“Everyone’s an arsehole” sings vocalist Gina Leonard on “Breakfast”, a statement of intent that sets the tone for many of Mumble Tides songs, passively aggressive. Mumble Tide are a band of opposites, they take their work very seriously, but not themselves. This merging of two worlds allows their charismatic personalities to shine through in every moment. After first meeting via a Gumtree advert that Gina posted in search of a bassist for their last project, the duo started hanging out more after Ryan’s previous relationship ended and the pair realised they had more than just playing music together in common. “I think if we hadn’t worked together beforehand in that setting as band members would have been very difficult to work together now” says Gina. “We almost have modes that we go into a little bit, because you have to be pretty brutally honest when you’re working with people in music. And sometimes a bit rude and harsh”. “It’s hard because you never really know when to turn it back on” says Ryan. “Occasionally we’re just like “Can you just be a boyfriend for a bit”.
Their name has been slandered by those around them as “The worst name ever” recalls Ryan. “I really like whales and I went to uni in Swansea where I didn’t study too hard…” explains Gina. “But there’s a place in Swansea called Mumbles and we were on our way back from visiting some friends there and I was saying to Ryan how the tidal range there is the second biggest tidal range in the world. And I also do Mumble a bit so we went with it”. Their whimsical personalities shine through in every aspect.
It’s a cold November evening when we chat to the duo about their new mini-album Everything Ugly, first connecting over our stints working at hmv, the dreadful loyalty card scheme there and the fact that we share the same roof beams in our houses. The down to earth nature of the duo is immediately noticeable, both sat surrounded by swathes of equipment in what appears to be a living room in Gina’s parents home, they are encapsulated by their craft in every aspect. We first ask the duo what the reaction to the singles released so far in the release campaign. ” I think we were a little bit apprehensive as there’s a lot of different sounds in the mix across the singles and we weren’t really sure how that was gonna go down” says Ryan. “But it’s been received really nicely and I think we were just happy with anything as we’d made it all here by ourselves and we weren’t really sure wether people would enjoy it. But we were just grateful that anyone was paying attention really!”. “And with the first EP you’re basically a new thing” continues Gina “But with this it’s a little tougher in a way coming back with more stuff and we didn’t leave much of a gap, we’ve been a bit relentless with releases which is maybe a bit demanding from people. But people have still listened which has been nice. We’ve found that certain people like some tracks and not others which is always interesting”.
The contrast in their sound is immediately noticeable on your first wade through the album as a whole, ranging from the indie anthem “Sucker” to the heartfelt folk ballad of “Bulls Eye”. But the one thing that glues the range of sounds all together is the enigmatic personalities behind it. “We don’t put loads and loads of thought into it but we both listen to a pretty wide range of music and I personally go through fazes where I listen to a lot pretty heavy stuff and it’ll be a month of just that so then I’ll think “Man I really want to write some metal” remarks Ryan. “And then I’ll bring a really sweet folky song and ask “How can we merge the two?”” adds Gina. “We probably should think more about it to be honest” she laughs.
The album was written with the space of 3-4 months, “About the second half of the ‘intense’ pandemic phase” explains Gina. The first song of which that emerged from the ‘sessions’ being “On My Deathbed”, which also took the band the longest to finish. “It was a bit of a nightmare” recalls Gina. “At the time I thought we were gonna do a disco pop record” continues Ryan. “Gina had brought “Deathbed” as one she’d written acoustically and it wasn’t fully formed but I thought “Oh this is going to be like Tennis or Tops and it’ll be a really indie record” but it just didn’t work at all”. “Then “Sucker” I was messing around with at New Years and I remember you brought that guitar riff and you thought “Oh that was a bit of fun we won’t do anything with it” but I said no we will because it was really cool” says Gina. “The last one we did was “Everything Ugly” which felt like a resolution track where we’d got most of it out of our system. It was a tricky time for everyone and other projects had disbanded. I’d also never been in a lot of long-term relationships and then I moved with Ryan into his childhood bedroom and have been living with his parents, it was intense. But we survived!”.
The dynamic of the pair often merges into one, both finishing each others sentences and continuing stories, you can tell that they come very much packaged together. Their songwriting is no different, they play their separate parts but will often compare notes to make sure their answers are always right. “Gina is 100% lyrics and melody” explains Ryan. “But there’s different ways we put stuff together. Sometimes she’ll have something fully formed on acoustic and then we’ll build it into the song it becomes. And then sometimes I’ll write a riff but Gina’s 100% the lyric mastermind”. “And i’d say Ryan is a lot better at production and having an idea of where the track is going to end up” adds Gina. “We have kind of defined roles but also we’re obviously super comfortable around each other so we can step on each others toes without it being too intrusive. As time goes on we’re writing more and more together and I was always nervous of that because for years I would just write on my own with a guitar and was very precious about it. But over the years I’ve gotten more into co-writing and writing more on the spot with other people playing which is so fun and exciting”. “It’s like a Venn diagram of placing everything and roles” adds Ryan.
