Why does a folktronica band embark on an album about death and dying? Find out in this revealing podcast with Sam Genders and Becky Jacobs, two of the founding members of the English band, Tunng, that recently released a 12 song album and eight episode podcast called, Tunng presents…Dead Club. “We are a band that is known for being playful and for being fun,” Jacobs tells us. “I think that that’s possibly one of the reasons that there was some kind of discussion about whether this was an appropriate subject for us.” Hear why the project started and how it grew to become not only profoundly impactful but unexpectedly uplifting as well.
David: Hi, I’m David and founder of The Bucket and your host for this edition of The Bucket Podcast. Today, I’m talking with two members of the English band Tunng, pronounced like that thing in your mouth you used to taste things, but it’s spelled T U N N G. Tunng was formed back in 2003 and is credited with helping pioneer that musical genre of Folktronica
They produced eight albums together. The latest of which is what got my attention and you’ll know why when I tell you the name of the album, it’s called “Tunng Presents Dead Club”. That’s right. Dead Club. To explain what it’s all about, let me welcome the two people who are the driving force behind the idea of doing a death themed album, Sam genders, and Becky Jacobs.
Hi Sam. Hi Becky. Thanks for joining
Becky: Thanks for having us.
David: Are you both in London right now? Or are you in different countries?
Becky: We’re in different countries, actually I’m in London and Sam is in Sweden.
David: The magic of technology, we’re all in the same place. Thanks for joining me. On my journey with The Bucket, I’m always feeling like I’m trying to explain myself to people about why we’ve created a magazine about mortality. Like what would you do that for? It’s always nice when I encounter people who have been on a similar journey and it seems like Tunng in general and the two of you in particular have really embraced the idea of talking about death in order to improve one’s life. I have so many questions, but before I get into those, can you explain to our listeners about your project and what it entailed?
Sam: Well, we were looking, thinking about making a new album, a new project, and I’ve been interested in this subject for a little while. Then I read a book called “Grief is the Thing with Feathers” by Max Porter, which is a book about a family undergoing a process of grief. What we all felt about that, because I passed it around, I think I gave it to Becky, and Becky passed it to I can’t remember the order, but we all ended up reading this book while we were touring. What is very notable about that book is the way that the experience of grief is multifaceted. It’s not just a kind of solemn sadness that we might recognize from films or TV.
It’s also got fear and love and comedy and terror, it’s got all these different emotions and it seemed very real in comparison with a lot of the things we’d read. We started talking about this idea of making an album that explored our cultures relationship to death and dying. Amongst ourselves, we can talk to her quite a lot actually. I mean, did we talk for nearly a year about it?
Becky: We did talk for a long time. There are six of us in the band. As you identified, we’ve been together making music for almost 20 years, which is quite something. We’re all very different people, and often will set off on a new project or an idea for collaboration or shall we tour here, and there are often different opinions and different priorities and different desires, as there are with six very different people with different commitments and different family situations in different countries. I would say that I don’t think it was an album that everybody was immediately on board with or kind of at face value understood what it might mean to do this project. But one of the things that I think has been really incredible about it, that even just within us as a group of people who know each other very well, have spent a lot of intimate time together, having these conversations about this project forced us to have conversations with each other about death and about things that we hadn’t known about each other about personal bereavements or experiences of death that we had known about, but that we hadn’t really discussed before. So even just that felt very valuable, I would say.
David: It seems like just there is the album, but there’s also the podcast, which looking at it from the outside, I think this is what happened, where you started to do your research and then the research actually became something that you wanted everyone to hear as well. You can see it take on its life in terms of the podcast and you kind of watch you, not literally watch you, but in terms of the questions you ask and the answers you get and how that turned into the album. What was that process like?
