“It’s great when anyone likes your music, I guess it’s always a surprise” says Camille Benett, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist of upcoming rock four-piece TEAR. “You just make stuff that you like and you feel and then don’t really think about anyone else liking it. I’ve always loved bands that everyone I knew hated, so I just assume that’s how it’s supposed to be. When people hate it, then you’re doing something right.”
TEAR are clearly not out to please. The London band have been cutting through the fray with their grungey garage rock sound, so much so that it caught the attention of big-haired Charlatan Tim Burgess who signed the band to his record label O Genesis. “He’d heard some music I’d made and wanted to put it out,” says Benett. “When we first were getting together as a band we went up to Big Mushroom – the Charlatans Studio – and he produced some tracks with us that are on the record.” The record is question is their debut outing Vinyl01, a mini-album, or – as Bennet prefers – two EPs. “The first side [of Vinyl01] is really garagey and sometimes has this fairground carnival sound, then the second side is more moody and a bit spookier, angrier too. I think! I don’t know how you talk about your own music!”
Since they first dropped ‘Beautiful’ last year, TEAR’s output has been enveloped in the alternative music of the 90s with a penchant for Americana, the echoes of Smashing Pumpkins and Hole anchoring their sound – but never fear; you don’t think the band would be forgetting their homegrown scene, would you? “Queen Adreena were a band from Camden that we used to see around when we were walking home from school and go to their gigs with other Camden bands like Rachel Stamp. The way they looked and performed was so incredible but they were also local and accessible, which in my teenage head was totally mind-blowing.
“When I was at school, there was a girl in the year above who loved Nirvana and Hole and I was so impressed by her, then when I went to buy a record by Hole the only thing they had in the shop at the time was My Body, The Hand Grenade, which is the Hole rarities album. That girl didn’t have it, so it kind of made me cool for half a second. It’s still one of my favourite albums; the title, the artwork the songs are all perfect.”
It was Benett’s love of Hole and the concept of the fabled American dream that led her to Hollywood. “An idea that I’m really pre occupied with is that of trying to be something and having dreams that you never reach. L.A encapsulates this to me, and the light there is so particular, filtered through that weird haze with the shimmer of pollution.” This combination of beauty and grime helped inspire the video for ‘The Sprawl’, which was shot at a dingy L.A motel by Benett’s friend and collaborator Juju Sorelli. “We were looking at films like Lost Highway and Wild at Heart so we just wanted it to be really dark and weird,” Benett explains, referencing surrealist Lynchian melodrama. “[Sorelli] had filmed there before. You have to pay through a tiny slit in a window and there’s a pool right by the side of the road that someone drowned in recently. Juju and I were driving up and down Mulholland with me hanging out the top of the car to get the night road shots, we saw a coyote, but got too excited and didn’t film it. We managed to get a lot of wildlife in the ‘Careless Again’ video though.”
It is the combination of hyper-real nostalgia and feral naivety that makes TEAR’s output compelling and you can hear all of these noisy influences in tracks including ‘The Sprawl’ and the aforementioned ‘Beautiful’, but with their most recent single ‘Careless Again’ they decided to change tack… sort of. “I write a lot of songs like this, this is just the only one that they let me record! If I could, everything would be acoustic with harps and cellos, but no one lets me do that. Actually I’m lying to myself, I can only cope with a few minutes before the guitars and drums kick off, and that’s basically what happens in “Careless Again.’”
And as a whole, the band hold a completely varied set of influences, more of which you can discover below. “I think they’re all in there, in their own strange way,” notes Benett. “We definitely wear our Fleetwood Mac on our sleeve and sometimes I only listen to (80s gothic punks) Sisters Of Mercy for days on end. I’m sure it all ends up in the music one way or another.”
TEAR’s mini-album Vinyl01 is out on 17th March.
Below the band share what artists inspired them to pursue music…
The Cramps – ‘The Way I Walk’ at Napa Mental Hospital
“Somebody told me you people are crazy, but I’m not so sure about that,” so says Lux Interior at the start of the video. I don’t know what led up to this gig being organised but any latent cynicism is sidelined by the atmosphere in the room. I feel like this video helps me grasp something of what is so important and great about music. I want all gigs to feel like this.
Frank Zappa – ‘Joe’s Garage’
Somehow Franks Zappa’s satire of being in a band is liberating . Zappa can really clear the airways when the trappings of music get in the way of making it.
INXS – ‘Need You Tonight’
I love the innocent kookiness of this, mixed with the brazen sensuality of Michael Hutchence and these amazing late-80s/early 90s layering effects. Such a great time for music videos.
Queen Adreena – ‘Pretty Like Drugs’
Camden Town was the epicentre of my musical education as a kid. Queen Adreena at the Barfly were scary and sexy and DIY-messy and beautiful. Like this video.
Sisters Of Mercy – ‘This Corrosion’
Best video ever. Ultimate goth chic! I remember first seeing this video and thinking I wanted to be Patricia Morrison. The song still works live, I’ve seen the Sisters quite a few times. It’s my goth anthem.
Depeche Mode – ‘In Your Room’
One of my fave songs ever. My fave band of all time must be Depeche Mode. I love Anton Corbijn’s work and this video is so dark and beautiful. Love the contrast of colour and black and white. The story behind the video is quite dark. There’s references to several Depeche Mode videos in this video as a tribute as Corbijn wasn’t sure Gahan was going to be alive after this album.
Robbie Williams – ‘Let Me Entertain You’
Robbie was my big crush as a teenager. I was a pretty persistent fan I must say. I made my parents drive me to all festivals and fan gatherings. I was a member of the official fanclub and everything. I made my parents follow a tour van once in Amsterdam for about an hour. My mother then got me an autograph and I shook Robbie’s hand. I don’t think I ever wore those clothes again – they had become relics. After that I pretty much became a full time goth but I look back on my Robbie days with a smile. Also, I still think this is a pretty good music video though.
Hole – ‘Miss World’
Hole were my favourite band from when I was 13 and probably their performance of ‘Beautiful Son’ on The Word is the video clip I should put in here. But this video – directed by Sophie Muller who made pretty much every music video I love from the 90s – is just perfection, it’s everything that I love visually and sonically wrapped up in a peach silk sateen bow.
Fleetwood Mac – ‘Rhiannon’
From the moment Stevie introduces this song until her wild woman possessed outro this is why no matter how basic it may be Fleetwood Mac are one of the best bands to have ever existed.
TEAR’s mini-album Vinyl01 is out on 17th March.