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Outline recently reviewed Chris T-T’s latest album, and said “Quite frankly, he should be accorded national treasure.” And I second that

emotion. When Frank Turner was still in nappies Chris was singing his heart clear off his sleeve,

offering us his honest, direct and beautiful songs. With nine albums under his belt as well as a range of other magical musical projects, he’s coming to play at NAC’s Bar as part of Norwich Sound & Vision. I spoke to this absolute sweetheart about

the hardest part of his job, being in Norwich’s own Magoo, and protest singers.

Chris, you used to be the bass player for Norwich’s own Magoo before you left to work for the Press Association in London. Why did you leave and are you still buddies with Andrew and the boys? Funny to think it’s 20 years ago – a lifetime. We were so young, though Andrew always was an old soul. I was only a

temporary Magoo member for the first album, a hired hand really – and I left on very good terms, at the right time. For them, they needed proper long-term members and for me I didn’t want to commit to touring (it would’ve been my first ever tour) playing someone else’s songs, other than mine. Yes, we’re still

20 / September 2016/

friends. I love them a lot. We don’t catch up often obviously but I’ve recorded at the Sick Room over the years and stayed in touch. In fact right now I’m in pretty much daily contact with Owen because we constantly play online chess - he’s a fierce chess man. You’ve received increasing critical acclaim and popularity right from the release of your debut album in 99’, Beatverse, but have never crossed over into the more commercial world. How have you managed to stay true to your own vision and your own style? Tat’s a great tricky question. Partly I’m a control freak and (especially earlier on) not great at collaborating. I’ve had to work hard to learn how to give up control in the studio – like trusting the band’s arrangement ideas, or the engineer’s ears. Partly mainstream commercial success was never an option for me anyway, even when I was starting out - I lack the basic requirements, even if I’d wanted it. Very soon as I started to see inside the music business, I witnessed the destructive energy of any crossover ‘success’ (and people’s obsessive attempts to obtain it). It’s a wrecking ball for anyone genuinely driven by their creative urge. If you’re not troubled by that phoney world, it’s a lot easier (maybe just natural) to do whatever it is you do. You enjoyed a good deal of support from Steve Lamacq especially at the beginning of your career. How important was his help in getting your music heard back in the late 90’s? Lamacq’s early support was fundamental I think. Back then spot plays on Radio 1 specialist shows made an enormous difference; it meant you could tour and it actually sold records. Today it’s just one of hundreds of ways we all try to be heard. But at the turn of the millennium, just a bit of Lamacq or John Peel support felt honestly life-changing.

Maybe it’s the equivalent nowadays to when a band gets invited onto Later with Jools Holland – it gives them an 18 month window to make the best of a hugely expanded audience. You’ve been involved in so many innovative projects, from playing on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square to a one man show at Edinburgh of AA Milne’s poems set to your own music. What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve done in your career to date? Ha, well Lizz, most people (maybe you too) have to get up in the morning and go to actual work and have a boss and targets or deal with the public and do what they’re told and they’re desperate for the weekend. Honestly my ‘job’ isn’t challenging, it’s a ridiculous blessing. Oh, I know what’s a challenge: working with children. If I run songwriting masterclasses or whatever, normally it’s with adults or music students, which is fairly calm. But occasionally I find myself working with school kids and they’re always inspiring, yet incredibly, brutally exhausting. I honestly have no idea how teachers do it because I go in with every advantage (it’s a one-off treat, often out of their normal lessons, I don’t have to worry about discipline, they can call me ‘Chris’ and whatever, they’re having fun, not doing maths) yet without fail, I’m demolished by 3.30pm. Teachers go back into that cauldron day after day for more and get treated like shit by the rest of society. Tat’s insane. Teachers should earn six figures from day one and moaning parents should give them blowjobs and posh chocolates and sports cars every week for not killing their precious little shitbags. Your weekly radio show Chris T-T’s Midnight Campfire has been going for a couple years now. What’s your go-to track that you can never get enough of playing? It’s a folk show, so classic stuff like Fairport’s Matty Groves or

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