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Post Info TOPIC: PULP'D: AN INTERVIEW WITH TRISTAN DREW, THE MAN WHO BECOMES JARVIS COCKER (FOR A LITTLE TIME)


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PULP'D: AN INTERVIEW WITH TRISTAN DREW, THE MAN WHO BECOMES JARVIS COCKER (FOR A LITTLE TIME)
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Between October 26, 2012 and October 26, 2022 (oh yes, I'm an organized guy) I wrote 1,000 posts about songs I love on a blog that is already finished, and in which, how could it be In another way, Pulp songs had the most prominent place. When it was my turn to write about "Common People" I was faced with a paradox: how could I not writing about a song I love so much? but at the same time: what could the opinion of a simple Spanish fan contribute to all that has been written about an unfathomable song? So I decided to turn things around and contacted Tristan Drew, frontman of PULP'D, the only Pulp tribute band I know. It seemed to me to be the perfect example of those ordinary people that the song talks about, people who don't go on stage at Glastonbury or are accused of trying to punch Michael Jackson.  Tristan was very kind in answering my questions, and although the interview was finally published in Spanish, I thought maybe it would be fun for the members of this forum to put themselves in the shoes of a guy who goes on stage trying to be Jarvis Cocker for a while. A thousand apologies to the members of the forum if this topic seems not very relevant to you (don't continue reading, this is about the fake Pulp!), and a thousand apologies to the speakers of the wonderful English language: my translation is probably full of errors, but I hope that the message is more or less legible.

 

Let's start with a confession, Tristan: from my absolute ignorance about this subject, I have a bad concept of tribute bands, an issue that has always been surrounded by some controversy. I live in a city of about 300,000 inhabitants. in which the few concerts we have are almost always by small bands or tribute bands (which put the name of the band in giant letters on their promotional posters, and hide the "tribute to" tagline in lowercase fonts). Tell us something that can help us free ourselves from prejudice and change our perception of the matter, please.

(Tristan): I think tribute bands are often stigmatised because lets be honest there are alot of really poor ones out there, some who are just cashing in on a product popularity because they can earn more singing another bands songs and calling themselves a tribute act, than they can earn as themselves or as a covers band.  But for the large number of poor ones that give tributes a bad name,  there are a plethora of absolutely brilliant ones that are tribute bands in every sense of the word. Some I would even say are better than the originals. In some ways its a tradgedy that those bands have to do a tribute act, because given the chance or a different set if circumstances their talents deserved a platform and success of their own.

A tribute should be just that. A celebration. Some tributes really care about that and put months, years and even decades in some cases of hard work replicating the act they are a tribute to, from the sound, the music  the look and the production of their shows.

When you see one of those real tribute shows  it transports you to a special place, where for that few moments, the audience are watching and experiencing the same feelings they would watching the real act. And similarly the artists or band, for that moment are getting to feel what the real act feel. Its a special connection between act and audience from music they both love.

 

I imagine that in the case of tribute bands, you need to be a big fan before you become a performes. (I can't imagine a group of musicians taking a look to find out which bands don't yet have their corresponding tribute band to rehearse their songs and do wardrobe fittings). In your case, it is more than evident. If I am not mistaken, even your son is called Jarvis! Tell us about the Tristan Drew "fan of Pulp" who also grew up in Sheffield when it all happened. What came first, the fan or the musician? What did those songs mean to you compared to others that didn't?

(T): My son is called Oliver, but the fans who have seen him grow up on our fan pages, have affectionately nicknamed him mini Jarvis. Its kind of cute really.

But you are correct, I firmly believe to do a tribute well you have to be a fan.  I grew up in Sheffield UK in the 80s and 90s right in the great britpop battle era. I was a Pulp fan when I became a professional musician at 15. But despite being a Pulp fam it took me 20 years of foin original material and other covers before deciding to do something I loved and become Jarvis. Its been a labour of love ever since.

 

I love the songs of Pulp like those of no other band in the world, and I admit that deep down I feel great envy when I see your videos on stage, the enthusiasm of the people participating in a collective agreement: you know that I am not Jarvis, but I'm going to give you something that is the closest thing to what you once had. Nostalgia always works, and that is something you can see on the faces of those who attend your concerts. Are tribute bands an invention for middle-aged men (I am already 46!) or do you perceive that they really work bringing songs closer to young people generations that could not know them at their time?

