Photo credit Colin Jones.
Thank you for taking time out to talk to me; you are quite busy at the moment aren’t you?
Chess – We are, yes, we are I guess, a quarter of the way through our tour.
How did you decide on your band name and how long did it take you to agree it?
Chess (giggles) – We had to change our name very early on, before we had any real idea of where the band was going, what the sound of the band was. We were kind of still developing the sound, just writing singing and rehearsing a lot. There was another band though, with our old name so we thought we might just as well change names now, but at the time we were trying to decide, we were all in different parts of the country, so we were doing it all over WhatsApp and it almost broke the band up! (Chess giggles again!) It was so difficult! It really was not the way to do it! I just ended up – everything I saw I just put Hearts after it, so I was…Lamp Hearts, Speaker Hearts, I just lost the plot completely! It turned out Wandering Hearts was one that was mentioned very early on, right at the start of the week, and I think it took almost a week of chatting and trying to settle on one and then going back to something else. We eventually decided and it felt really right – The Wandering Hearts – because it felt very universal to the four of us as we are all quite free spirited. We love playing music, we love travelling, we love touring, so it just felt like it really fitted the vibe of what we thought we were.
How did the four of you first meet?
Tim – It was myself and Tara, we were both doing a show together, completely separate from each other, and it was the first time we had met. We were both singing at that, we both got chatting and we just both really hit it off – we had a lot of similar interests in music, particularly the sort of music we listened to growing up. We were both really hoping for a resurgence of that sort of music. Out of those chats came the ultimate question of “Do you want to do something, do you want to write some new stuff, get a band together?” We met Chess and AJ through some mutual friends, that was all the start we really needed. After the first rehearsal we knew what we had was pretty special and we just wanted to keep doing it.
Do you live close together – is it easy to meet up to write and practice?
Tim – Yeah, we have always been pretty much in and around London, the furthest south being Essex, even then transport links are fine. We get together as much as we can, we are very much used to it now. In the early days, it was as Chess said earlier, we had been all around the country and different countries doing previous music related jobs and we all happened to be in and around London at that time. We have managed to stay in that location since which has been great.
As we said, you are on your headline tour now. When you are travelling from venue to venue, how do you pass your time? Do you play games, or do you use your time constructively and write?
Chess – It is kind of a variation of all of that, depending on how we are feeling. Sometimes we are just knackered and we will sleep in the van. It is quite nice as everyone is really close we can all judge whether or not someone needs some space – sometimes someone will just put their headphones on with some music, sometimes we will chat, sometimes we will play games, we will have a drink. It kind of varies and you have to try to balance it out. I think people have this preconception that a tour bus is just mental all the time, but most of the time it is very civilised – most of the time!
When you are on the road, what do you miss the most from home?
Chess – Ermm, a washing machine? (We all laugh at this!)
Me – I wasn’t expecting that!
Chess – Obviously loved ones, blah, blah, blah! No, I think this is the longest tour we have done, nearly three weeks altogether, it is so lovely as we all provide comfort and love for one another when we are all together, so if you are missing home or having a tough time we can help each other out in that respect. I guess people miss their partners and Tim has recently had a baby, so he probably misses his baby a lot.
Tim – Although weirdly I get better sleep when I am on tour, even sharing a room with AJ, which is saying a lot really! He’s trouble! I miss a proper size bed and the home comforts. It is lovely to go back to at the end of a few weeks away or whatever it is, makes you treasure it more.
How do you unwind after performing a gig because obviously you finish quite late, you finish at almost bed time?
Chess – After a show we always try to go out and meet people afterwards, have photos, sign stuff for people. We feel this is really important, lots of people have travelled a long way to come & see us so we always like to try and get out to see them after a show. By the time we have done that, we are still riding the buzz from the show at that point, so we will have a couple of drinks or depending on how we are feeling we will normally have a bit of chill time, or if we are in a new town we will go and find a cool little bar or go and explore and have a bit of fun. Most of the time we are knackered! Once we have loaded out of each venue it is quite a big job. We are lucky now as there are loads of us now, we have got quite a big team, so if there are 11 of you unloading out of a venue, it is a lot quicker than 4 of you. By the time you have done that and we have all had a drink, we are ready for bed. It is very rock and roll!
