Before the advent of hipsters and the popular bouts of indie and electronic music that dominate the club scene, pop punk kings Tweak ruled the roost with a barrage of hits that appealed to many too young to buy their own beer.
Doubtless to say, when the band split up 10 years ago, many fans would never have expected to see them live again. Until two months ago. Tweak, riding gloriously on a wave of nostalgia, announced their 10 year anniversary tour. The tour is all about reliving the Tweak era and grants fans the opportunity to see original members Garth Barnes, Brendan Barnes and Chris Brink onstage again whilst legally buying their booze this time.
“We’re all still very much in contact. We stayed friends over the years. We always chat online and that,” Garth Barnes tells me, his voice steady but with a clear undercurrent of excitement. “So I think what sparked it was that one day… I had the idea for the song and then I was like ‘Hey guys, do you realise that it’s been 10 years since we last played a gig?’ I emailed them a snippet of the track and was like ‘What do you think of this? How about a ten year anniversary tour?’ And they were like ‘Hell yes, we love this song, let’s record it, let’s plays some shows for old times’ sake’.”
Clearly more of spontaneous decision than a carefully plotted event, since Tweak announced their official dates for their 10 year tour, they’ve been overwhelmed by the fans reaction and support of it. “We were obviously a little bit nervous. Honestly, 10 years is a long time in a world where artists come and go within a month, we had no idea what to expect. So the fact that we had such a great response online and we had promoters interested – because we’re obviously doing the show at Oppikoppi and the other gigs on the tour – was just awesome for us. We were super chuffed,” says Barnes, who later confesses that regardless of whether the promoters were interested of not, they were going full steam ahead regardless.
Barnes describes putting the tour together as interesting and not without its challenges – Chris Brink (bass) is currently based in the UK while the Barnes brothers are, obviously, based in South Africa.
“It would be a bit less challenging if everyone was here. For example, the song that we tracked, we had to mission. We had to write our part, record it, and then send it to Chris to get the bass down in the back and [negotiate] ‘Hey, that’s good, maybe change this, maybe try that’. But in the end, that’s the great thing about all this technology and we’re super, super stoked with the way it’s turned out,” Barnes beams and he’s entitled to it after bringing old school DIY practices back sans any kind of prissy attitude. “In terms of actually putting the tour together, that’s been a lot of work but putting a tour together is always a lot of work. Luckily we have the experience of 15 years in the game to help us do that.”
Their anniversary tour starts off with a set at this year’s Oppikoppi, significant because Tweak managed to get a foothold in the industry, and gigging circuit at large, by winning the 2000 National Battle of the Bands competition. The prize money, received at Oppikoppi, was used to record their first full-length album. “We’ve got a long history because I think that was the spark that set it all off. But coming back there 15 years later, is very exciting for us.”
Tweak actually approached Oppikoppi with their idea of a set at the festival as the first gig of the tour. “I got an email from Gareth [Wilson] within 10 minutes saying ‘Cool, you guys are on’. I don’t know if he actually ran it by the rest [of the team] or if he decided that it was better to ask for forgiveness rather than for permission,” Barnes says chuckling on the other end. “So thanks to team for taking a chance on a couple of old ballies.”
If fans are wondering what to expect from the shows, Barnes lays any doubts to rest here. “This whole project is aimed at being 100% nostalgic. So the idea is not to present some kind of 2015 version of Tweak but to literally go back 10 years and say ‘What were we doing then?’, ‘How did we dress then?’, ‘What songs did we play then?’ The idea is to just transport everyone who remembers the band, everyone who remembers that era, back for one night and kinda re-look those years, including ourselves.”
Proving that these shows are all about reliving the good times, Tweak have asked fans to choose their set list via social media. “We have a spreadsheet somewhere where we literally took all the votes from Facebook and tallied them up and that’s what we’re playing,” he laughs like it was great idea at the time but when it comes to nostalgia, one cannot fail.
This process has also been a trip down memory lane in itself. “It was really interesting seeing the songs that came up. I think that we managed to guess 90% of what was there. What was great was the fans reminded us of some things or songs we had forgotten about. So there definitely were a few little Easter eggs, a few little surprises which we’re going to throw out in the set but I think for the most part, we anticipated what the demand was going to be.”
“Back in the day, we didn’t give a rat’s arse about practicing or getting the songs right,” Barnes admits. “It was more just about cutting loose on stage. And while we’re still going to have a lot of fun, you learn to play your instrument a lot better over 10 years. So hopefully we get to play the songs correctly and closer to what they should have sounded like on the CDs.”
Along with the announcement of the tour came the release of their new single, ‘A Team’. The single, which deals with the state (read: mediocrity) of the music industry and Tweak’s wish to jam like its 1998, could easily have been written and recorded for any of their albums. For Barnes, the best thing about recording the single was exactly that. “I think, what is so great about it is just we wanted it to be a song that could literally have been straight out of 1998. We didn’t want to think too hard about it or worry too much about lyrics, ‘Are people going to like it?’, ‘Is it going to get onto radio?’ It didn’t necessarily have to be correct, we just wanted it to do it like we did it in the old days.”
Tweak has three weeks until they find themselves back on that Koppi stage and until then, they’ll most likely find themselves looking to the past 10 to 15 years in preparation. “It’s kinda like when you look at a naked baby pic of yourself,” Barnes laughs. “It’s a little bit embarrassing but that’s where you came from and you’ve got to be proud of that.”
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Listen to ‘A Team’ below on Deezer.