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BITERS

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BITERS

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Tuk Smith, frontman of Biters, is a striking figure. Hair a shade of jet black with the occasional shimmer of mystique blue, piercing eyes, and the kind of spirit one wishes to bottle up and wear as a talisman of fortitude. Musically intoxicated by the likes of the aesthetically exquisite David Bowie, it is clear that Smith places emphasis on wearing his music as much as he plays it. “I’ve always been attracted to both the audio and visual of rock’n’roll, so having a look has been important to me”, Smith affirms. “Art, symbolism, aesthetic; that visual, it ties into everything. I’m very interested in that. I’d probably dress this way no matter what. It’s not a gimmick, that’s just what [Biters] have.” But such a distinct semblance is not without its pitfalls. “[The look] is not necessarily working for us. I get called Noel Fielding all the time because people don’t know where this haircut originated.”

In concordance with his prominent rock’n’roll style are Smith’s attitudinal convictions. “People get to me, but I really don’t give a fuck what people are thinking. If you give up too much, you’ll get eaten alive as a frontman”, asserts Smith, with the sort of delicious forceful emphasis on “fuck” that makes your mouth water with audacity. However, Smith’s bad boy bravado melts into the shadows for a moment in an endearing glimmer of vulnerability one may not expect from this seemingly natural frontman. “I don’t know how I got here, I never would have thought that I would be frontman. It’s a thankless job, and a lot of pressure”, sighs Smith. “I used to play guitar in a band. I didn’t have to worry about the vortex of 2,500 energies on you at one time, trying to suck the life force out of you. You’re just fucking battling the whole time. Some days you’re a human being, you don’t feel like it.” It may be a thankless job, but someone’s gotta do it, and Smith certainly has the battle cries and war faces to contend with it.

One of Smith’s most well known battle cries voices “take me back in time to 1975” in Biters’ track 1975. Whilst Smith impatiently awaits his time machine, however, he’s busy combating 2017, an era inhospitable to the kind of blood, sweat and tears style of rock’n’roll emitted by Biters. “Straight up rock’n’roll has taken a back seat unless you’re talkin’ about heritage acts. People are always gonna love Led Zeppelin and the Stones and KISS. But as far as a newer rock’n’roll vibe, there really hasn’t been one. So it’s making it really difficult for us to find a home,” Smith laments.

Meanwhile, the 21st century sea of social media proves to be both a sweet and sour concoction for rock musicians such as Smith. “Social media has taken out all the mysteriousness from rock’n’roll. The larger than life aspect has gone. I am expected to be online and entertain people and take selfies. I could never imagine Bon Scott taking a selfie”, muses Smith. “It’s also been used for a lot of good because we were discovered through Spotify – a company I hate that rips off artists, that’s how we were discovered. I mean it’s definitely got its ups and downs. But I would probably rather live in the 70s.”

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But Smith’s contemplations do not hang purely on retrospection, as indicated by the title of Biters’ upcoming album The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be. Whilst it may be easy to assume that this refers to the diversion away from Smith’s coveted 70s rock and towards an industry run by musical robots, the roots of this album are a lot more personal to Smith. “It’s about a cycle and how you never know what’s gonna happen. Some of the stuff that I’m into, some of the stuff I believe, who I’ve become, I would never have imagined ten, eight, five years ago that I would be like that”, Smith professes. “It also deals with reincarnation, so past lives and learning lessons. So the whole album plays like a bunch of lives – each song has a lesson. You know it starts out very ‘yeah I’m gonna take on the world’ with the opening track, and by the end it’s very defeated.”

In addition to The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be, Biters are also releasing a Record Store Day vinyl exclusive. As may be expected, vinyl and its retro roots are deeply valued by Smith. “I love vinyl and it’s back again. It’s really important for me that Earache, our record label, are behind us [on releasing vinyl]”, enthuses Smith. “I think [vinyl] gives somebody something real and tangible to hold onto. I think that there’s something inherent in our DNA, we like to collect. Even animals like ravens and crows bring things back to the nest. CDs suck dick, they didn’t last. But vinyl, it’s not the most convenient music format, but it’s killer. I like collecting original vinyl because it’s a piece of a time machine.”

The revival of vinyl provides a delightful symmetry to the music revival that Smith is keen on helping to induce. But whilst revolutionary upheaval of the current musical era may be an impossible chore, Smith’s highest career aspirations remain modest. “I’d like to be known as a great songwriter and a great musician. But I want to be recognised for the songs and the hard work and everything we put into it. You know, like my favourite artists.” And with artists like Nikki Sixx backing his corner, Smith’s dream may be emerging just on the horizon.

 

Written by Jeni Lambert

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