Indieterria meets TommyandMary

Dear Readers,

Band logo

Since we are already in July and the days are longer, we will have a double (or maybe even a triple) portion of Indieterria this month. So much music to listen to and great bands to tell you about. This episode is all about Thomas and Mary Yaman, known professionally as TommyandMary.  This is our pleasure and privilege to introduce you dear readers to punk rock duo that is building themselves a cult following in London. Based in Brixton, they work hard, play even harder and have won their fans not only by the strength of their music, but also because of the affection and respect they show each other.

We have sat down with Tommy and Mary to speak about their new album, busking, being  independent artists and song writing.

Forget about Sid and Nancy, we have got better couple in town! And they rock!

The Angels of Brixton

The Angels of Brixton

You are described as British answer to The White Stripes. Like Jack and Meg White, you are married and until recently, you have played exclusively with each other. You also divide band duties in similar way as Mary plays drums whilst Tommy concentrates on guitars and vocals. Do you consider comparisons to The White Stripes to be a badge of honour, lazy journalism or perhaps you  just don’t care?

Tommy: I think people will always compare us to The White Stripes and many other duos. I personally don’t think we sound like The White Stripes at all. I grew up  when The Strokes, Kings of Leon and The Libertines and off course The White Stripes all came out at the same time. But Jack and Meg were never my cup of tea. Mary didn`t even know who they were until someone mentioned them to her while we were busking.

Can you remember the moment when you two decided to form a band together?

Tommy: Yes, very well. We were outside my old apartment where Mary and I lived for a while. The band I was in at the time and Mary joined had split. I wanted to play solo as I found it difficult to cope with all 5 personalities I had to play with at the time. And Mary thought it would be cool if we played just us two and carried on our musical journey together.

The fondness you show for each other is unparalleled on the indie scene. Band bio says “TommyandMary are one word because we are that close”. You wear matching attires (“I prefer the drummer” – Tommy, “Unavailable” – Mary) and then there is “Angels” – powerful love song  about yourselves released as a single. We have to say – it is incredible to witness such affection.

Mary posing in her signature “Unavailable” tee

Matching attires.

Tommy wearing his “I prefer the drummer” shirt

Mary: Music is a very sensitive and fragile form of art and the fact that we are married and are in a band together just makes it even more personal. We grow together as individuals and as musicians and the love that we have for each other makes everything seem possible. I hope it shows in our music!

Another thing that sets you apart from other acts is your working ethics. For the last two years you have combined regular gigs with extensive busking. It seems the life on an independent artist is pretty intensive.

Tommy: We’ve stopped busking for now. We couldn’t stand it anymore (laughs) but I think we learnt a lot from it. It built our confidence.

Your busking escapades quickly turned into a permanent residency at the Oxford Circus attracting hundreds of people each time you played. Can you tell us how does it feels to be playing on Britain’s busiest street?

Tommy: Busking gave us an opportunity to meet some amazing people from all over the world and acquire some professional contracts. Mary got sponsored by Underground and we both got sponsored by company called W.S.Studio. Not to mention that we had once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to record our latest album “Authority” at Rupert Cobb’s Gun Hill Studios with the AMAZING Gary Wallis. So I think the goods outweighs the amounts of times we were harassed by the public and judged for being beggars by some clothing companies that had no idea about our passion for performing and playing music.

Tommy at The 100 Club

Mary posing for the Underground brand

Is it safe to be a busker in London? And  a question that must follow the first one – is it profitable  in the times of everlasting rush and gripping austerity?

Tommy:  I think anything is profitable when your passion for something is bigger than the price. And  to be honest, no it isn’t safe. Especially when there is still a minority of crazy, ignorant people in the world and as a busker you are exposed to it.

Your regular gigs took you to some of capital`s most celebrated venues. Among many 100 Club, Nambucca, Camden Assembly and now 229. How is club circuit responding to independent acts?

Tommy: We’ve definitely been to some amazing venues like 100 Club and 93 Feet East. It gave us a chance to meet some bands and musicians that have been in the game for a while longer than us. It’s inspiring but also feels overwhelming.

