Alex Day and Charlie McDonnell from the world’s first ever ‘Time Lord Rock’ band. Yes, really…
This interview originally appeared in DWM 410, published in June 2009.
Hello, Alex. What’s Trock?
AD: “It’s Time Lord Rock – music about Doctor Who. Harry Potter fans have Wizard Rock, so I thought there would be something similar for Doctor Who… but there wasn’t, so I invented Trock. A new musical genre! I just kind of came up with the word on the spot.”
So are you Trockers? Does one go Trocking? Have I been Trocked?
“[Laughs] You’ve been Trocked! I love that. We say, ‘Trock on!’ – that happens a lot. I made my first video about Trock last August [the four members of Chameleon Circuit are all regular YouTube video-bloggers], in which I played a song that I wrote called ‘An Awful Lot of Running’ – the first song on our album. And Trock took off in a big way. Charlie’s video of his song ‘Blink’ has been viewed over half a million times. But I still feel self-conscious that people are going to read this and think, who are these idiots?”
You’re the first Trock band to be signed to a record label, that’s who!
“I’m really proud of that. I formed Chameleon Circuit with Charlie and our mates Liam [Dryden] and Chris [Beattie], but there are loads of other Trock bands out there. There’s Quantum Locked, Harriet Jones and the Former Prime Ministers… and a girl who plays on the ukulele, called Harmonies in Whoville.”
Can anyone form a Trock band?
“Of course. You could start one. Doctor Who and the Magazines. Tom Spilsbury could write his editorials on a typewriter in the background to make the percussion.”
That’d be, literally, amazing.
“It’d be huge.”
Shouldn’t bands be writing songs about girls and booze and sticking it to The Man, not Doctor Who?
“But why would we? What we like best about the show is talking about it with other fans. Yeah, being part of that community. The band is a way of sharing our love for this amazing show. Each of us has written two or three songs for the album [with titles like 'Count the Shadows', 'Gallifreyan History 101', 'K9’s Lament' and 'Friends of the Ood'.] My favourite is ‘Exterminate, Regenerate’.”
How massive could Trock become?
“You mean how long before people get bored? Well, we’re the first generation to really grab hold of the internet and use it as a creative platform in this way, so who knows? For now, especially with no TV series this year, our album could be a nice stopgap while you’re waiting for the next Special.”
Thanks, Alex. Next up, it’s YouTube legend ‘charlieissocoollike’! Hello, Charlie. How many YouTube subscribers have you got now? More than Alex?
CM: “Lots more. [Laughs] Hang on, let me check. I’ll give you an exact number. I have 144,520.”
Incredible. Since joining YouTube in April 2007, your videos [of Charlie’s songs, sketches and blogs] have been viewed a staggering 16 million times. TV producers would kill for those sorts of ratings.
“I was always kind of hoping that I’d make it big on YouTube, but I never imagined that it’d get to this level.”
Do you get recognised in public?
“That happens quite a lot. People say, ‘Hey, you’re that guy!’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, um…’ It’s awkward. What do you say? It used to freak me out, but I’ve gotten used to it.”
You’ve some high-profile fans. Stephen Fry said of you: “He’s got the secret of all great comedians, which is he’s likeable. He’s not straining it.”
“Yeah, some people say that I’m quite engaging and fun to watch. A lot of my followers are American, and they like the fact that I’m English. A lot are young girls, and they like the fact that I’m, er, moderately attractive.”
Is that what’s made ‘Blink’ the internet’s most listened to Trock song?
“Trock is Alex’s baby, really. I just said, ‘I’ve written this song. Please can I be in your band?’ It’s nerdy music, I suppose, but we’re the first Trock band – and that’s a really cool thing to be part of. The original songs are on acoustic guitar, but the producer of the album had this vision to make it more electronic. That was fun, hearing it all come together. To be in a recording studio, making an actual album… it was surreal.”
Is it an album only a Doctor Who fan can listen to?
“Not at all. Even people who don’t like Doctor Who, who’ve never seen an episode, are saying, ‘I don’t get all the references, but I really like the songs.’ Of course, Doctor Who fans will really, really love it. We’re as passionate about the music as we are the source material. Because Doctor Who inspires people to be creative – to play music, make videos, write stories or whatever.”
And what could be cooler than that?
Alex and Charlie were talking to Benjamin Cook. Chameleon Circuit’s self-titled debut album is available now from iTunes or http://tinyurl.com/trockcd