The Big Issue – August 05, 2019

(Kiana) #1

20 | BIGISSUE.COM 05-11 AUGUST 2019


letterto my

younger self.



t 16I hadoutgrownthatperiodofgoingtotheparkon
I waslisteningtoa lotofmusic.Rave and drum‘n’bass
and Oasis. Oasis was my gateway into different kinds of
guitarmusicand then I started to get into psychedelic music. I became
fascinatedbythe psychedelic world, that kind of abandonment. I saw a
link between that and the rave community, Tribal Gathering, that kind
of thing. There wasn’t much to do in Leicester though. Lots of people
got excited about ‘going into town’ but that bored the hell out of me. I
didn’t care about anything except music. I felt pretty strongly that, oh
yes, I’ve found it, the thing I want to do. Amazing times.

I had to be savvy about things like the older lads and the fucking
local lunatics who’d single me out because of my Italian name.
And I had that big hair. But I didn’t cut it off, even though I knew, shit,
I’m getting it. Back seat of the bus, you know what I mean? People
throwing stuff at you. So I had to be streetwise. And I felt I didn’t quite
fit in. I was part of the group but I was also always a bit on my own.
When I was a kid I’m sure I was saying to my mum, what the fuck, why
did you call me that? Why couldn’t I just be Tony? Then when I got older
I got into Sergio Leone films, then Serge Gainsbourg, and eventually I
thought, actually, I’m good with this.

If you met the 16-year-old me you’d see a boy who was... shy,
definitely shy. Always observing. Not holding court, just sitting
quietly in the corner watching. Introverted, though that would
change if we became friends. But inside I was also full of confidence,
this energy, which came from nowhere really, just this feeling in the air
at that time of Britpop and this British art boom. It felt like Britain was
exploding with energy. I felt like I was gonna be in a band and take on
the world.

The gang thing is so important to our band. Having my boys. Sticking
together through it all. There’s something amazing about that. We
managed to find personalities who blended really well. We all knew
our jobs and there were no power struggles. It’s so like a relationship.
We’ve been on this journey for 20 years, from joy to disappointment to
ecstasy. And we still have that ‘the band comes first’ mentality. Like we
have to honour the band. And that total commitment – that’s actually
in the sound.

It would amaze the 16-year-old me that he got to make more than
one album. That was the dream, just that. I suppose if I told him that
one day he’d headline Glastonbury, his head would explode. But
then again, thinking about him now, he’d probably just say, yeah, of
course I’m gonna do that. He was innocent, full of that fucking mental
attitude. And I’d be like, mate, you do not understand how hard it is to
get to that point. And he’d be like, don’t worry, it’ll be fine. And I’d go,
listen, 0.1 per cent of bands get to do that. It’s only when you get to the
top of the mountain that you look back and say, wow, that was a long
old journey.

If I could go back and give myself advice... I suppose in the mid-2000s
I sort of strayed from the path of knowing that making the art is the
important thing. There were a few years of complete and utter excess.
But I defy anyone at that age not to... destroy themselves in some
way. So there’s half a feeling of telling my younger self, you might
want to think about that period. And half a feeling of, that was kind of
incredible. If you’re an artist and you’re an explorer maybe you have to
go to these places. So I don’t know if I’d change it, I really don’t know.

I got my head together after that period of excess. I just thought,
right, you’ve done that now. Partying is great but it had started
interfering with what I wanted most. It was like a proper realisation

  • it’s making music that will make you happy. So I moved back to
    Leicester, got my studio sorted [‘The Sergery’] and I went there and
    just created every day, working on our third record, West Ryder [Pauper
    Lunatic Asylum]. I was waking up every day thinking, this is what it’s
    really all about. And that kept me away from all the madness.

Becoming a dad had a profound effect. Everything just became much
clearer. There was a point to everything. Once you see this little thing,


2016 With bandmate Tom
Meighan during a surprise
set at Leicester City’s Premier
League-winning parade

2014 On The Big
Issue cover with
pal Noel Fielding

2018 With wife
Amy White at his
Daft Apeth art
exhibition in London



ce Griffiths/Getty Images


David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images
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