Mary at The 100 Club

TommyandMary supported number of prolific artists, most recently The Telescopes. How do you recall that particular show?

Tommy: Having been on the same stage as some legendary acts, we both felt like we really had to step up and not let our ancestors down.

Mary, you are known for very technical and powerful style of drumming despite downsizing your kit to bare essentials. Something similar was practiced by Palmolive  (original sticks woman of the punk heroines The Slits). What inspired you to hit things for a living?

Mary:  I can’t agree with saying that my drumming is technical at all. In fact loads of drummers criticised me about the way I sit, hold sticks and set up my drum kit. But yeah, I prefer aggressive style of drumming as it allows me to feel the songs and it is just boring otherwise. Tommy suggested busking one day and I just went with it.

As a band`s chief tunesmith, you don’t shy from tacking contemporary topics such as corporate/precarious work (“My manager is a prick”), obsession with celebrities (“Rich acting Rich For The Poor”) or going though existential crisis (“Red”). Do you believe that it is important for artists to be socially and politically active?

Tommy: I believe if an artist is only writing about ego or their own spoilt opinions, he or she is avoiding the honesty that lays in each person’s heart. Whether this is political or not, the truth is that we are all in this journey together and being ignorant, self indulgent or judgmental isn’t something that I encourage. But being empathetic to both worlds, the ego and the selflessness give me an insight into what lays in-between inaction and people’s willingness to ensemble, and this is something worth writing about. Contradiction is something that is often reflected in my thoughts and actions and I want to learn more about psychological and philosophical aspects of writing. So I don’t think politics is really my strength.

The band is on their third independent release. “Authority” was debuted earlier this year and was recorded at Gun Hill Studios in London. It is a significant change in sound compared to “The Things we love” (2015) and “Smoke Break -Side A” (2016). Your songs are layered, elaborate even. Are you satisfied with this new direction?

Sleeve to debut release Together We Love

Smoke Break -Side A – collage and pins, this record is in our musical archives and is signed!

Authority – third release

Tommy:  For our  first album “Together We Love”, I had written all the songs and Mary didn’t have much of a say or creative input. But as we grew musically together, we began to think collaboratively on our sound and direction. Our experiences started to reflect in our music and we really started to learn more about our sound and what we wanted to write about.

“Authority” is accompanied by three promotional videos (“Angels”, “Authority”, “The Rich acting Rich For The Poor”) and an alternative DIY video to “The Rich…” directed by the band, a fan documentary and a video interview. That’s an enormous amount of work put into promoting the album. Do you enjoy collaborating with others?

Tommy:  We have made a lot of friends from our music and we absolutely love spending time with them. The DIY videos that we made are all about the collaboration that we can have with our friends and using their talents to make things happen. But also it is important for us to have a great time making something together.

We heard though a grapevine that you are planning to introduce a new guitarist  to the fold.

Tommy:  A lot of bands add members after a while to create a wider range of sounds. We decided that this isn’t the direction we want to take. We want to keep it as it is. We don’t want to change. Although we were thinking of  bringing a friend in for our next show  as he is an amazing guitarist and writer. I know for sure that he will be very successful with his music in the long run. But no, we won’t be adding another band member.

Random. Last. Question. If you could travel to the golden years of rock music with whom would you tour?

Tommy: The Clash did a lot of busking in their days. So I would have liked to play a few shows with them.  I think Mary’s drums would have been a huge factor in pushing boundaries in the late 70s (laughs). Or perhaps I could be in New York playing a few shows at CBGB`s with The Dead Boys, that would have been amazing, having been given the opportunity.

Mary: I would have played with The Rolling Stones and Queen.

TommyandMary: One Word

You can follow TommyandMary here:

**** Update 28/07/2017****

Poster for the Absent Kelly indie night on 7th July 2017

TommyandMary played a very well received gig at 229 Venue in London on 7th July 2017 as part of Absent Kelly`s indie night series. So good was the night in fact, that they were given a rave review in Louder Than War magazine and  photographer Marcus Jamieson-Pond dedicated them a whole gallery on his website!