(T): The easiest way to answer that is to look at our average usual audience. It is so mixed from young teenagers who know every word to pensioners and of course everything inbetween.

A good tribute band celebrates the music. We help to keep Pulp music alive and while there is always an amazing nostalgia for those who remember it from the first time its also helping new people experience it for the first time. We have a regular that comes to any local shows, a 16 year old girl who Loves Pulp. She comes with her Dad but she knows every word and she is experiencing the Pulp vibe and fanbase in a live setting for the first time and she is now hooked.  Those are the type of reactions I love.

Whether its people losing themselves in the memory of the past and reliving it , or whether its people loving it for the first time. To be part of that is truly special and its the main reason I love what I do.

 

Let's talk about PULP'D, the band of musicians with whom you have been performing the great songs of Jarvis Cocker and his team since (if I am not mistaken) five years ago. How did the project start? Also, from what I've seen on your Facebook page, before you were a tribute band, you and two other original members of PULP'D (one of them, the guitarist, was replaced this July) had your own group, named 3quency. How is that process of assuming that the music you make will not succeed, and instead you want to spend your efforts in reproducing the music of the group you love the most? Does it feel as a surrender, or rather as an opportunity?

(T): Yeah Pulp'd was formed in 2017 and it was when we saw a UK tribute festival had been trying to find a Pulp tribute, even put one together and had never succeeded that we saw a challenge.  I love the challenge of trying to do things others have not been able to.  It wasnt for the want of trying, it was just no one could do Jarvis justice.  Enter Pulp?d.

We were quite fortunate that we were all fans and all Sheffield based. Myself the drummer Matt and Sean our guitarist (who has recently left due to being in music production so he left to effectively be a professional producer) have been in bands together for over 15 years across covers bands, other tributes and originals bands. So we know each other on and off stage very well.

We do still have our own originals projects and all of us have had a level of success with them and past projects, so we have not swapped or given up on out own music, but originals is hard. As professional musicians, unless you make it big, you have to find alternative things to support your families and we all have kids.  Doing a tribute at the level Pulp?d operate is an amazing way to still do music professionally and have a great time doing it and helping to put food on the table as well.   The venues we play with Pulp'd are big venues as we are a professional touring grade band now, the same venues that the recording artistes also play.  So its as close to that as we will probably ever get.  Its fair to say though in the early days it was small bars with sticky floors. We have just worked really hard to get to where we are.

 

Let's go with a delicate question: do you think that tribute bands (which, like any musician, expect to charge for their concerts) only make sense when the group they pay tribute to is no longer active, or do you think it's unethical to do business with those  songs when the audience can still enjoy the real experience?

(T): No I don't think tributes are only for no longer active artistes at all. Tributes give fans a chance to lose themselves in an experience for a while and at a fraction of the cost. Its about an experience. Its no different to say doing a football stadium tour and walking out on to the pitch via the tunnel, experiencing what the players do.

If you do it well and you do it right then paying tribute to something great is never a bad thing as long as its done respectfully.

 

I imagine that when the audience goes to see a tribute band, they somehow hope that for a few moments the magic will happen: people know that the person in front of them is not Freddie Mercury, but they want that person to look like Mercury, move like Mercury, dress like Mercury and -of course- sing like Mercury. Therefore, it is no longer just about loving some songs, but rather being able to emulate that band on stage, something more than an orchestra for weddings and baptisms. Your photos let me see a guy with glasses like Russell Senior's and a bass player with a pretty convincing Steve Mackey tie (you're missing a girl on keyboards!) To what extent is this question of image, poses, dances, etc important when you have a tribute band? Is there a limit to imposture, or "the more similar, the better"? Is there competition among Pulp tribute bands for the most perfect imitation? (Actually, I have assumed that there are more Pulp tribute bands when I see that you advertise yourself as "worlds premier Pulp tribute band")

(T): We are the only Pulp tribute band in the world strangely, we think its because anyone else who has tried has not been able to pull off Jarvis. There have been a few that have tried but quickly realised how hard it is to do and do it well.  Thats not me being arrogant about it, far from it, there were times in the early days where I struggled, but I am also very stubborn and didnt want to not see it through, I wanted to prove to myself I could do it justice. I really cared about that as a Pulp fan.  Jarvis Cocker is so unique. Both vocally and in performance.

