White Ape frontman chats gigging with Pete Doherty, swimming in shark-infested waters and becoming Harry Potter

He’s toured with Babyshambles’ Pete Doherty, been a body double for Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter movies, swum in shark-infested waters… And lived to tell the tale.

Meet Wimbledon musician and lead guitarist of rock ‘n’ roll group White Ape Tommy Mack.

To say he’s had a varied career would be an understatement.

Back in 2005 the then 24-year-old was in a band called General Khaki who played a number of gigs with Pete Doherty’s Babyshambles.

Tommy describes the feeling of touring with a musical icon as ‘absolutely brilliant’.

He explained: “We had girls grabbing us everywhere we went and the paparazzi followed us all over the place.

“We couldn’t have asked for more at that age.”

The tour came right at the height of Doherty’s tabloid notoriety.

His much publicised relationship with Kate Moss crashed and burned, he experienced ongoing legal troubles relating to drug abuse and there was also an alleged assault on documentary film-maker Max Carling.

White Ape Jess Drummond

Doherty effectively walked out of prison and joined the tour but Tommy never so much as saw him smoke a spliff.

He describes Babyshambles as ‘real gents’ and admits that General Khaki barely even drank on the tour as they were working most days to support themselves.

“After the first show we were asked if we wanted to party with Pete and the others but Kat (General Khaki bassist) had work in the morning,” he said.

“I was offered a line of coke at one point but I had to drive the tour bus home.”

General Khaki faltered after Babyshambles sacked their manager James Milord and the link between the bands was severed.

Tommy says the feeling was like ‘losing a war’ and the band eventually split in 2006.

He said: “Having had a taste of what success would be like; it felt like going back to square one.”

Tommy Mack really has tried everything there is to do in the world of show business.

He was a body double for Daniel Radcliffe during the filming of Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix.

Radcliffe was doing his GCSEs at the time so Tommy, as a fairly short and stocky man, was ideally placed to stand in.

“If you watch the movie back there’re a lot of shots of the back of Daniel’s head,” he explained.

“He wasn’t around a lot so there were 13 of us who stood in for him for those wide shots.”

He has also written and starred in a one-man play (Lost in Music) at the Edinburgh Festival,had someone play him in a self-written play (Standing Up) performed by First Draft Theatre Company and can even be seen as an extra in Batman Begins.

Music has always been the first love though.

He explained: “I’ve just always loved playing music and when I fell out of comedy, music was the natural place to end up.

“Whatever I’ve done it’s always been about the same thing – hitting the audience with amusing and entertaining ideas.

“We want to grab people on a visceral level say something of meaning and I feel like with White Ape we’ve succeeded in doing that.”

“We want to grab people on a visceral level say something of meaning and I feel like with White Ape we’ve succeeded in doing that.”

White Ape was born after Tommy met fellow Brit Mike Davies on a Tsing Tao beach while holidaying in China with his wife.

They were partying with people that Tommy describes as ‘typical US frat boys’ and, although Tommy can’t remember whose idea it was, ended up going for a swim in the shark-infested waters.

At some point or another it emerged that the two men share a love of making music and a band was born.

“We just swam until we reached the shark net,” explained Tommy. “That was about a mile out and when we got back to the beach we formed a band.”

Tommy revealed that his inspirations are as eclectic as his show business past.

“I’m as influenced by Van Gogh as by The Slits but also love The Stooges, The Beach Boys and Michael Jackson.”

Featured picture courtesy of Jess Drummond, with thanks

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