Interview: Ten Tonnes


Words & Photos: Gary Lambert

Ten Tonnes has been a favourite of Popped Music for quite some time, so getting an interview with him in the dressing room of Manchester’s Deaf Institute brought about quite a bit of friendly jealousy and gifs of fist bumps from the team. After meeting him, I can comfortably say that the indie pop diamonds that he releases are perfectly reflective of him. He is such a nice guy that his pleasant nature is a borderline superpower.

Surprisingly for someone who was that very morning announced as playing at Reading and Leeds Festivals for the fourth year in the row, this short tour of the UK is his first ever headline tour. In fact, the previous night’s gig in Glasgow was his first headline show outside of London. When I expressed my surprise, Ethan’s response “it felt like a long time coming, and I love playing Glasgow. King Tut’s is such an amazing venue, legendary. When I’ve been on support tours, everybody plays Glasgow so I’ve got to meet and check in with lots of people over the years. But it’s nice to see that they are listening to you, and when you play your own show they are there for you. It can be a bit difficult when it’s your own show, but luckily there were people there so it was all good.”

As much as Ten Tonnes is focused on the here and now, there is a very big date coming up for him shortly which looms heavy on the horizon…. The release of his debut album, Ten Tonnes, which is due to be released on 3 May 2019 – which is a bit later than the previous plan for the long player. “Originally it was due to come out last year at some point, but we didn’t quite have the songs together so I said there was no point in putting out something that’s half-arsed so decided to write a bit more and produce the songs a bit more to see if we got something better. Which we did”. There is a simple confidence in that. It is obvious in three short words that Ten Tonnes is going to be an album that meets expectations and entertains the masses quite comfortably.

It has been a learning curve too about the machinations of the music industry as, despite the delay, the album has been ready since September. “I have been so impatient over it. I’ve been just put it out now, but I understand the process a lot more now. And it seems that the process is working as everything is going really well. But I’m just excited now to get it out and for people to hear it

“The album for me has always been the big thing. Even before I was signed, and when I was getting signed, recording an album was what I really wanted to do. The only question I wanted to be answered was ‘can I put an album out?’ as it’s all that I’ve ever wanted to do. Even as a kid I always loved buying albums rather than singles. It’s what I’d spend my pocket money on. Anything beyond the album is just a Brucie bonus”

I had to ask at that point what his first album was. For the record, mine is the completely uncool Code Red by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince (yes, Will Smith’s album before he was big enough to use Will Smith to drag in the punters). “Well I remember when I was about seven getting Queen Platinum Collection (note – that’s the combination of Queen’s three Greatest Hits albums), and then I got a Sugababes CD. But the first one I bought for myself was Help by The Beatles”. If the Sugababes album was Angels With Dirty Faces then it’s no wonder that he writes such great pop songs as that album is a pure banger. I suppose The Beatles released a few good pop hits too.

Obviously with his audience-pleasing style of music and the fact that there is an album to plug, it’s an easy guess that Ten Tonnes will be very busy this festival season. “At first there wasn’t a single festival in the diary, and I was panicking and on my manager’s back about it constantly, but now it’s filled up a lot. I was announced this morning for Reading and Leeds for the fourth year in a row which is just nuts when you think about it. I don’t get complacent about it even with it being the fourth year. I just get excited seeing it in the schedule. It still feels amazing actually”.

We got on to the subject of Ten Tonnes sounding like a band, but being a solo artist – which is something that I had to bring up as I was definitely one of those people who could not get their head around it. “Yeah, you’re not the only one. Because my music sounds more like band music than a solo artist and I’m working in a genre that is constantly dominated by bands. But I don’t mind it as I see it in the same way as Tom Petty and Elvis Costello in that they were solo artists with backing bands, just I don’t have “and The…” at the end of my name”. My suggestion of Ten Tonnes and The Grams was rejected due to creating unwanted connections. I can see why…

I was lucky enough to watch Ten Tonnes late last year supporting George Ezra at Liverpool Guild of Students, so I thought it might have been a bit of a comedown playing in small rooms, but this lad has his head too screwed on for that. “To be honest, I keep on looking at photos on my phone of when I was playing open mic nights and I can’t believe that I’ve reached this point. But it’s also great coming back now to cities I’ve played before but doing it under my own name. Here I’ve played twice before, but now it’s for me”.

After his interview with Popped Music, the next media event for Ten Tonnes was an interview live on radio with Chris Evans on the breakfast show the next morning. It really shows the position this young gentleman is in right now. There’s a good chance his career is going to skyrocket as he has everything in his locker so to speak. If he does, you wouldn’t begrudge him, and he might just take Dave Grohl’s Nicest Man in Rock title.

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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