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RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW LEEDS BAND TILLERMAN

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

Shaun – It wasn’t a conscious choice. Music has always been an influence in my life and an interest. I knew the words to Led Zeppelin by the time I was 3 and my youth was filled with a wonderful soundtrack. I started guitar lessons at 7 years old. As pretentious as it sounds I don’t think you choose music. Many people are casual listeners but for some music is something that moves you in an intangible way. 

Jon – From 2 years old, I had an obvious talent for art. But I also had a fascination with music, writing little songs and poems. I remember when I was around 8 years old joining my dad for work one day. He was a sales rep at the time and we had a road trip to Nottingham. I remember vividly dissecting a Fleetwood Mac song and explaining why it was catchy, where the hooks were, and which vocals were moorish to listen to. I think the track was ‘Seven Wonders’. Eventually in my teenage years, the main outlet to express my creativity became music. I just felt for me, it was a more powerful medium. 

Introduce us to you / all to the members and your musical history?

Jon – Vocals

Tom – Drums and backing vocals

Iain – Bass guitar 

Shaun – Guitar.

Shaun – Our musical history as a collective spans the better part of 20 years. We’ve been playing together with breaks over that time through different guises. Jon and Tom are brothers. I worked with Jon when we were both students. Iain and Tom also worked together. 

Jon – As Shaun has said, chance and circumstance often bring people together. It does help having a brother (Tom) who is extremely talented, plays drums, piano and can sing. I’d been in a couple of bands prior to meeting Shaun, but I was only a singer, and not a very good one. I then learned to play rhythm guitar, I met Shaun, and then we just clicked. 

Name me your 3 favorite Albums.

Shaun – It’s so hard to narrow it down and it’s interchangeable depending on mood. 

Jeff Buckley – Grace 

John Coltrane – Love Supreme

The Verve – Urban Hymns 

Jon – I’m pretty eclectic to be honest, and often ridiculed for albums I confess to own. But I’m drawn to melody and mood. Here goes. . . 

Cast – All Change

Creed – Weathered

Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

Shaun – Not one song but a band. Led Zeppelin. I was fortunate to be brought up in a household where my parents enjoyed music. I knew the words to many of their songs by two years old. I remember taking a Led Zeppelin music book to my guitar teacher when I was 8 asking him to teach me that. 

Jon – ‘He ain’t heavy’ by the Hollies. Still to this day the opening harmonica sends chills down my spine and gives me goosebumps. At a young age, understanding that music can physically affect you, helped to drive a fascination with it. 

The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?

Shaun – It’s all about being realistic isn’t it. If I’m judging us against Adele then obviously we are not doing well at all. However one person from the other side of the world messaged to say they love our music and listen to it often. Knowing that personally every key moment of my life has a soundtrack I am so humbled to think that we may be a soundtrack to a time in someone’s life. So viewing it that way I’d say I’m over the moon. Nothing could be more rewarding than that as an artist.

Jon – We all have successful careers outside of music, I don’t play golf or the gym. Music is for me, the creative itch I have to scratch. Success in my eyes, is creating a body of work to look back on, be proud of, that will last forever. But to echo Shaun, if one of our songs affects one person emotionally, then that’s success also. ‘Hold me haunt me’ is one of our tracks that has really done just that. But it’s a song about loss, which I wrote in the light of losing my dad to cancer. Everyone knows grief, so it’s easy to connect with. 

I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?

Shaun – Tough one. We’ve come a long way. I’d say it’s not a question to be aimed at the music industry but more about change at a societal level.

Jon – To be honest, I’ve no idea how to answer that.

As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?

Shaun – Relentless, mind-numbing repetition of content is the only thing that works when marketing any product. Music is no different. There’s so much music available now that you have to work to be found.

Jon – Shaun just about sums it up. However I will add, I think for bands like ourselves, music videos get far more engagement, and we’ve definitely had more impact when we’ve released a single along with a video. There are so many outlets for video content, TikTok, insta, youtube reels and facebook.

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.

Shaun – have a jimi Hendrix tattoo

I have been featured in OK magazine 

I’m a long-distance runner

Jon – James Bond once bought me a drink. 

I’m a massive Shania Twain Fan

I was once abducted by Aliens

What’s your thought on Spotify monopoly on the music industry?

