Interview: Boyd Tonner of The Stumble
FROM Canada, via Scotland to Lancashire, The Stumble line-up incudes a guitarist from Vancouver and a sax player from Darwen. We spoke to drummer Boyd Tonner, originally from Kilmarnock now living in Preston.
Tell us who you all are, and where you're from?
Colin Black, guitars, Jonny Spencer also on guitars, Paul Melvile on vocals, Dave Heath on bass, Simon Anthony on saxophones and myself on drums.
When did the band form and how?
The band was formed by myself and Colin after we had both made a move from successful bands based in Scotland. Colin was the founder of the Hideaway Blues Band, who were a great influence on the Glasgow blues scene, and I was an original member of The Nimmo Brothers Band.
Where did the name come from?
The name comes from an instrumental song from the great Freddie King, who is one of Colin’s guitar heroes.
What type of music do you play and who are your influences?
The music is based on the rapturous electric blues guitar sound that emanated from Chicago in the ’50s and ’60s. Influences include BB King, Muddy Waters, Little Walter etc, but also from the British blues wave including Peter Green and Eric Clapton.
What is your all-time favourite song and why?
Too many to mention, but the feel of songs like Peter Green’s Black Magic Woman or BB King’s Help The Poor, is something that inspires me.
What's the most rock'n'roll thing that's happened to you or that you've done?
Ironically, when I was younger I convinced a newspaper to run a centre spread on my band in which the reporter lauded us as the best band in Scotland – however, at the time, the reporter had never heard us play and we had never even done a gig. Just as well, because we were awful.
Who is your all-time hero?
I love Bob Dylan at the moment. He’s a great mix of neurotic pretension and brutal honesty.
What has been your musical highlight so far?
Playing Cahors Blues Festival last June was pretty special for us. This festival has had the biggest names in world blues play there and it’s a privilege just to take that sort of stage.
What are your ambitions as a band?
To stick together, plain and simple. We are planning how to completely freshen up the sound and hopefully cut a new (our third) album over the coming months. Our first two albums, The World is Tough and The Houngan, are available at gigs and from www.cdbaby.com What's the worst trouble you've been in?
As a band, we try and avoid trouble but one time we played a gig in Barnsley where we were so loud that we upset the British Wrestling Federation’s annual bash which was taking place in another function room.
What's your greatest talent?
Our greatest asset is perhaps our mix of talents and tastes. We are not all dyed-in-the-wool blues fans and our influences come from different genres. Hopefully, this gives us a unique approach to an old musical style.
What's your most treasured possession?
As a band we have a lot of history in the musicians in the band. Our bass player, Dave Heath, used to play in the classic beat combo ‘The Pack of Cards’ back in the ’60s. One of their gimmicks at the time was to wear jumpers on stage which were emblazoned with the four different suits of a standard card deck. Dave’s ‘hearts’ jumper is a real piece of rock n roll memorabilia, which he hopes to auction soon to raise money for cardiac research.
l See The Stumble at The Grand, Clitheroe on November 28. Tickets on 01200 421599.