My Music DNA: Tom Gabbatiss of Bull

York alt-rock songsmiths, Bull recently released their debut album Discover Effortless Living via EMI Records, in conjunction with Young Thugs.

A cornucopia of alt rocks sounds, the album includes singles such as Disco Living (an abbreviation of the album title) Green, Bonzo Please, Love Goo and their new release, In A Jar.

Formed in 2011 by vocalist and songwriter Tom Beer and guitarist Dan Lucas, Bull’s mission is simply to make the music they wanted to listen to, inspired by their 90’s heroes such Pavement, Yo La Tengo and the Pixies.

Drummer Tom Gabbatiss joined after he and Tom jammed together in bars while they were back-packing round Thailand, and Kai West had previously used to jump up on stage with the band and “Bez” (verb meaning to dance badly while intoxicated) before they eventually let him play bass. The band, who describe themselves on Twitter as ‘The English Beatles’ will be back on the road in 2021 with a full UK tour starting in September.

Bull’s debut album Discover Effortless Living is available via EMI Records. Photo by Esme Mai

Here, Drummer Tom Gabbatiss chats to Andy Howells about his music influences.

What was the first song that made an impact on you?

My earliest music memory must have been when I was around 4 years old. Me and my family were en-route back to our hometown of York, returning from our annual camping holiday destination in Robin Hoods Bay near Whitby. I remember hearing Jailhouse Rock by The King (lol) coming out of the speakers of our battered Ford Sierra and never forgetting the sound of the piano (close and smokey) and otherworldly echoed voice captured in that recording. A year later I received a second-hand piano for my birthday and the rest is rock history.

What was the first single bought?

I Feel Love by Donna Summer

I found this cd in a bargain bin for £2 back in the day when Virgin Megastores was a thing. Futuristic, camp, catchy as owt, looping Moog synths, weird otherworldly drums and unforgettable vocal line. Party banger.

Probably most people’s introduction to Disco music. And for good reason, it kicks!

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I owned was passed down from my dad one day in an almost ritualistic, rites of passage kind of way, Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan. Beautiful, raw, honest, funny, tight but loose, direct storytelling.

Honourable mentions: Pet Sounds (Beach Boys), International Superhits (Green Day), Smurfs Go Pop!

What’s your constant go to track?

Nobody Wants a Lonely Heart by Arthur Russell. An acoustic country song, almost Dylan-esque, written by downtown New York’s experimental Buddhist disco Avant Garde cellist icon Arthur Russell. Touching lyrics, beautiful trombone solo. Sounds like band are playing through it for the first time and nailing it!

What’s your constant go to album?

One album I’ve found myself revisiting is Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten, a compilation of Cambodian pop/psych/folk/dance, a soundtrack to the eponymous film chronicling the thriving music of pre-Pol Pot/Khymer Rouge era (late 50’s-1975)

Key tracks: Dance A-Go-Go (Sinn Sisamouth) and You’ve Got a Friend ( Pou Vannary)

Also: Self-Titled (Velvet Underground), Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (Pavement), Deceit (This Heat)

Who’s your latest music discovery?

Perspex from York! They make Plastik music. Check out their hits A Horse Named Useless, Chainsaws and Big Cash Child.

What’s your own track that best defines you as an artist?

Perfect Teeth is the track I would identify with which features elements close to a ‘defined’ sound if we have to have one! Loose but tight, interlocking close harmonies, expressive and elastic vocal melody and a kickass cranked-to-the-max rock solo. Arranged over the course of a year or so, my most fond memory being the four of us a field in Esperaza, South of France on our first trip abroad together.

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