Louder Than War review in full, 16th July 2017

You can see the kick ass review online at Louder Than War (which happens to be this blog`s fav music mag!)

And the image gallery can be found here:


See ya


****Update 03.09.2017****

Folks, we`d love to tell you to hang onto your seats, but you will be floored anyway, so find yourself a comfortable spot and listen up. Tommy and Mary had just finished headlining gig last night at The Cellar/The Finborough Arms in Kensington and were so generous to share with us a very cool collection of their concert posters. Exclusive for the blog! We are very lucky. Eye candy those posters are but also serve as a proof that the band played a string of cult venues in half a year: The 100 Club, Nambucca, 93 Feet East, Camden Assembly and The Cellar. All those years of playing and busking and persistence certainly paid off. Nothing builds a brand for a band like doing their own thing and pushing at the boundaries.

Poster for The 100 Club gig on 25.01.2017 while supporting legendary The Telescopes

Poster for the gig at Camden Assembly on 25th March 2017

Poster for gig at Nambucca on May 3rd 2017

Poster for the gig at 93 Feet East gig on 11.08.2017

Poster for a gig at The Cellar/ Finborough Arms in Kensington on 2nd September 2017

Another achievement of the band is even better than playing all the venues in the capital. Tommy and Mary debuted on BBC 6 Music on 18th August 2017 as part of 6 Music Recommends. Picked by the legendary DJ and broadcaster Steve Lamacq himself, they were hailed for being “nicely uncompromising” and  tacking a myriad of topics from having annoying housemates to precarious work.  If you don’t know who Lammo is, let us tell you this much – he is recognized as one of handful other DJs (with Mary Ann Hobbs and Jo Whitley) to fill the gap left by John Peel and is often regarded as a trend setter. Being on his show is a stamp of good quality and a sign that band is on the right way.

Personally what we found exciting is that Tommy and Mary`s Insecurities were played right after Paul Draper`s new single (yes, the man from Mansun!) and received the same amount of introduction on air.

Here is a screenshot of the BBC website

Screengrab from BBC 6 website

And here`s a (very) bad quality recording of the song and what Steve said:

We hope you like it,

We are so excited for the band, we really are. Surely  more good things to come from them!



In defense of buskers!

Hello dear readers,

We have 2017 already and first post of the year is actually an open letter. Rita and I would like to say a few paragraphs in defense of buskers and street artists. What`s the story (morning glory) you may ask? Well, Worcester City Council decided to crack down on performers in the city and make their lives more difficult than it is really needed.

Our local daily Worcester News ran the new cultural policy on the front page this morning. First day after Christmas break, we were happily about to deal with our office backlog and then – bang! Who needs coffee if you have news like this.

You can read the story here

or enjoy the scans we did so the generations to come can face palm in sheer despair:

Worcester News front page on January 3 2017 Warning: reading may cause spasms to all music fans.

Worcester News front page on January 3 2017
Warning: reading may cause spasms to all music fans.

Worcester News on January 3 2017 - the killer cultural proposal will surely give palpitations to music lovers.

Worcester News on January 3 2017 – the killer cultural proposal will surely give palpitations to music lovers.

We have no idea why culture and arts are under constant attack in West Midlands. Sometimes, it does feel like living out New Model Army`s Small Town England.  But onto the meritum.

The letter below has been sent to Worcester News as our reply to the Council policy, but we decided to also publish it on the blog.

Read on and as Sepultura used to say: Refuse/Resist.


Dear Worcester News (and Dear Worcester City Council, if you happen to read it – but we do not raise our hopes up)

We are writing this letter in response to the proposed regulation of busking in Worcester. We would love to see said document in full to be able to read into it. Unfortunately it seems, the draft is not available online for the public to see. However points mentioned in Worcester News raise several alarms and we would like to tackle them one by one.