That leads me onto my next question. I saw on Facebook that Olivia Searle from This Pretty Room gave you and Tara some little bags that she had made for you in Exeter. What is the weirdest thing you have been given or been asked to sign?
Chess – I think Olivia is so sweet, that is the first gig she has made it to, she hasn’t been able to make it to a gig before, it was so sweet of her to have gone to that much effort and they are really good quality, it is amazing. The weirdest thing we have ever had to sign I think was someone’s stomach!
Tim – Yup!
Chess – We sign people’s jeans, their boots, bags. At C2C it is always a bit mad because they just want everything signed, whatever they are wearing, it is like – can you sign my tee shirt, sign my hat, but I think stomach is probably the strangest.
You have been very busy this year, you played quite a lot of festivals, I know you were out in Nashville because you spoke to my colleague Kate when you were out there. What are your plans for next year, are you hoping to play more festivals?
Tim – Yes for sure, it will be more of the same I think. We want to release more music, we want to do more festivals, we want to do more shows, more travelling. Just bigger and better we hope. It is going to be hard to top this year I think with some of the stuff we have done. Releasing our debut album (Wild Silence) and as you say, going out to Nashville and playing the shows we did there. To try and top that is going to be pretty tough. We are going to give it a go though! We have got a lot of new material that we want to get out there as well.
Do you prefer playing a gig or a festival?
Slight pause as Chess and Tim both go “Ohhhhhhhhhh” and Tim giggles!
Chess – What is so great about a festival, is that as an artist you rarely get to see any other artists play because you are always playing a gig in the night and obviously everyone else is too. What is so great about playing a festival, is that you get to watch other people as there are loads of other stages and lots of other stuff going on. Festival crowds are always really good fun, it is always really chilled and really relaxed, everyone is just up for a bit of a laugh.
Tim – And the food is good at festivals. Chess agrees – as Tim says the food is great! (giggling).
Chess – Considering the weather we have had this summer, it has been amazing. We actually haven’t had to wear wellies at any of them (Tim agrees), which has been incredible! The year before was very different.
Tim – It was, it really was.
Chess – Obviously playing your own gig is something so special, knowing all those people have come just to see you – it is pretty mind-blowing. Every night we are getting up on stage I take a moment to look around and I think, how do we know 400 people in Exeter that have bought tickets to come and watch our shows? It is bonkers! So both really, we love playing them both for different reasons.
Photo credit Colin Jones
So, as there is only the two of you, you can dish the dirt! Which band member has the most annoying habit and what is it?
After a pause Chess – Tara is really good at talking … a lot! Tara can talk, she won’t mind me saying this because she knows! She can talk! It is not so much an annoying habit, she has just got the ability to talk (Tim agrees!). I said it sounds like me actually (both laugh and Chess adds – you would get on well!).
What event would you really like to sing the National Anthem or opening number for – i.e. Rugby World cup or FA Cup Final?
This was the first question where there was no hesitation at all, both Chess and Tim say at the same time – Rugby World Cup!
Tim – you have got two rugby fans here!
Chess – The Rugby World Cup would be incredible!
Tim – The problem would be – which country’s National Anthem we would want to sing.
Chess – I would want to sing ours.
Tim – I would want to sing the Welsh one, soooooo …
Chess – We can’t do it then!
Tim – England / Wales final, we can sing both. That would be an amazing idea!
My final question, if you were to be a cartoon character for a day, which one would you be and why?
Chess – Penelope Pitstop.
Tim – Nice!
Chess – I think she is dastardly and amazing and I like her car!
Tim – Johnny Bravo
I will say here, this caught me out completely! I have never heard of Johnny Bravo, I had to Google him and upon doing so, this choice really made me laugh!
Tim – He puts a lot of effort into it, I haven’t! I would just like to live like that for a day, it would be amazing.
Thank you so much for your time, I really do appreciate it, looking forward to some new music hopefully next year?
Chess and Tim – Yes! Absolutely.
Enjoy the rest of your tour and say hello to Tara and AJ for me. Speak to you soon!
For full details of all the tour dates, check out the Country Lowdown Calendar.