Tom douglas & james mcmanus are two really normal blokes, with boring every day jobs like you and i, who live a double life and are actually part of the up and coming sheffield band spit n strings. I drop ‘em a line after we’ve all finished work and we discuss what it’s like to lead a double life under the names ‘suga-dugi’and ‘mcmannerz’, why 2015 is a good year for bear-like people and agree that billy joel is a boss.
How would you describe your sound?
James: ‘It’s Acoustic/Indie/Hip-Hop; it’s quite a mix but it came naturally, I’ve got an Indie background and Tom has a real Hip-hop background, we found each other and it just came together’
Who’s your biggest influence? With something so unique it must be a diverse blend of things that bring your sound together?
James: ‘I love 90’s bands like ‘James’ and ‘The Cure’; both still going strong might I add!’
Tom: ‘For me it’s all about early 90’s hip hop, Wu Tang Clan are a huge influence, Pharcyde and Tribe Called Quest, are massive influences on me, I dunno whether that shows in our music, but it’s stuck in my head. The early 2000’s were the golden hour for UK hip-hop, so I’m all over that scene too. I’m also a little into Billy Joel, he’s the man, For the Longest Time is my karaoke song, I try and do all the parts myself, but sometimes I need help from the lads.. It’s good practice for when we do our own acapella stuff’
James: ‘The British Hip-hop stuff was all the stuff I was listening to when we first met, but I just love music, I’m into reggae and folk – everything gets mixed into our music!’
How did Spit n Strings start out?
James: ‘We met but didn’t meet at a party, if that makes sense. We met, exchanged numbers, forgot all about it and one day I called him by accident and he called me straight back, his hip-hop band had just split up, I’d written some songs so we decided to go for a beer and a chat.. Now I can’t get rid of him’
Tom: ‘He was best man at my wedding so it worked out pretty well… It’s quite a romantic story that one’
What do you prefer? Playing live or recording new stuff?
Tom: ‘Our rep is definitely built on live, so that’s my immediate favourite’
James: ‘Me too. I think our bass player and all rounder in the band, Dave (Murphy), and Chris (Basford) our drummer may have a different answer, if they were here. They’re ace in the studio and hold it all together but we all love playing live… Thats what we do it for! With live, you never know what you’ll get, every gig is different and it’s so good to see people enjoying our stuff’
What does this year hold for you?
James: ‘I became a dad in the last year, so I’ve spent that time getting used to fatherhood… In the next year I’d love for us to start pushing the album and doing more gigs – the album was a long time coming and it feels so good to have something to promote. We’re always around a lot in the summer for the festival season-‘
Tom: ‘-WE’RE LIKE BEARS!’
Tom: ‘They only come out in the summer, but when it’s chilly and that they stay indoors, I was watching geographic channel and the summer is when they come out and go mad in parks and shit… But yeah, the album has a good spectrum of songs so we’ll be promoting that’
Where would you like to be in 5 years?
James: ‘I’d just like to be as happy as I am now’
Tom: ‘That’s a good answer… I agree. Can you say I came up with that?’
If you could play a gig with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
James: ‘I think it’d have to be Bob Marley, if they work out a way to bring him back I’d love to perform with him… Him and Tim Booth of ‘James’, I’ve seen them loads of times but to share a stage with him would be ace’
Tom: ‘For me it’d have to be Johnny Cash… Aaaaand, ooh, let’s mix it up a bit, Amy Winehouse’
James: ‘You can support me, Bob and Tim with that line up.’
You both have day jobs, so what are they? But if you could do something else, that wasn’t music, what would you be and why?
James: ‘I have a boring job, I work in an office … The worst part is that I actually enjoy it..’
Tom: ‘I’m a decorator, I’m all overall-ed up as I speak to you now… But, wait, can I be owt? I’d be a dinosaur cause they’re cool.’
James: ‘I’d be a footballer… What kind of dinosaur would you be?’
Tom: ‘I can’t decide… Just a generic dinosaur – standard dinosaur, if you will.’
What’s your favourite song of yours and why?
Tom: ‘It’s gotta be ‘Move Your Body’, from the new album. It has a nod of friendship, a comical hook and a misleading. We weren’t sure how it would work outside of the studio but it’s translated really well and people seem to be enjoying it’
James: ‘The best crowd-pleaser we have is ‘Nobheads’, it’s a bit rude, a bit cheeky and a lot of fun, it’s an easy hook for people to get on with and people always join in with the lyrics.’
How’re you spending your evening?
James: ‘I’m actually gonna go play football, weirdly enough.’
Tom: ‘I’m gonna the supermarket to buy advent calendars for me and my missus, only been able to find ones with Barbie and Thomas the Tank Engine on and the chocolate is shit, you gotta fork out a bit on an advent calendar.. I hear Tesco has milkybar ones..’
James: ‘It’s the 2nd of December, why are you only just buying one?’ I would expect you to be stock piling now they’re likely to be reduced?’
Tom: ‘I love a chocolate back-log… Ey that sounds a bit weird, dunt it?’
Spit n Strings debut L.P ‘Heavier than Elephants’ and the first single from it; ‘Radio 4’ ; are available on iTunes and Googleplay, as well as on CD directly from the band. Catch ‘em on Facebook (Spit n Strings) to keep upto date and go seek them out when they play Hagglers Corner, The Riverside and Maida Vale early this year. Watch this space.
Words by Ellie Greenfield