Feature

Meet The Tarantulips, our newest indie rock obsession fronted by a familiar face from Desmond & the Tutus

Yesterday BBC’s lauded festival, BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, announced that this year they are opting to move their festival to a streaming platform, and that they’ve chosen a few acts from around the UK to be involved in the virtual fest.

One of those acts are The Tarantulips, an indie rock trio based in the Channel Islands between France and the UK, and fronted by Nic Dinnie, ex-bassist for Desmond & the Tutus.

If sweat, surf and cloudy beach days were blended in an indie-rock Nutribullet, you’d have The Tarantulips – a dirty disco trio that sound like the love child of The YeahYeahYeahs glitter-punk spirit and the LCD Soundsystem’s glory art rock days.

Nic Dinnie (vocals, guitar) and Elisa Da Silva (vocals, bass) and Jon Caws (drums) have been grafting for the last two-and-a-bit years, and through BBC Introducing, have had their single “Gush” playlisted on a few BBC stations.

“My wife got a job offer in Jersey and we’d always wanted to see more of the world, and with no dependants or home loans it seemed silly not to take the opportunity,” Dinnie tells me when I ask him why he moved to the Channel Islands – in my defence it’s a fair question. I had to Google Map Channel Islands just to be sure exactly what I was dealing with here.

So moving from a country with 57 million people to a place with just over 170 000 population, I wonder what the adjustment was like when it comes to forming – and then fronting – another band after departing from Desmond & the Tutus.

“Moving to a place where absolutely no one on the scene knows anything about you and your history is a real blow to the ego,” Dinne laughs. “It brought me back down to earth and I told myself I had the very privileged opportunity of doing something purely for the love of it and having the experience to understand that it takes hard work and lots of hustling to get the music heard.” 

He pauses for a second before thoughtfully continuing, “Having come from the Tutus I had learnt so much from Shane and Doug about showmanship and owning your space on the stage, I’m not quite as loose as the boys and tend to sweat more, I do miss hanging out with those guys though, that was a real epic time!”

But back on The Tarantulips playing field I’m keen to learn more about the band in Dinnie’s own words, after trawling their Apple Music discography.

“The dream was to pull a little emotion and ambience through the veins of a garage, grunge rocky sound but still keep it high energy and fun. I think we have some songs that do just that,” Dinnie explains and the song that perfectly incapsulates this is their latest single “Time Bomb”, that has that swampy, grungy tone – also who knew Dinnie was sitting on those powerful vocals that entire time?

“Over the years the sound has grown beyond that to including Elisa up front on a few numbers,” he continues. “It’s been really cool watching her grow as a musician. Jon came over to Jersey from the UK as a professional drummer and it was a great fit having such a great player in a similar situation as myself.”

I ask about the scene where he is and, surprise surprise, Dinnie tells me that it’s also struggling. “Iconic venues really struggle to keep their doors open and live performance has been increasingly devalued. It’s really tricky to say exactly what has brought this on but I guess the generations coming through now don’t have the nostalgia of band practices and captivated media like magazines and music channels pushing band music, genres are really splintered and there’s not much making it through to the big media platforms,” he sighs.

“With that said, the rarity may be just what rock needs to breath, coolness, honesty and passion in a condensed form back into the music. I can’t see it being at the old school levels of the ’60s to ’90s but now when you come across a band playing their hearts out you know it’s not as a copycat but more likely a bunch of people realising some personal dreams,” he concludes. And that right there is The Tarantulips in a nutshell.

Be sure to check out BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend 2020 on Saturday 23 May where The Tarantulips will be playing BBC Music Introducing Stage.