Sam: I think I can say something at least about the lyrics on the album, which were really influenced hugely by the research we did in the interviews we had. I think the first thing to say is, in some ways they were the easiest lyrics to write in comparison to previous projects, because we just were talking about it all the time. Even though so many little things would come up and we’d have to just check in with everybody, see how everyone feels about this, because we were kind of discovering that there’s a great reward to be had on a personal level discussing this subject, but even still it’s a very sensitive subject culturally and for many people. We really wanted to be ever so careful that we were respecting the feelings of everybody within the project and then the audience who are going to listen to it. As you say, the interviews were just so fascinating. Kathleen Mannix is one that comes to mind because she’s a palliative care doctor and she said in the interview, this needs to be public knowledge. I think with palliative care, that’s a really concrete, practical thing. I think with most people who might look at the evidence rationally would agree that you really should be talking more about that and the more we know about it, the better able we are to help people.
I could go through, I won’t do it now, but I could go through all the people we spoke to. Also, we were having private conversations with people who are grieving and recording those conversations, although they’re not part of the public face of the project, they influenced the music and the lyrics and the way we put the songs together.
David: It seems very non-linear in the sense that the input was coming in as you were doing it and evolving as you were doing it. It just seems like you were discovering along the way.
Becky: I think that’s true. Sam can speak more about putting the record together, but as far as the podcast series was concerned, we felt like we were having these incredible conversations that we were recording anyway. I have a day job as a podcast producer, and it just felt like it was an opportunity to do that. I’ve been doing that or working in audio, radio for 15 years or so. It wasn’t until Sam came along and started contacting people for interviews for podcasts that we had such a 100% hit rate. All these amazing people coming back immediately and saying I’d be happy to take part. I think that’s true that the podcast series itself definitely has a life and as an existence outside of the record as well. We were continuing to put together and record interviews for that when the album had almost kind of not come to an end, but the kind of writing of it had finished, I think.
David: I love the way that everything is layered. The way that I listened to the podcast series first, and then I listened to the album, but the way you brought in some quotes from people in the podcast, into the songs themselves is great. I find that the more I listen, the deeper it gets. I think I literally hear things I didn’t hear the first few times I listened to it. I’m not sure whether it’s like an onion that you’re peeling, and you go deeper each time you listen to it.
Sam: The first thing to say is that Mike, our producer and band member, and sort of leader of the project, is an amazing producer. Those sort of layered textures and hints of what’s that noise, that’s a feature of all the records to a greater or lesser extent. That’s very much one of the reasons why we get excited about working with him. The spoken word elements, we’ve used those before, but we’ve always sort of found obscure old recordings and this is different. Again, just going back to the fact that these people have this vast knowledge in their subject areas and so many wonderful insights to share, just as little clicks, we hope will draw people in and make them want to listen to the podcast if they’ve not already done so.
David: I read an interview which you talked about how your guitarist, Ashley Bates, created a chord bed for the album, D E A D that carries through the album. Of course, that spells dead, but it was more than him trying to be clever, right? It created a certain tone?
Sam: I think he was trying to be clever. He was trying to have a bit of fun, which is part of it. It sounds very strange to say that in the context of an album about death, but that’s part of our work. We really wanted to still be Tunng when we made this album and that’s a big part of what we try and do is have fun as we’re making a record.
I don’t know if you know Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies? It’s like a series of cards that you use in the studio and each one’s got a sort of slightly odd sentence on it, which is supposed to inspire you to work in a new way. It might say start again or do everything back backwards. I think it was just a way to stimulate new ideas, but because those notes come back all the way through the record in places where we perhaps wouldn’t have thought to use those notes, sometimes it’s wonderfully harmonic and other times it takes on this sort of dissonance, which is very appropriate for the subject. Having this awkwardness and wonderful closeness that you get in a conversation about death, sometimes really draws you together, and other times it’s very uncomfortable.
David: What has been the reaction that you’ve gotten from people about the album and when you talk to people?
Becky: I think we’ve had some of the most extraordinary responses from people who’ve bought the record that we’ve ever had putting music out. That’s really moved us because it felt, you know when we set out, we never, ever wanted to position ourselves as experts on death at all, you know?
