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Former Tommy and the Chauffer crew look to hitch a ride to success with Small Victories


Story: Jack Foley

SMALL Victories rose late last year (2002) from the (still warm) ashes of Tommy And The Chauffeur, a band which had caught the imagination of radio stations such as Xfm.

The current roster - James Chant (vocals, guitar), James Milford (vocals, 'noise'), Jamie Beach (decks and sampling), James Hale (keyboards) and Ryan Yoxall (bass); a total of four drummers appear across the album – have coalesced, according to Chant, in a way never previously achieved.

The ethos couldn't be expressed any better than on the debut LP, Holding On Hopefully.

Where once Chant was a self-described 'control freak', the new album is referred to as 'a band effort', which takes in a grandeur and scope more befitting an outfit that have been around for ages.

There are big psychedelic epics, such as the glorious instrumental opener, A Poor Man's Opera, moments of spectacular dynamism, where folk-tinged acoustics and tracing-paper guitars, give way to Big Rock crescendos, and the decks work of Jamie Beach, which reflect the Small Victories' collective passion for the hip-hop'n'breaks side of things.

Speaking to lead singer, Chant, now, he maintains a healthy suspicion for the machinations of the record industry, but twins this with an obvious pride in this long player.

Commenting on the subject of Tommy and the Chauffer's 'demise', in an interview with the Welsh Music Foundation website, he explains: "With Tommy and The Chauffeur, as far the 'The Industry' were concerned, we'd had our chance, but I don't want to remain a Cardiff secret.

"I expect to be condemned for compromising, but towards the end some people weren't even listening to the music because of the name - so it would have been, in my opinion, more of a compromise to keep it.

"Apart from all this, it was an unspeakably bad name anyway and keeping it was just a reaction to being told we shouldn't!"

And talking about the new album, he observes that tracks such as Holding On Hopefully and Go Back To Bed America are 'absolutely gargantuan - like civilizations collapsing inside a cathedral'.

It may sound arrogant, coming from a Cardiff-based five-piece who have already tasted disappointment at the hands of the 'industry', but the music ought to do the talking once the album is released.

It could just be that Chant's optimism isn't misplaced, for Small Victories appear to be on the verge of big things.

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