"I raided the music vaults! Made in a bedroom [in] 1999, these mixtapes were never really finished. Lyrics written/performed by Tom Hardy. Music written/produced by me..." @EdwardTracy recently Tweeted. Ed Tracy is a London-based writer, creator, director, and "humble TV bloke" who's previously worked on Fonejacker, Facejacker, Banksy's Walled Off Hotel film, short film CAPTCHA, animated sitcom Sticky, and music videos for both Dizzee Rascal and Swet Shop Boys emcee/actor Riz Ahmed. Tracy's 1990's DJ-producer alias was "Eddie Too Tall" and he actually, worked with none other than BAFTA Award-winning actor Tom Hardy—then, known as rising emcee Tommy No.1. Yes, we're, in fact, talking about critically-acclaimed Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Taboo, and Venom actor Tom Hardy. Ed Tracy quietly uploaded Tommy No.1 + Eddie Too Tall's unfinished 1999 mixtape, FALLING ON YOUR ARSE IN 1999 to little fanfare in early January 2018. It wasn't until he uploaded the 18-track album to a sub-reddit entitled 'r/hiphopheads [FRESH] Tom Hardy's unfinished album from 1999 finally found it's way online. But is it any good?' as u/edwardtracy that Noisey first picked up on it and Tommy No.1 + Eddie Too Tall nearly "broke The Internet." Thursday afternoon, while delving into FALLING ON YOUR ARSE IN 1999, on a whim, I decided to reach out to Ed Tracy, who, to my surprise, soon wrote back and agreed to "recall the good old bad old days," as he put it, for the all-inclusive interview you now see transcribed below. Tommy No.1 + Eddie Too Tall's FALLING ON YOUR ARSE IN 1999 is now available to stream on TomHardyDotOrg’s Soundcloud page, ladies and gents!
Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz (@SharpCheddar856)
Your Friendly Neighborhood Web-slingin' Writer
I. What do you currently do professionally, Eddie "Too Tall" Tracy?
People call me Ed, I've not been called Eddie "Too Tall" for a while haha! These days, I work in television and I named my production company Too Tall productions, so something of that survived. Recent work has been producing a pilot for an animated sitcom on the BBC. It is called Sticky and it co-stars Tom Hardy. If you're in The States, then, I'm afraid you can't watch it... yet. Clips of it are online. Hopefully, we'll get to make a series. It was great fun to make and it got a good reception. Plus, some great press, including glowing reviews from The Guardian and Heat magazine. Tom was a fan of the previous show that I co-created, called Fonejacker and Facejacker. He was up for getting involved somehow in a comedy project together. I was already developing Sticky, so that was the perfect excuse to work together. I've known that Tom can do funny voices since the days of us making the album together; the "Rusty Sheriff's Badge" and "Dr. Livingstoned" tracks on the album show a glimpse of that humour.
II. How did you first meet Tom Hardy, and what made you two decide to start recording together as "Tommy No.1 + Eddie Too Tall?"
I met him through a very dear friend. I used to DJ and make Jungle tracks. Tom asked me to make Hip-Hop, of which I was also a huge fan.
III. Nearly 20 years later, what made you decide to finally unleash Tommy No.1 + Eddie Too Tall's FALLING ON YOUR ARSE IN 1999? Did you consult with or reach out to Tom Hardy prior to releasing the collection?
Last year, Tom asked me whether I still had the album kicking about in the loft. Lo and behold, here it is in all its rawness, just as it sounded then. He'll be pleased with the reception it's had, so far.
IV. What exactly did you two intend to do with these tracks upon initially recording them back in 1999? I recently read within a 2011 BBC newsbeat feature that Tom Hardy "had a recording deal as a rapper at the age of 15."
We made music and also, messed around making short films. I think we inspired each other to make stuff. Back then, we were offered a record deal on the basis of this album, but Tom's agent said, "no, don't do music. Do acting." Terrible advice! Look where he is now?!
V. What ever ended up happening to Tommy No.1 + Eddie Too Tall? Are there currently any plans for a 2018 "Reunion Tour?"
I made a joke that we’d do some Vegas dates, if it the mixtape did well. But truthfully, I never saw this release as anything more that finally letting this project see the light of day. There was never a question of us "putting the band back together." The positive response has been great.
VI. How exactly did you and Tom go about writing, recording, producing, mixing, mastering, etc. the songs now collected on FALLING ON YOUR ARSE IN 1999? Your Too-Tall Bandcamp page explains these mixtapes were "made in a bedroom in 1999" and were admittedly, "never really finished."
We made the album in my bedroom with no mixer or any fancy kit. A dusty old Atari ST, running an AKAI sampler, plus two Technics SL-1200 decks. All the vocals were recorded on a hand-held tape dictaphone. No over-dubs or editing. Tom had a click track for timing, but that was it. He had to get it in one take. Raw production techniques! The AKAI sampler allowed 1 minute's-worth of sample time per track, so if you wanted a new sample (including Tom's vocals,) you'd often have to sacrifice another clip. Everything got boiled down. The samples were all off records or VHS tapes. No added effects.
VII. What types of projects are you currently working on, Ed that fans can expect to see released this year?
In terms of music, I still like to keep my eye in, or ear, I should say. I sometimes [compose] music for TV projects I work on. I recently released a new album of tracks, some of which I originally made for Tom—so, that's going back some time. But since Tom is off being a movie star, I've been making tracks with another rapper. He used to go by the name of "Gatsby," but had to change his name to Gats Bigga Vel because some reality star chump stole his name. Happens. "Gatsby, "as I still call him, is the real deal; an East London (E5) rapper born and bred. One track called "Come to East" made a pretty big impact. It ranked Top 5 on the UK's TV channel called Channel U one year, which for us, was a big deal. This year, we released an album of all the tracks we've ever done together. It's called Super Alpha Number One and it's on Apple Music, Spotify, etc. Perhaps you can hear the DNA of the Tommy No 1 tracks in there somewhere?