interview with T.Rextasy

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Have you played in any other bands? Before T.Rextasy I was in a band called Tarazara. We were nearly signed up with Atlantic Records in the 1980s, but before the final hurdles we were let down. A few years later I formed T.Rextasy as I was always a big fan of Marc Bolan. Because of the success of T.Rextasy, I was offered an album deal for the Tarazara material from Angel Air Records which was finally released a few years ago entitled ‘Danielz & Tarazara – Behind The Mask’.

How is it that you started playing music? From listening to Marc Bolan and T.Rex as a teenager, I always wanted to play guitar and perform on stage. It was purely Marc Bolan that got me started on the road to wanting to become a musician. I loved the way he sang and loved the sound of his guitar, so when I got my first electric guitar, all I wanted to play was T.Rex songs!

What are your names in the band, who plays what? The current line-up of T.Rextasy is Danielz (lead vocals and lead guitar), Neil Cross (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), Rob Butterfield (bass guitar and backing vocals), and John Skelton (drums/percussion)

Have you had previous members? Yes – I have been doing T.Rextasy for more than 23 years, so it’s no wonder a few musicians have passed through over time.

Did you make music even when you were young? Yes – I learnt to play guitar when I was about 14 years old. My first electric guitar was a Framus. I got that one Christmas. I didn’t have an amplifier, so I had to play it as an acoustic until later on!  Like many future musicians, I used to pretend that I was on stage in from of a mirror!

Where are you from? I’m a bit of a Nomad really as I’ve lived around the world being that my parents were in the Army, so I’ve had homes in the Far East and Europe.  However, I settled down back in England since the 1970s and have lived here ever since.

What year did the band form? I started T.Rextasy in 1992. It was originally for pleasure and a hobby, then semi-pro, but it all took off so fast, that within a few years I became a professional musician and the band became a full-time profession and career.

What’s your style of genre? Totally in the 1970s because playing the music of Marc Bolan, there is no way around that. However, we do try and bring in an element of modernisation to attract the younger music fans.

What inspires you? Good lyrics – nice production – good tunes – talking to those people who are as passionate about music as I am.

How often do you rehearse? We don’t really have to rehearse in a studio anymore as we have our set sorted out well. When we do 2 or 3 new tracks, we tend to rehearse them slowly at sound-checks until they are ready and tight enough to play live.

How have you developed since you started? I have become a much better guitarist and performer. I think my stage craft has improved drastically over the years from playing so many gigs. In the early days, many people used to give me advice on what to say, how to say it, and how to behave, but over the past few years, I just trust my own instincts, and it has been so much better since then!

Do you have any other interests of work outside the band? Not really, the band takes up most of my time everyday in some shape or form. I have always so much to sort out, be with agents, promoters, merchandise, websites, emails, letters, posters, photos, flyers, radio and media interviews…and questionnaires like this!  I do like reading a lot, mainly music biographies as I am always interested in other musicians and bands.

Are you looking for a booking agency, and what are your thoughts about that? I already have a booking promoting agency covered for the UK. They get me a theatre tour ever year of about 70+ dates. I don’t really need anything else. One needs a booking agent as it’s too difficult to book good quality gigs yourself – there just isn’t time to do that if you are a gigging band that plays all through the year every year. However, if a good promoter got in touch with me for a few dates outside the UK (something I’ve done plenty of times, as we’ve played many countries from Europe to Japan), I would consider it.

Are you looking for a label and what are your thoughts about that? No – I’ve already got two labels that release my recorded material, Angel Air, and Madman Records in the UK. It’s good to have a label rather than doing it yourself, as it is just that much more professional of course.

What made you decide to make this music? Purely because I was and still am, a big fan of Marc Bolan, and I feel a need to promote his music and performance to show people what a great writer and performer he was. You can’t let people forget legendary stars as there are not enough of them left!

What are your songs about? At live gigs I only play songs that were written by Marc Bolan, or have a connection with him. He is no longer around to give you his meanings behind the lyrics, but he wrote very unusual lyrics that were about things that are better left to the imagination. 

What language do you sing in? Only in English – it’s the only language I know!

What are the least and most people to attend gigs? We have played to all different sized audiences. The most I guess was in Hyde Park – there was around 40,000 there. However, we’ve played at Wembley Arena in the 1990s with Gary Glitter, and there were 10,000 people there.  There again, we still also play rock clubs, which tend to go from around 300 people to 750 people.  I don’t mind what size venues or theatres we play as long as everyone enjoys what I do.

What ages are at most concerts? All ages from 10 years old to 86!  The great thing is that the music we play attracts everyone. Marc Bolan’s songs transcends age, which is an amazing thing. 

Do you always play the same songs live or vary? Every yearly tour the set is almost the same, although as the year progresses, we do tend to change 3 or 4 tracks to change things around a little.  It’s good to do that as it gives everyone in the band a kick to learn something ‘new’. Some fans like to hear the odd ‘B’ side or album track, which is great to play, but one must play to the majority (especially if you want re-bookings) and they always want the big hits from T.Rex. 