We wanted to have a conversation about it and do this project and learn ourselves. I think we were quite aware that there might be a response that was challenging, especially as Sam says we are a band that is also known for being playful and for being fun. I think that’s possibly one of the reasons that there was some kind of discussion about whether this was an appropriate subject for us, because would we still be able to be Tunng doing our record about death? I think the answer to that is yes. We are very much so, but I think that in answer to your question, we’ve had some individual kind of tweets and emails from people who’ve who have described how it’s spoken to them. I’ve had messages from friends as well, people who wouldn’t necessarily open up in a certain way to me, who said, my friend’s wife is dying and listening to the podcast has really kind of helped me to have these conversations with him about what’s going on in his family and it’s meant a great deal to us. That is partly what we wanted to do.
David: That’s one thing with The Bucket it’s, you know, there is definitely the people who say, what are you doing that for. Like, are you crazy? Then there are people who get it, but to be honest with you, the most satisfying thing is the people who’ve told you, you were crazy and then read it and get into it and change their minds. Like you’ve converted them. Have you had that happen in terms of people who were kind of dead set? No pun intended, dead set against this idea who listened to the album and listened to the podcast and it changed their perspective on things.
Sam: I haven’t had the experience yet. I’ve had some people who sort of haven’t wanted to quite engage with it yet, but I haven’t had that particular experience. Like you say that would be really great.
David: Yeah, to change someone’s perspective. I can’t say it happens with everybody, a lot of people come to it on their own, but it is a very satisfying thing when people change. I guess I turn it inward on you guys and say how has it changed you? I read a quote from you Sam and it says, “In the end I personally came away from the research period feeling that we have a lot to gain as a culture if we could learn to talk about death a bit more openly. I also find myself feeling uplifted in many ways, more grateful for my life and people in it, and less afraid of death.” So, in a way you went through that same thing.
Sam: Yeah, I could start by saying that I think two of the main motivators for me personally, were firstly wanting to feel more competent and helpful or supportive, helpful is not the right word. Supportive around people who I knew who are grieving which I felt very incompetent, uncertain of myself and, then also I am someone who’s sort of experiences and especially in the past has experienced a lot of anxiety and low mood and because of that really questioned life. What’s the point in this? This is hard. I think if you explore the kind of stuff out there that tries to answer that question, then death kind of comes up in the mix somehow as this sort of flip side of life.
Those two things were there all along and absolutely doing this project has made me feel more grateful for being alive or grateful for the people in my life. I feel a little better able to support people who are grieving. It’s been quite a powerful experience for me personally.
David: Becky, how about you?
Becky: I think I would agree with Sam that one of the things I wanted to get out of doing the project was to learn about being a better ally to somebody who is grieving. I have had the opportunity to do that recently because a close friend of mine has lost a parent from COVID. I found myself drawing on the conversations that we had a lot thinking about how to be there for her, how to be present for her, how to not be intrusive, but just to say, “I’m here.” I really found myself drawing on some of the stuff that people had said. Particularly I did an interview with a poet and editor Kevin Young from the New Yorker. Him talking about little kindnesses that people had done to him when his father had died really stuck with me.
I suppose I think it’s really true that when you allow it, to have these conversations really in a way it does force you to do something quite difficult in terms of looking at your life and just thinking what might I change to make things better? Am I going to look back and wish I hadn’t done that or wish I had taken that path. I think it’s quite a difficult time at the moment to set yourself up with that kind of challenge because frankly surviving in this pandemic is a challenge and having creative space. Both Sam and I have young children and having the space to think about what I might do differently or how I might change things is quite tough at the moment. I think it’s also given me a bit of permission around thinking about that too, those questions.
David: Speaking of that, one of the things that we’ve gone through in the last year basically, with COVID, is our message. It’s about mortality. It’s less about death and more about mortality, but we don’t want to appear ton deaf. People are dying and we’re talking about dying. We’ve been very careful about how we have moved forward in this past year, but at the same time, people have come up to me and said, “Your message is more relevant than ever.” Did you find that while you’re working on this that yes COVID was happening, but maybe that helped kind of help people see your message?