Poppy WS sings in from of Guildhall in Worcester High Street

Poppy WS sings in from of Guildhall in Worcester High Street

Before we do it, allow us to quote some data regarding music and creative industries in the UK, as it is essential. According to MusicWeek magazine and Measuring Music 2016 report, music added £4.1 billion to the economy in 2015. Despite problems, the industry was rising 90% in the last 4 years. GVA (gross value added) for the industry was 17%, outgrowing other branches of British economy by 11%.

British Phonographic Industry (BPI) estimates that music consumption rose 1,5% to 123 million album sales in 2016. 45 billions streams (including 1 billion streams in December 2016 alone), 3.2 million units of vinyl sold. British acts such as Coldplay, Little Mix, The 1975, Rick Astley, Calvin Harris, Jess Glynne, The Rolling Stones and Skepta dominated charts this year. All in all – this is a booming business.

But that’s just one side of 2016. Last year we have lost a generation of  musical icons (David Bowie, Prince, George Michael just to name a few) and independent artists (Viola Beach), many small venues and clubs have been closed (40% of small venues had shut doors in the last decade).

Where does that leave us? A booming business with no big stars but many smaller artists who are trying to compete on the field but have no places to perform.  Enter busking.

Unnamed tightrope walker performs in Worcester. This man tours the country from Manchester to Wales.

Unnamed tightrope walker performs in Worcester. This man tours the country from Manchester to Wales.

Playing in the streets is not a new phenomena. Every artist started out in this manner (even the biggest names), but these days people will see much more buskers than before. Kids getting experience is one explanation, lack of venues is another, access to the public is a third but not a final answer. There are many more reasons why we see an artist performing on every corner. We may like it or not, busking is growing and is becoming not only a chosen way of artistic expression but an important branch of the industry.
There is nothing wrong with regulating busking within the city. London did it and their code is fantastic and user friendly.  Tenbury Wells did it.  Even Transport for London has their own busking scene and licenses. A whole range of tools has been employed by different localities (artists are encouraged to use smaller amps to avoid high levels of noise, special spaces are designed for artists, buskers are required to have public liability cover, curfews are established to ensure that nobody plays at night) and they are working.  Whoever been to London`s Oxford Street and seen iconic TommyAndMary duo perform their punk rock set will admit that even the loudest music can be incorporated into city life with relatively no side effects. If Worcester City Council wanted to draw inspiration for their own regulation, there are many templates ready to use.

Punk Rock duo TommyAndMary perform in London`s Oxford Street in December 2015

Punk Rock duo TommyAndMary perform in London`s Oxford Street in December 2015

However we have our doubts that Worcester City Council wants to regulate busking. It seems like the only agenda behind this regulation is to  eliminate artists in general by making their street performance so hard that they will simply give it up.

Let`s have a look at some of the proposals drafted:

–    No buskers within 50 meters from each other – Worcester on a daily basis is much quieter than other cities. On average we will have two buskers performing at the same time. Even during festivals and carnivals, we can hardly see artists being that close to each other. We can honestly think of 5 spots around the city where buskers play (most common will be in front of Debenhams).  This seems to be a non issue – as we don’t see Worcester becoming Glasto of busking anytime soon.

–    No busking between 9 pm and 8 am – that seems to be fair point and we dont have arguments with keeping a night time peace at all. We had to slightly adjust this part of the blog post as the fantastic Collective 43 pointed out that during Christmas Fayre, they played late slot until 8:45 pm (we checked metadata on the pic and it corresponds). Originally, we thought it was later than that! We truly hope that some exceptions will be however made for carnivals and festivals anyway in the draft, especially in summer when days are longer and music can flow a bit more. Being on the town on Friday night can be a good testament to the fact that many pubs or clubs are much more louder past 9 pm than a person with a guitar and an amp. Also, please note that entertainment part for Christmas Lights Switch On started last year so early (before 5 pm) that most people had to miss it. Music can`t last too long  that is obvious but it cannot start too early- otherwise who will have time to come and see the event?

