A Field Of View
When TENEK played a headline show in their hometown of Brighton , a stream of discerning electro fans headed for the south coast, eager to hear tracks from their new album ‘On the Wire’.
By the time Peter Steer and Geoff Pinckney took to the stage, the venue was packed to the rafters; a testament to this band’s growing reputation.
Like their own musical idols, image is all important to TENEK, and they certainly looked the part tonight. Both dressed in black, with Pete sporting a red tie and matching armband, the duo cut a striking figure. “It’s going to get hot and sweaty tonight – and that’s the way we like it!” announced Pete, and never a truer word was spoken. Then the opening synth stabs of ‘Losing Something’ rang out, and the show was underway. Pete and Geoff are both assured performers, engaging the crowd and keeping them entertained with their amusing banter between tracks.
Next up was the glam rock inspired ‘Synchronise‘, and hands punched the air in time to the shouted refrains. The set continued to showcase the best of ‘On the Wire‘, including the magnificent ‘Visions’ and forthcoming single ‘The Art of Evasion’. By now the venue was warming up (literally as well as metaphorically), and the first half of the show climaxed with the roof-raising ‘No Time For Fighting’; an irresistible electro stomper which saw Pete and Geoff bouncing on stage and the crowd bouncing with them.
For the second half of the set, Pete and Geoff were joined on stage by Pete’s brother, Michael Steer, on bass guitar. This added an extra dimension to the sound, and crowd favourites from the band’s first album, ‘If I Should Fall’ and ‘I Don’t Cry (For You)’ were delivered at full tilt. By now the heat was of sauna intensity, but nobody seemed to mind; it just added to the party atmosphere. The First Ladies of TENEK were dancing on the tables, and in amongst the cheering there were chants of “Te-nek! Te-nek!”
The powerhouse set culminated with the closing track from the new album, ‘Under My Skin’, and then it was all over. The crowds made their way into the cool night air knowing they had witnessed something special; a really exciting show with that indefinable atmosphere usually reserved for the likes of DEPECHE MODE and GARY NUMAN. Like many others present, I have been “wired” ever since.
Following the show, The Electricity Club caught up with Peter Steer and Geoff Pinckney to discuss the new album, life on the road and more…
The Brighton gig was a memorable night, for all the right reasons! Did you enjoy it?
Yes, we both really enjoyed the launch party although we had been rather apprehensive about playing so many new songs in one set. It was a sell-out which was great and the crowd were absolutely superb. There were people that had flown in to the UK just to be at the gig and the support band ANALOG ANGEL came all the way from Glasgow so that helped to make it memorable. It was really hot in there though, people were close to passing out with the heat!
Take us back to the start. How did you two meet, and how did TENEK come about?
We first met at a GARY NUMAN gig in London where Geoff”s band GLASSHOUSE were supporting. I thought they were excellent and I eventually ended up joining them two years later after my own band BON BOOSHE had split up. I stayed with GLASSHOUSE for three years and then went off to do other projects and they became THE NINE. We always kept in touch and in 2004 started working together again on ALIEN 6 which was a songwriting and production/remix project. We decided to have another crack at being a band again in 2007 and put together TENEK and released our debut EP which quickly sold out so we decided to really go for it having tested the water!
‘On the Wire’ is a tour de force. You clearly have great chemistry when it comes to songwriting. How does the Pinckney / Steer creative partnership work?
We try not to rationalise it too much, it just seems to work really well. We are never short of an idea or inspiration once we get in to the studio. The fact that we can both play a variety of instruments and sing means that there’s no set way of how a track is formed. It may start from a groove in the computer or an idea from playing around with guitars and synths etc. I think the fact that we’ve both worked with many other people has helped too as you then realise how well this particular partnership works. We are also keen to point out that the lyrics and themes of our music are very much a joint effort which therefore means it reflects the view of the band as opposed to just one writer.
I’ve noticed that a certain ‘Gary and Gemma’ are thanked on both of your album sleeves. How influential has GARY NUMAN been on TENEK?
We’ve both known Gary and Gemma for many years having supported Gary at various gigs over the years. They’ve both always been extremely supportive and Gary has always got some good advice for new bands having been through more than most artists in his long career.
Musically Gary has been a big inspiration for us along with many other artists and I think you can hear that in our music. He was one of the main reasons that both of us decided to become musicians.
Which current acts do you most admire?
Having just come back from a tour with both IRIS and DE/VISION I think we’d have to say that they are both superb bands who have produced two of our favourite albums this year in ‘Blacklight’ and ‘Popgefahr’. We both also love the ‘Wonderful Life’ single by HURTS. but not totally sure about the album yet! It’s good to see such a healthy electronic scene developing again particularly in Germany.
Recent single ‘Blinded By You’ includes an outstanding extended mix by Shaun Brooks. It reminds me of some of the great DM 12″ mixes of yesteryear! How important are remixes to you and can we expect to see more Shaun Brooks gems in the future?
Yes, the remixes in this particular style are very important to us. There are so many remixes that just take the vocal and add a completely different track underneath which bears no resemblance to the original. We loved those 12″ singles from the 1980’s which were extended and you could hear some of the interesting production that you didn’t hear in the radio edit. It’s worked so well for us that we will be releasing an album of remixes in 2011 featuring tracks from ‘On The Wire’ plus several new songs that we are currently writing and recording. Plus we have the new EP coming out in November that will feature some reworked tracks plus something new. Shaun’s remixes are in keeping with the TENEK sound yet still add something new, we always look forward to hearing what he’s come up with!
You’ve recently completed a tour of Germany. I would expect Germans to love your brand of hard-edged electro. Did they take you to their hearts?
We always love going to Germany as we get very well looked after over there. The audiences are great but very different to the UK audiences. They definitely take their time to listen to what you are doing and decide whether they like you or not! We are definitely developing a very good following over there so it vindicates the decision to play live there as much as possible. We can’t wait to go back!
I’ve heard that the German tour was largely fuelled by cheese and coffee. What else would appear on TENEK’s rider?
Well it’s no secret that we are partial to the odd slice of cake too! A nice fridge full of cold beer is always good to see backstage along with the usual selection of rolls, cold meat and of course cheese. We now take our own tea bags as you can’t get a decent cup of tea like here in the UK. How very Rock ‘N’ Roll!
You have two great albums under your belt, plus a loyal and growing fanbase. What’s next for TENEK?
We can’t wait to get back in the studio and work on the new songs, no big breaks for us! We are also going back to Germany in December to play several gigs with DE/VISION including their big party on New Year’s Eve in Berlin which is going to be quite a night! After that we are off to Romania in January to play at a festival and more UK dates will be added soon. We’ve also done a remix for REPUBLICA which we are extremely pleased with and we’ll be supporting them at their London show on the 13th October at the O2 Academy in Islington. Plus we have our new EP released in November so it’s all very busy at the moment which is always a good thing!
The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Peter Steer and Geoff Pinckney
Special thanks to Robert German for the live pics
‘On the Wire’ is available now from Toffeetones Records
Text and Interview by Steve Gray
6th October 2010