Tenacity: Live Music is Back! (For Now)

Last Saturday I was invited to a gig at The Amersham Arms in New Cross by London band Tenacity, who were about to play their very first gig since the start of lockdown in the UK.

This was one of the very first gigs I had been to myself post-lockdown and sitting back in a venue was strange to say the least.

Tenacity met while studying together at The BRIT School in South London, formed of band members Ula Wodarz, Tim Burghaus, Daniel Lazenby and Simba Jindu, despite being locked inside for several months, they certainly haven’t lost their ability to put on a show. Though sat at tables spaced a meter apart, their sold-out audience gave phenomenal praise to these incredibly skilled young musicians and their very sophisticated style of music. The band love playing around with loop pedals and synthesizers which this band have used to truly develop their own original sound.

The distance between members of the audience most certainly did not diminish the atmosphere of the room once the band began playing, and although I love a good mosh pit, this time it was nice by the end of the night not to be covered in beer.

Distanced crowds at The Amersham Arms

At 10 pm, as the rules state, it was kicking out time for bars. Standing outside in the lashing-down rain, I spoke to two members of the band, singer and keyboard player Ula and guitarist Daniel, along with their manager, Alessia and a few of their close friends, all of who were back out at their very first gig in seven months!

We spoke a bit about how they found getting back on stage and their thoughts on how this year has changed the music industry.

How does it feel now to be back on stage?

Ula: It felt great, I mean we were a little scared because it was a new set up and we were playing loads of new songs, I thought ‘oh no what if I’ve completely forgotten what it’s like to perform in front of people? But it felt really good.

Dan: I wasn’t so worried about the technicalities, I thought ‘you know we’ve rehearsed this, this is fine.’ But going up there I suddenly felt like I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to do when people look at me, it was quite unusual having all that attention on you again. We’ve been doing so much online and so much in our room that it felt really weird… but weird in a good way.

What have you guys been up to over lockdown?

Ula: We’ve been working on the new album which we were meant to record and release over the summer, but because of Corona we weren’t able to go to the studio and record so we were just writing loads and loads of new songs. We’ve got twice as many songs as we need for the album so we’ve been polishing those demos. We made a website, we made merch, so we’ve just been trying to do as much as we can from home.

Was it weird playing a gig with the audience spaced out like that?

Dan: Honestly for me, it felt quite good really because that’s the best the promotors can do in this situation, there’s not much else you can do but they still managed to retain the real-ness and authenticity of live music without breaking the rules, the promoters did a very good job.

Can you see this being able to continue or do you think there may be another point in the near future where you won’t be able to gig?

Ula: I think that’s very possible, we can’t really tell, obviously we love to play live and play as much as we can and we hope there will be more events like that happening but no one knows for sure, so we’ll see.

Talking of strange gigs, what was the worst gig you’ve ever played?

Dan: Oh my – wow – there’s been a few…

Ula: There were quite a few where the lineups were very strange, where the artists were say for example an indie singer with a guitar, then a metal band, then us who are pop-rock then some guy with a banjo… we’ve had some gigs that nobody came to also, it’s been quite a journey, especially at first. There was a time in the beginning where we were just playing so many gigs that our friends said ‘sorry we don’t have money left to buy tickets.’

Whats the best way to prepare for one of these gigs?

Ula: Well, for this one we’ve been rehearsing for the past two weeks every day, even just sitting in our rooms practising our parts, dress rehearsals in our rooms at home so that I wouldn’t trip over my heels or trousers on stage.

At this point, the bouncer came out of the venue and pushed us away straight into the rain, where I continued the conversation with the band’s manager, Alessia.

This is the strangest interview I’ve ever done, hello you must be Alessia. So what’s it like managing a band at this time?

Alessia: It can be really challenging, I have to think about and create new ways to promote them and new ways to do all sorts of stuff, but at the same time it’s also exciting, I mean we have so much technology to make use of.

How did you feel as a manager seeing them go back on stage?

Alessia: I was really proud, really happy to see them back up there after all this time.

In six weeks time, where do you hope you’ll see the band?

Alessia: Hopefully back on a stage again, but if that’s not going to happen, on as many blogs and in as many press articles as possible.

So right now as a band, do you feel very home-made?

Dan: I think in the last seven months particularly yeah, I think that we do a lot for ourselves, I mean we’ve very lucky to have Alessia now who’s helping us out with managerial things, but prior to that we were just trying to push ourselves in every way that we could, we were sending out a lot of emails and sending out applications for festivals and things like that, so I think that we’re kind of making our own way, and as I say we’re lucky to have our manager too.

Do you think your generation has missed out because of lockdown when it comes to the opportunities available?

Dan: I think that in a sense we’re lucky because we have more of a chance now to been seen than in the past, but in the same sense there are so many people doing music right now and struggling, and the algorithms today don’t really work in the favor of small artists. We’re kind of in the thought process of a music video right now, we’ve written a lot of songs over lockdown so we’re just kind of figuring out what to do with those. We recorded our last music video over lockdown in my bedroom, luckily we had someone clever enough to make it look good.

Ula: I think it will affect every band but not in a bad way, yes you’re not able to perform at the moment but this is a really good time to write and be creative, stuff you wouldn’t have time for if all your energy was focused on playing gigs.

If 2021 ended up being the same as 2020 and lockdown went on into the new year, do you could survive as a band and would your audience still be able to support you?

Dan: I feel like life goes on, and honestly in a way it sucks but the thing is; if you don’t carry on what are we going to do with our lives? If things get bad and you just stop and mope about it, yes it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to be upset, but you mustn’t let it stop you. That’s very hard sometimes, but in the end, we have to persevere because if we don’t and live music doesn’t then what are we gonna do?

Leah: I think we’re all creative as well, we’re all good at adjusting to weird situations, we improvise, and also because music is our lives so we don’t have a choice not to do it, as musicians, we’ll find a way around anything.

Left to right: Leah and Charlie (guests and friends of the band), manager Alessia and her boyfriend Federico, Ula and Dan from Tenacity – taken after their (very soggy) interview for TWM.

Thanks so much to the band being open about how lockdown has affected them and for inviting me along to their phenomenal gig. I look forward to going back to see them in future. You heard it here first folks, their new album is in the works, but if you can’t wait that long check out Tenacity on YouTube right now.

SET LIST:

  1. Doubt Me
  2. There/Gone
  3. False Warning
  4. 410
  5. Drone Chords
  6. Way To Know
  7. Nothing Else
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