Imitation for a tribute is the most important element. Its not just about sounding like the artists you tribute, or just looking like a presentable version of them its about the whole package, looks, sound, Image, moves, mannerisms etc.  For me I spend days  weeks and months studying Jarvis. Even went to see him do solo shows to get into his persona.  Its intense observation and replication that makes a tribute viable.  For Pulp there is a certain element that it is mainly the Jarvis show. People want to see Jarvis. Thats what we try to give them but also the best of the rest of the band as well. Its tiny little things like the glasses and the tie that add familiarity. Those little things help fans invest in the experience.

 

One of the things that has amazed me the most when browsing your website is the existence of something called "Fake Festivals", in which tribute bands with very funny names (not only PULP'D, also Kazabian, Oasish or Fore Fighters) share the stage allowing the public to join in a collective celebration of the songs of his life. It sounds like something as surreal as funny, I would kill to attend something like this! What can you tell us about the festival? Are there rivalries between fake-Albarn and fake-Gallagher?

(T): Ha Ha yes I guess it is surreal to be stood back stage having a pint with fake Liam Gallagher while talking football and family life with fake Freddie Mercury and fake Pink, then fake Bowie walks in moaning about the portible toilets. I guess to the outisde it is very surreal but I guess I take it for granted these days.

But in all seriousness its an amazing thing to be a part of. Fake Festivals is an annual tour of tribute festivals that tour the UK and they take the best professional touring grade tribute bands in the world and put them together on multiple shows throughout the year in various locations. To be considered among the elite tribute bands and on these shows is just amazing. The quality is outstanding and you can easily be mistaken for thinking some of these bands are the real thing.

We are really lucky we have been invited back on tour for 2023 which is massive for us as a band. We are also back for Sheffield Fake Festival in 2023 after playing this year. Its great to be a part of and the fans love it. Who doesnt love a festival full of quality tribute bands having the best time of your life. Its priceless.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I imagine there will be a paradox regarding the audience: the biggest fans of Pulp will not show interest in going to your concerts, considering you a substitute, while those who were perhaps not so fans will be delighted to attend the experience. and they won't stop asking you to play "Common People" and "Disco 2000" (Maybe I'm wrong and the public asks you for songs like "O.U. (Gone, Gone)" or "Dishes"!) How do you choose your setlist? Do you manage to arouse the audience's interest in not so obvious songs from Pulp's repertoire?

(T): Happy to confirm you are wrong on that one most of the time.  Its quite the opposite most of the time. Our shows are full of hardcore Pulp fans with their t shirts from back in the day, who queue after the show for selfies with me as Jarvis. I think thats because the Pulp fans are different, they are very loyal and they generally love what we do. They are really really supportive. Don?t get me wrong there are those that only know the 2 big hits and look confused at everything else, but they have usually been dragged along by a Pulp fan who knows every word to every song, which keeps me on my toes as I have to make sure I remember the words right too ha ha.

Setlist wise we do swap and change songs depending on the audience. If we are doing a festival for example we know not everyone there will be a Pulp fan, so we will keep it more mainstream, making sure we do the hits. If its a Pulp special though where its just us on the show, we like to throw in the b sides and even the demo tracks as well as we know the majority who have paid for a ticket are Pulp fans.

I Rememember doing a show in London, it was an intimate show, about 200 people and everyone was a Pulp fan. We rolled out some obscure songs at that show , "Like a Friend", "Mile End" "Catcliffe Shakedown" "Dogs Are Everywhere". Its great to be able to do that and as a Pulp fan its great to play them.

