Name, where are you from?
Tom Dowse from Crystal Palace, South London. Guitarist in Dry Cleaning.
What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
Hard to say the 'best'. American Nightmare at the Underworld in 2002 has always stuck out though. They were still a 5-piece and at their peak; so fast, so tight and so much energy!
But I also have to say Bardo Pond at ATP 2006. They were so good, just waves of blissed-out distorted sound- I can’t believe they aren’t held in higher esteem.
If you could be on the line up with any two artists in history?
Bloody hell, how can I answer this? I’m gonna say X-Ray Spex will headline. I was talking to someone recently about how Poly Styrene doesn’t seem to be revered in the same way that icons from the first wave of punk are and that’s a shame cause she was without a doubt the most powerful and soulful singer without losing any of the venom! I also think sax is more common in punk now but back then, much less so. James Chance wasn’t out until '79 so they had a good 2 years on them. I saw a band called Downtown Boys at Primavera who had almost the exact same sound as X-Ray Spex. They were amazing too- really socially conscious and full of passion but I did think, “imagine if Poly Styrene was singing this stuff”.
I would also say Women who were a band from Alberta, Canada. I have an inescapable love of the classic duo, Fender guitar, set up that goes back from Television through Sonic Youth to bands now. In fact, I saw a band from the US a couple of weeks ago called Marbled Eye who had 2 jazzmasters and I drooled through the whole thing. Anyway, Women did this really well and their last album, 'Public Strain', was amazing, mixing post-punk, pop, noise, modern composition, it was really something. They included an Ltd edition 7” in the vinyl version that seemed to show where they might be heading but they never got there- the guitarist committed suicide which was truly tragic but an amazing band still!
Which subcultures have influenced you?
Another almost impossible one. I suppose the most influential for me would be punk and hardcore because they were the first types of bands I played shows/toured/recorded records with. Kind of a gateway into being in a band which I’d wanted to do as a teenager then suddenly, I was doing it. Heard some incredible music that really shaped how I played the guitar and made art in general. I love the straight-up kind of hardcore, fast and brutal but I was also really into the noise/metalcore stuff which sounded so abstract, really made me look at songs in a totally different way.
I also gravitated towards Hip-hop because it was so imaginative with language and identity and I love the way they self mythologise; create personas and gangs etc. I really like the rappers who dress up and go really far out like Mf. Doom and The Rammelzee.
If you could spend an hour with anyone from history?
Bloody hell, these are hard work! I’m trying to think of someone who would be nice to just have a pint with. I’m dead against meeting people I admire so I don’t want to load this with expectation. I’m going to say Jeremy Deller because I feel like he understands that element of music fandom but is also just a chill guy with a good sense of humour. Also, I used to see him having breakfast with a friend in Highbury when I walked past and would always want to join them. He also seems like he would be happy with cans in the park despite his success. Just realised he's not from history as he’s still alive but...
Of all the venues you’ve been to or played, which is your favourite?
I was singing in a band a few years back called Negative Space and we played this amazing squat in Stuttgart that was made of disused railway carriages. The community that lived there had been there for 25 years and built something really special, it had a cinema/theatre, venue, communal eating space and kitchen etc. There were families there and the whole atmosphere was so positive and welcoming.
Your greatest unsung hero or heroine in music?
This is another very tricky one because there’s millions of folk who probably don’t get their dues. I am a big Fall fan though and I would say Stephen Hanley gets overlooked as the architect of the classic Fall sound. Obviously, MES has always got the limelight, and deserves it, but that driving, melodic bass all the way through from the late '70s to late '90s was all him. It's a simple style and his basslines can be really odd but have so much character and carry so much of the sound.
Dry Cleaning released their debut EP 'Sweet Princess' on 16th August 2019. listen, purchase or stream it at orcd.co/drycleaning.
Dry Cleaning also recently announced details for their sophomore EP 'Boundary Road Snack And Drinks'. It will be released on 25th October 2019 and you can listen to he first track to be taken from it, titled 'Sit Down Meal', below.