Becky: I think the people that you talk about, the people in the choir made that comment, these conversations are more important than ever, but I think perhaps in a wider kind of world maybe not, because the only example I can think of to illustrate that is the amount the record has been played or not on UK radio. We would usually get a track playlisted on one of the British indie music stations, which hasn’t happened for this one. I do think that that is very much about the stations being very hypersensitive to try and keep people buoyant. But also, and for that reason, perhaps looking at the project, but not really engaging with it, so not kind understanding that this is not a morbid, depressing, morose listen, it’s actually something that’s quite positive and uplifting, but this is my interpretation. I don’t know what really happens, but I think that that has also possibly happened with this record that people have been a bit afraid of even engaging with it because it’s too much, what’s going on in the world is too much. It’s too painful. It’s too difficult. We want to be uplifted.
David: Which is really what has been happening about the topic forever, at least in the last 100 to 150 years where it used to be death was part of life and then we kind of made it in our societies that it’s not, you push it away and you hide it. It’s really the same thing, although COVID has just made it, I think both in a good way and in a bad way, to your point that it’s too sensitive to play a song on the radio, but you wish people would go a little deeper, like you’re talking about and understand what it’s all about. One of the things that we overlap in terms of our missions, you talk a lot about death, end of life caring, and grieving on your podcast and the album, and for The Bucket we’re talking about how the prospect of your own mortality can change the way you live now, so that you really think about how many years you have left and how are you going to live those lives. That’s to me where the overlap is in terms of this isn’t simply about helping you help someone grieve or helping yourself grieve. It kind of changes the way you look at life. And that quote from you, Sam, spoke to that. I’m just wondering if you’re seeing that in other people you’re talking to?
Sam: I think going back to what Becky was saying about some of the comments that we’ve received, private messages, and some public ones on social media, that is part of what people are saying. This is how it helped them and touched them in a powerful way. That’s very gratifying to know that that’s the case because we were quite nervous about doing this. It is a little bit at odds with the sort of overall cultural way that this subject is dealt with and you never quite know if you’re at odds with this wider culture because you’ve been lucky to have some insights or come across some new information or is it because you’re just ridiculously arrogant? We very much hope it’s the former. What concerns me a little bit is I think there might be a sort of large minority of people who really feel very challenged by this, but we just don’t know about it because they’re not saying so. Although having said that people are normally quite quick to say negative things, aren’t they on social media these days, so perhaps that’s not happening at all. There are some people in my life who have made it very clear this is not something they want to engage with. I
completely respect that, but I do think as a society it’s important that there’s something there for the people who do want to engage with it and do want to sort of move through that because I get the discomfort, like when I first entered the first interview, I did with a friend who was grieving, my heart was pounding in my chest. I was very nervous. I was a wreck worrying about what to say, how to be sensitive. That was a really lovely conversation, difficult, but lovely, inspiring. I found that as a, the more those conversations I had, I did get a little less, I found I got more comfortable with them and I was more able to be present. That seems very positive to me, just over the course of six or seven conversations my whole response to the subject change. Moving through that discomfort can actually happen quite quickly, it would seem from that. Actually, to say an even more dramatic example, but I’ve visited a death cafe. I was really nervous about that. I guess a lot of the people there were nervous, but in my group of five or six people it was all a bit awkward and tense, we were sort of encouraged to introduce ourselves and say why we were there. It didn’t take 10 minutes or 45 seconds; we were all completely comfortable and talking really deeply. There’s obviously s a little bit of a cultural thing, but once you get through it, it becomes much easier.
David: You come out the other side, it’s easy to talk about. I’ve heard that a lot. One of the things I want to share, I’m going to ask you guys the same question, but I have a favorite song on the album which is “Scared to Death”. For me, that really captures the whole journey of life. If you don’t mind, I’m going to indulge myself and read just a couple of paragraphs of lyrics on that.
