The TT festival annually offers Manx Musicians an opportunity. Not only to play pop up venues rather than the regular pub circuit, but also to perform to bigger crowds made up of TT fans from all over the world. Bands who might have been performing last weekend to a few elderly locals in a dusty pub down South, are suddenly propelled onto the world stage with the opportunity of performing to hundreds of leather-wearing, beer-drinking, petrol heads, with a love for fast bikes and loud music.
One such band who have regularly seized this opportunity with both hands are local lads 3 Million (Gary Smith, Chris Honour, Joe Crookall and Matthew Woods). The four-piece indie-rock band have been playing live together since 2012, and with 7 years of live experience under their belt its fair to say that they’ve played every Manx venue under the sun, along with a few UK ones. These days with members of the band committed to other projects (namely Chris in OK Computer and Joe in Prize) seeing 3 million as a full band is a rarity. However, over the years 3 Million have earned a strong following on the island, and much to the excitement of these fans, TT annually breathes new life into the quartet. This year, 3 Million are booked to perform 9 times over the fortnight, covering all the major pubs and venues from The Mitre to Bushy’s on none other than a headline slot.
3 Million singer/guitarist Gaz has been playing the Manx local circuit for a fair bit longer than any of his band mates, and in that time he’s seen some changes in the music scene and the TT itself. I caught up with him before their first TT gig this year to get his insight…
I’ve been told that you’ve been on the Manx music circuit for quite a while Gaz. When did you first start playing live?
I played my first gig with Maldune in March ’96 at Union Mills football club. We weren’t very good when we first started out, I’ve got to admit, but we got a few pub gigs together and started to get better. I played with Maldune until 2011 and then we split up, and we formed 3 Million. I do the odd get together gig with Maldune still, but 3 Million is what we’re working hard at now.
23 years in the Manx music scene! Do you think it’s changed much since you were starting out?
Obviously there’s a lot of bands that have come and gone but I don’t think its much different. One of my best memories is the old Bushy’s. It was an amazing place and I’ve got a lot of good memories from there. Apart from that, I think we’re quite spoilt over here as musicians. We’ve got a lot of great pubs which are always putting music on.
What about the TT? How do you think it’s grown and blossomed in your time playing?
Band-wise, there’s a big difference. There’s a lot of interest from big bands across. We’re lucky over here. As local bands we’re given the opportunity to play, whereas there are UK bands that are queuing up to play because they know how good those two weeks are for live music. Again, we’re spoilt as musicians over here and we can only embrace it.
3 Million seem to be true TT veterans, how many times have you played TT with 3 Million now?
This is the fourth time that we’ve done a big hit of a load of gigs over TT. Last year we only played the Hooded Ram. This’ll be the third time we’ve played Bushy’s, but we’ve never done the headline slot before so we’re buzzing for this one.
What does it mean to a Manx band to play to a bigger international crowd like the one you’ll find at Bushy’s?
You might book pub slots in the weeks before Bushy’s come calling, but you drop everything to play that slot at Bushy’s because that’s how much it means to you. You can’t beat playing on that stage. It’s the biggest audience you’re going to play to over the whole two weeks, so you’ve got to go for it.
9 gigs in 2 weeks is impressive. Do you think you’re ready for the barrage of performances fast approaching?
Yeah. We did a gig in The Manor last night and that was nice to break us in because we haven’t got together in a while. That dusted off the cobwebs and we’ve got another rehearsal on Wednesday before the TT gigs start… so I think we should be in good tune.
So, where’s the best TT venue to play, which are you looking forward to the most?
Bushy’s is the one really. That’s the one we’re all buzzing for. But I say that now and I know for a fact that we’ll play a pub somewhere and it’ll surprise us.
Whats the TT gig you’ll never forget?
The Hooded Ram last year. That was 3 Million’s best ever gig. No doubt about it. It was great because we were supporting the Fun Loving Criminals and normally we do half covers, half originals, but this time we did all our own songs and the crowd went for it. Purely because we did all our own stuff and the crowd received it so well, that meant a lot and it was jam-packed from the front to the back. So that’s got to go down as our best ever TT gig.