Interview – Tragicomics

Tragicomics © Louis Garbutt

Indie Midlands: How would you describe the Tragicomics sound to new listeners?

Tragicomics: Dynamic, intricate and melodic country-flavoured rock. Sweeping orchestration meets gritty rock meets fingerpicked confessionals. Hopelessly romantic and occasionally fatalistic. Sincere and cynical. Honest to a fault.

Indie Midlands: What’s the background of your recent release – ‘Stranger Things’?

Tragicomics: It’s a song about paralysis, really. Paralysis through indecision; waiting around for a change to come, and being unwilling – or unable – to make that change yourself. But it’s also a playful, slightly daft country song. It fell out almost intact, as all the best songs do, and then we worked it up as a band into a more elaborate piece. It was recorded at Pinhole Studios in Manchester during the same session as ‘Hopeless Romantic’, our last single, and represents our first time working with lovely mixing man Adam Gorman.

Indie Midlands: Can you describe the narrative behind the music video?

Tragicomics: We’re lucky that we’ve been able to work with talented artists in all kinds of media outside music, and ‘Stranger Things’ was no exception. We came across a filmmaker online called Maria Norris and absolutely loved her style, so approached her about potentially doing the music video. She was fantastic and got the vibe straightaway; she suggested using a combination of archive footage, stop motion animation and video effects to create a slightly eerie collage of vintage Americana. It really fits with the style of the song but also the panic and fear lurking under the surface; it’s a jaunty tune, but the narrator is terrified.

Indie Midlands: Since 2017, you’ve released an array of music on your Spotify: which album/track was your favourite to make?

Tragicomics: I think we love them all dearly but in different ways, especially because they were all born of such different times. For example, for our first album, ‘Old Songs for the New Celibacy’, I recorded most of the parts myself so that will always be kind of special to me. It’s cliche but I think we’d all agree that the last few songs we’ve recorded at Pinhole are probably our favourites, including ‘Stranger Things’. The instrumentation and arrangements are much more complex and we got to try out lots of old gear in the studio, adding layers and exploring tones.

Indie Midlands: Do you think the North West has shaped your music taste?

Tragicomics: Undoubtedly. I don’t think you get to decide that for yourself, it just happens. But that’s not to say we’re constrained by our roots. It’s hard to live in Manchester and escape the shadow of Oasis, The Smiths, Joy Division etc. Same with Liverpool and the Beatles. It’s meant we’ve all been exposed to music and the love of music from a really young age. You’re surrounded by music up here.

Indie Midlands: What’s surprised you about your fan base?

Tragicomics: Fewer of them use Spotify than I expected. Also I guess it’s maybe not that surprising, but I’m always pleased when somebody says they are a fan but that they ‘don’t really like country music’. I mean, they clearly are a bit, so maybe it’s more about their associations with what country is or should be. It’s nice to subvert expectations like that.

Indie Midlands: Do you have plans for a future release – can we have any teasers?

Tragicomics: We’ll be dropping another single very soon. It’s probably the most ambitious song we’ve ever written. It’s called ‘Dinosaur’ and may or may not be about an extinct group of diverse reptiles (it’s not).

Nat Greener