Terrorvision were instrumental in shaping the British rock scene throughout the ’90s and now, 30 years on from the release of their debut record, Formaldehyde, the four-piece are about to embark on a 3-date tour visiting venues that hold significance for Brit rock bands of the era.
Vocalist Tony Wright discusses his views on the upcoming tour as well as his initial influences that put him on the path to becoming the frontman of Terrorvision and how the group can work at their own pace, deciding when to play shows and if and when they choose to put out new music.
I have to say that is an impressive handlebar you’ve got going on there!
Tony Wright: “It’s going on, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it’s taken, well, I don’t know, about six months.”
That’s not too bad. I’m impressed by that. I think this (gesturing to my own beard) is bordering on two years now. So, this was a lockdown thing.
“Me too! You had a mask on, didn’t you? Only you knew that you had a moustache and how ridiculous you were! Nobody else knew! Then after two years of wearing a mask, you got used to it. When you took your mask off, everyone was shocked.”
Exactly. Anyway, thank you, first of all, for talking to us today, that’s absolutely brilliant. Now, the first big question I’ve got, right from the outset, is the upcoming TV13 by request shows. What was the initial plan behind this, and what made you guys, uh, want to take this mini tour forward?
“Do you know, a lot of the time for Terrorvision, people say; it’s 25 years since you did that, it’s 20 years since you did the other and it’s 30 years since we did this, you know what I mean? It’s great to have enough people wanting to come out and join us. Celebrating 30 years of Terrorvision as it is and just going out and doing it all the time, if you know what I mean? We always keep together. We always keep rehearsing and quite often when you know all the songs, you throw ideas in for new stuff. So, it’s always interesting in the rehearsal rooms and stuff. But yeah, 30 years, let’s celebrate it. We’re playing like George’s Hall. I think there’s one ticket left or something daft in Bradford, and it’s a long time since we sold that place out. It was like 96 or 97 or something.
Then after that moment, I suppose, they had to get like jobs and get mortgages and a car and married and kids and they had, you know, bills. So, we didn’t see them. I think we sort of thought that they’d left us, thought we were back on our todd, but then it sort of ties in with all these kids being grown up now. Everyone’s coming back out again. Everyone’s still a rocker. They’re just a little bit older. I still love it that when we do a gig, all these people next day go, I can’t speak, I can’t hear. My legs are killing me. It was brilliant. Do you know what I mean? So yeah, why wouldn’t we? It’s lovely to be able to do something like 30 years of celebrating it and playing at these venues. George’s Hall, Rock City, Electric Ballroom, so, all quite classic 90s venues as well. Well, timeless venues.”
“Everyone’s still a rocker. They’re just a little bit older. I still love it that when we do a gig, all these people next day go, I can’t speak, I can’t hear. My legs are killing me. It was brilliant.”
Yeah, I could go with that. Now on the point about the three shows that you’re playing, what made you keep it relatively exclusive to just the three shows? What was the thinking behind that?
“I don’t know, really. It was just probably other stuff that we were doing. It might have meant that with the time we could put aside. There’s four of us to mix into an equation for us to be able to do anything. So, it’s pretty much that, maybe that, I don’t know. I think we’ve got like some warm-ups and stuff like that. There’s some other gigs that we announced and then they sold out so if you haven’t got your ticket, you can’t go. It’s really weird, I think if you just played all the time, it’d be great for a period of time. Maybe we can put more into it by doing fewer shows rather than being on road all year. If we do a series of gigs here and there, we can put more into it. So, yeah, maybe that’s it.”
It’s not a bad way of approaching it. Now, what was the particular reason behind picking the three cities and the three venues? I think Bradford goes without saying but what about the other two? What made you choose Nottingham and London out of all the places you could go?
