Tuffnel: Easy Riders.

19 August 2002 | 12:00 am | Matt Thrower
Originally Appeared In

Leaving On A Jet Plane.

Tuffnel launch Airport Mornings at Ric’s on Thursday night

“We’re both such big drinkers,” Anna Young, the singing half of Tuffnel, deadpans.

“Ric’s told us we were the only band they get that doesn’t use up the rider!” admits Kate Cooper, the guitarist half.

So while Tuffnel aren’t exactly Dandy Warhols in the excess stakes, they do have a fine EP to call their own. It’s entitled Airports Mornings, and this crisp acoustic duo will be launching the CD at Ric’s this Thursday night. The disc is a refreshing, uncluttered collection of acoustic, melancholic and lushly melodic pop music. It’s a slight variation from the Tuffnel live show, which essentially features Kate and Anna going it alone. Airport Mornings is dressed up slightly with subtle percussion, as well as a cello on Somewhere Else and piano and double bass on haunting closer Bent Neck. But Anna and Kate found that the structure of the songs didn’t have to alter to make way for this extra instrumentation.

“The songs didn’t change at all,” says Anna. “The musicians we had may have changed their individual parts, but they always managed to work around the songs without us having to change anything else.”

The result is a smooth, accomplished recording, never cluttered or overly busy in its arrangements.

“We recorded this with Jeff Lovejoy as producer,” explains Anna. “He’s a very rock ‘n roll kinda guy, but he liked the idea of working on something a bit different. He had some really good ideas.”

“He did want to rock it up a bit,” adds Kate.

“Yeah,” says Anna. “For Unintended (the EP’s opening track), he had three mixes, each one slightly more rock!”

Kate: “We talked him into using the “medium rock” version!”

Anna: “He said, “You should have gone with the full rockin’ version!” As it turns out, the Unintended you hear on the EP really isn’t THAT rock.”

The Tuffnel partnership came out of a full rock band, but Kate believes it was “like that old cliché, too many cooks! There were too many writers. But Anna and I found we liked writing together.”

The resulting duo has provided an extremely collaborative environment for the two songwriters, with both members contributing lyrics.

“It’s funny, because even though I’m the singer, I’ll sometimes be singing Kate’s lyrics,” observes Anna. “People will say to me after a gig, “Anna, that was just HARSH!” and I’ll be like, “No no no! It’s not about me! I didn’t write that!”

Kate has also started playing in another band, the more electric rock-based combo Iron On. This has provided Anna with the surreal opportunity of seeing her bandmate on stage from the audience’s point of view.

“I can tell her, “Don’t do that thing with the leg!” says Anna, laughing. “Yeah, it’s really fun watching her play.”

Following the CD launch, “a night of good music” promises Anna, the duo of Tuffnel are keen to keep busy. Kate is involved in the small indie label that released Airport Mornings, Ruth Street, which she describes as “hard work but fun”. And they’re already throwing ideas about for the follow-up recording. 

“We’d like to strip it down again next time over,” says Kate.

“Yeah, maybe make it a bit dirtier next time,” adds Anna. “Just lock ourselves in a room and go lo-fi. Just to show that smooth isn’t our only option.”