German capital.
Now it’s the turn of Croydon four-piece the Tunics. Decamping to the city’s eastern industrial bloc to work on ‘Dabbler’s Revenge’, the band have even released ‘Low’, a single that shares its title with David Bowie’s 1977 avant-rock Meisterwork. “ It’s about desperation,” explains lead singer Joe Costello. “ The idea was to tap into the psyche of someone on the periphery of modern celebrity, stirring for any kind of attention, willing to do or say anything to achieve that”
The Tunics aren’t a band to shy away from the limelight. Formed in 2006 when cocksure teenager Costello booked a gig for his non-existent band, they’re fuelled by the desire to do what The Libertines do, minus the drug addictions, petty crime and infighting. “ As a whole the band is influenced by anybody with something to say”, Costello continues. “ The Beatles, Dylan, Cohen, Radiohead, Blur. Names like Led Zeppelin, The Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine…There’s four people in the band. We coild go on forever.”
Not unlike another, more familiar, Fab Four, The Tunics have worked hard to find themselves in the position of emerging next big things. They released their debut ‘Somewhere In Somebody’s Heart” in 2008 before cutting their live teeth on tours with Bombay Bicycle Club and Nada Surf. “ We like to keep things fairly raw,” Costello says, when asked about his band’s approach to writing and recording. “ Rather than bogging ourselves down and trying to pull the wool over people’s minds.”
If 2011 does indeed mark the return of raw rock’n’roll, then The tunics are right there in the trenches, smashing synths to bits with their Britpop-infused indie-rock. “We’d quite like to take over the world,” Costello concludes, with a self-belief that echoes gobby forebears Ian Brown and Liam Gallagher. “Failing that, it’s just be nice to be able to keep writing and releasing albums, and as long as we’re still cared about in a few years time we’d be content.”
S assured slice of neo guitar-pop that looks to the future as much as it references the past, ‘Dabbler’s Revenge’ is an album guaranteed to inspire feverish fandom.
Contentment won’t be a problem.
- Artrocker (March 2011)


Dec 2007: single - 'Cost Of Living' (b-side Tonight) - digital and 7" vinyl - Manta Ray Music

March 2008: album - 'Somewhre In Somebody's Heart' - limited edition album - Manta Ray Music

Dec 2010: single - 'Low' - digital - BMG

March 2011: album - 'Dabblers' Handbook' - digital and physical release in UK and GSA - BMG



the Tunics is a story that takes us from the suburban depths of Croydon, through the fantastical underbelly of British grot’n’roll, on through East Berlin and finally, in the future to a fantasy endgame where rock’n’roll is saved – but also that might just involve a post-apocalyptic Britain where a secret police force roam suburbia. But worry about that bit later.

In 2009 they put out a well-received debut, ‘Somewhere In Somebody’s Heart’, further cut their live teeth on tours with Bombay Bicycle Club and Nada Surf, performed across Europe from Madrid to St.Petersburg and jumped into the music-tank of festivals sharing stage with the likes of Passion Pit and Florence and the Machine.

Two years of touring the UK and Europe with the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club and Nada Surf, playing at T in the Park, and continuous songwriting and experimentation have taught them a few lessons, and resulted in a more secure, yet somber, band. Out with the indie pop riffs, and in with a fuller, more ethereal sound that retains the powerful, elegant lyrics that are meant to entertain, perplex, and spark meaningful thought.

The Tunics returned to unveil their thrilling second act. They decamped to Berlin to record their second album with producer Ed East. The studio, out in the wilds outside the city, saw them spend an intense month, walking 15 minutes to the studio each day barely seeing another human being. That isolation ramped up the intensity of a collection of songs that were already boasting more widescreen, romantic, ever-so-slightly gothic longing.

The result is the hypnotic ‘Dabbler’s Handbook’, a record that sees them retain their rock’n’roll blueprint but expand it into something more ambitious, expansive and ethereal. Product of a more serious and mature band that has reined in and honed its raw, bursting talent.

LIVE: The Tunics have played all over Europe, from St.Petersburg to Madrid, shared festival stages with the likes of Florence and the Machine, Passion Pit and Hockey and toured with Bombay Bicycle Club, Nada Surf, O'Children and the most recently Cage the Elephant.

"Retro and in hock to jangle-pop past and present they may be, but we already prefer the Tunics to anything Pete Doherty's ever done" Paul Lester ("Band of the Day" - the Guardian)