When we first set out on this road to discovery, the premise was and still remains to uncover and champion the amazing subculture of creative souls that are drawn to this cycle life ( like a deodorant can to a village bonfire).
So when we recently discovered and got lost in a story so unique and inspiring, we couldn’t wait to find out more. Total Bike Forever are two bike packing, friend making, soul-shaking electronic music troubadours on a year-long bike packing and musical adventure. A story so amazing, so captivating, so beautiful and banging, it will surely grace paper, movie and airwaves to come. Why? Their plan is to write an incredible album of sonic exposition’s inspired, fused and spliced by the sights, sounds and souls they discover as they bike pack their way across the mountains, deserts and cities of this stage we call the world.
If you haven’t already been reading their incredible blog and adventures on Stolen Goat then let us introduce you to Tim and Adam. They are one half of London Indie band Bear Muda and are now on the final leg of this amazing bike packing adventure.
As muso’s ourselves we couldn’t wait to find out how they are adapting and immersing themselves in the full writing, creative process as they traverse the globe on two wheels.
So without further ado here is our amazing interview with Tim and Adam. Total Bike Forever. Turn up the tunes, grab some IPA and enjoy.
What was the genesis of the idea to cycle halfway around the world, playing and creating music as you went?
We wanted to cycle to Japan and we couldn’t dream about doing that without making music. It’s too long away from our beloved synthesisers! Then we thought ‘hold on! Let’s just do both! Let’s get other people involved and make something new and amazing.’ And we did and we are at this very moment!
How much planning and preparation went into both the cycling and musical aspects of the journey? Were there nights spent deliberating over the best bikes or panniers to use, and was there any pre-arrangements with venues or artists you’d meet along the way?
Cycling – we did plan, yes. We read the books and the blogs and then realised that as soon as you start it all goes out the window!
Route and gear wise we did prep, yes. There’s the boring crap like insurance but I think accumulating all the other stuff is really fun and gets you super excited to depart.
Musically it was all quite up in the air. It could have gone in any direction, and still is going in any direction! Playing live wasn’t part of the plan before we left for example. We were going to release a track a month instead of playing live which we’re glad didn’t happen. Playing is an amazing way of meeting people!
What bike and gear set up did you settle on for this gig?
Adam rides a Thorn Sherpa, Tim a Kona Sutra. We use Carradice panniers which are brilliant. Shout out to the ‘Made In The UK crew!’ It was a case of starting from scratch. We had little to no knowledge of what a trip like this would demand from you so it was all patched together on the hoof. A case of ‘stick it all in the bags and see if it goes’ a lot of the time!
What is your music gear set up for the trip?
There was only one requirement for the gear: MINIATURE. You can’t go lugging around heavy machinery. We needed the smallest equipment for the biggest adventure and size really does matter when you’re pulling it up and down mountains around the world. Hardware wise we have a Teenage Engineering OP1, a Roland SH 1 a and a Make Noise 0 Coast. We then have a laptop that runs Logic + Ableton. And of course a trusty zoom dictaphone.
Packing to not only cycle the world, but also to record an album couldn’t have been easy. Any tips?
Adam’s tip: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be creative all the time. You’re being influenced and inspired by everything around you. Eventually it’ll flow out of you and the results are usually magnificent. Everything you interact with generally inspires you but in ways you don’t usually expect.
If more people combined forces with other creative minded people with different styles around the world we’d make more interesting music.
Tim’s tip: Don’t feel like you have to have all the kit when you leave. Especially if you’re starting in Europe. It’s super easy to get stuff as you go and piece it all together as you think ‘damn, that would have been useful’. In our case that was camping stools! Man, I couldn’t survive without that now.
Which one thing did you leave out that you wish you had packed?
A decent drum machine. In fact we’re planning on buying one in Japan for our next adventure. And some IPAs for those low moments!! Beavertown, if you’re reading this: You don’t realise how much of the time we talk about drinking Gamma Ray. Well done for making the best beer in the world.
How did the collaboration with cycling clothing company Stolen Goat come about?
