Interview with British trio of The Mentulls, 60s rock/blues roots but infused with a boundless youthful energy

"I think blues has evolved over the years and has done so to fit in with modern times."

The Mentulls: British Blues Breaths

Unapologetically rooted in the 60's but infused with a boundless youthful energy, The Mentulls are a unique blues rock band with subtle proggy overtones. The band have performed with many great bands and artists including Wishbone Ash, Focus, Walter Trout, Dr Feelgood, Aynsley Lister Band, Oli Brown Band, Sherman Robertson and many more. The Band are Andrew Pipe on Guitar and Vocals, Jamie Pipe on Keyboards and Nick Colman on Drums. Andrew was also nominated for a British Blues Award in 2012 and 2013. On October 2012, the band realeased their latest studio album 'Time Flies'. 

Andrew started playing Guitar at the age of 9 and says Martin Barre from Jethro Tull was the main reason that he wanted to pick up a guitar. From an early age Andrew was influenced by the sounds of his Dad's record collection which included bands and artists like Jethro Tull, Focus, Fairport Convention, Wishbone Ash and Cream. In 2006 he formed The Mentulls with his brother Jamie. Since then Andrew has become one of the most sought after young guitarists in the UK and is influenced by guitarists such as Joe Bonamassa, Andy Powell, Gary Moore, Jan Akkerman, Philip Sayce, SRV, Freddie King, Billy Gibbons, Paul Kossoff and Eric Johnson. Jamie started playing piano and acoustic guitar at the age of 9. He began composing at an early age and in 2006 he formed The Mentulls with his Brother Andrew. Jamie's favourite keyboard players and inflences are Thijs Van Leer (Focus), John Evan (Jethro Tull), Rick Wright, and Andrew Giddings ( Jethro Tull). Jamie's unique keyboard style, playing the bass parts with his left hand while playing the keyboard parts in his right, makes him stand out from the crowd. Nick began having drum lessons at the age of 7 with The Paul Tilley Drum Academy where he still studies today. He started his drumming career playing in school bands and in school concerts when he joined Secondary School, where he met Andrew and Jamie, who were looking for a drummer at the time and asked Nick to join The Mentulls in June 2009. Since joining the band, Nick has added tremendous energy and has flourished as a drummer and loves working alongside Andrew and Jamie. Nick is currently studying Music Technology at Teesside University and hopes to continue to record and tour with The Mentulls for many years to come. The band are currnently writing songs and getting prepared for the recording the new studio album.

 

Interview by Michael Limnios

How do you describe The Mentulls sound and progress, what characterize band’s philosophy?

Andrew: We are quite unique in the way we sound mainly due to the wide varitey of influences and due to Jamie playing left hand bass on the keyboard which gives a very distinct but full sound. It’s Melodic Blues Rock or Rock blues (Whatever you like to call it!) with slight influences of 70s Progressive Rock, Classical, Folk and Pop music.

What is the story behind the name of band, The Mentulls?

Nick: The name The Mentulls is a homage to the band Jethro Tull, which is Andrew and Jamie’s favourite band. 

"The music industry has changed a lot over the years so the ways of promoting your music has changed for example, the internet plays a major part in the promotion of bands and artists now and of genres like the blues."

Why did you think that the Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following?

Andrew: It appeals to many different generations and ages and has universal resonance. Plus its also timeless music.

Jamie: Blues is very timeless music, its played from the soul, a lot of emotion, a lot of musicians and bands are influenced by it.

Nick: Hmmm, that’s a tricky one. I definitely think that blues, especially modern blues appeals to an extremly wide range of ages and walks of life, and undoubtedly the rise to fame of acts such as Joe Bonamassa over recent years has given the blues and blues/rock genres a new lease of life and has opened blues up to a new audience.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?

Andrew: We have had so many great expeariences so its hard to pin point just one. We have been given a lot of great advice over the years that has really helped me as a musician.

Jamie: One of the greatest experiences was supporting Focus, who are one of my favourite ever bands and I got to meet the Organ player, called Thijs Van leer (my musical hero!). I remember talking to him outside the venue when we had just come off stage and telling him how much I loved his music and how I have been learning some Focus tracks on the Piano! He was so friendly and humble and he would of sat and talked to me for hours. A lot of famous musicians and artists woudn’t do that, he was very kind and a gentleman!

Nick: The most Important meeting I have had whilst being at a gig was definitely meeting Wishbone Ash. Meeting people who have been performing for many years and have been a massive influence to The Mentulls and the way we play was really inspiring.

