Shetland islanders Ten Tonne Dozer recently released a live album of their exploits on mainland Europe that I had the distinct pleasure of wrapping my lugholes around right hereon Planetmosh. While I didn’t go all the way to the Shetlands to speak with them I did get a chance to grill them on just how hard it is being a metal band from that part of the world.
Hi guys and thanks for taking the time to chat to us today. Before anything else, for those readers of the site who maybe haven’t heard of you can you give us a bit of background about yourselves?
How would you describe the band? Where are you from? How long have you been together?
It does what it says on the tin – TEN TONNE DOZER. 4 of us are from Shetland, the odd one is from Australia. Feels like 20 years, but it’s only been 8. Mick and Jamie in particular were playing in bands together those 20 years ago. Some of Dozer’s stuff was actually created when Jamie was in one of his earlier bands with Mick, so some of our riffs/tunes are about 20 years old.
We’re just a bunch of guys who get together to play some tunes and have a bloody good time on stage. It’s all about having fun!
Given your location what kind of challenges do you guys have to face?
Trows mostly (like Norwegian Trolls, except midgets). The little hairy buggers keep trying to infiltrate the band. We’re not sure about Jamie, we suspect he might be one that got through the screening process.
Seriously though, it’s mostly logistical issues. The expense of getting to and from Shetland, and the weather as to whether or not we actually get off or back on this rock. Ferry and Flight cancellations are very common, be nice just to be able to drive to a gig like most bands do on the mainland. Time off work is a pain in the arse too as we lose the bulk of 2 days going to and from Shetland on the ferry with the van, so in reality a weekend on the mainland to do 2 gigs turns out to be about 4 days away from Shetland, work and family. Being stuck in the middle of the North Sea isn’t always as fun as a barrel of monkeys, the logistics to do a tour are shit and can be very expensive.
How do you go about picking and choosing the destinations for your tours?
Once again, it’s all about logistics. We’d all love to go much further afield, but we have to make sure we can get there and play enough gigs to pay for it. That’s why we play gigs on the way to the ferry, go across to Holland and base ourselves there. We then play gigs radiating out from a point in Holland. Everywhere we’ve played, we’re playing gigs on the way there and on the way back to make it possible.
First and foremost though it’s the fans we want to try and keep happy, the ones we like playing to, and the venues we like to play in. Then it’s the nightmare of where we go, how much time we have, and with the little time we’ve got what cities/towns we go and play. It might sound a bit daft, but we look at the geography of places, and work out towns/cities that fall within a certain mileage or radius to make it all cost effective. It usually costs us well over £1,000 on the ferries to get to and from Shetland and to and from the continent, plus the fuel costs on top of that, so careful consideration of drive time and fuel efficiency come into play a lot. If we don’t think geographically and just drive shitloads of miles for the sake of it, we find that we’ve not only chewed up our time very quickly but also go into the shit financially pretty fast too. Our tours rely heavily on merch sales, as gig fees and sexual favours alone cannot cover the costs of our 4 ferry trips, fuel, various insurance policies, etc, etc….
What made you decide to record an album of this tour?
It’s far fucking easier to get us all on stage in the middle of a tour and nail it, than to get us all organised in a studio and have some unforeseen fuck up happen. We all like having a recording from gigs if the opportunity is there, as you never know when those recordings will come in handy. The dude that recorded us was pretty cool and seemed to know his shit, and funnily enough that is exactly what the venue smelt like – shit. We’ve never played a gig where directly in front of the stage there is a vent from the sewage pipe. The locals appeared to have been used to the smell, Dave was getting the blame for the stink as it is generally what his arse is like on tour.
The sound engineer at the venue offered a service where he’d record what went through the mixing desk onto disk for a small fee. We said “Yeah, do it” ‘cos it’s always good to hear what it sounds like. Turns out he’d got an excellent sound, so after that it was a no-brainer.
Was it hard to decide on the tracks to use?
God yeah! The album is basically the set we played that night (except for a single song, which didn’t make the cut due to technical issues). The thing is, we have so much material we hate having to prune it down to a 30-40 minutes set. We can do 3 hours easily and none of us likes dropping some of the old standards. However, we always like to take a few new tunes out on tour, so something has to go.
