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Tesseract: a band reborn

After a four-year absence, vocalist Dan Tompkins is back in Tesseract –and it’s like he never went away.

"There are times when you think to yourself, ‘I can’t hold on any longer.’ I’m still trying to work myself out of debt. I’m not lying when I say I’ve got £100 in my bank account right now. In the six years I’ve been doing this, I’m not anywhere near the wage that I used be to be on when I was a copper.”

Tesseract frontman Dan Tompkins pauses for a second and exhales with a breath that articulates a thousand struggles, miles of hard work and one huge leap of faith.

“This is what the new single, Survival, is about, actually,” he continues. “There’s a line in there that talks about ‘10 years of hope’. And that’s me talking to my wife. Because every year that has gone by, I’ve had to say to her, ‘It’ll get better,’ and yet she’s the one left at home, as a single parent, looking after a baby. It’s been a massive struggle. A struggle for survival.”

Dan’s “struggle for survival” has led him on a fascinating path, from law enforcement officer through to tech-metal’s own wandering minstrel and back, to the band with which he made his name. Sitting with us today, he is once again the vocalist in Tesseract, and convinced that all the risks he’s taken will ultimately be worth it.

“I’m not in the financial position I’d like to be in,” he concedes. “But I know that one day this will all pay off.”

Today, all the survivors of Tesseract are in a positive mood. As they settle down for coffee at Hammer HQ, there’s a real sense that this most durable of bands have finally rediscovered their identity. After starting as a bedroom project for guitarist and band visionary Acle Kahney back in 2003, Tesseract eventually morphed into a full band and one of the UK’s brightest hopes, who found themselves at the forefront of the nascent djent movement in the mid-00s. Unfortunately, the band became the butt of many a joke as the microphone was passed on at an alarming rate from original vocalist Julien Perier, to Abisola Obasanya, to Dan Tompkins (who sang on 2011 debut One), to Elliot Coleman, to Ashe O’Hara (on second album Altered State), and now back to Dan. It’s a reputation Tesseract are aware of.

“It would be silly for us to ignore that,” bassist Amos Williams tells us. “The vocalist is usually the focal point of a band, and a fanbase will have a strong emotional attachment to the vocals. It’s the key to unlocking access to the band. If you rip that person out of the band, it’s clearly going to have a massive effect on people. But it makes us laugh, because only this week Iron Maiden released an album, and it’s a massive album... and that’s not their original singer! So we just concentrated on making it work.”

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