Interview: Krooked Tongue

By Holly Bradley | June 18, 2020
Krooked Tongue are the grungy alt-rock trio going from strength- to-strength. After spending the last year defining their sound, they have highlighted themselves as one of the biggest emerging bands in the Bristol indie scene. After graduating from BIMM Bristol and having won BIMM Live in June, the band didn’t lose any momentum and ploughed through a headline tour in mid-November. Since then, they’ve spent 2019 honing their craft and expanding their insanely dedicated fan base ready to unleash in 2020.

Formed in 2017, lead vocalist and bassist Oli Rainsford, drummer Harry Pritchard and guitarist Dan Smith released their debut single, I Wanna Steal Your Car in early November. This built them great initial successes, scoring 30k streams, and created a significant national buzz and attracting the attention of BBC Introducing presenter, Alex Noble. Energetic tracks, Swarm and Girls with Knives spark an infectious energy live and a borderline dangerous stage presence. Noble said the band were “known for their powerful combination of heavy riffs and melodic hooks”, and it’s with this kudos under their belt they are set to blaze their own trail into the next decade.

I had the pleasure of grabbing a drink with Oli and Harry, in early December and got the chance to pry into the past, present and future of the band.

So, Krooked Tongue, what’s the story behind the name?
Oli: I don’t actually remember, the name just came out of thin air like a meteor shower from the gods. We found out there’s a clothing brand with pretty much the same name – they spell it with a ‘C’ and ‘S’ on the end.
Harry: We originally spelt it (Krooked Tongue) with a ‘C’ and then we found out about the brand and changed it to a ‘K’. If you look on our very first Instagram post it’s still a ‘C’… when we were a four piece.

Was the four-piece under the same name?
H: (laughs) No, we had Can’t Control The Vandals.
O: Which was a quote graffitied by some pisshead in The Canteen.
H: That was too long ago…
O: Yeah back in the day, when we were shite!

How would you describe your sound now?
H: Really, really good.
O: Yeah probably the best band ever. Too much?
H: Too much.
O: Genre wise, underground rock.

You’ve just come back from a headline tour! How was that?
O: Class, like, really cool.
H: Never done anything like it before, it was really fun. It was a nice amount of time too – a week with one day’s rest in the middle. It was just so fun. We supported Sœur in Cardiff just after which was amazing too.
O: Every show had a really good crowd.

Who had the best crowd?
O: Birmingham had probably the tamest crowd, but biggest crowd and in the biggest venue. The other three were mental, bodies flying everywhere.
H: Clunk treated us really well in Falmouth – got us free booze, free photographer and were just super friendly.
O: Liverpool was really cool too, we had people jumping on and off stage.
H: Yeah people would jump on and mosh with us – we love it when people do that!

Following the tour, you had a debut release of single, I Wanna Steal Your Car, how did that come about?
H: We’ve had that song for ages, it was in the original set two years ago.
O: It was one of the songs where our sound started to develop, but the production on it is more commercial than our actual sound. Shout out to Mark Underdown who did a great job producing it and shout out to BIMM’s HUBB records, who helped put it together.

Who are your major influences in music?
O: Highly Suspect are definitely, one of my favourite bands. Death From Above 1979 are so good at riff writing. H: I played some Death From Above to my dad and he said “you can tell Oli writes a lot of his riffs with inspiration from these guys.”
O: A lot of my songwriting influences are from all sorts of places. I really love 90’s hip-hop. I don’t know if that weaves its way in sometimes, maybe, but I also like a lot of old folk artists, 70’s psych and grunge.
H: I take influence from a lot of rock drummers like, Brad Wilk (Rage Against The Machine), Joey Castillo (Queens Of The Stone Age) and of course the god himself, John Bonham (Led Zeppelin). O: Dan likes John Mayer – he reminds me of Tom Morello in the way he plays and comes up with little tone changes that are very much the signature of sound, which is very hard to do as a guitarist – he’s a great guitarist.
H: Dan never overplays, it’s always simple yet effective. Not that it’s just ‘plain and simple’, because he’s a fantastic guitarist.

You’ve grown so much in the last year, what role do you think social media has played in helping this?
H: Social media has really helped us out, it’s so important these days. That’s where you get a lot of your fans nowadays.
O: It’s definitely one of the biggest parts to getting your name out there now. For us, we like to put the focus on our live shows and how they are received. We get the most of our followers and fans from live performance – they’ll see us and then follow us because of that. Getting playlisted helps of course, but as cringe as it sounds social media is good for pestering people because if you don’t, they won’t listen to it. Once they listen, they can either say ‘oh I like this’ and if they don’t, fuck them who cares.

Social media is huge tool for the industry. Is there anything happening in the industry right now that you would change?

H: Stop shutting down music venues.
O: Definitely. Fuck that shit. Fuck people moving in from the big city, moving next door to music venues and then complaining about it. Like, don’t live next to a music venue.
H: Curfew is usually like 11 anyway so fuck it.

Have you had any of your favourites close down?
O: Well they tried to close Thekla down.
H: They’ve tried to close The Fleece and The Exchange as well.
O: That’s the thing about Bristol though, the community is too strong that they can’t really close them down. That’s why Bristol is so good.

These are vital music and party venues. What’s your party trick?

H: I can do this (demonstrates the wave with his index fingers) I call it the finger- worm.
O: That’s how he pulls doing that.
H: I’ve never met anyone else that can do it! What’s yours then?
O: I don’t really have one… Just getting drunk.

On a serious note, what are we to expect next from Krooked Tongue?

H: Planning the next single release in February, the big one.

O: Shall we say what it’s called?
H: Shall we?

Let me guess, Girls And Knives?

O: How’d you know that?!

What can I say, I’ve seen a few live sets and I can’t wait to see one next year! Thanks for talking guys.