Backstage with Tommy and the Fuse

Former Chip Shop Boys frontman, Tommy Lewis, talks 'Uptown Funk', superhero personas, Jamiroquai and Alan Partridge comparisons, as well as starting from scratch with his exciting new band, Tommy and the Fuse.

Hi Tommy, tell our readers a little bit about yourself and the band.

My name is Tommy Lewis, and my new band is called Tommy and The Fuse. The core members include me on lead vocals and keyboard, Mark Maycock on drums, Andy Gifford on bass guitar, and Sean Carless on lead vocals and rhythm/lead guitar.

We are also currently rehearsing with our extended line up, with additional vocalists and brass players, for the festivals and larger events next year.

Where are you all from?

I was born in Cheltenham, and I currently live in Churchdown where I grew up. The rest of the guys are also local, living in Churchdown and Quedgeley.

How would you describe your style of music to our readers?

We’re a funky pop, soul and rock band. Although I think we play everything with a bit of funk, whatever the song!

Some people know you as a part of The Chip Shop Boys, how long were you a member?

This answer is embarrassing, as it shows my age, but I was a founding member of what started out as a duo in 1996!

Why did you leave?

The working and personal relationship broke down between myself and the band’s decision makers. But, I do believe the band’s new line-up is a step closer in the direction they’re now aiming for, and they definitely have some great players.

Myself, Sean, Mark and Andy have all been part of the extended Chip Shop Boys family in some form or other, and whilst we don’t know all the new guys, we wish them all the best. I still really care about the name, as I worked on it for so long.

What have been your fans’ reactions to this change?

I’ve had so much support, it has been amazing. From people who remember me playing for laughs in the duo at the start, right up to people who saw me play my last gig with the original members in the summer. Everyone has been so kind and encouraging, which has been nice as I’ve kind of started from scratch again.

Do you cover different songs now?

As soon as I realised Tommy and The Fuse was now my main vehicle, there was a conscious decision to push the envelope a bit with the cover songs we’ve been choosing. We’re trying to be as varied as possible, covering everything from Calvin Harris to Cameo.

Also, because the working dynamic is so different, there’s a chance to introduce original material into the festival sets and larger events.

What is your favourite song to cover?

At the moment we’re all loving ‘Uptown Funk’ by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. It’s just got a great groove. ‘Feel the Love’ by Rudimental is fun too. We use it as a bit of a gospel opportunity to introduce the band and it really hypes up the crowd. Hallelujah!

What songs are the real crowd-pleasers?

Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ never fails. Women sing like crazy to it and you’ll see the guys throw their arms around each other and enjoy some bromance.

How long has Tommy and the Fuse been around for?

Tommy and The Fuse started as a bit of fun for All Bar One Cheltenham in March last year. It was really a chance to try some different material out and have a good time. When I found myself with an empty diary in the June, everyone was happy for Tommy and The Fuse to step up a gear. The band is now alive and kicking full-time.

Where did the name Tommy and the Fuse come from?

I’ve been a Huey Lewis and The News fan since I was a kid, so the name – in my head – was funny just because it rhymed. We all felt the name worked as it mentions the fusion of styles and influences we all bring to the table.

Who do you get compared to?

A groom the other week said he thought we sounded like a combination of Daft Punk, Jamiroquai, The Jam and Alan Partridge. A bit weird, but I’ll take those comparisons any day!

What kind of people will we find at your gigs?

Hopefully you’ll find anybody. All creatures great and small, we won’t discriminate. There are music moments everyone can let loose to. More and more people are becoming aware that we’re varied and interactive, so hopefully you’ll find a bunch of good-time seekers.

What’s your favourite venue or festival you’ve played at in Gloucestershire and why?

Oooh, that’s difficult. We’ve genuinely loved all the venues and events we’ve played over the past few months, we’ve been very lucky. I think the Hollie Gazzard Winter Wonderland Ball at Hatherley Manor in November was really special. The event raised £8,000 and was a remarkable evening. It was a pleasure to perform.

Where would you most like to play in Gloucestershire and why?

Gloucestershire’s got so much going on right now in terms of festivals and events – it’s a really exciting time. We want to continue to work with Gloucester Quays and we are are also looking forward to our work with Gloucester Rugby Club. 2015 is going to be a great year locally for rugby and we’re excited about contributing to the celebrations.

Who would you most like to support and why?

A few years ago, Rick Astley supported Peter Kay on his arena tour – I would love to have done that!

What do you do when you’re not making music?

When there is no music fun to be had, I have fun with my kids, I work out on my punch bag and I geek out watching movies. I’m a huge movie fan.

Recommend one album to our readers you don’t think they will have discovered.

Are You Out There: Demos 01-09 by Tommy Lewis is available on iTunes worldwide and is a lost classic. Recorded in various London studios, bedrooms and basements, it’s worth a listen for £7.99!

Number one ambition?

To be an on-screen super-hero! I’ve often thought of developing my own comic character called ‘Chelt-Man’. He’d swoop in to solve local musical crimes, although I’d probably be the main suspect most of the time.

Any claims to fame?

I was involved in the early stages of developing both the boybands 5ive and Blue. I think my sense of humour ruined it for me. I also fronted a national Muller-light advertising campaign… Rock ‘n’ Roll hey?!

Well, apart from the yoghurt campaign, have you ever done anything ‘rock and roll’ like throwing a TV out of a hotel room or smashing a guitar?

I accidentally threw a hot cappuccino at a service station attendant once. It was a complete accident. I was travelling to a gig somewhere and had basically just lost control of my arms. When I got to the till to pay, I just flicked the drink all over this poor lady’s top, into the open till and all over the chip and pin machine. There’s now quite a long stretch of motorway on the M42 where I can’t stop for a break. Ever.

What advice would you give to local artists and bands trying to make it in the music industry?

Just gig, write and work as hard as you can. It sounds clichéd, but you really have to put it in to get it out. Your band needs to be everywhere. But there needs to be a balance of how you push yourselves and how you see yourselves; there are plenty of people who get lost in their own PR and forget that really, we’re all just lucky to be working and surviving. Also, if you’re not enjoying it, work it out, otherwise it’s time misspent.

Where can local fans see you perform in the next month or two?

Great local events lie ahead. We’re performing at The Hollie Gazzard Unique Fashion and Culture Show on Tuesday 3 February 2015 at Revolution in Cheltenham; and on Friday 3 April 2015 we are co-headlining The Black Dog Charity Evening at Gloucester Guildhall. It’s an awesome venue so book your tickets quick.

And finally, where can SoGlos readers expect to see you in a year’s time?

I’m hoping we’ll be bigger and stronger… and possibly in parliament.


For more information see tommylewismusic.com keep up-to-date with Tommy and the Fuse's latest news at facebook.com/tommyandthefuse.


By Alice Lloyd

© SoGlos
Monday 26 January 2015

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