Shaun – You have to view Spotify for what it is. It is not a modern-day record shop. It is a marketing platform. You need to use Spotify as a way of creating a following and use its huge potential for reaching an audience that would have been impossible in years gone by for all but the biggest of artists. Spotify is a tool to be used to gain a following. Treating it as a record shop and hoping to receive a financial reward is missing the point I feel. For example, if you have a big enough following you could negotiate better financial terms but if you have no following you can’t. This has always been the case in the music industry for recording contracts and live venues. 

Jon – What Shaun said! 



Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories?

Shaun- Absolutely but in this day and age every single occurrence has a foil hat-wearing person giving an out their opinion.  

Jon – Yes, however, my mantra is, can you trust everything you hear on the TV? No! Can you trust everything you hear on YouTube? No! 

But if you live your life trusting no-one you’re going to end up in that tin foil hat hiding in your bedroom. The only thing I trust in is God. 

Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?

Shaun – About 100 pizza deliveries 

Jon – A milk ’frother’

What was the worst experience on stage?

Shaun – We’ve had all manner of technical faults but nothing is quite as horrible as being ill and having to play on.  

Jon – Driving 2 hours to a battle of the band’s heat in Birmingham where nobody turned up to watch. Anyway, we plugged in and played to 3 bar staff! Yeah, gigging doesn’t get any worse than that. That was quite a few years back to be fair. When we were young and stupid. 

Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about.

Shaun – think the level of geekiness that each of us has for music is surprising to anyone that isn’t a musician. It’s an obsession.

Jon – The band is comprised of two Christian’s, an Atheist and an Agnostic. That shouldn’t work, but it does. The amazing thing is, although we differ much on certain beliefs and opinions, we completely align musically and ‘get each other’. 

What makes you stand out as a band/artist?

Shaun – I think the music we make is a modern take on a classic era of British music. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel but I don’t think there are many bands out there today making music that harks back to that golden age of British pop in the 60s like we are.

Jon – As Shaun said, we’re just writing and playing stuff based on what we enjoy listening to and have listened to growing up. It just so happens, the stuff we’re doing now is kind of against the grain of most of the stuff out there.

I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.

Shaun – Hear Angels Cry is a song that means a lot to us. I think it encompasses a lot that we are as a band. Vocal harmonies, lyrical content, melody, hooks, musicianship. It’s all there. We are proud of this song.

Jon – It’s a song that definitely sums up our parts. Lyrically it’s a critique and lamentation on the state of the world we’re living in. The extreme left, the far right, godlessness, loss of free speech, I think it’s pretty apt for the time we’re living in. From a Christian perspective, I’m asking, what does God make of all this? Hence the song title. 

Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.

Shaun – We’ve spent so long playing together that we feel that making music that is honest to us is the most important thing. If you want to connect with anyone then that’s the starting block. When we write now it’s done so in a way that what comes out of each of us is true to us. There’s no wish to emulate or think stylistically.  

Jon – Songwriting-wise, Shaun came up with the chord sequence and the opening riff. Myself and Shaun really get each other mood-wise, so it was fairly easy to write the song we have over the top. Although, this version of Hear Angels Cry is not the original and we recorded it once before. The current chorus used to be the middle 8 and the middle 8 used to be the chorus. Also, we used to have a ridiculous (but well-written), heavy metal outro which we just had to drop in this new iteration. 

What was the recording process like?

Shaun – We work with Grant Henderson at Loom Studios Yorkshire. He organises and manages the whole recording process. We trust him implicitly as he understands us and gets the best from us. It’s so straightforward. We all have the same goal which is making the song as good as we can rather than showcasing individual ability.   

Jon – Grant is great, we’ve worked with a few producers over the years, but Grant really buys into the project at hand, and I suppose you could say he’s a 5th member musically as he offers so much. Process wise. We map out the track to a click with acoustic first. Then from there, we get a guide vox down, drums next, then usually the main lead vocals and harmonies then lastly base, and then lead guitar. 

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

Shaun – We’ve made all the mistakes over the years and the one truth we’ve learned is that music must be honest. That must be the starting block.

Jon – Just write what’s true to yourself, keep to your strengths, and believe in them. 

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

Shaun – Nothing at all. We are happy.

Jon – The release date! We should have put this out last year! 

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Shaun – As Bill and Ted say “be excellent”

Jon – John 3:16! 

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