The Collective 43 playing live at Victorian Fayre in Worcester in December 2016

The Collective 43 playing live at Victorian Fayre in Worcester in December 2016

–    Bans on any sign inviting people to pay money – London Busking Code has this as a rule: “Busking shouldn’t be confused with begging. Buskers put a lot of effort into their act, give a performance and entertain the public”. We are not sure if Worcester City Council has our local artists for beggars or if they have been deceived on the sizes of signs that artists use. Most of them have a hand-made note with their name. Some performers,  like Bristol based Saskia Griffiths-Moore who visited Worcester in September 2016 had a small sign telling people that she was fully independent artist funded by sales of her CDs. Ban on signs is being enforced only in Worcester and seems harmful, if not perverse.  Another point is that Councillors should really peek into the bowls and hats of buskers if they have a chance. They will not see big fortunes unfortunately. This part of the draft should be dropped and forgotten. The fastest, the better.

Bristol based singer Saskia Griffiths -Moore busks in Worcester in September 2016

Bristol based singer Saskia Griffiths -Moore busks in Worcester in September 2016

–    Maximum performance of 45 minutes afterwards artist must leave the area for 2 hours – this rule has only one explanation. To limit performance of musicians as much as possible and to make Worcester even more quiet than it is. Did we forget that Worcester is a market town? By definition it should be lively, bubbly and full of sounds. Worcester is visited by artists from many cities: Birmingham (like Obi Rudo – Belgian/Congolese rapper who calls UK his home) or Bristol (Saskia or Shemakeswar or Rita Lynch) or Oxford (B-Sydes) or even Cardiff.  If an artist is traveling for few hours by train to reach us, why limit them to 45 minutes of performance? Can`t we give them at least one hour? And with so little of good busking spots, and little revenue they get – do we think it will be profitable for artists to visit Worcester? They will just skip us and make us all culturally poorer.

Belgian/Congolese rapper and grime artist - Obi Rudo performs in Worcester

Belgian/Congolese rapper and grime artist – Obi Rudo performs in Worcester

–    An agreement to stop performing  on a request by police, Council workers etc. – So not even 45 minutes is guaranteed.  Because it seems that so many people will have the power to silence artists, it won`t be even possible to play a few songs. Nothing short of censorship in our book. But who needs artists and culture anyway? We have a statue of Elgar on High Street.

–    Complaints from shop owners about the noise – We can`t speak about every shop keeper in town but there seems to be a good relationship between artists and shop/stall owners. CrownGate has a small scene in the middle of their shopping arcade where artists can perform. We have spoken to many buskers and people who listen to street music in the past year and there was only one instance of loud music being complained about (the performer was a dancer and not a musician). Can we know how many complaints about buskers were lodged with the Council in the last year? In summer Worcester welcomed a whole brass band Gugge 2000. They were ace but very loud. Our ears were ringing for two days and it was fine.

Gugge 2000 play in front Guildhall on the High Street, Worcester as a part of Summer Festival

Gugge 2000 play in front Guildhall on the High Street, Worcester as a part of Summer Festival

We love music and had a chance to see not only fantastic local artists (Amie, Stolen Chocolates, Ken Pollock, Neil Ivison, The Fidgets, Jodie Hughes) but respected artists as well (Nigel Clark of Dodgy, Rita Lynch) perform in town. Some of the artists were busking. We acquired a handful of signed CDs. Seen breathtaking art (Richard Price and his paintings, tightrope walker who played a violin). We enjoyed each and every of the performances. We spent countless hours to promote those artists online as well, to put Worcester on a music map. We don’t understand why Council is trying to discourage art and music, instead of supporting it.

Young artist Amie sings on a stage located at the CrownGate Shopping complex in Worcester

Young artist Amie sings on a stage located at the CrownGate Shopping complex in Worcester

There`s so much to be done:

–     On 23 July 2016 London celebrated International Busking Day. 36 cities across UK joined the initiative, additional 100 around the world. But not Worcester. Why not?

–    At the end of January we celebrate Independent Venue Week – seven days of concerts to raise awareness of importance of small venues where artists can play. Worcester is only represented by The Marrs Barr. Is that all we can do?

