Tom Rees knew his destiny when he was nine years old. That was when he saw, on the television, a report about computer component manufacture and understood for the first time that he wanted, needed to spend his life measuring tiny pieces of wire, returning home every night to eat spaghetti carbonara ready meals.
No. That’s not right. Tear that up.
That wasn’t how Tom Rees discovered his destiny at all. Because Tom Rees sings and plays guitar in Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. And Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard play rock’n’roll music that bursts with joy and excitement and silliness and passion and they don’t have anything to do with measuring tiny pieces of wire and eating spaghetti carbonara ready meals.
Tom Rees did know his destiny when he was nine years old, though. “I went to see The Hives and my entire life changed. I’ve never felt so overcome. Howlin’ Pelle had a messiah thing – he could have looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Take a shit on the floor and fucking eat it,’ and I would have been there in seconds, doing it.” That’s when Tom Rees realised he needed his own cult. He needed to be a rock’n’roll singer. He needed to be a rock’n’roll star (he heard it pays well, too).
Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard began in 2017 because Tom Rees was obsessed with Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky and he wanted to make music like that. So he did, with drummer Ethan Hurst. Except Ethan was always sleeping in, so Tom made it himself in Ethan’s front room. And then he realised that a rock’n’roll singer needs a rock’n’roll band, so he asked Ethan to join Buzzzard Buzzard Buzzard, along with Zac White and Ed Rees. They made the single Double Denim Hop in 2018, and it was brilliant – Super Furry Animals playing with the young AC/DC. They made the single Late Night City in 2019, and it was brilliant, too. And now they’ve signed to Communion and made The Non-Stop EP. And, yes, it’s brilliant. It’s rock’n’roll, yes, but it’s not old fashioned. Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard sound inspired by groups who put their feet on monitors, or who had flashing guitars on Top of the Pops, or who wore unlikely trousers. But they don’t sound like those groups. They sound like rock’n’roll that lives in the present rather than the past. Sometimes they play glam rock, but they’re not a glam rock revival band. Sometimes they play hard rock, but they’re not trying to recreate Let There Be Rock. They are just being Buzzard Buzzard Buzzzard: themselves, unfiltered and unique. Which means they offer a rare commodity in music: unbridled joy.
At this point, we could start talking about producers and plug-ins and songwriting. But everyone knows that stuff is boring. And it won’t help you understand Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. So instead we’re going to open up Tom Rees’s head and look inside. It’s better that way, honestly.
ROCK IS AMAZING
“I think rock is amazing because it’s a commitment to a lifestyle. It’s like a religion without a god. And I think that’s beautiful. You can commit yourself to this way of being and this existence with other people. And you don’t have to serve anything or anyone, which is a beautiful idea. You could be walking down the street and there’s this untold connection when you look at someone and just know, ‘Yes, we both love AC/DC.’ Which is beautiful. It’s a sense of belief but without the heavy hand of some authoritarian being weighing down on you. And that feeling, replicated at a show, is one of the strongest feelings of family I’ve ever felt in my life. You feel so connected to each other and to whoever you are seeing through your shared identity of: ‘We love this.’”
YOU CAN LOVE OLD ROCK WITHOUT PASTICHING IT
“The main part about sort of pushing rock forward without it being pastiche is to have self-belief in the things that even previously wouldn’t have been considered to be rock. Like doing a really good job cleaning the dishes. I really believe in that. So your approach outside of rock informs whether you do actually rock. I think the future of rock has taken a much kinder turn now, as well: my idea of rock is about helping one another, not saying, ‘We are the best band in the world, fuck everybody else.’”
ROCK IS HARD WORK
“I love sweating! I think Meat Loaf’s amazing, man. I had a really profound moment when I was watching a Meat Loaf documentary. He was hospitalised once every five nights or something on his tour, because he just goes so hard. I remember seeing that, and I was like, ‘Man, I want to be doing that. I want to be just going so hard, just so into it.’ I think that’s so inherent in the rock vibe, that you believe in it so much, you hospitalise yourself.”
BUT IT SHOULD BE FUN, TOO
“I try to engage audiences through humour. If I can make people laugh, then they end up clapping more. If you can get on board with humour a little bit – not like Tenacious or anything – when you are playing to a hip crowd, then they start to warm up, and suddenly you just see they’re being themelves, and then that affinity and connectioncomes, which I think is really important. What I like is really focusing on it being a show, as well – throw that kick up in the air and people go wild! That’s the thing you have to be: the person that people have an affinity with. You’re so affected and involved with this person, and it’s a sensory overload because as that’s happening, there’s also this insane sound that’s coming at you, so you feel completely overwhelmed and you have nothing to do but submit yourself to this idea.”
DOUBLE DENIM DIVIDES OPINION
“in early 2017, it seemed so crazy that it was such a big thing to go out wearing double denim that I was like, ‘I’m going to do it. I don’t care what they say, I’m going to do it!” Funnily enough, it split people down the middle. I thought everybody would love it, but people were like, ‘What are you doing? You look awful, you look horrendous’ and I was thinking, “Give it a couple of years and you’ll see!’ We did that in the early days: we all wore double denim. It was so easy: it was great. It’s a good starting point to get everybody on board, to be like, ‘Hey, this is who we are.’”
BUZZARD BUZZZARD BUZZARD HOST LATE NIGHT CITY SERMONS, NOT GIGS
“Late at night, the city is a place of infinite possibility. After a couple of drinks, it’s as if you have all the money in the world, and you can do what you want. And then, out at parties, you at 5am or 6am, you see people realise what they’ve done and how they have to come back. Our own Late Night City Sermons in Cardiff are about trying to create a reality out of rock, religion and cultism. At one, we got Ethan to box his friend, who’s a trained MMA fighter in the middle of the crowd. Ethan’s mum was in the corner, shouting, ‘Kill him! Kill him!’ The bouncer hadn’t been told it was going on, and he thought it was a fight and tried to stop it. That was the last thing that happened before we played, so everybody was in a crazy, visceral state, which is exactly what you want. It had that shared, collective experience of ‘We could fucking take over this place!’”
TOM REES IS NEVER GOING TO DIE
“I’m 24, a quarter of the way through. It’s 2020, though, and they’ll find a way to make me live forever. I’ll get a fake heart or something. If Dick Cheney can still be alive now, I’ll be fine. If I die, which I won’t, I want Cosmic Dancer by T Rex played at my funeral.”
Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard are a tonic. Honestly. They’re a band you hear, and then offer thanks that someone is making the sound you’d been hearing in your head, but no one seemed to be making: hip and stupid and loud and funny and silly and deadly serious and fun all the same time. They’re a rock’n’roll band for people who really don’t ever want to hear a song about a “hard lovin’ mama” and who understand that you’re more likely to get your motor runnin’ in order to pop to the supermarket than head out on the highway. They’re a rock’n’roll band for the 21st century. They’re great. You’ll love them. And if you don’t get converted tonight, at least you’ll leave smiling. And in shitty times, that’s a victory.