COREnered: Q&A with Tommy Tucker

by Jacqueline Rosokoff

1. What is your first musical memory?
Probably Donald O’Connor singing “Make ‘Em Laugh” in Singin’ in the Rain. That’s an old one, or once very young, I remember strumming a tennis racket and dancing around ad-libbing a song in front of the mirror; I still do that actually.

2. What was the first concert you ever went to?

I went to see Cypress Hill at RFK stadium. I was 13.

3. What or whom do you go to for musical inspiration?

Neon lights and street people, and atmosphere. The city, basically, or whatever environment I’m in, urban or otherwise, I try to use it, like that feeling you get when you start pretending like you’re in a movie and then I write from that place. That’s what I want from a song most of the time; something cinematic. I suppose I like to look for the life that’s falling through the cracks, some detail that still has a feeling of authenticity to it. Whatever it is that’s real; I like the sordid bars where the street people are. Anywhere that’s still dangerous.

4. Without using the words “alternative,” “pop,” or “rock,” describe your sound.

Shoot. I was gonna say Alternative Pop Rock; that covers so much ground (and yet so little. no?) I don’t know. You tell me. I’m all over the map. I have straight 1,4,5 folk tunes, Gospel rip-offs, Brian Wilson rip-offs, Prince rip-offs, even a French Jazz ballad. I just try to make something different. And I find genre a very confining idea.

5. What’s your dream collaboration?

Dunno. Already had one for sure. Recorded with Billy Conway from Morphine at Hi ‘N Dry in Boston. That was a trip.

6. Do you find the song or does the song find you?

It’s always different. Anyone who writes will tell you that, I think. Toil sometimes only makes you sweat. And often the best ideas come when your mind is relaxed; I never try to force a song, but I always keep prodding at it; you have to be willing to take it apart and rebuild it, and sometimes with persistence the song will yield something different and evince to you some new angle that suddenly seems very logical. Like looking for the ketchup in the refrigerator when it’s right in front of you.

7. How do you discover new music?

I don’t really try to find new music. I don’t even really listen to new music that much. I like old music, and I don’t mean that in a hip or atavistic way. I mean that I know someday my music will be old music and I still want it to sound relevant then. When I was younger it seemed like the thing to do for a while, to scour the music scene for the next new thing, but it requires such an incredible effort to stay current and that attitude in people, I’ve found, often lends itself into a kind of smug, esoteric superiority. And nowadays when newness can be conjured up with money and PR, I think people are increasingly looking for music that feels right, that feels old and new at the same time. And the music that does that is what I like and ultimately what I hope to make.




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  • Sean Daniel

    Classic! loved your film clip!