Swim hard through the ten thousand things
The world is an assassin with a secret grin
Keep on fighting through the pain she brings
Life is the strangest light
Keep seeking something some last step
You’re a circle in a quandary in a dance with breath
You’re so scared to be what you’re not yet
Hoping love is its own reward
I’m not there
I’m a whisper in a spectre in a gasp of air
I’m scared to death
I’m scared to death
To me that’s brilliant. That line “you’re so scared to be what you’re not yet,” really speaks to me in terms of what I feel is how the fear of death keeps us from doing things. I just want to thank you for that song and encourage people to listen to it. That’s my favorite song. Becky what’s yours.
Becky: Thank you. That’s lovely. Sam wrote that song so he can take the full credit. My favorite is “Eating the Dead”, which is the opening track on the record. I love the idea behind the lyrics, which Sam can talk about because they’re his lyrics, but I just think it’s a brilliant song. It’s an incredible album opener and it’s really powerful. I love it when we all sing as well, I think that really gets you somewhere. We’ve always done that, at least me, Sam and Mike singing in unison and it feels really powerful.
David: It’s great. That’s part of what I told you before about every time I listened to it, I’m hearing voices I didn’t hear before, like background voices and instrumentation that I didn’t hear before. I definitely understand what you’re talking about. How about you, Sam? What’s your favorite?
Sam: Thank you so much for your kind words. Actually it’s “Eating the Dead” is my favorite too. I think it’s because it’s such a band song in the way it was created as well. You know, I think it was actually at Martin with Mike who came up with a sort of piano chords and it’s got that D E A D thing. It’s got Mike’s production and textures and voice, Becky’s voices in there and, Phil’s doing his thing. It’s a track wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for all of us. It also was one of those ones that just appeared out of the idea in a way, so that’s my favorite.
David: I think when I listened to the album for the first time, it’s like, well, these guys aren’t wasting, there’s no warmup here. We’re going to jump right in and see if we can swim. That’s one of the things that I really liked about that song. You come right at it with “Swedish Death Cleaning”. Like I said, I’ve grown with this album in terms of each time I listened to hearing something else. So, thank you for that. Do you get comments from people? Do you hear other people tell you their favorite song?
Sam: Sometimes. We get the odd comment on social media and things like that.
David: At The Bucket, we have our bucket age calculator in which you put in your age and gender, and then using social security administration statistics, we tell you how many years, statistically, you have left on this planet. Of course, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow, but just from a statistical standpoint, how many years do you have left? When people do this, it’s really surprising to me how surprised they are by that number. In fact, we have a video where we ask people to figure out their bucket age without telling them what it is and the looks on their faces when they see it is like, huh.
It’s not necessarily because it’s so short, it’s just people don’t think of it that way. It’s one of the things that we really like to ask people what their bucket age is. I’m wondering if you guys have had a chance to calculate your bucket ages and would tell us what those are.
Sam: Mine is 35.
David: Obviously you’ve already been through all this with your album and very much aware of your own mortality, but did you stop and think for a moment when you saw the number?
Becky: Yeah. I suppose it’s, as you say, it’s something that’s an abstract thought rather than a physical number you see written on the screen, isn’t it? It does make you feel like, Oh, over halfway through. I also think there’s something quite odd and interesting about this time in life, about being in your forties and having young children and feeling that kind of pull of like extreme youth and how tiring it is, but also not still, particularly for us being in a band, there’s still so much of us wanting to hang on to something, be part of something which is so connected to being young. In terms of like having a career in music, it’s an interesting transitional time, your forties.
Sam: I’d actually been thinking, having this almost same thought a week or two ago because in the process of sort of debating should we have another child or not, is that we haven’t made a decision on that question, but I started thinking about my daughter and the fact that, because she’s nearly three, it suddenly occurred to me that wow, I might not be there for her 40th birthday. That really hit me quite hard actually. In the sense of not being there for her, and that was a sort of tick in the box of reasons to have another child. She’d have someone there for her. Seeing this number again, the fact that I have a bucket age of 35 made me think about this again. It’s weird because I’ve been thinking about it recently, but seeing them, especially when you get to our age, when like 10 years, isn’t really a very long time. 10 years is gone like that.
It’s good to be reminded, I think, because there’s wonderful stuff in life and people we love. It’s easy to forget that when your hectic and you’ve got a million things to do, and it’s easy to just get pulled along by the flow of life and not really appreciate it.
David: One of our goals with the bucket age is to help people make choices while they’re still young. We’re talking to mostly people in their fifties and sixties and even seventies, so they can make choices now that will leave them with fewer regrets. Don’t wait until you’re on your death bed to say, I wish I had done this, I wish I had done that. I’m going to ask each of you if you were suddenly to get the news tomorrow that you only had a few days to live, what regrets would you have right now that maybe you could change, Sam?
Sam: I think it would be to do with ways I’ve behaved in sort of personal relationships, especially when I was younger and mistakes I’ve made and having hurt people. I’d want to continue a process in which I’m trying to work on all the time of saying sorry to people I need to say sorry to and tell people who I love that I love them. I feel like that’s going to matter the most, is the people in my life and the relationship I have and I’ve had.
David: Has doing the album helped you with that?
Sam: It’s encouraged me and the process I would say. I haven’t always got it right, because it’s been a very intense at times. The last year of having a child and making an album and moving to a new country and being in a pandemic, all various sort of things are happening. Barriers are the biggest advocate in my life. It’s been a really, very intense few years.
And, when I made the mistake, what I feel is generally a mistake, sometimes I just send people texts or emails, because I felt it’s really important that we address this. When I think these conversations are better done at least speaking to someone on the phone, I went through a little phase of trying to address things because I felt time’s running out and I need to do this and not shy away from it. But I feel for me at least, it was generally a mistake to do it that way. I think sometimes if you really haven’t got the courage to do it face to face or over the phone, then a little reaching out to someone in some ways better than not at all, but anyway, I guess that’s my thing.
Becky: I think it’s about letting important people know how important they are. I do feel that doing the record and the podcast has helped me to endure the pandemic as well has helped me to just be a bit more patient around people that I love, that I might find challenging, you know? Sam knows who I’m talking about. But in terms of regret, if you’re talking about just a few days, I think something that I am really trying to work on is about… I think I would regret not feeling confident about my abilities to do certain things or brave about meeting certain challenges. I’ve got a lot of female friends and I think it’s very much a thing that’s happening at the moment, because a lot of us as mothers are very, very stretched at the moment with kids home, from school and also trying to do work and all the rest of it. I think there’s a thing that happens to women. Sorry, I feel like I’m digressing a bit, but what I’m trying to say is you’re not really brought up to kind of shout about what you can do and who you are. I feel like perhaps there have been opportunities that haven’t really kind of gone for because I haven’t felt confident about going for them. It kind of feels a bit weird to be saying that in an interview where I am part of a band, because it takes a lot of confidence to be that I think.
I think that that’s something and I don’t have a daughter, but I feel like that’s something that’s really the importance to bring girls up to know, so Sam that’s your task, that they are… I think I read a statistic that women would only go for a job that they feel they have absolutely every attribute for. Whereas men would go for a job, even if they only have 50% or 60% of those things required. I think that’s just a shift that I’m trying to do with myself, just about being a bit more confident about stuff.
David: That’s great. I know you guys have done a lot of interviews because I’ve read a lot of interviews with you about the album, but I’m curious if there’s any question you haven’t been asked that you wish you had been asked about the process or the music, what you’ve gotten out of it, besides that one.
Becky: It’s quite a hard thing to answer really. I think I’ve felt like I’ve enjoyed the interviews for this project more than any other project that we’ve done, and it’s often been me and Sam doing the interviews for this in particular, it feels like we’re always having a very kind of rich conversation when we do these interviews. Whereas historically, no disrespect to any music journalists, it’s often the same kind of list of possibly generic-ish questions about putting the record together. I feel like I’ve really enjoyed doing them and I’ve really enjoyed doing the research. I feel like we’ve had some very kind of rewarding conversations because I think what’s been nice about it, it feels like the people who have interviewed us, haven’t just been given a job to do because the record’s coming out, they’ve interviewed us because the album has really spoken to them. It feels like its spoken to you. I would say that I think every interview that we’ve done has been with somebody who’s really kind of understood what we were trying to do and that feels quite special.
David: That must be very satisfying to get that kind of feedback in the end. Did it live up to your expectations, or did your expectations changed as you were doing it?
Becky: This interview, I’m joking. You want to answer that, Sam?
Sam: I guess I could just say the project as a whole has exceeded my expectations. I think when we first sat in the van talking about this, the idea that all these people would say yes to the interviews, and also there was a time when this project hasn’t received as much press and as much radio play as well as in previous albums, but we really worried no one would cover it at all. It’s has been played on the radio and we have had a lot of interviews and as Becky says, I feel like I love this place where science and philosophy and art kind of all overlap. I love having a really deep conversation about some things, so we’ve got to do that a lot within this project. I think if there’s one thing we’re not disappointed, but I feel there’s more scope is a think it’s a bit of a shame that we’re not able to go and tour it and presented live to people because I think there’s a lot more scope for connecting to people and having further conversations. That might well happen next year, we have got a tour booked in November, I think isn’t it?
Becky: It’s September and October. I would totally agree. I’m longing to do that, at the moment it feels a bit of a leap really that people are going to be out in seven, eight months in a venue, listening to loud music. I mean, who knows, but it feels like a bit of a leap. That’s one thing that’s really missing from this record and from all the records that people put out in the last kind of 15 months.
David: I was thinking if somebody was listening to the album and you were able to be in the room with them, is there any advice, you would give them as they listen to it? Seen those shows where the directors talk about a movie and the scenes in a movie as they’re happening? Or do you think it doesn’t need explanation or, or explanation kind of gets in the way of interpretation?
Sam: I have a sort of feeling on this. I feel there’s, there are sort of different experiences you can have with this album. One of them is you just hear the record and you don’t really listen to the lyrics and you kind of soak it up. The other one is to listen to the record and then the listen to the podcasts, and then the other one is podcasts and then record.
I think they’re all a slightly different experience. I kind of find myself wanting to ask friends and family will you please listen to the podcasts as well. I would like the people who I sense are resistant, I kind of hope they listen to the podcasts first. I’ve tried to encourage that because I think it’s clear once you listen to the podcasts that no matter how many mistakes we make and how incompetent we might be around this subject, we really try our best, and it’s coming from a sort of a well-meaning desire to understand things a bit better.
David: For me listening to the podcast was like the ingredients of the recipe. To listen to all of them and then hear the album and like, Oh, that was pulled from here, this was pulled from there, and the way you went from facts and quotes to the emotion of it without being literal. It wasn’t like, here’s your podcast with Catherine Manning and here’s the song about Catherine Manning’s podcast. All these things came together and the output was the music and the lyrics. For that reason, if I were telling somebody how to listen to it, I would say, listen to the podcasts and then listen to the album because it’s amazing what you guys were able to do creatively. That speaks to the whole band. In fact, give the names of everybody in your band, so everybody knows.
Becky: There’s Mike Vinci, he’s like the band leader, and he produces everything. Then there’s me and Sam. There’s Ashley Bates, who plays the guitar and also sings. He also drums.
Sam: Arranged a lot of the sort of orchestral textures on the record too.
Becky: There’s Martin Smith who plays lots of different instrument including piano, and he plays clarinet too. Phil Winter, who has the kind of executive producer role, but also finds loads of samples and baselines and that kind of thing. I haven’t forgotten anybody.
David: Thank you to all, because it’s really a special album and a special project. And speaking of which, how can people listen to the podcast?
Sam: Well, the best way to get it is to go to band camp and get it from there. That’s, the way we get paid, so that’s nice. But otherwise it’s kind of any way you normally get your music, Spotify and iTunes, all those kinds of places and podcasts, Becky?
Becky: The podcast is on iTunes and Spotify and wherever you get your podcasts. If you just search for Dead Club Podcast you should find it.
David: I have a question, about a detail. The name of the album is Tunng Presents Dead Club, but the name of the podcast is The Dead Club Podcast. Was the reason just because of the podcast at the end, Tunng Presents The Dead Club Podcast?
Becky: I think so. It didn’t feel like it made sense to have Tunng presents dead club podcast. I think what’s really interesting about this multilayered kind of project for us, as I said I work in podcasts and audio, so I have some kind of idea about how those things work, but just about how the audience for a project like this, the podcast, grows and it isn’t necessarily people listening to it who are also buying the record as well. I think that’s important to me as a podcast producer, that the series and each individual episode need to exist. You very kindly recommended that people listen to everything, which would be wonderful, but you know what one hopes is that the series exists as its own thing as well, and each conversation exists as its own thing that somebody can get something from. You don’t have to listen to all eight episodes to get the full experience. I think there’s something to be got from like dipping in as well.
David: Right. That’s it from me. Do you guys have any questions for me?
Sam: I guess I am interested in what you’re doing with The Bucket, I feel just even in the year or two years between first having the idea and starting to read and starting to Google and starting to do the research, by the time it finished the actual album, I feel like the sort of cultural conversation around death has increased. I guess Google figures out that I’m Googling death, you know it may be just suggestion, it may just be that, but it felt like I was coming across new things and new organizations all the time. Did you find that there’s a growth in this sort of societal discussion?
David: Absolutely. Believe it or no, I’ve had this idea for The Bucket for over 30 years. It first was, I had attended the funeral of a friend’s mother, and the family built a pine coffin for her as a cathartic process. They were the type of family that would do that. They grew their own vegetables. They’re very one with a land. I just felt like nobody else knows how to do that. Nobody else has any clue how to do that. The whole kind of end of life death industry was, well, it’s a mystery and on purpose. People go in their grieving and then they buy a $20,000 coffin or something like that. It started with, wouldn’t it be great if there was a magazine about these sorts of things, there’s an article on building your own coffin and articles about end of life. That began over 30 years ago. I’ve been kind of keeping up on what’s been happening in the industry, especially once there was Google, everything was out there.
Even though our mission kind of changed from being end of life and the death industry to being about living life, with mortality as a leverage point, it’s been amazing what I’ve seen in terms of Facebook groups and Twitter and death doulas. There were no death doulas two years ago, maybe there were. I’m going to get a call from a death doula, but there wasn’t this kind of thing, not just because people didn’t do it, but because of the taboo.
I think that the taboo is being broken down from the inside out. That it’s the whole choir thing. One of the things we’re trying to do with The Bucket is we’re writing articles about everyday things, about dogs, about careers. It’s not about death per se, but the idea of you only have so much time on the planet is what we’re talking about and how are you going to use that time and how will you change your life so that you don’t have regrets on your death bed. That is something that I’m finding is easier and easier to talk about, and it takes less time to explain to people with the idea. So, that’s the change.
Sam: That’s great to hear. Pretty good to hear that.
David: Hopefully it continues and, hopefully this album is one of the reasons why, so thank you. Sam. Thank you, Becky. It’s been great talking with you and I appreciate the time you’ve spent with me, as well as the time you spent putting into the album and the podcast. I think the world is a better place because of them. So, thank you very much.
Sam: Thank you. Thank you, David. Thanks.
David: Thanks for listening. One of the things I really like about Tunng is that these guys are not afraid to buck the death taboo and take on such a challenging topic. I really encourage you to listen to their podcasts and the album, not just once but many times and pay attention to all the new things you hear each time you listen. For more about Tunng go to tunng.co.uk/dead_clubs or you might just Google it, that might be easier. To learn more about The Bucket, go to thebucket.com. If you know someone you think should be on a future bucket podcast, let us know firstname.lastname@example.org .