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SAS: Back on the road. Lost in music, again. But things weren’t quite as easy. We were not so impregnable. I am not sure that we believed in each other quite as much. We had all been tested and maybe we were all shown wanting, slightly. We were feeling the slog and repetition of touring. Sullied. Beginning to move in circles. Cynicism. Something needed to give. Things were complicated and our music had become layered and complicated also.

The only antidote in all this for me was listening to the simplicity and open heartedness of Al Green, the Hi band and Willie Mitchell’s production. It pointed a way out for me, a means of escape. I never set out to make music with any trace of cynicism or irony, I cannot see the point in that. Music requires too much love, effort and pain to produce something that is negative or self-serving. In ‘97 we were teetering, but changing this band was going to prove akin to changing the direction of a super tanker. It was also time to build the second version of the studio – Converting the garage at the side of our new house in South East London.

DB: London was starting to wear me down. Or maybe everything that had happened had made the most exciting city mundane and boring. I was more concerned with making it to the corner shop to buy a loaf of bread than anything it had to offer. Why was I here? I guess that feeling was soaking into the music. The thrills had turned into a drag. Overdoing everything to try and get a kick. The simple life was now the dream, somewhere to escape to.
It was an easy journey down to Stuart’s new house from my flat in Dalston. And the plans for the studio were exciting. His growing family and help with decorating a nice distraction. But showing me more and more how little I had.
I don’t know if it was that need to change, or simply just falling in love. But as the year ended, I met someone who would change everything for me. But I still had a few ghosts to exorcise before I could be free.

Curtains made more sense to me playing it live. Some truly great moments. Wonderful venues. The stage had become as complicated as life. Hammond organ, Leslie speaker cabinets. Fender Rhodes, giant Yamaha CP80 piano, vibraphone. And that was just me. Our crew were friends. Tris even changing into a bright white shirt to play percussion on a few songs, and being pushed off by an over enthusiastic film crew at one show. Hardly fitting on stage sometimes. Organs breaking down reflecting our mood. And the monster of tour buses, trucks, everything needed to play our music overwhelming us.
Most groups would love to be in our position. But everything was feeling out of balance.


Released 24 June 1997

Recorded at:
Angel studios, London, 8th-21st July 1996 by Ian Caple & tindersticks.
Eastcote studio, London, 15th-20th August & 5th-6th October 1996 by tindersticks and Craig Chettle.
Searsound, New York, 23rd-24th August 1996 by John Siket.

Mixed at Windmill studios, Dublin, 27th August-7th September by tindersticks, assisted by Ciaran Cahill & Pierce Room, London, 8th-10th & 26th-27th October & 3rd November by tindersticks with Craig Chettle

Written, arranged, performed & produced by tindersticks.

Mastered by Tim Young at Metropolis, London

String arrangements by Dickon.
Conducted by Rosie Lindsell.
Violins – Lucy Wilkins, Paul Medd, Charles Nancarrow, Caroline Luckhurst, Dimitri Van Zwanenberg,, Becky Doe, Calina de la Mere, Ted Wood, Jonanthan Acton, Howard Gott, Chris Koh, Ruth Gottlieb, Victoria Evans & Susannah Marsden.
Violas – Ann Child, Becca Ware, Rob Spriggs, Harvey Brown & Sophie Sirota.
Cellos – Sarah Wilson, Anna Chalmers & Oliver Kraus.
Double bass – Lucy Shaw.

Brass arrangements by Jesus Alemañy.
Trumpet – Jesus Alemañy.
Trombone/Flute – Joe de Jesus.
Tenor Sax – Lisa Graham.
Bongos – David Patman.

Duet on ‘Buried Bones’ sung with Ann Magnuson.

Sleeve by Bartholomew & Windsor.

tindersticks outfitted by Timothy Everest, London.

Sleeve notes:

Suzanne had found a sheet of samples stitched together from a upholstery fabric designer from the 1950’s. This sheet and these designs became the basis of all the sleeves around ‘curtains’. The outer sleeve lettering was made with ‘Letraset’

Track listing:

1. Another night in, Rented rooms, Don’t look down

2. Dick’s slow song, Fast one, Ballad of tindersticks, Dancing

3. Let’s pretend, Desperate man, Buried bones, Bearsuit,

4. (Tonight) are you trying to fall in love again, I was your man, Bathtime, Walking

Released as a double 45rpm album (524 344-1) & CD (524 344-2)

Recording notes:

SAS: ‘curtains’ is a strange brew of an album. There is a struggle going on inside it, going on inside us at this time. On one hand, there is a band starting to be aware of the power it has, pushing at it. 6 guys in beautiful suits, the orchestra coming in every few days, there is expectation inside and around us. Ambition. On the other hand, there is a band desperately trying to hold on to what is ‘real’ and what had driven us so naturally in the past years. I still love this side of the album – Dancing, Dick’s slow song, Walking and I still mistrust Another night in and Don’t look down, for all their beauty.

After recording our previous albums in Townhouse 3 and Conny’s, both very relaxed places, we were in Angel Studios – an orchestral studio in Islington. It was a place of work! I don’t think there was even a sofa there. It was also tense, we weren’t so together at this time but we did have ideas that we were fully committed to and we had already put in a lot of work in Monnow valley working out the songs and arrangements there.

We left Angel Studios after 3 weeks, I think Ian was gone after 2, we were on our own and booked into Eastcote to try and finish the recording. It was a struggle, the mixing even more so. My pigheadedness had got me in well above my head and I was struggling. That said, I was on a steep learning curve that would stand me in good stead in the future.

After a taste of working with the string orchestra on the second album, Dickon really spread his wings here with the arrangements. I had started to write with the strings in mind – Another night in, Let’s pretend, Buried bones – and at this time it was working, we were pushing forward together.

Another great experience of this album was working with Cuban trumpeter Jesus Alemany, he brought such a wonderful sense of melodic freedom to the album. We listened in awe when his scribbled down arrangements came to life.

DB: We walked into Angel studio a year after we’d demo’d some of these songs. I was confused about everything. Dickon’s arrangements were great. The process was hard to react to. And perhaps they made me step back. We tried to be free, but there was a lot of pressure to get it right.

My only fully realised song was Walking. Still a proud moment for me. And Manalow. Which was originally called Man Alone. Just how I felt.

I still love a lot of Curtains. Another Night In. Rented Rooms. I Was Your Man a personal favourite. Some wonderful moments. Powerful songs. And Jesus’ brass arrangements. One of the most beautiful and abstract things I’d witnessed.


David Boulter – Piano, Hammond organ, vibrophone, Fender rhodes piano, glockenspiel, percussion, voice
Mark Colwill – Burns Bison bass guitar
Neil Fraser – Nylon string acoustic guitar, Fender telecaster
Dickon Hinchliffe – Electric violin, string arrangements, voice
Al Macaulay – Drums
Stuart A. Staples – Voice, Guild Starfire 2 electric guitar, piano, dulcimer

Bathtime EP

Released May 1997

Track listing:

A1. Bathtime (remix)
A2. Paco’s Theme
B1. Shadow
B2. Manalow

Released by This Way Up on 12” single (WAY 6122) & two CD singles (WAY 6133 & WAY 6166)
CD2 track-listing: A. Bathtime (Album Version) B. Kathleen (ICA 8/11), C. Here (ICA 8/11), and Tyed (ICA 6/11).

Bathtime by Martin Wallace

DB: We never really liked music videos. The whole MTV thing a world we never aspired to. Unless it could work on our terms, like the live sessions we did for them.
We did like films though. City Sickness, Travelling Light having strong ideas complimenting us and the music. Doing something besides trying to sell us.
Bathtime and Rented Rooms were made together. I remember discussing the cost. £30,000 for both I think. This seemed massive to us. Why not spend ten on the films. Put the other twenty into the newly built studio. But no. The bosses said the budget was for promo films only. Not to waste on the real making of music.
I guess in the end, that was cheap for what we got. Both strong ideas from Stuart. Taken on by Martin.
We never really liked the idea of a fake performance video either. So Bathtime played with that too. A spiralling, one shot, black and white piece of art. More of a peek or intrusion into a group playing their song. I think we tried to look smart casual. No suits.
It was the first time we went to a purpose built space to film. Make up and catering. Someone probably walking around with a clipboard. Al even got his hair cut.
It was hard work for the camera man. A heavy steady cam harness strapped to him. The intensity of a single shot take really making him sweat.
It’s great to see how we looked as people. How our faces, hair, personality had started to change.
I really love the shot of Mark. As the camera focus’s on his face. Doing the bison bop. The look he gives, fighting not to break into a smile.

Rented Rooms

Released October 1997

Track listing:

A. Rented Rooms
B. Rented Rooms (swing version)

Released by This Way Up on 7” single (WAY 6522) & two CD singles (WAY 6533 & WAY 6566)
CD1 track-listing: Rented Rooms, Rented Rooms (swing version), Make Believe 
CD2 track-listing: Rented Rooms (album version), Cherry Blossoms (ICA 8/11), She’s Gone (ICA 8/11), Rumba (ICA 6/11)

Rented rooms by Martin Wallace

SAS: It’s a strange dynamic – A high or a low point? I am not sure. Maybe both at the same time?

As we were sucked into this vacuous self-regarding place I wanted to make a film that described the pain of this vacuous self-regarding place – In the process we managed to make something even more vacuous and self-regarding – What else could it be? The record company loved it! I was preening as I was hating myself and what I perceived I had become. Martin did a great job in capturing all that – In some style!

Pigeon coop, London by Phil Nicholls

London Transport by Phil Nicholls

Photo session by Steve Gullick

Brian Griffin photo session

Other Music instore, NYC 24/07/1997

Sendeshaal, Berlin 22/09/1997

Live concerts and sessions

BBC Studios
London, United Kingdom
5th “Mark & Lard” session

360 Grand Special
?, Germany
Date not 100% certain

Shepherd’s Bush Empire
London, United Kingdom

3FM Studios
Hilversum, Netherlands
“2 Meter” session

Canal+ Studios
Paris, France

Auditorium De La Bastille
Paris, France

MTV Studios
London, United Kingdom
MTV “Alternative Nation” show

BBC Studios
London, United Kingdom
2nd “GLR” session

Victoria Rooms
Bristol, United Kingdom

London, United Kingdom

Domplatz Open Air
Salzburg, Austria

Sfb Sendesaal
Berlin, Germany

Sonic Studios
New York City, New York, USA
“Sessions at West 54th”

Other Music
New York City, New York, USA
Record store performance

KCRW Studios
New York City, New York, USA
Radio session

Mercury Lounge
New York City, New York, USA

Jaffa Cake
Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Parc Du Rhin
Strasbourg, France

Geneve, Switzerland

La Bouche D’Air
Nantes, France

La Cigale
Paris, France

La Cigale
Paris, France

FNAC – St. Lazare
Paris, France

Alter Wartesaal
Köln, Germany

3FM Studios
Hilversum, Netherlands
Second “2 Meter” session

Crossing Boarder Festival
The Hague, Netherlands

Botanique Festival
Brussels, Belgium

Grosse Freiheit
Hamburg, Germany

Amager Bio
Copenhagen, Denmark

Oslo, Norway

Concert House
Stockholm, Sweden

Berlin, Germany

Archa Theatre
Prague, Czech Republic

Bremen, Germany
NORD3. Date not 100%

University MDH
Manchester, United Kingdom

City Hall Ballroom
Sheffield, United Kingdom

Wulfren Hall
Wolverhampton, United Kingdom

Irish Centre
Leeds, United Kingdom

Fruit Market
Glasgow, United Kingdom

The Black Cat
Washington D.C., USA

The Supper Club
New York City, New York, USA

Lee’s Palace
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The 7th House
Pontiac, Michigan, USA

The Metro
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Berkeley University
Berkeley, California, USA

The Fillmore
San Francisco, California, USA

El Ray
Los Angeles, California, USA

Hollywood, California, USA
Record store acoustic performance

KCRW Studios
Santa Monica, California, USA
“Morning Becomes Eclectic” session

Barcelona, Spain

Madrid, Spain

Coliseu do Porto
Porto, Portugal

Coliseu Dos Recreios
Lisbon, Portugal

Le Krakatoa
Bordeaux, France

Le Chabada
Angers, France

Salle De La Cité
Rennes, France

La Fonderie
Hérouville St Clair, France

Lille, France

Salle Poirel
Nancy, France

Zurich, Switzerland

Munich, Germany

Magazzini Generali
Milan, Italy

Le Transbordeur
Lyon, France

Salle Victoire
Montpellier, France

Le Bikini
Montpellier, France

New Morning
Paris, France

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Gent, Belgium

Rodon Club
Athens, Greece