–    We have The Fidgets – one of the most unique bands on the scene as we speak.  A group that continues the tradition of pure rock mixed with acoustic harmonies. The last band that played this way was Cast and that was 90s. The Fidgets have been on BBC Introducing. They busk around and build their own  fanbase. We wonder if Worcester City Council realizes the potential and opportunities being born from supporting local artists. 1 in every 100 jobs in Liverpool was created by The Beatles. Manchester has Oasis. We are not worse in this regard, we have our own local scene bursting with talent.

Worcester most loved band -The Fidgets play during their BBC Introducing session

Worcester most loved band -The Fidgets play during their BBC Introducing session

–    We won`t mention upcoming artists like Ewan Pollock, Jodie Hughes, Poppy WS or The Jevs – huge talents in their own right, just need some investment. Why can`t we have grants or stipends for artists like them?

–    Busking is not easy. Standing with a guitar in front of the public is one of the bravest acts an artist can do. Sometimes our artists are verbally harassed. We need designed spots where buskers can feel safe and where they can perform. Not the other way around.

Street artist Richard Price inspects his paintings on High Street, Worcester

Street artist Richard Price inspects his paintings on High Street, Worcester

–    Our buskers were freezing while playing during Victorian Fayre in 2016.  Is it really that much to offer them a complimentary tea or a sandwich for entertaining crowds? We are sure it wouldn’t cost a fortune.

–    We have Worcester Music Festival but some genres of music and possible venues are not considered. Not one concert for classical music was organized. St Helen`s Church (which can be a good venue) was standing empty. We would imagine that Council would be co-ordinating or at least contributing towards such initiatives.

We hope our letter won`t be seen as too critical. We are all for regulation but let`s regulate things in a safer, friendlier and  constructive way. Music and art have been bringing huge amounts of revenues and recognition to United Kingdom for decades, but to continue we must invest in them.

Kind regards,
Malicia & Rita Dabrowicz
Vanadian Avenue

Some links to buck up claims in our letter:

All images taken by us albeit with a mobile phone. Pardon the quality.


We will keep you posted once we hear more about this killer cultural procedure.


********* Update 04/01/2017************

Hello Dear Readers,

An update to our open letter – because we managed to gather more information.

When Worcester News broke the story yesterday, a great thing has happened. People came out and voiced their admiration for buskers and street artists. The story on Facebook had over 200 comments, many of them mentioning  our leading band in town – The Fidgets. It was fantastic to read the praises – we can only hope that there`s no doubt right now what a treasure and ray of joy The Fidgets really are.

Online comments regarding Worcester best band - The Fidgets -

Online comments regarding Worcester best band – The Fidgets –

Many people – like us – were upset because we were trying to find out the text of buskers code in Worcester and nothing was available. Not on the City Council web site or anywhere else. If one had persistence – after hours of pestering  Uncle Google, you could find these and they are not a joy to read.

The undated buskers guide that we have found, page 1

The undated buskers guide that we have found, page 1

Undated buskers guide we found, page 2

Undated buskers guide we found, page 2

It  seems to be a very old (decade old?) code of buskers used by Worcester City Council. The trouble with such finds is very simple. Undated documents  may be old, and  if they are not specific means they can be interpreted in many ways. That is why laws  or codes or T&C usually have to be very precise to be functioning.

The source link is this one

Having just one source is not enough. To fully understand what changes are made we still needed the new code for comparison.

So when we went to bed, we were confused just like everybody else.

Thankfully today Worcester City Council stepped up to the task and provided a blog throwing a lot of light on the situation.

You can read it here – it contains the proposed new code and as you can see it is rather user friendly and longish and detailed.  Hear that sound – it’s a collective sigh of relief coming from everyone at Vanadian Avenue.

We had a chat on Twitter with the Councils and we were provided with additional links. The new updated code for buskers was initiated in November 2016 and  is being prepared with Worcester BID and Keep Streets Live! Initiative (

Please read the links below and if you are a busker or a local musicians, please get in touch and let City Council know what you think of the proposal:

That’s all for now folks,