My drum teacher has always given me really good advice, in both drumming and how to present my self professionally and undoubtedly without him, I wouldn’t be half the drummer I am today and I wouldn’t have the confidence in myself to perform.  

"I think music these days is more accessable for people with the likes of ‘youtube’ and socal networking sites, some people don’t think it but there is a young blues crowd which is great!"

Are there any memories from recording, gigs, jams and open acts which you’d like to share with us?

Andrew: There has been many great times touring, recording and jamming. I have done some great jams with different and great bands and artists like Wishbone Ash, Aynsley Lister, Ian Parker and WT Feaster Band (USA), Oli Brown, Sherman Robertson Band (USA), Virgil and the Accelerators and Mitch Laddie. Playing with Sherman was great as it was so impromptu as most of the jams are. Getting up and playing with Wishbone Ash was also awesome as I grew up listening to them and they are one of my biggest musical influences.

Jamie: I have so many good memories from gigs, there is far too many to mention though but one great memory was playing a gig in Birmingham last year and we had a band called The Tom Walker band who were our opening act, they were probobly one of the best bands that have played with us. I remember watching their set from our dressing room door and been blowed away at the talent and the music they were playing, we also had a great time hanging out with them too. Really friendly guys.

Nick: The last album that The Mentulls made, ‘Time Flies’ was recorded over 4 days which is really fast to make an album and I loved it, the intensity and the experience of being in a studio, hearing songs that I have only previously heard from sat behind a drum kit whilst rehearsing or performing them live come to life is a wonderful feeling and something that I really enjoy.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Andrew: I think blues has evolved over the years and has done so to fit in with modern times. The music industry has changed a lot over the years so the ways of promoting your music has changed for example, the internet plays a major part in the promotion of bands and artists now and of genres like the blues.

Jamie: I think music these days is more accessable for people with the likes of ‘youtube’ and socal networking sites, some people don’t think it but there is a young blues crowd which is great!

Nick: I think that, like most things, blues has evolved over the years and has done so to fit in with modern day society. But, for people who want it, with the use of the internet, they can relive the blues if past. And, its difficult for me to say what I miss about blues of the past having never experienced it. My hopes for the future of blues is that it continues to grow in popularity and blues acts from around the world continue to play live gigs promote the genre the old fashioned way, by keeping music live.  

"Blues is very timeless music, its played from the soul, a lot of emotion, a lot of musicians and bands are influenced by it."

Which memory from Wishbone Ash, Focus, Walter Trout, Dr. Feelgood, Aynsley Lister, Oli Brown and Sherman Robertson makes you smile?

Andrew: I have got many great memories of those times. Supporting all those bands was awesome and all of those bands and artists are really helpful to upcoming bands like us. To think we have played with our heroes like Wishbone Ash, Focus, Walter Trout and Sherman Robertson always makes me smile.

Jamie: Everyone – we are really really lucky to have done the support slots for these great bands, some of which are my favourite bands too, I have to pinch myself sometimes!

Nick: In January 2013 The Mentulls did 3 gigs in The Netherlands supporting Wishbone Ash. And at the final gig of the three was plagued by snow and so the audience wasn’t as big as the previous two gigs, however, during our set, Andrew, Jamie and I played really well, we were locked in together for the majority of a gig and it was an incredible feeeling. That was the moment where I felt for sure that performing music is what I would like to do for a career.  Supporting the likes of Walter Trout, Dr. Feelgood and Sherman Robertson was also a great experience.

Make an account of the case of British blues. What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues from US to UK?

Andrew: I love both British and Amerian Blues. I am probably more influenced by the British side of the blues mainly because that’s the sound that I grew up listening to. There are many great young and up and coming UK and US bands and artists playing blues which can only be good for the blues.

Jamie: Blues from the UK and the US are all both equally good, there is a massive blues scene here where we live in the UK with so many good musicians and bands appearing, and I am sure there is in the US too.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Jamie: Take TV shows like The X factor and other ‘talent’ shows off the TV.

Nick: Personally, I listen to very wide range of music and to be honest, I think that the musical world is perfect the way it is. There is something out there for everybody.

"The name The Mentulls is a homage to the band Jethro Tull, which is Andrew and Jamie’s favourite band." 

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

Andrew: I’d probably go to the Marquee Club, London circa 1970 and go play a gig there and see all the great musicians that played there then.

Jamie: That’s an amazing question, I would take a trip back to London in 1969 to see all my favourite bands when they were in their early days.

Nick: Another tricky one,  I would really like to go 50 years into the future and see what kind of music is being made and what new technoloy it is being made with.

The Mentulls - official website

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