 

In 2002, Pulp published their "Bad Cover Version"  single which artwork emulated the well-known photograph of the famous "Ziggy Stardust..", and in which a young Mark Webber played the role of Bowie. The second version of the single featured artists covering Pulp as B-sides, and if that wasn't enough, the brilliant video that was made to promote the song brought together an amazing collection of superstar impersonators covering (including vocals) the song. Even Jarvis was encouraged to play Brian May! The idea of ??seeing a Pulp tribute band interpreting this song as Pulp would do it blows my mind. Does this song suppose something special in your concerts, something like a moment of "masks off"

(T): It's a great song and the music video is great. Have to be honest we do not do it on our live shows as its a bit slow to build the atmosphere we thrive on. We have hiwever been toying with the idea of a cover of that for charity, featuring our tribute band friends. Sadly COVID shelved that but I think we are now closer to making that happen. We are hoping the band let us use it and that they also want to get involved. Be amazing.

 

I know that Nick Banks is aware of your existence. Have you had any interaction with Jarvis or other members of the band regarding your group?

(T): Yes Nick shares our stuff, he was going to stand in in drums for us at a Sheffield show but in the end it was cancelled due to reasons beyond our control.  Would have been a great experience. 

As for the others, funny story. About 8 months ago just before the spring I was on my lunch from my day job and rushing through the backstreets in search of quick food and passed a bloke all wrapped up in a long coat, scarf etc, didnt think much other than wow he looks like Jarvis Cocker.  2 days later Jarvis posted a picture on social media of a window with his reflection in it.  Was only the bloke I passed. I passed Jarvis Cocker in the street and didnt realise till it was too late. Gutted!!!  The band give me some stick for that.

 

In our country there is currently a great controversy over Rosalía's concert tour, something similar to what is happening in your country with Ian Brown (The Stone Roses): many have criticized that all the music is recorded and that this was not a "real concert", but a very well produced live video clip, if not a lavish karaoke. Many people were delighted, however, by the experience of seeing Rosalía (and hearing her sing live) even if it was to recorded bases. Your case is exactly the opposite: people can hear live music but not the singer they would like to see. What is your opinion regarding these controversies about what is or is not a concert?

(T): Its a good question, I think its fine to perform to recorded track, the big artists do it all the time, almost every artiste uses click tracks in some form. Theres just some sounds you cannot replicate live without 20 musicians on stage. Such is the way songs are recorded and produced in layers these days.  A fine example is Blur?s The Universal. It is so full of orchestral music they cannot do it fully live without a live Orchestra but they perform the bits they play live but to an orchestral track.

I think as long as its transparrent its a solo show to recorded backing and people buy tickets on that basis, what Ian Brown is doing is fine. But its not fair for people to expect a live band and not get that. It comes down to the messaging and people buying tickets freely to see what they actually see.  

Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West both Glastonbury headliners both performed pyramid stage headline sets to backing tracks only. Some loved it some not.

Its about how its advertised for me. Transparency is key. A concert is a performance be it live or recorded. As long as people know what they are buying tickets for its good for me. 

 

Let's talk now about "Common People". I really liked the idea of doing this interview with you linked to this song precisely because you are the ordinary people that Jarvis was talking about. When the song became a global hit, somehow Jarvis and the rest became global superstars and abandoned their old status. In your case, the thing is the most singular: you are common people (I imagine that some of you have other jobs besides being a musician) who for a few minutes enjoy the brightness provided by a stage and perfect songs. What remains of Tristan Drew, an ordinary man, when he steps on stage? Do you let the person you really are show at some point, or do you carry the task of "being" Jarvis Cocker until the end?

(T): We are all Common People. I stopped being a full time musician in mid 2018 just after having our son. A year after forming Pulp'd.   The whole band have day jobs as well. We have families and beinf away for weeks and months at a time on tour is not healthy to a family environment.

But to answer your question, when I step on stage, in my mind I am Jarvis, my performance is me absorbed in Pulp, absorbed in Jarvis and that is what the fans want and what they deserve. Its what they pay for.

I find a great serenity in escaping on stage for an hour into a chartacter. For that time I do not have to worry about the bills, or work, being a Daddy, a husband etc. Its a time to escape real life and do something whole heartedly that I enjoy.  Tristan is the puppet master, not seen, but pulling the strings for the Jarvis Puppet that the audience see and hear.

I love the theatre of it all. Its a production.

