“I had to grind cow lung to make dog food”: 13 Questions with TesseracT’s Daniel Tompkins

From hearing a gunfight outside a TesseracT show to being trodden on playing rugby, vocalist Daniel Tompkins faces Kerrang!’s 13 Questions and tells us some truly wild tales…

“I had to grind cow lung to make dog food”: 13 Questions with TesseracT’s Daniel Tompkins
Nick Ruskell

There’s a brand-new TesseracT album arriving soon, and the band are gonna be on the road, too. That’s exciting enough as it is. But what else may add to that excitement? Getting to know the life of vocalist Daniel Tompkins just that little bit more – from broken toes to expensive cars to, uh, cow lung and dead rabbits…

1What’s the worst thing you’ve ever eaten?

“In Thailand I had insect pupae. It’s just basically insect eggs. It’s a thing over there. I got it for a laugh on the street, and it was probably the worst thing I’ve ever tasted. It was very bitty, very bitter, very powdery, it tasted of… rancid… fluid. My mate had a locust on a stick, and he was ill all the following day. We just never saw him, he was constantly throwing up.”

2Have you ever been arrested?

“I have never been arrested, no. But I have arrested many people. I used to be a copper years and years ago. When I was 18 I joined the Notts police, and I did that for eight years. Then I got my first record deal, so I left to become a lifer to music.”

3What’s the furthest TesseracT have ever travelled for the least reward?

“We’ve actually flown all the way to India to do a festival that got cancelled. It absolutely chucked it down, there was a thunderstorm, the whole place got flooded, and the electrics were just going off everywhere, things were frying. So we flew 10 hours to India, and then drove another three to the festival, then turned around and flew home – never played the show. We’ve been back since, though, and it’s been awesome.”

4Who’s the biggest hero you’ve ever met?

“Do you know what? I’ve been quite unlucky in this department. I’ve never really brushed shoulders with many people. The closest would be Maynard James Keenan. He was playing with Puscifer at a festival and I was stood side of stage and walked by him. I was like, ‘I really want to say hi, but I’m not going to be That Guy.’ He's a big inspiration, but that’s probably the closest I’ve come to meeting someone like that.”

5What’s the worst injury you’ve ever sustained?

“A broken toe. That’s about it. I played rugby quite a lot as a young lad, and I went to Holland to play an all-female rugby team. We got butchered big time, and I actually had someone deliberately and repeatedly stamp on my foot in a scrum. I carried on playing the game with a broken toe as a true soldier. And that wasn’t all of it – the other team were brutal. They were deliberately grabbing genitals and ripping them and stuff. They were ferocious.”

6What’s the sketchiest show TesseracT have ever played?

“In Lubbock, in Texas. We were at this small little venue, in a really rough, sketchy area, that had a back alley. We played the show and literally as we were loading out into this alleyway, a guy just got shot, and there was this gunfight outside the door where we were. Everyone was just shitting their pants and getting themselves back inside and close the doors. And then somebody else got knifed in the same scene. Jesus, it was it was brutal…”

7What was your best subject at school?

“I was the most talented at PE. I actually got an A-Level in physical education, and I was going to go to fitness and health at one point when I was younger. I was quite a fit guy, always playing sport. But I actually really enjoyed science, too. I did chemistry and biology at A-Level. It fascinated me, that kind of stuff. I wasn’t always the best at it, but I think I’ve got the most from those lessons.”

8What’s the most stupidly expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

“A car. Oh my God, I bought an Alfa Romeo GT when I was in my mid-20s. It was a proper impulsive buy. My girlfriend at the time was looking for a new car, so she went into a showroom and I was totally just suckered in by this beautiful red sports car. And then as soon as I drove it off the forecourt everyone was telling me, ‘Well, that’s just depreciated in value by £7,000 and it’s now valued at half the price.’ As new cars do. I ended up having to sell it because I got my first record deal and I sold it for a third of the price, so I lost massive amount of money doing that as well. I was a bit gutted about having to get rid of it, to be honest.”

9Most luxurious unexpected win you’ve ever managed on tour?

“Whenever we’ve played India, we get put up in the most luxurious hotels and we don't have to share rooms. I remember once, for some reason, they gave me an executive room at the top of this massive hotel. It had this awesome ornate porcelain bath where you could sit in it and electronically undo the curtains to see this amazing view of Delhi. The previous time we'd been on a small tour in India, we got put up in university campuses and small little digs. I don’t know what happened but ever since then, every time we’ve been we’ve had these amazing penthouse suites.”

10What’s the worst job you ever had?

“When I was 17, I got a job as a butcher. I had to get cow lung and grind it in a grinder to make dog food. I remember they had a delivery of hares, while I was in the back room grinding all this shitty meat. I looked around and I saw this crate of 100 dead rabbits staring at me and I just went, ‘I can't do this anymore.’ I think the other thing that made me stop doing it was that I could not get the smell of dead animals off my hands at the end of a shift. You can never get used to the smell. The closest I can get to it is actually smelling dead people. And I’ve smelled a lot of dead people from when I was a copper and you find them.”

11Have you ever been in a fight?

“Not recently. But when I was in the police, on a Friday night there were a lot of people who’d just want to have a fight with a copper. It's standard in the job. But outside of that, I've never had a fight with somebody. I'm not really a confrontational person. I like get along with everybody.”

12What was the first show you ever went to as a kid?

“My first real gig was going to see A Perfect Circle at Nottingham Rock City when I was 16, on the campaign for Mer de Noms. I’d never seen the band, I’d never heard of them, and I was at the front just mesmerised the whole time by everything to do with it. I think that's the one time when I realised, ‘Oh God, I want to do that. I want to be a singer. I want to be onstage.’”

13What was the last lie you told?

“My youngest son just lost one of his teeth and I told him the Tooth Fairy was coming. So there you go: I lied to my child. How bad.”

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