by Chris Jarvis
2016 will be the year of the Tut. After a crowdfunding campaign that achieved double its original target, The Tuts are set to release their debut album – Update Your Brain – in September. The all-woman three piece from Hayes have nurtured a loyal and growing fan base in their first few years, with tours alongside UK veterans Kate Nash, The Selecter and Sonic Boom Six helping to build a wide creoss-genre appeal.
Eschewing the corporate support and record label promotion many bands rely on, The Tuts have instead adopted an unwavering DIY approach to their music and developed a reputation as a musical mouthpiece of the political agendas of a generation. Despite drummer Beverley’s claim that they are ‘not trying to be a political band’, their powerful feminist lyrics and attitude have helped to propel them into the spotlight. Refusing to shy away from controversy, they have been open and public in their taking on of Apple Music, Boris Johnson and well known arsehole of the punk scene, Itch of The King Blues. This package of raucous and rowdy politics combined with their energetic, infectious and catchy sound, have made the band one of the freshest and most exciting on the scene today and is the reason why we decided to talk to them as part of our series Music That Matters.
DIY goes to the core what The Tuts are about. Guitarist and front-woman Nadia is clear on its merits and value: “It gives us full creative control and input. We do everything ourselves, from researching festival bookers online, booking our own gigs, tours, controlling our own PR and social media. We’re too passionate and too screwed on to let someone else do it for us. Until we find someone that can offer more than we offer ourselves – we’ll be staying DIY!”
As females and females of colour we’re fighting a double battle in this white dominated world and industry
Without that ethic, it is unlikely that some of the events that have gained the band notoriety would have taken place – or at least wouldn’t have been celebrated, and the band’s criticism of the music industry is cutting. Nadia describes how “As females and females of colour we’re fighting a double battle in this white dominated world and industry” and Beverley talks of bands on the punk scene, where she “never fully felt welcome” as being ‘racist sympathisers’. Fortunately, as Nadia says, The Tuts “shout louder and prouder due to this”.
Unlike many other bands whose activism often ends the moment they leave the stage, The Tuts are outspoken both in front of the microphone and elsewhere – their social media is littered with political messaging and they are active in other movements, with bassist Harriet talking of the trio being “activists, but not in the traditional sense – if there is an opportunity to speak up about something we care about and feel should be aired then we will. Whether it be singing at that idiot, [Boris Johnson], or calling out sexual harassment. We’ve got voices, why not use them?”
Unsurprisingly, the band’s upbeat music is far more positive than their analysis of the state of politics and society in Britain. Harriet: “The country is run too much by big business and the money is going in the wrong places. These should be the most important things: the NHS, free education, equality, fair pay for everyone and zero tolerance for any type of hate crime whether it be racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or ableist. Surely everyone wants this deep down? The UK has become a bit scary particularly since the referendum.”
This context demonstrates why bands like The Tuts are so necessary. Music, like any art, has the power to shape and influence the opinions and ideals of countless people. It has the power to inspire, to engage, to mobilise, to agitate. Nadia, Harriet and Beverley do just that in their music, in their performances and in their political activity. Luckily, Nadia and Harriet are able to reel off a long list of other acts in a whole range of music scenes that are doing similar work and helping to spread progressive politics and use their outputs to build these ideas: Billy Bragg, Grace Petrie, Akala, Riz Ahmed, Petrol Girls, Sonic Boom Six, Kate Nash and Harriet’s other band Colour Me Wednesday are all given as examples of their peers who are helping to move things forward.
Describing their new album as “upbeat”, “[without] a moment of boredom” and “a mix of old classic Tuts songs and new ones”, having released lead single Let Go of the Past, fans and the music press are awaiting its release eagerly. With a 15 date UK tour planned for the Autumn and other “top secret” plans in the works for the rest of the year, The Tuts are set to go from strength to strength – captivating new audiences with their raw and back-to-basics pop-punk sound, inspiring listeners with their values and ideals and irritating power structures and authority figures every step of the way.