Do you have a regular place you play live often? We tend to play regular theatres every year and we play our favourite rock clubs sometimes 2 or 3 times a year, so they are too many too name here. It’s lovely to know that we have a loyal audience that keep returning to the venues we play.

What was your first gig like? Quite frightening to be honest. I was so nervous. It was in a tiny pub in East London. The stage was so small, I was practically touching the audience. I loved it at the end though!

What was your latest gigs? The last couple of gigs took place at a theatre called The Winding Wheel in Chesterfield, and The Brook in Southampton. Both gigs were fantastic as the audiences are so enthusiastic and want to sing and dance as much as possible. They are two venues that we have played many times over the years.

Have you ever had to cancel a gig? Not for a long time. Once I was very ill when we were touring with a band called Slade, and I just couldn’t stand up as I was so ill.  Thankfully, that hasn’t happened for years now! The only time gigs are cancelled, is when they sometimes have to be re-scheduled, and again, that doesn’t happen too often.

Where have you played live this year? Well, it’s only April now and already we have played all over the UK and travelled so many miles around the country. We have played many theatres and a couple of rock clubs, but there are too many to name here.

Where do you plan to gig in the coming year? Everywhere we can throughout the UK! We’ve already covered a lot of it since the beginning of this year, but we’ve got so many more shows to play up until the end of 2016, so by the time this year has ended, we would’ve played North, South, East, and West of the UK!

When did you start to sell merchandise and what do you have for sale? Merchandise began in the 1990s when we mainly had just t-shirts for sale. Now, we have t-shirts, CDs, badges, and books (the books are copies of my autobiography – I was lucky enough for a publisher to offer me a deal to write my life with T.Rextasy!) and sometimes other items like stickers, bags and mirrors etc.

Where can people buy your merchandise? A lot of it is sent out as promo items to venues and the like, but fans can usually buy our merchandise from gigs. The theatres usually supply a seller for us.

What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records? I think music is best heard on record or CD. I prefer to still buy hard copies myself. It is permanent rather than something to just delete. I do listen to music on I-Pod etc as on-the-road it so convenient and easy. However, I do think it’s so important that music isn’t just ‘free’.  Musicians and writers spend so much time writing, recording, and perfecting their craft – you wouldn’t expect to do a job for free would you, so musicians deserve the same respect.

How do you think the industry has changed because of this? It’s ruined it to some extent. It’s now so corporate that the music is now secondary to the business – there’s no nurturing the artists anymore.  It’s a quick profit, then elbowed out if their sales slump. Everything has to be instant nowadays without any time to grow – that’s a great shame.

What do you think of my work? From what I’ve seen on your website, it’s great. The more you add to it can only make you grow stronger.

Do you have any role models or idols? Hmmm. I guess it still has to be my favourite artists. No so much role models, but idols – Marc Bolan and Bob Dylan would probably be the two that would come up everytime without me thinking about it.

Is it easier to find inspiration from older bands? Yes, older bands have the experience and knowledge. They’ve already been there, seen it all, and can give advice on things that one may not have experienced.

What have been your biggest obstacles? In the beginning it was proving to everyone that I could do what I do with conviction. There was no other T.Rex bands around at the time, now it’s easier for some of the bands, having had paved the way, but it was a struggle at first, especially with some of the die-hard original Marc Bolan fans.

What advice would you give to other bands/artists? Do what you believe in, whether it’s original material or not. Only do it if the passion is there. Don’t do it if you feel it’s just a job – it’s got to be for enjoyment – that should come first, then hopefully a degree of success will follow later.

How do you get psyched up for a gig? I get very nervous beforehand. It’s something I’ve never been able to shake off. The nervousness helps getting psyched up enough I think.  I also play an album or two on my I-Pod while I’m getting ready, as that helps me relax as much as I can do.

What are your official websites?

www.facebook.com/t.rextasy

www.trextasy.com

How can people reach you? Via the websites is usually the best way.

What are you plans for the future? To keep gigging in good quality theatres and rock clubs around the UK, or the odd gig abroad, if and when we’re offered something.  I still like to record my original material and Marc Bolan material if there’s ever time, but time is always of the essence these days, so it’s doubtful, although I live in hope. To write more material and hopefully another book one day.

Do you have something to add?

T.Rextasy is recognised as the world’s only official tribute to Marc Bolan and T.Rex. We have endorsements from Marc Bolan’s record companies, Spirit Music Ltd., USA, and Universal Music UK.  We also have the blessing and endorsements from not only Marc Bolan’s brother, wife, girlfriend, and son, but also from ex-members of the original T.Rex band.  In fact Dino Dines, Marc Bolan’s keyboard player, actually joined T.Rextasy right up until he died a few years later. It was a pleasure to have an original member in the band, and I was always honoured when Dino said that he played with T.Rextasy because he thought of us as so much more than just a tribute band.

I hope that when fans and the like come to see us play, they are reminded of what a superstar Marc Bolan was, and to hopefully not only take them back to their youth, but also enjoy a fantastic evening of loud and live rock’n’roll Bolanic music!

Many thanks for wanting to talk to me.  All the very best,

Danielz

(T.Rextasy)

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