Do any of you have bad habits or rituals before playing when on tour?
Jamie likes to climb up random stuff like outdoor public urinals and pagodas. When we’re out of the UK he also likes to sniff stuff in the supermarket if he’s unsure what the hell it is. He’s always trying to scare the shit out of someone or play a practical joke on them. Him and Keith Neill also have Fifa grudge matches on the van’s N64.
Keith Nicol sleeps, reads and sleeps, sleeps and reads. When he’s awake he has a smoke, then goes back to sleep.
Keith Neill and Mick don’t shy away from trying any unusual foreign brews, and they both have an infectious laugh. Keith Neill giggles so much he cries and it becomes painful.
Dave gets naked a lot. He also usually damages something or himself while on stage, then wonders the next day what the hell happened and why he was bleeding last night at the gig. He has a pretty good appetite, but can’t be moved too soon after eating otherwise his arse turns into Chernobyl. Dave does most of the driving, so when he has a day off from it him and Mick do a port breakfast, and when out of the UK them and ‘the Keith’ visit a local country pub on push bike and drink many local Trappist brews, Dave then struggles to find his way back to base camp and ends up in a hedge or someone’s rhododendrons.
Mick is stubborn, pedantic, and is ALWAYS right. He is always scoping out the toilet situation at venues and camp sites. He snores like an absolute bastard!
We’d also probably sacrifice virgins on an altar, but they’re hard to find at a rock gig, so not really.
In-between recording and playing live, what do you guys do to kick back and relax?
Bide our time in Shetland till our next adventure away. We don’t always get a chance to team up socially as we’re usually busy doing something. Every now and then all of us get together out at Dave’s for a sesh and get stuck into his home brew, and if it’s Aussie rules footy season watch the AFL the next morning. These occasions can often involve an intoxicated jam session, Where’s Wally, weird board games from the 60s, showing a bit of burly bruv luv, and a round of golf in the paddock aiming at sheep. Don’t worry, the sheep don’t feel a thing – the wool is like padding.
What are the plans for the rest of this year?
That’s a tough one. Get drunk. Try to get laid. Fail miserably. For the first time in 5 years we’re not doing a lengthy tour, instead we’re hoping to do several small but more targeted weekends away. Nothing is concrete as yet, but we have some plans.
Unfortunately we also have to train up a new rhythm guitarist as Mick has a hand/wrist that has turned shithouse and he is now unable to play guitar, let alone hold the damn thing. No it’s not his wanking hand so he’s ok for self satisfaction still. Until he gets operated on or whatever needs to happen to get him functioning again we’ve no Big Mick, which is a real bloody shame considering he is the bulk of the ten tonne. Dave is now finished organising band stuff till 2014, so there probably won’t be much else happening. We were hoping to get down to the mainland sometime this year, but it’s not going to be Dave organising it. After 8 years of just about sorting out everything he is wanting someone else to take over the duties.
Are there any messages that you would like to pass on to our readers?
Yes. Bruce in Govan, you still owe me a fiver. Emma in Kirkwall – the answer is yes. It is really that big. Jemima in Lerwick – no, bass-Keith wouldn’t look better in a frock. Liz in Aberdeen – drummer-Keith is unavailable for personal performances at the moment, but Jamie is his understudy so will be along soon.
Finally, if you’re a young band or musician wanting to get out and about DON’T base yourself on an isolated rock in the middle of the sea. Make it easy on yourself and stay on the mainland, get to gigs easier and save heaps of pennies. Ideally we should probably all quit our jobs, ditch our women, and sell off the kids, and move to Elgin, Whitehaven, Hank, Wiesmoor or somewhere where bearded men are welcome and can roam free.
Finally finally and most importantly to quote Dave – Keep on Rockin’!
Uit de Buik Duivel te Koop is available now directly from the band
Ten Tonne Dozer are:
Dave Kok – Vocals
Jamie Duncan – Guitar
Michael Tait – Guitar
Keith Nicol – Bass
Keith Neill – Drums