“Well, it’s not like it was done in a straight line for a tour, was it? It went to Nottingham, back to Bradford, down to London. It’s always a yo-yo kind of tour. Probably because they’re iconic venues. Rock City, you know? Terrorvision started in the little rooms downstairs there, and worked our way up to selling out upstairs, and the big hall and all the chaos and, ace-ness that goes with that room even with the sticky floor, people were still managing to take off, do you know what I mean? It was well ace! So that’s probably that. And then the Electric Ballroom, well, the Astoria and the Marquee have gone, haven’t they?”
Oh they have, sorry. Every time someone mentions the Astoria, a tear actually comes to my eye.
“These would be the places, I mean, I think they’re doing Koko up, aren’t they? The old, um, is it the Palace?”
I think so. Yeah, I’ve heard rumours about that.
“There were a fire there, but that’s a great place to play, but the Electric Ballrooms a sweaty little gig, and that’s what it’s about. It’s about playing a gig and that’s what Terrorvision are, we’re a live band, you know, that’s why it hurts.”
Now Terrorvision, you guys were part of the big Brit-rock era and I grew up with this era. The music that actually shaped me. Does this era hold anything special for you at all? A moment in time that was special for you?
“What do you mean? Music wise?”
Music wise and things that were going off on in the sort of in the 90s, let’s say, because it was that whole period, wasn’t it?
“Yeah, I mean, that was then, wasn’t it? Nowadays, my taste’s probably a little bit wider, so I probably listen to a bit more stuff now. So, it might be like acoustic stuff chilled out and laid back. My mate took me to see The National the other day. You know The National?”
“The Electric Ballroom is a sweaty little gig, and that’s what it’s about. It’s about playing a gig and that’s what Terrorvision are, we’re a live band, you know, that’s why it hurts.
Yeah, I think so. Remind me, sorry, I think I know who you mean.
“The National, they’re a band, they’re massive.”
Yeah, I do know who you mean.
“Yeah, they keep playing like the 90s Brit pop stuff and they managed to last all of that out and come out the other side and my mate took me to see them. It was quite the experience. Who else? Are you asking me who I rate at the moment?”
I guess so. I suppose it’s more of a comparison. I mean, who did you really rate back in the nineties compared to who you rate now?
“Well, I suppose out of all the rock bands from Britain, Skunk Anansie were probably the biggest wow, you know what I mean? I think the rest of us were proper rock and roll bands, and who wants to be a perfect rock and roll band? It doesn’t sort of work, does it? Most of us, everyone from Wildhearts, we all played rock and roll, we all listened to rock and roll, and we liked live music, and we grew up in an area where there were lots of venues to play.
We were lucky. You could do a tour of Bradford if you were a Bradford band, you know what I mean? There were that many venues. It was ace. So, I’d say we were all pretty much on a par. I’d say if you put us all on again, like we did that Brit Rock Must Be Destroyed tour.”
I was at that show. It was fantastic. Absolutely spot on!
“Everyone there was trying to be the best they could because the other bands were on with them. I think it was a good billing. It was a good night. It pushed every band that were playing, and I think all people that came to join in with us, I think they thought the same. I think, you know, we’re bouncing!”
Now, it’s been, I think you’ve already touched on this already, but it’s been 30 years since Formaldehyde. I’m guessing this was the major influencing factor in deciding to go out on this tour, wasn’t it?
“Well, it was the 30th anniversary. Which will have come up in conversation. I’m going back to when I say we rehearse, we put songs together, and we don’t have to write an album. We don’t have a record company saying we’re waiting for an album from you. We don’t have to do anything. We can do what we want, but when you rehearse, people come up with ideas, and we throw them in, and over the years, you end up with a set of tracks that you think, that sounds like a Terrorvision album, and that’s a love it or leave it kind of thing.
For other people it’s like they either like it or they don’t, but to us it’s like we’ve done the things that we like doing might be a bit eclectic, whatever. So, we were doing that, we’d been recording and it was kind of the 30th anniversary, it’ll be good to go out. It’s almost like are the cogs slowly turning again for when we release an album and go back out on tour? Who can tell? We’ve never planned anything, you know, as you can probably tell.”
Well, I mean, you’re rolling forward perfectly well, and essentially it feels like you’re still living the dream. So, what more could you want? Let’s be honest!
