John Vella on Tenderfoot’s new Beginnings & working on their debut album at Abbey Road

Sydney group Tenderfoot released their debut EP Beginnings last Friday, a culmination of a lengthy process for the group of musos, having worked on this particular project for the past few years. Now that Beginnings is finally out and able to breathe somewhat, frontman and songwriter John Vella is stoked for more people to take the music in and experience it for themselves.

“We are all feeling pretty great about it,” he says. “We’ve had it finished for a little while, so it almost feels a bit weird that it’s finally out. What feels absolutely great, is when people ask about our music and we can say, “It’s on Spotify! Like, right now!”, rather than something like, “Coming soon! Yay!”. It’s also been really nice to hear what people think about it. We’re just looking forward to people hearing it, really.”

“It was always the intention to do all that we could with this project. For me, I can say that I didn’t feel the sense of urgency that I did with projects when I was younger. It was more important to me that we do this right, and the guys have been very supportive of that. We took our time getting the EP together, finding the right management, publicist and publisher. We wanted to build a solid foundation, and as a result things are starting to speed up pretty rapidly!”

“We wanted to make something organic, based around us playing together live in a room, and for that to be the sound of the record.” Vella explains of Beginnings‘ creation. “That’s how they used to do it and we miss that. It sounds simple, but it does take a level of musicianship, and we thought we owed it to ourselves to give it a shot. Our main reference was the film The Last Waltz, a Martin Scorsese documentary about The Band’s final concert. So many great artists as guests, so many great songs. To us that’s one of the greatest documents in the history of music.”

The release of Beginnings also came off the back of Tenderfoot’s recent signing with the Audio Network, who have not only released the EP internationally but also has provided the band with the opportunity to travel abroad to record their debut studio album. As far as debut albums go, being able to say you’ve worked out of Abbey Road studios with a producer like Julian Emery is pretty impressive.

“We were definitely pinching ourselves a bit,” Vella admits. “We’ve had a couple of opportunities on the table in the past and seen them fall through for various reasons, so we try to keep as level as possible when these things come up. In this case, it really has been inked. We get to orchestrate this one, which is a crazy opportunity. To record strings where The Beatles did, it’s a little hard to process – definitely surreal. At the moment, we are just keeping our heads down, working hard on the arrangements and making sure we go over there with the best material possible. Julian is really great. I love his work with Nothing But Thieves, so naturally we were very excited that he was interested in working with us.”

The trip to the UK this September won’t be the first for Vella in terms of writing music abroad but as the first trip overseas the band will be making together, it’s understandable that the excitement levels are peaking for it.

“I’ve had a few short stays in London where I’ve written music,” he says. “A couple of those tunes made it onto records. Solo, I’ve played some shows in London and New York, which were great experiences. Our bass player Joel [Burton] has done some overseas stuff too. This will be our first trip as a band, and definitely our most exciting recording experience to date. We will be away for about a month.”

Though shows and writing more music are the main priorities for the band at the moment, taking time to view Beginnings as a whole, completed piece of material has had Vella feeling optimistic about the direction Tenderfoot is heading in.

 “Personally, I’m proud of the finished product.” he says. “It feels great to have made a record that I can put on in front of people and say, “I stand behind these tunes”. I have no excuses for them. I think they’re good songs, played well. It’s probably the first time I’ve felt this way about a record I’ve made. As a snapshot, I think it’s a really solid foundation. We’ve got plenty of work in front of us for the debut album, and I think we’ve proven to ourselves that we can be something with Beginnings.”
Beginnings is out now. You can buy the record on iTunes, HERE.



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