Time And Function = Turnstyle

18 December 2015 | 4:46 pm | Bob Gordon

"I still don’t know what a C9 or a G#m7 is and frankly I don’t care."

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Describe the evolution of the return of Turnstyle and the release of a new album?

It seems a lot longer to everyone else, but we started working together again in 2010 but the atmosphere had to be ripe again for us to really step it up. After playing some shows in 2013, we immediately started getting songs ready for an album. There was always a plan to do something for our 20th anniversary.

It must be great that this includes Todd (Griffiths, bass) back in the fold?

Absolutely! Without him, Turnstyle lacked the loose canon, the missing link. When I was presented with the opportunity to invite him back to the fold, I didn’t hesitate. He is a very generous, thoughtful person and like all the friendships in this band, we communicate openly, visit each other and there’s a ban on Facebook Messenger!

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Were you conscious of writing 'Turnstyle' songs, or do you back away from that notion and just write/arrange for the songs themselves?

We don’t have to think about that. Once it’s in the Turnstyle blender it’s inevitably going to sound like us. I haven’t suddenly become a swinging blues guitarist or adept finger picker or anything. We don’t put in obvious harmonies, numerous complex chords or solos in where other bands would. I think we are defined more by what we don’t want to do than what we want to do.

What was the recording process like and how long did it take?

There were some exciting off-the-cuff sessions, particularly Todd’s – he doesn’t play it the same twice. On the whole it was fun, sometimes a little stressful when things didn’t work or problems with computers. I felt very responsible for this project so I tried to set up successes for the others. The process took about a year, culminating in some mixing and mastering in the UK with Andy Ramsay who was in Stereolab and one of my favourite drummers. Riding The Tube back and forth to the studio late at night, whizzing around London and having a night cap at a bar was a thrilling time for me. I didn’t think I’d be doing this at 40. I think about it all the time.

What songs do you feel hark back to the Turnstyle of yore in some way?

The first song off the album, Where To Begin, is a definite homage to our past. Lyrically and musically. The old quiet-loud-quiet-loud formula. There’s also a song called Walk A Mile which could have been on Turnstyle Country in 1999.

Which songs speak more directly of the Turnstyle of now?

The first two singles, Fast Wash and Time=Function, are a bit of a departure due to the singing being a bit different to how I used to sing when I was less confident. There’s a bit more heaviness all 'round. I have a song on the record called Throw Long, Belong which has an extended Brian Eno-style ending, that’s probably a bit of a departure for us too.

You were a bona fide national entity in the late '90s/early 2000s. Were you ambitious then or just enjoying the momentum as it built?

The only ambition was to make good albums like the bands we loved and play the best live gigs we could muster. We certainly didn’t sit around analysing ourselves and plotting a career. I resigned myself to the fact early on that I couldn’t cross over like Eskimo Joe or Jebediah headlong into the music business. So the fact that we were popular and people were asking us to tour and play big shows was a bonus. I played the Metro in Sydney to 1,700 people after playing guitar for three years. I was still learning. I think if I got sucked in and spat out after two years of big success I’d end up bitter and blaming everything but myself on the failure of my career. Life is hard enough already, without that extra burden.

Looking back as an experienced musician is there anything you'd tell 'Young Turnstyle' to do or to look out for?

Cliché coming up: follow you heart and your gut. I’ll proudly say the best decisions we ever made were made by us and some of the things that failed were the result of what the industry was telling us to do. I thankfully had positive experiences on the whole so that would be my only advice. I still don’t know what a C9 or a G#m7 is and frankly I don’t care.

With the album out, what are your plans and indeed hopes for it?

Just to get as many people as possible to listen to it really – same as always. Though now, things are different, and better for us. We don’t play a lot so reaching people via the internet is the perfect medium for us. We also hope to make some more videos and increase our online presence because such opportunities didn’t exist technologically for us in the past. That’s one of my favourite things about Turnstyle, we all have our strengths in videography, graphic design and social media so we are self-sufficient and checking in on each other. It can be draining and suck the fun out of it when you have to do it all by yourself or pay for someone to do it.

Turnstyle's new Time=Function video: