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To Tuuli or Not Too Tuuli?

By Mitch Lafon, Contributor
Thursday, April 25, 2002 @ 5:49 PM

An Interview with Canadian Tuu

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Bassist Claire Blake may currently be an unfamiliar name to most, but soon enough, she, along with vocalist Jenny Vegas, guitarist Dawn Mandarino, and drummer Jen F. will be household names. Together they form Tuuli, a band that Claire and Jenny helped put together, in Toronto, back in 1997. Raised on a diet of The Clash, The Ramones, The Runaways, The Cure and Veruca Salt (just to name a few), the bandís sound could easily be described as punk pop or a female Cheap Trick (ask your parents).

Their summertime lyrics combined with their gritty punk pop edge has helped the band land the opening slot on tours with The Donnas, Slaves On Dope, Nashville Pussy, Cheap Trick and Serial Joe (a.k.a. -- paying your dues). However, itís their drop-dead good looks that seem to, unfortunately, grab every criticís attention. As Claire comments, "Subconsciously, it has affected me to where Iíll dress down on stage. Iíll wear a lot of jeans and t-shirts, because when I was wearing pants and little top some guy wrote a review about Ď band bares allí or something like that. I wasnít showing any leg and barely any arm. Sometimes, I feel people arenít paying attention and are a little overwhelmed, but for the people who really do like us, itís probably just an added bonus."

As a follow-up to their independently released EP, Rockstar Potential, the band has just released their first full-length album, Here We Go on Warner Music. "I like our new album," starts off Claire. "We wanted the album to be slicker, make it good and smooth on the ears, but sometimes, itís really hard to enjoy your own music because you can be so critical."

The album, produced by Neill King (Green Day, Rancid, Elvis Costello, The Buzzcocks), features Treble Chargerís Trevor Macgregor on drums (the band was in between drummers during the recording session).

Is the band trying to get across any specific point of view or message with its music? "Thereís no hidden message," says Claire, "with the exception of one song that was more intentional with the lyrical content, ĎWhere Are You Nowí and maybe Ď Itís Overí which is more Ďyou broke my heart. So, screw you,í but the girls write whatever they feel and how it comes out is how it comes out. Weíre not the type of band that has any message to relate. We just make music that people like and that we like."

Being a rock star on the verge of greatness, does Claire feel any sense of responsibility towards her fans? "I do feel responsible. I donít want to be talking to a twelve-year-old girl while holding a beer and smoking. I wouldnít want to be doing that in front of someone whoís so young and impressionable. I feel that I do bear certain responsibilities and that doesnít bug me. I remember being young and how influenced you are by people and music was such a huge part of my life, that if I can positively influence someone elseís life, that just makes my day. It makes me very happy. Plus, I plan on staying in touch with the fans via email. I know from my experiences the difference it makes when someone I think is really amazing is really cool. I met Joe Strummer (The Clash) and heís just amazing. One of The Clashís biggest things was to stay it touch with the fans and never lose that grip. We had a chance to meet him and see how he was. He would stick around until every last fan was gone and wouldnít try to skimp out on time with any fan. I thought that was awesome."

As winter rolls into spring, and spring into the summer concert season, Tuuli readies for another trek cross-country. "The live experience is huge to me," remarks Claire," especially since I was deprived of it growing up in Thunder Bay. Though the road can be rough, I really enjoy it. I donít mind being in a van and I donít mind lugging my own gear. The only thing I donít want around me [are] drugs. Absolutely none, and thatís the same for all the girls. If I found out anyone in the band had any kind of habit, Iíd confront them with it and if they didnít give it upÖ theyíd be out! Iím not going to preach because we arenít a message band, but I do realize that people look at those in the public eye."

In ending Claire adds, "Everything we do is from the heart. Itís our passion. Itís our life and we love what we do." Start loving what Tuuliís does by visiting: tuuli.com.

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