 

It's not uncommon for artists to have a phase in which they hate their biggest hit. Something like the boredom that Thom Yorke showed for many years regarding "Creep", to the point of avoiding it in their concerts setlist. Does something similar happen to you, do you perceive that tension with the audience that is waiting for you to play "Common People" to go listen to Kazabian inmediatly after?

(T): I would be lying if I said it doesnt happen from time to time. Sometimes occassionally (and it is rare) but you just have a crowd at a festival who arent Pulp fans so only know the big 2 hits and they would be happy if you played Common People and Disco 2000 on repeat for 90 minutes. Those shows can be hard work.

Thankfully its not something that happens that often, maybe a couple of shows a year. But there is a sense of achievement and relief at the same time when you get to those songs like Common People on that type of show and you see people converted and going absolutely nuts, where previously they were stationary and uninterested.

Its for that reason we usually end our show early without doing Common People. Its always an encore song, the last song of the night. Theres is something quite rebelious, and very Jarvis, about not doing the song they expect you to do and having them shouting for you to come back on stage just to do that song because the they want it. Its like a drug, they need that song or their night is not complete.

 

Finally, I would love for you to tell us about the Pulp song that means the most to you, a personal weakness. It's always great to talk with someone about the songs you love the most! Thank you very much for your time, I hope you make many people enjoy with those songs and... "let's all meet up in the year 2023"?

(T): Getting deep and personal now, how very Jarvis. I think for me there is a personal connection to Do You Remember the First Time and its because when we launched in 2017 that was the oppening song to a sold out Sheffield O2 Academy. The first time I stepped onstage as Jarvis and it was special for me as a fan to do that. I knew in that moment when I walked out for the very first time and the crowd screamed and cheered that I wanted to do this for as long as I could. The title is prominent because for me I will always remember my first time as Jarvis.

Yes you will see us in 2023. We are back on the fake fest tour and also have our own tour celebrating His N Hers and This is Hardcore.  But most importantly we will be there at the Pulp reunion tour shows as fans, so if you are going along let us know and we will arrange a meet up. The Pulp fans allow us to do what we do and without them we would not be here discussing all this. We have so much love and respect for them and ut has been great discussing a mutual live for Pulp with you so thanks for having me.



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RE: PULP'D: AN INTERVIEW WITH TRISTAN DREW, THE MAN WHO BECOMES JARVIS COCKER (FOR A LITTLE TIME)
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Thanks for posting this, great read! I thought you only contributed to the "Songs that sound like Pulp" thread wink

 

Can't believe they did a show including Catcliffe Shakedown! I saw them in London before but it looks like I missed the right one to geek out to! (I did get the DJ to fade-in It's A Dirty World after at least - it was a Pulp special a few years ago, Pulp'd + DJ playing Pulp).



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PULP'D: AN INTERVIEW WITH TRISTAN DREW, THE MAN WHO BECOMES JARVIS COCKER (FOR A LITTLE TIME)
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Well, to be honest, i think I also contributed to a 2014 thread called Rare Songs list, hehehe ... But yes, you are absolute right, not a great contributor... Guess for me it's it's better to stay quiet when I'm surrounded by experts! . Thanks for reading!

 



-- Edited by srhelvetica on Monday 3rd of June 2024 09:13:19 PM



-- Edited by srhelvetica on Monday 3rd of June 2024 09:16:10 PM

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PULP'D: AN INTERVIEW WITH TRISTAN DREW, THE MAN WHO BECOMES JARVIS COCKER (FOR A LITTLE TIME)
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Enjoyed that. Thanks for posting it. It's mad how they're the only ones but like he says Jarvis is so hard to imitate. There's nothing ordinary about him :) such a unique person.
It's tough going doing that and holding down day jobs but I bet it's fun. I'd love to see them pull off their idea for BCV with the real Pulp in it! That'd be funny :)

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PULP'D: AN INTERVIEW WITH TRISTAN DREW, THE MAN WHO BECOMES JARVIS COCKER (FOR A LITTLE TIME)
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Anyone in Chile this month? Would love to see this Pulp tribute deliver us from suyo y suya

 

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-- Edited by Eamonn on Tuesday 4th of June 2024 08:37:18 AM

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