Story and photography : John Carlow ( Finding Charlotte Photography )
Tom Tom Magazine was fortunate enough to see Tennyson at Rifflandia 2016 in Victoria, British Columbia Canada.
In your own words; write a brief description of your band:
Sibling magicians and spilled milk specialists. Ha ha!
Name : Tess Rain Pretty
Hometown :Edmonton, Alberta (Canada)
Nickname(s) : I’ve been trying to get “Tut “ to catch on
Current band :Tennyson
Do you have any side projects?: nuh uh
Favourite takeout :Anything but ramen (because of spillage).
Tom Tom Magazine : When/ how did your interest in drumming begin?
Tess : Drumming was something that my dad always knew he wanted me to do, because he’s played the drums himself ever since he was in college. I was eight years old when he sat down with me and started to teach me how to cover songs by The Beatles. I love to play the drums, but it wasn’t an interest that I discovered and developed on my own – it’s just something I’ve always done!
Have you ever taken lessons? If not, how did you learn?
My dad taught me most of what I know, but I’ve also had several wonderful teachers while I’ve grown up. My family went to Cuba when I was twelve and arranged drum lessons for me with a percussionist who taught in this village elementary school. Every morning for a week I would go to this small children’s music room to learn Cuban style drums from a drummer who spoke very little English. Seriously the coolest! Having awesome supportive parents made for some of the most interesting musical experiences. (love ya Mom and Dad)
What was the first song you learned to play on drums?
The first songs I remember learning were Lolita by Prince and Breakfast in America by Supertramp.
Describe your gear
My drum kit for a Tennyson show is pretty convoluted. We use an electric drill with a drum key bit to switch all the heads on an acoustic kit with mesh heads (three 10-inch toms, a snare and a bass drum). We also have a Roland octapad and electronic cymbals. That combined is around 22 unique places to put sounds, with something like 13 songs that all use an entirely different set of sounds. Learning the songs that my brother writes is like playing Simon Says.
What makes a live band performance one everyone remembers?
I think that having fun on stage is super important and is something that audiences definitely notice but don’t always know that they’re missing. I hope that when people see my brother and I play that they are having as much fun as we are, because being on stage is always very exciting for us.
What have you taken away from playing live?
Mistakes (and a few too many technical errors) are gonna happen and when they do they’ll try their absolute best to take you out of the moment but you cannot let them. After talking to enough people in the audience I’ve pretty much realized that no one ever notices anyways!
What’s the most unusual/funny thing to ever happen to you at a gig?
My brother wrote a song called “Tomatoland” that we released mostly as a joke, but people loved it and now we play it in almost every set. At a show in Miami the promoters made us a ton of tomato pillows and threw them into the audience while we played it and everyone tossed them around. It was like a funny vegetable slumber club party.
Who are the bands that inspire you?
One Direction. Seriously! I saw a One Direction concert last year and it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. The bands that really inspire me are the ones I’ve gotten to see perform live and who absolutely killed their live performances – M83, Saint Motel, Ezra Furman, Seoul, Coldplay, Radiohead, The 1975 – but my favorite band is 5 Seconds of Summer and I still haven’t seen them play live.
….. Harry Styles.
What appeals to you about a magazine like Tom Tom ?
This is a magazine that isn’t afraid to do something that stands out and I believe that girls should absolutely do the same. Try not to be intimidated by the idea that you may be one of the few in your field, because standing out can be a very empowering feeling!
Play any other instruments?
Sometimes at home I’ll play piano and sing a little but I should do it more because I really love both!
Do you write music?
I’ve written a couple piano songs but it’s never something I thought I’d be good enough at to give it a real try. I have a ton of drum beat ideas saved on my phone though, so maybe I’ll revise my 2017 resolutions and finally do something with them!
What makes a song great?
I especially like music that makes me feel happy! And drums too y’all, drums are so important. Every song should have a cool drum part.
What are the best/ practical clothes for drumming?
I wish dresses were better for drumming because I really love wearing dresses on stage.
Pre show preparation involves?
Patting my stomach and making weird noises and pacing in a circle.
Tell us about the first show you played in front of an audience as a drummer?
I guess my first show would have been busking as a seven year old playing Weezer covers to a crowd of about 20 people. Hahaha.
Who would you play with on a dream billing?
My friends! Grynpyret, WAVEDASH, Mura Masa, Ryan Hemsworth, Brasstracks, and then us in there somewhere. It’s a really long show!
Big arena shows or small venue shows? Which is better to you ?
They’re both fantastic in their own way. I love the exciting and intimidating scale of huge venues just about as much as I love the intimacy and connection that comes with playing in small venues.
Who do people compare you to?
Carly Rae Jepsen mostly. She’s not a drummer but she has the same bangs as me so I think that’s why.
What is in your musical collection?
I personally don’t have a very extensive musical collection. ( but I do have a fantastic pair of pink drumsticks that I use for every show.)
What’s in the future for you musically?
I haven’t worked with too many other musicians besides my brother, so I would really love to branch out and meet some new people so I can play with them and learn some new stuff.
What should people REALLY know about Tess?
Oh GOSH. I don’t know! I’m silly. I’m super stupidly silly and I really like tootsie rolls and I wished more kids my age still played tag games.