“Yes, great. I love it.”
Wonderful. Now, I understand as well that this tour is going to comprise, I think 13 of your top 40 hits. Now, is that correct? And out of these, do you have any that have always stood out for you personally? You know, the songs that made it big, that you just absolutely adored and were incredibly proud of?
“I don’t know. It’s, it’s hard, isn’t it? Because different days, it’s different thoughts, I suppose. I like the fact that we’re singing songs even though there might not have been one of the singles, we’ll say the more obscure songs like “Didn’t Bleed Red”. I don’t know if you know this song.”
Oh, I know them. I know it.
“Yep. Well, I’m quite glad we’re playing songs like that, especially in the current climate of the world today. Do you know what I mean? I think it’s still pertinent. I don’t even know what pertinent means. I like playing songs like “Friends and Family” because you can really mean it. You don’t need proof of ID to see that we’re the same people. It went well better when we were all friends and family and we all just got along, so I love playing songs like that in today’s climate as well because it’s harking back to saying be positive about it.
Then I like songs like “Alice, What’s the Matter” because I just love the crowd singing it. Same as “Middleman”. I like the hands in the air. I remember the first time I did that and it like blew my mind that everybody joined in. It were at Donnington and it was just ace. I love all of it, and then there’s other bits I can’t remember now, but when they happen, I’ll remember.”
You’ve sort of answered one of my questions already by mentioning some of those songs, because it was initially, aside from your hits, are there any tunes that you’re particularly proud of, that stand, that sadly didn’t gain the same traction as others, but you sort of answered that. I’m looking forward to hearing some of those songs, that people will probably just go, I remember this and stir up some memories potentially.
“Yeah, the live songs, the singing live. “Whales and Dolphins”. Everybody knows about the Whales and Dolphins. Salt, Lemon and Lime, do you know what I mean? We all agree on these things.”
“I like songs like “Alice, What’s the Matter” because I just love the crowd singing it. Same as “Middleman”. I like the hands in the air. I remember the first time I did that and it like blew my mind that everybody joined in. It were at Donnington and it was just ace.”
Now I’m hoping your answer is going to be no to this completely, but are there any songs that perhaps due to their popularity you are always getting requests for them that you actually find a bit tiresome to play? I’m hoping the answer is no because everything, as far as I’m concerned, you’ve done is fantastic and I’ve enjoyed it, but I’m always fascinated to ask that question.
“If we were on the road nine months of the year, maybe the answer would be yeah, but because when we do it, we keep it special. So, they are special and it’s a pleasure to do. So no, I don’t get bored of them.”
Amazing. So I think that goes back a little bit to when you’ve said about the short and sweet tours where you’ve just done a handful of dates where you don’t burn yourself out and you get to enjoy the music. That brings it back to that. Now, Super Deluxe, I believe, was your last record in 2011, and I think you’ve almost alluded to this a little bit, is there more, potentially, on the horizon, new music from Terrorvision that could be on the cards?
“I’d reckon so, in 2024, I’d watch this space, tune in to this channel, whatever it is. I mean, do you know what? We can do what we want. It’s quite a selfish thing to say that, isn’t it? We kind of do what we want. We don’t have to put out albums every year. So, we don’t have to say, it’ll be all right, that’ll be all right for an album, we don’t have to do that. It’ll be exciting to do it, to put it out and get people’s feedback. See whether they think it’s harking back to the old days or which album they think it’s most like, or if they think we’ve progressed in any way.”
I don’t think it’s selfish at all. I do think so many bands are almost at the mercy of labels and expected to churn out X amount of music and do X amount of tours. So, I think doing it the way you’re doing it absolutely perfect.
“It’s because it’s something you either do or you don’t, you either do it or you don’t do it. It’s in you to do it. If it’s not in you anymore, you shouldn’t do it. Even if you did it before and it’s like you feel obliged to. It’s in you to do it, so it’s never a problem.”
