If you read the stories about ‘The Railway Prince Hotel’, it becomes clear quite quickly that reviewers find it difficult to interpret the music of Tullycraft.
When You Motor Away writes: ‘… His sweet spot is uptempo, melodic songs with large doses of wry humor delivered with punk energy. His lyrics paint concise scenes that often prompt us to think “hey, I’ve been in that situation”, but we never tell the story as well as Sean.’.
Dagger Zine says: ‘The lyrics are clever, the melodies are sneaky and let’s be honest, the only band that sounds like Tullycraft is Tullycraft.’.
Here Comes The Flood tries: ‘Their 7th album The Railway Prince Hotel is filled with upbeat, rambling garage tunes that will get many a listener spin the wrong foot. Is there something wrong with the rhythm? Well, no actually, but it’s a kind of free-flowing music, jagged and lo-fi while they take the piss at pretty much anything. Think a mix of XTC, The Velvet Underground, Jonathan Richman, and the Decemberists.’.
Maybe it’s easier to describe what it certainly is not.
‘Tullycraft’ is most probably the answer to the question ‘which band produces music that does not sound like ‘Meatloaf’ at all?’
And somehow they have been able to incorporate a small piece of ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’ into ‘Goldie and the Gingerbreads’.
‘The Railway Prince Hotel’ is Tullycraft’s seventh album, their first since 2013’s Lost in Light Rotation. This new batch of songs sees Sean Tollefson and Jenny Mears continue to share most of the vocal duties, while longtime musical stalwarts Chris Munford and Corianton Hale create most of the music.
Sean Tollefson explains.
For every song you record, how many end up in the bin?
Most of the songs we record get used, but not all of them. On this most recent album, we recorded 16 songs and 12 of them appeared on the record. On the last album, we recorded 13 songs and 11 of them made the album. So there’s usually not many songs that end up “in the bin” so to speak. Even then, the songs that don’t make it on the album usually see the light of day at some point. Although, a few years ago we recorded an exclusive song for a network television show, and it was cut from the show before in aired. For legal reasons almost no one has heard that song, which is too bad cause I think it’s pretty good.
When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?
Well, Tullycraft has never actually had “a hit” in the conventional sense. We have had a couple songs that a few people seemed to notice (i.e. “Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend’s Too Stupid To Know About” and “Twee”). The last time I was convinced I had written one of those songs was the day I wrote: “The Punks Are Writing Love Songs” (which appeared on the album Every Scene Needs a Center). I was sitting on the couch playing it on bass and I remember saying to my then girlfriend (now wife) Liz, “If Tullycraft every releases any sort of greatest hits record this song will most certainly be on there.” And that’s probably still true.
Which 5 records, that everybody forgot about, would define ‘our time’ on earth?
That’s a tough one, because ‘our time’ on earth (collectively) is probably best defined by the albums that we haven’t forgotten about (i.e. Purple Rain, London Calling, Power, Corruption & Lies…), but I can try and give you five ‘forgotten’ albums that best define my time on earth.
- New Bad Things – Freewheel! (1995)
- Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – Rockin’ and Romance (1985)
- Beat Happening – Jamboree (1988)
- Billy Bragg – Talking with the Taxman About Poetry (1986)
- The Lucksmiths – A Good Kind of Nervous (1997)
Recording music. What’s all the fun about?
I love the recording process! It’s my favorite part of being in a band. Playing music in front of people is great too, but after a while, it all started to feel the same to me. Shows and cities began to blur together. The routine of it all became a little tiresome. This might be why Tullycraft hasn’t performed in public since 2009. I love recording because the process allows you to create something that literally didn’t exist before you started. Creating something out of nothing is amazing! I love trying different recording techniques and pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone. We recorded the new album, The Railway Prince Hotel entirely different than we recorded past records. Much of it was improvised, which is something we hadn’t tried before. Sometimes the tracks we recorded were terrible, and we’d have to start over, while other times magic would occur, seemingly out of nowhere, and we’d track something great. It was an exciting experience in the studio for this album.
You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?
Frequently reviewers refer to our music as cute or funny which I’ve never quite understood. If another band that wasn’t already pre-labeled as “twee” recorded our same songs, I’m certain their music wouldn’t be called cute. Lyrically, sometimes our songs are sort of bleak, but since I have a tendency to drop in obscure music or pop culture references they are often called funny. Personally, I would prefer being called clever over funny but I can’t control how people perceive us. As far as the “twee” label goes, I gave up rejecting it years ago. At some point, I said to the band “if people want to call us twee, that’s fine, we will be the Kings of Twee!” In fact, one might argue that Tullycraft has sort of redefined what it means to be a twee band. Much of our music certainly doesn’t have what is thought of as a “traditionally twee” sound. The best compliment I ever heard said about our band was “Tullycraft sounds like Tullycraft.” Does that set our songs apart? I don’t know, maybe? But probably not.