Tillerman, the up-and-coming band consisting of brothers Jon (Lead Vox/Guitar) and Tom (Drums/Vox), have been making waves in the music business with their distinctive combination of classic rock and current pop.
When Jon and Shaun (Lead Guitar) were both working at the same restaurant chain, they happened to run into each other by accident and struck up a conversation. This was the beginning of the band.
This fortuitous meeting resulted in establishing their first iteration, which was given the name “Satellite.” For some time, they participated in the music scene in Leeds by performing concerts and releasing albums.
However, in 2011 the band members decided to explore other opportunities, which resulted in the band going on indefinite hiatus that year. However, the creative and artistic itch needed to be scratched, and in 2018, the band’s original lineup came back together, and they immediately began creating new songs.
The band was able to mature musically and become more conscious of its strengths, both of which are now characteristic of their sound, as a result of the time apart, which proved advantageous for the band.
Most of their music is composed of pop-influenced songs written by Tillerman, which lends them the feel of a traditional family band similar to that of the Carpenters or the Everly Brothers.
But what really sets them apart from other bands is the inventive and creative guitar work that Shaun Mallia does, along with the rock-solid rhythmic baselines that Iain provides for them.
Their most recent single, “Hear Angels Cry,” is a somber and dreary piece that both reflects and bemoans the politics, attitudes, and mindsets that are widespread all across the globe.
The band takes quite a bit of inspiration from the great blues rock ballads that were popular in the 1970s, which can be heard as an influence on the music.
Tillerman is a band that you should absolutely keep an ear out for in the coming months due to the fact that they have a sound that is all their own and lyrics that provoke contemplation.
You can anticipate seeing them headlining big festivals and gracing the pages of leading music journals such as Rolling Stone, The Fader, The Source, and Forbes as they continue to make their impact in the music landscape.
What would you say is your greatest strength as an artist?
Shaun: I’d say our greatest strength as a group is our understanding of each other and what we are trying to achieve with each piece of music we write. We have spent 20 years collaborating and writing together so we now know instinctively what we need to do as musicians to support each other and the song.
Jon: Melody, that is the key to any great piece of music, whether it’s within the lyrics or the guitars, that’s the language that connects to the listener, and myself and Shaun, have always had a great radar for melody and understanding each other musically.
What is your creative process when making music?
Shaun: Over the years we have tried many processes. Hear Angels Cry was an early collaboration between Jon and me. We also had several incarnations of this song before finding the right structure.
The creative process is very collaborative where each of us has the autonomy to express ourselves but with the common goal of complementing and benefiting the song we are writing.
Jon: It can differ, on Hear Angels Cry, Shaun originally came up with the music, the minor key chord progression that evokes the type of Theme and song to accompany it. Sometimes, I will come up with a song for Shaun to interpret musically. But in both scenarios, we have another two fantastic musicians in Tom and Iain, who bring their own feel, vibe, and interpretation.
How long have you been making music and what attracted you to it?
Shaun: As a group, we’ve been writing and making music together for nearly 20 years. I think there are two types of music fans. The casual listener enjoys music on a superficial level and then there are the people who hear music and it changes them. I think if you are in the latter making music is almost mandatory.
Jon: As a band, 20 years, but as a person, since I was around 8 years old, we’ll write songs and melodies, I was 18 when I learned to play guitar, quite late.
What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome as a band/artist so far?
Shaun: I think the biggest hurdle we’ve had was understanding who we are as a collective. We’ve had many instances where stylistically we’ve written music in the past that has been influenced by an individual in the band rather than writing music that suits and represents all of us as a collective.
Jon: As we’ve got older, we have other commitments now, ‘proper’ jobs and families, so finding that time to get together as a band to write and the record isn’t as easy as it used to be.
What streaming sites do you think offer the most value to a band?
Shaun: Without a doubt financially it’s Bandcamp. That said we have listeners all over the world that in years gone by would not have known us if it wasn’t for the reach of Spotify or Apple etc.
Jon: Personally, Spotify, it’s where it’s all at, great for cataloging your music alongside established bands and artists, whilst also having that network of individual curators and playlists to be part of.
How do you think social media or the internet has affected the music scene in your country?
Shaun: Beyond all measure. There was a scene before Myspace and then there’s a scene after it. Dedicated bands with the right product can now attract an audience without having to play 300 gigs a year. That being said I truly believe you only find out who you are as a musician by playing live.
Jon: Well, as Shaun mentioned, you no longer need to play hundreds of gigs to build an audience or fan base, look at the impact social media had for the early careers of the arctic vis Myspace.
What are your friend’s and parents’ thoughts on your career?
Shaun: We have always been so lucky to have a wonderful support network. That was true even when we started out and in all honesty, were not all that good.
Jon: Well, music for us all, is a side gig, something we once hoped we’d do full time, however, we all now are blessed with great careers that allow us to do more expansive things with our music than we used to, such as fund proper music videos to tap into the YouTube, Insta and TikTok audiences. Something that years ago, we never had the cash for.
What does your current song mean to you?
Shaun: Hear Angels Cry is one of if not the most important songs to our band. It was the first collaboration between Jon and me as writers where it felt right. This song is really the spine of all Tillerman songs.
Jon: Well, I really interpreted Shaun’s music for this, it was quite emotive and provoked a sense of reflection. The song is a lamentation of the state of the world currently, the battle between the far left and extreme right, a culture obsessed with money and fame, chasing after such sequential things that in the greater scheme of things do not mean anything. As as a Christian, I feel mankind has exchanged God for lesser, worldly, temporary things that don’t last!
What is one message you would give to your fans?
Shaun: Just an honest bit of gratitude for all the support and encouragement we’ve been given over the year and we hope that the new music is received well.
Jon: Give this track a whirl, it’s very different from previous singles that were more ‘indie pop’. This is far more mature but has a much deeper message to tell. We’re close to releasing our debut album, we’re proud that we are diverse and don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves to one sound or style.