We love working with those guys! We basically got in touch a bit out of the blue after seeing the awesome designs on their gear. It all came highly recommended as well, especially the bib shorts. We then partnered around our instagram and blog. They host our blog and the world watches us test their stuff to destruction as we drag it through Eurasia! We had an amazing video of a pair of bib shorts that was deemed too NSFW in which the material had worn so thin that they were 100% revealing.
Can you tell us about your song writing and recording process on the road?
Well, it’s quite fluid. We usually both start with bits then we kind of bring them together. There’s a constant collection of sounds going on as well and a hunt for collaborators when combined with our electronic sensibilities. That’s the beauty of moving through all these different countries (26 in all): Everything stays fresh.
We’ve also come to thrive in during live performances and sound checks have become vital moments to bring together new tunes and ideas. It’s hard to know how songs are going to sound on club systems when you’ve only listened to them on your bluetooth speaker!
Which one leg of the journey or experience has had the biggest impact on you personally and musically?
The more intense the place (cycling, people, culture) the more it brings out the best in us and our musical endeavours. It’s kind of happened that the music we’ve made in those places (I say those places I mean India specifically) has reflected the conditions and really ‘sounds like the trip’ to us which is a strange thing to say but it does transport you back to those moments and places.
Whats been the favourite gig or DJ set?
We played a couple of times in Busan and they were both brilliant. The first had a big audience and they reacted really well to the set. There’s a difference in taste between our style and the people of Korea we still managed to show them a real good time. The second was very quiet but we played a lot of new material and a lot of ambient stuff that we really loved.
Have you adopted any influences, styles or sounds into your tunes that you have picked up along the way?
We’ve picked up a lot of sounds for sure. Influences and styles is a harder question to answer. Subconsciously, definitely. Consciously? Maybe sometimes. In fact we actually spend a lot of time trying to twist more traditional styles from around the world, to fit a more electronic style and pattern which makes in sound and feel more like the music we want to make.
What or where has been the most inspiring place you have recorded or jammed so far?
A couple of days after we left Istanbul, heading east, we climbed up this mountain and when we were going down the other side we could hear somebody playing drums from this village. We were flying down this mountain and, lo and behold, this guy was just sitting there with this drum kit playing. We instantly got all our kit out and we were playing with him for ages until everything ran out of battery. He was going back to Istanbul the next day. We would have gone back with him but we’d been sucked into the place for three weeks and really needed to carry on. We carried on chatting on WhatsApp and he was like, ‘I’ve got some friends who want to want to hear our music, just meet us in Trabzon in 10 days’ time.’ We were going that direction anyway and thought it was worth a punt. When we got there it basically transpired that this guy, called Berkay wanted to make a piece to apply to drum college in London and California and his friends ran a production company. They had a full production crew, we went into the mountains and set the instruments up and just played on the fly, making stuff up as we went. It was exactly what we wanted to do for the trip and almost like we’d premeditated it. It was crazy – so, so good. I think we cycled 1,000km in 10 days to make it happen.
From this adventure what have you learned about Cycling, Music and Friendship?
Big question! Cycling: It’s all about what you personally like. Everyone likes different things and has different goals for an adventure like this. For us it’s the music. If more people combined forces with other creative minded people with different styles around the world we’d make more interesting music. As for friendship, It doesn’t matter what language you speak and where you are you can always make friends and find common ground.
Which three words best define this experience for you?
Total. Bike. Forever.
One drink, one party and one cycle leg from the adventure?
One drink: BeerLao (best lager in the world). One party: Seoul. Every day was a party with those guys! Our Seoul family. One leg: To avoid the tried and tested Pamir Highway answer I’m going to say the strange but amazing route we took through Laos. Basically we climbed a mountain a day for 10 days through the remotest part of the country. Awesome.
Do you plan to take this electro-cycling-musical on tour when your return to blighty? (A space disco powered by only bikes perhaps?)
Yes! We’re going to turn the bikes into a mobile stage and cycle them to venues and festivals around the UK and europe. More on that soon.
A huge chapeau to Tim and Adam for sharing their story and creations with us. If you want to connect and follow their Journey click below. Listen to their mix’s and tunes head to Souncloud and Spotify
Daz & Craig