An Interview With TENEK

Four years on from their debut EP release, edgy synth duo Tenek return with EP2, which features two brand new tracks and reworked album material.

Geoff Pinckney and Peter Steer, who together make up Tenek, have built a loyal following since the band’s inception in 2007. Their debut album, Stateless (2009) showcased their distinctive sound, featuring hard electro grooves and stabs of guitar. Follow-up album, 2010’s On The Wire, was a powerhouse of anthemic tunes, including the single ‘Blinded By You’ and live favourite ‘No Time for Fighting’. The album was widely acclaimed, and scooped an Album of the Year in TEC’s Contributor Listings of 2010

Tenek have also built a reputation as a compelling live act, and recently received a great reception when they played to a 4,000 capacity crowd at Croxfest, near Watford. They will shortly be supporting Toyah on several dates throughout the country.

The lead track from EP2, ‘What Do You Want?’ is a fine example of Tenek’s infectious songwriting, and features none other than Chris Payne on violin. Chris is best known for his part in the original line-up of the Gary Numan band from 1979-1989, and his innovative violin parts feature on a number of seminal Numan tracks including ‘Complex’ and ‘Cold Warning’.

Second new track, ‘Elusive’, is made for the dancefloor and shows how Tenek incorporate influences from the last three decades of electronic music. Elusive owes as much to the likes of Fluke and Orbital as it does to the classic acts of Synth Britannia. Also included on EP2 are reworked versions of On The Wire album tracks, ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘The Art of Evasion’.

Geoff Pinckney from Tenek talked to TEC about the new EP and the band’s future plans.

How did the Chris Payne collaboration come about? Was it enjoyable to work with him?

Pete met Chris a while back at a Numan gig and they exchanged e-mail addresses. Whilst writing ‘What Do You Want?’ we used samples of violins and cellos but we both felt that we wanted them to feature more so they’d have to be real instruments. That’s when Chris popped into our heads and we thought we’d take a gamble and ask him if he was up for recording the violin parts for us. Like a gentleman he said, in his own words, “Yes I’d be happy to play some crappy violin on your track”! He sent us what he recorded via email (as he now resides in France) and we picked out the bits we liked… great! All we then needed him to do was the two main riffs, so we asked him nicely to record those too and he did. Thanks Chris!

The cello parts were played by a guy called Phil Jones from a band called Redwood Falls, whose album Geoff recently produced.

We think it makes the track sound more organic and takes it up a level from what it would have been had we just used the samples. Plus its an honour for us to have one of our musical heroes contribute to our work.

Would you like to see any further musical collaborations taking place in the future?

We’re very much up for that! It’s nice to throw different things into the mix and see where it goes. We’re not control freaks where every idea has to be ours alone. Thats a good way of putting pressure on yourself and then the creativity suffers in the process. We’ve recently been joined by Roger Millington on bass and keyboards and were keen to get him to contribute to the new album. It’s great to have so many sources of ideas to work with and it keeps things sounding fresh and spontaneous.

Can you give us an insight into the making of the ‘Higher Ground’ video?

It was filmed at Coalhouse Fort in Tilbury, where they filmed the Bhutanese Prison scenes for Batman Begins. It was a great choice of location as there was so much of it that was usable for the shoot.

Simone Harris of Sim Films already had the day planned and the storyline had been worked on and decided by all those involved. It was cool as Simone knew exactly what she wanted.

It was a little strange at first having to act as such, but as the day went on we felt more comfortable with the idea. We filmed most of the boy/girl shots first thing and I did my bit outside overlooking the fort and running around etc, then Pete joined us for the tunnel shots. It was bloody cold in there! Whilst filming with the lights flashing in the tunnels there were moments of uncontrolled laughter for various reasons!

We then moved on to the room where we filmed the unplugged, live band stuff. Lots of messing around with lights and moving objects and stuff. It was great fun. We’re looking forward to the next one. Thanks to Simone Harris, Will Franklin, Chris Plant, Amanda Borgerhoff and Simon Whitehead for making it all happen.

It’s been a busy year for live shows. Can you recall any highlights?

Yes, we played at a festival in Bucharest in January and that was a lot of fun as it was the last gig at that venue and it got demolished the next day! We were very well looked after too, thanks to Viviana Ball and Viva Music for that!

Our gig with Assemblage 23 in London was also a great night and was Roger’s first gig with us, although you would never have guessed. We think that Croxfest was also fantastic as we played to over 4000 people in the sunshine and it was broadcast live on local radio. We gained a lot of new fans that day! We are very much looking forward to the shows with Toyah too.

Your live third musician, Roger Millington seems to have been embraced by the fanbase! How do you see Roger’s role developing?

Yes, Roger fits in very well personality and musician wise. We’re very pleased at the fans reaction toward him. He’s a welcome addition to the line-up. We’re looking forward to getting him involved in the writing of the new album which we think will add the necessary edge and musicianship required to make it stand out from On The Wire and Stateless. The forthcoming months are going to be very exciting for us!

For now the focus is on EP2. What’s next for Tenek?

Indeed, EP2 is the main focus at the moment and will bridge the gap until the release of the remix album, Re-wired which will be solely remixed by Shaun Brooks of Toffeetones. His approach will be like that of The Human League (among others) producer Martin Rushent’s approach on the Love And Dancing album. We all love the 80s style of remixing, the way the tracks were stripped down and built up again, revealing their component parts. Proper anorak stuff that makes us tick! As well as working on the new album we’ll be looking at some more European dates for 2012.

The Electricity Club gives grateful thanks to Geoff Pinckney and Peter Steer.

Tenek’s EP2 is out now on Toffeetones.

Photos by Ed Fielding – Retouching by Bernard Ryan.

Steve Gray
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