Somojo Magazine

Tom Mansi & The Ice Breakers

Hi, how are you?

Fine thanks. How are you?
Would you mind introducing us to your band members?
I do, but if you insist  I am Tom the bassist and vocals, Paul on guitar and vocals, James on drums and Al on keys and vocals. There is also Stevan who does absolutely everything else.

How long has the current band line up been together?
Since 2004. Or perhaps from beyond the dawn of time.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
I'd play them the album 'Perils a Plenty' then get them to try and describe it.
Someone said “the bastard lovechild of Little Richard and Tina Turner brought up by uncle Springsteen” Well the new single is more Bob Dylan meets the Clash.

What have you been up to recently?
We have been busy doing a guerilla tour (normal gigs as well as busking on the pier) alongside the south coast of the UK, promoting our British Seaside single Donkey, Punch and Judy, working on new recordings,  organising an Xmas tour of Germany and generally being great.

What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
More great gigs, fantastic videos, new tunes and the release of our album Perils A Plenty in January 2011

How did you meet each other?
In rehab where we were forced to fight the local young offenders in a thunderdome type battle royal, when the dust settled the 4 of us were left.

How did you come up with your name for the band?
We used the power of thought, logic and reason.

Did you always want to be in a band?
Pretty much. It was that or become a travelling group of butchers.

What music did you listen to while growing up?
Blues, jazz, Motown, funk and good old fashioned traditional dub grime step.

How long have you been involved with writing & performing music?
Too long.

What were your first music making experiences?
Bashing two rocks together.

Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
I have been taught by some of the great contrabass players and spent time out in Cuba. It comes down to practice.

What is your current equipment?
We've got our own little HQ studio in High Barnet centred around a Protools HD rig and some fine vintage Neumann and ribbon mics. Loads of vintage instruments and fun stuff.

If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Crazy vintage keyboards for Al, even more guitars for Paul and an U67  and a Neve desk for Stevan...

Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?

Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
It depends really on the song. Tom comes up with most of the songs, and we flesh them out and arrange them together in the studio, others we actually write together from scratch in our little treehouse above the studio...

Which software/recording process do you use?
Pro Tools HD tracking the rhythm section live, no clicks no tricks.

Would you sign with a major record company?
Sure, we would also sell our kidneys as well, depends on the $$$

Do you have any new recordings planned?

Yes we might take a week at xmas and get some demos done and possibly start another album . Although as we run our own record label “Metric Acorn Records”we have been toying with the idea of not releasing albums anymore but just putting digital singles out every 2 or 3 months and maybe do a compilation after a year as a collectors edition with all the singles , its like going back to the 50s model in away just with digital distribution. Mmmmnnn not sure though we'll see

Tom Mansi & The Ice Breakers

How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
Usually, we are all involved all the time

Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
Perhaps. We all work on multiple projects and with other artists, at the moment we might have some thing in the pipeline with Nic Dawson Kelly who we have been playing live with a bit.

Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
We have always enjoyed the recording process, I think the band is really at home on the studio trying different methods and locking ourselves away. It doesn,t beat live performance though

Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
Well we try to make our live sound as kicking and exciting as possible, same is true for the recordings, but there are different ways to get there in the studio and live. It also depends on the material

Do you any favourite tracks from your album?
Perils A Plenty and Need Want

Who are the main songwriters for the band?
We all have input but its MY BABY!!!

Do you have a method for writing songs?
When we write as a band, I might bring a riff or some lyrics and it evolves from there.

Do you write songs only about personal experiences?
No, I write about the universal human experience.

Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
It difficult to stop and easy to start.

Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?

Who are your favourite songwriters?
Umm. Us?

Which countries have you gigged in?
UK, USA, Germany, France and Korea.

Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
Germany is always lovely, good people, good food and lots of excellent beer.

Who would you like to tour with?

How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
At gigs, internet and playing it very loud from a car stereo.

Which music promotion websites do you use and do you have a favourite?
Myspace, Facebook, twitter etc. A company called Manilla does our PR at the moment, Tony does a great job!

Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
They can be very good but its a blessing mixed with a curse. You have to work it and we are not good at working it. We live to make music , not talk about it to be honest, although this is fun

With all the various websites out there for independent and unsigned artists, is there still something that is missing from them that you think would benefit the lesser-known artists?
Not sure, it constantly evolves and really is still about who shouts the loudest...

How do you relax?
Lying down and shutting my eyes or a good old  bottle o'grog...

Have you ever entered any ‘battle of the bands’ competitions?
Yes, a long time ago

What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
Once when we were on tour with Son of Dave and we turned up to the place we were supposed to play in Cardiff and discovered that while touring, it changed name and they were actually just building it! From 3pm, when we turned up to soundcheck at 7pm (3min after they actually put the sound system in) they had installed the bar, finished tiling the toilets, finished the wooden floor, painting the walls and doing the decoration... Just before playing the had to close the windows, because of noise/neighbours. Atmosphere was great, but after both we and SoD played our sets in double speed we realised everybody was high on paint fumes!

Do you get nervous before a gig? How do you calm down?
A couple of medicinal pints usually does the trick.

What are your day jobs if you have them?
Recording and rehearsal studio, session gigs and recordings You name it, we can play it.

Would you like to be full time working musicians or are you happy with things as they are?
Yes. Full time working musicians beats any job hands down.

Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
We have had a few pieces used and and some tv work, it's something we are developing.

Is composing for film or tv something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?

Is there anything you'd like to add?
I'd like to add 1 and 1 together and get 3. also a giant crab claw to the drummer and a mozart wig for Al on Keys. Oh and don't forget to come on down to our New single “Need Want” launch party at the Flowerpot Kentish town on thursday 4th November

Tom Mansi & The Ice Breakers

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