Although the lines may be blurred about how the songs are formed, the content behind them comes straight from a clear place of reflection from Gina. “It’s very therapeutic and most of the time I don’t know what I’m singing about when I’m in it, but it does help to get this stuff out of me. I’m quite an oversensitive person that gets quite overwhelmed by things and that’s my outlet. I don’t think that much about lyrics. I am very passionate and when I’m listening I focus on the lyrics. But I don’t slave over them when I’m writing, I prefer when it’s coming from this place naturally. It’s all based on real things that have happened and all honest”. The content has to be kept fresh however and due to the constant output that the band create, lead times for releases can become a challenge. “I get very quickly over it and it’s almost as if once it’s written it gets stale” explains Gina. “It’s exciting when it’s getting written but if I have to sit on it for a year when we go to the studio then I really struggle to get back to the place it came from”. The delays within the vinyl production world have meant that any physical copies of the album have now been pushed back until Spring next year; something we all are becoming impatient with.
The DIY nature of the band exists within every aspect, from the music recorded at home, the bedroom studio to directing their own music videos. It’s not necessarily out of desire to capture a lo-fi sound that’s become so lauded in the independent scene, but “Mainly down to lack of budget and what equipment we have rather than intentionally” laughs Gina. “It’s funny though because a lot of projects we worked on in the past, we were lucky enough to work in situations where there was a lot of money being put into stuff within studios” continues Ryan. “But then when we came to do Mumble Tide, especially with the way it started as an underneath project, we kept the ethos of doing it for free and cheap. Especially with the first EP it was “Let’s just do it ourselves””. It also comes from a desire to have some control over their project, feeling as although their previous project had a big budget, that often outweighed how much creative freedom they had. “We’re also just both super into doing it and we love making the videos and coming up with these stupid ideas which sometimes work and sometimes don’t” says Ryan. “We think with the next thing we do we want to step it up a level and take it away from the DIY aspect. As great as it is we’d love to just create a slightly more hi-fi sound” says Gina. “We want to follow the EP pretty quickly” adds Ryan. “We did a couple of days with Ed Nash from Bombay Bicycle Club recently. It’s still a little while off but we’re following up as soon as we can and we’re lucky to have met so many great people through doing Mumble Tide that can help from different angles and seeing how that fits”.
From working with new people to touring with new people, the world of Mumble Tide is ever expanding. “We’re looking into ways of just doing it with us two for fun but with this tour and with the Liz Lawrence we had a drummer and a really old friend of mine John playing guitar and synths” explains Ryan. “It was a four piece but our next tour we are a six piece. We want to be able to change it up constantly where sometimes it’s just us two and a drum machine or whoever’s around and wants to get involved then can join in as well”. One thing that will never change is the bands love of the live show. “We started this project and released the first track during the first couple of weeks of lockdown so we’ve never really had the chance to do the live aspect of it. We’ve done a handful of shows and it was just amazing” recalls Ryan. ‘We did the lockdown thing of doing stuff with cameras but that was shit haha! That was horrible, the way they look at you” laughs Gina. “I got the need for it and some great things happened with it but doing the real thing is where it’s at” follows Ryan. “I think as well with our last project it was quite a serious electronic set up we didn’t get chance to go heavy or go loud with it. Whereas with this tour we could really go for it”.
We ask the pair finally to turn on their serious side reflect on the music industry as a whole, asking what they would want to change about the industry. “More women would be good” states Gina. “I’ve literally just exclusively worked with men. This tour we’ve got a friend to come and play with us but it’s been mostly men. I think that’s changing though which is great, with stuff like Fender’s campaign to get more girls playing guitar, there’s a lot of good stuff happening. I think it’s going in the right direction but there’s still a ways to go”. “That first, definitely!” remarks Ryan. “I also think the perception of the music industry by the people who aren’t in it where everyone bases their ideas of it off 1% of artists who are this enormous thing. We have a lot friends who are in these great band and are doing really well, but they’re not at Ed Sheeran or Adele level. And I think it would be great if people who aren’t in that 1% would stop having to apologise for not being in that 1%”. It’s a numbers game for most but Gina is happy with the stats so far “Most people who are in music or into music get it but everyone else is like “Poor you and your little band” but it’s not going that bad”. It’s not going that bad at all in the world of Mumble Tide, their wave will keep crashing on the shores of listeners ears for many years to come. “I wish my mum didn’t think I should be a plumber” says Ryan longingly.
Everything Ugly is out now via Nothing Fancy, purchase here.