TUNS are like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – except not at all

Monday 16th, January 2017 / 13:57
By Mike Dunn

Superfriendz, Inbreds and Sloan members play together for the simple joy of it.
Photo: Vanessa Heins

CALGARY — The label “supergroup” gets tagged onto any band whose members have been successful with other acts, but most often, the formation of such groups happens when old friends get together when they’ve got time away from their respective projects, and decide to make music with each other, drawing on their experience and friendship to create the chemistry a great band requires. For TUNS, including Matt Murphy of Superfriendz, Mike O’Neill of The Inbreds, and Chris Murphy of Sloan, putting a band together was simply an opportunity to reconnect with each other on a more regular basis, write some songs, and play together.

“It’s just fun,” says Matt Murphy over the phone from his home in Toronto. “We haven’t had a lot of opportunity in the last several years to all hang out together solidly, so it’s been really fun to reconnect in that way. There’s a part to making a band really fun that involves setting appropriate expectations for it. No one’s living or dying by this band, we’re not paying our rent by playing gigs with this band, so there’s very little pressure on what we’re doing, and that really creates an easygoing relationship for us.”

TUNS got together in 2015 to play together after the two Murphys backed up O’Neill at a Superfriendz reunion which Sloan was also a part of, and Chris Murphy suggested they get together and do it more often. “We just thought, ‘let’s get some songs together, and play some stuff that’ll be really fun to sing with each other,’” says Matt. “The humorous model would be like, Crosby, Stills, & Nash or something, but we didn’t set out to make a record like them. We wanted to keep it really simple as well as not adding a bunch of extraneous instrumentation. Chris even had a bit of a furrowed brow when I wanted to play acoustic guitar on a song.”

That simple and straightforward sound is instantly catchy, favouring some classic California pop vocal harmony, with a giddy bounce that feels like Big Star-flavoured Pop Rocks in a shaken up can of cola. The bass is softly overdriven with a midrange bite, which is a nice counterpoint to the slinky, high voicing clean guitars. The songs on their eponymous debut, released this past August, ring out with saucy hooks that nearly pogo out of the speakers. The beats, Murphy explains, were a result of Chris Murphy starting off the jams from behind the drum kit.

“Knowing each other for decades, to suddenly be standing in front of each other was giddy, and funny. It was surprisingly easy and fun. We don’t have a lot of experience in our other work where we create in front of other people. So Chris would start off with a beat, and from there, Mike or I would start to react to it. So there were a number of cases where the drums were the starting place for what the songs turned out to be.”

TUNS have already begun working on some new material, “Some louder stuff. Every time we rehearse, we spend a bit of time goofing around with riffs and we’ll come up with a bunch of new song ideas, or riffs.” The band is mostly happy though, says Matt, to be able to play together after years of being pals. “The way I look at it, it’s like the first time we ever played together. At that time, we had no idea that it’d be possible to be in a band that could tour. Everything that’s amazing with this band is that we’ve been able to do everything we’ve ever wanted to do with it so far. It’s been the best thing.”

TUNS perform at Dickens on Saturday, January 21st as part of the BIG Winter Classic.

BeatRoute Magazine January 2017 Alberta print edition cover.
Illustration: Tom Bagley

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