So I’ve got a little confession to make to you If I remember correctly and bear in mind, I’m in my forties now, there’s a lot of hazy bits in between, but I do believe Terrorvision was actually the first ever live show I went to when I was about 16 or so at the London Astoria and it was bands, as I mentioned, like yourselves, that actually guided me into the rock world and actually doing what I do now. Now, do you have any sort of memories of realising your musical passion and what drew you into this world?
“Believe it or not, I really, really like singing. So, I’ve always sung since I was a kid. Just like all the time, I sang. I liked singing. So, I’d sing growing up, I’d sing Elton John songs and Carpenters songs, because they’d be on the radio and it’s something that when you do it… It’s like, it must be, it’s like a meditation. It’s like a really nice, it makes you feel really good. Do you know what I mean?”
I do, yeah. It’s your zen moment. It’s the little thing that makes you feel happy. And I guess it can come from anywhere.
“Yeah, and that’s it. So when I was growing up and getting older, in fact, I liked rock music, I like Black Sabbath and, and I like Led Zeppelin and Free. But a lot of the times, I didn’t like a lot of the lyrics, so I’d like singing, maybe I’d make a few lyrics up or stuff like that because I like the music, that’s how I ended up singing in rock bands, I suppose, because I went to rock pubs where rock bands played and met and formed and split up and super grouped, whatever it was. I was in the Vault bar and the Wheat Sheaf. That’s where everybody met up.”
Now, I’ve only got one more question for you You’ve done a lot over the years. You’ve seen a lot, you’re older, you’re wiser. Now you know what you know now. Is there anything you think you might have done differently throughout your career? Or is it a real no regrets type moment?
“No, I don’t really regret things. I think you got to live for tomorrow, haven’t you? Everything should be a challenge, not a problem. I wouldn’t The sort of things I can do in life, like going out and touring and writing songs and recording and going to amazing places and having amazing experiences. It’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s a really good thing, and I wouldn’t swap that. I’d hate to, like, maybe we’d be more successful, but we’d be on the road all the time. And I’d be like… “Tequila. It makes me happy.” You know what I mean?”
I’m looking forward to the show. And if you came on stage and were just like… Tequila. It makes me happy. That would just make me laugh but, at the same time, I hope you don’t do that because the whole crowd will be jumping and then just sort of be a bit shocked at what’s going on!
“Which gig is it?”
It’s the London one in the Electric Ballroom. Absolutely delighted to be coming along because bizarrely enough, Terrorvision is a very big bonding experience for me and my sister because she’s responsible for getting me into the rock world. I remember being really little, wandering into her room and going, what is that? It was like, um, I think it was Earth versus the Wildhearts and I was like, this is amazing.
Like, I hear swear words. I hear all of this and after being told to get out, get out of my room and all that, she was like, wait a minute. Okay, how about you listen to this and then it was “Oblivion” by Terrorvision. So, ‘Brit Rock Must be Destroyed’, I took her, took her along to that and I’m taking her along to this show as well. Both of us, a lot older, actually get along. So, you know, this is going to be a fantastic experience for us both.
“My sister was probably responsible for my liking rock music because she was four years older than me. So when I was 12 or 13, she was heading off to college and she taped all her albums because she got a get a blaster thing, like a cassette player and radio with speakers on it. 70s, and she taped all her albums and left them at home. So, I had this record collection that was slightly older than both of us, actually. I don’t know where she’d got them all from, but it was like Free and Bad Company and Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and Leonard Cohen and Donovan. And it was just a crazy, a crazy set of rock songs. Neil Young and so that’s why I liked rock music.”
There’s something me and you have in common there. My sister is like three years older than me. So, a lot of similarities. Well, Tony, I just want to say thanks so much for talking to us today. Really looking forward to the show in London. Good luck with the entire tour. and thank you.
“Nice to meet you.”
11/02 – Nottingham Rock City
11/03 – Bradford St Georges Hall
11/04 – London Electric Ballroom
For more information on the tour dates and to keep upto date with all the Terrorvision news, head over to their Official Facebook Page.