Matt Riley from Cancel the Astronauts

Matt was kind enough to respond to my few questions and an offer to be on the ground floor of glasGOwest.

“Luckily for you I’ve never been one to resist a groundbreaking opportunity! These are the views of Matt CTA and do not reflect the opinions of the rest of the band Cancel the Astronauts.”

2 admired past Scottish artists?

De Rosa: I don’t know if you’ve heard these guys, but if you’ve heard of us then you’ve probably heard of them, since they were much better and much more successful than Cancel the Astronauts. They had an incredible debut album called Mend which they followed up with their second (and sadly final) album called Prevention. Mend had some cracking indie-guitar anthems like Camera and Father’s Eyes, as well as some lovely, more delicate folk-tinged tracks, like The Engineer (which ends up rocking the fuck out- a great song). Prevention was a fantastic leap forward with De Rosa fusing their existing sound with more layered, electronic elements; each song on it is so good it’s impossible to pick one out. Their singer and songwriter was a chap called Martin John Henry. He’s probably the best lyricist in Scotland at the moment. His words are personal and unique but absolutely captivating. He’s also got a beautiful voice. Scotland’s Radiohead. Only better. They broke up far too soon!

Mitchell Museum: This is very recent news. I’ve only just found out from their website that they’ve broken up, and it might not even be permanent. Let’s hope it isn’t! They’re a pretty new band and they released only one album called The Peters Port Memorial Service. I can hear a lot of Mercury Rev and Flaming Lipsin their arrangements and instrumentation, but I’ve no idea if those bands are direct influences or not. I reckon if they were an American band from 1999 then they’d have been huge in the UK. Not that they’re particulariy retro or anything, their music is actually highly original and pretty experimental. The album flows beautifully- they’ve clearly thought a lot about the sequencing of the album which is often overlooked by lots of bands. I love them most for their melodies though. Number 3, Warning Bells and Tiger Heartbeat have some of the most infectious and joyous melodies I’ve heard from any Scottish band. We’re mostly a pretty maudlin bunch.

2 current bands you’d heartily recommend?

Babygod: I’ve not heard that they’ve split up so I’m including them in current, but they haven’t released anything for ages so who knows? We played with them a few times and I’ve spoken to their lead singer Gerry Campbell once or twice; an incredible live band and very nice, interesting people. They have a song called – Throw It On The Fire – which is absolutely one of my favourite songs ever. Their lyrics are smart, witty and thought-provoking. They tackle very serious subjects (Time, Hope for instance) without ever seeming po-faced or sloppy.Again, they’re a very melodic group and their tunes are super catchy. They seemed quite big on the Glasgow arts scene, so it’s possible that music is only one of the things that they do. Gerry Campbell had recorded with Belle and Sebastian, and seemed to know De Rosa- his voice is actually remarkablysimiliar to Martin John Henry’s. It’s obviously a voice I like.

Bad Books: A brand new band for you! They’ve only played with one gig. Their second will be at our single launch in Edinburgh. They comprise ex-members of Kays Lavelle andCome On Gang! among others, so they have a fine musical heritage on which to build! I don’t think they have a website, a Myspace, or a Facebook page. In fact they might even exist for very long. They started the band to do a one off gig for fun as I recall, but such was the demand they were forced to do some more! You will seem VERY cool if you tell people that you’re in to a great new band from Edinburgh called Bad Books. They sound poppy and fast: a bit like The Strokes crossed with The Lightning Seeds.

Can you give a hat tip toward a third relatively new and upcoming act that you feel should be followed?

Jackson Hall. A new artist from Edinburgh who writes jazz ballads in the style of Randy Newman.

What is it about Scottish music/scene that makes it special?

It’s special because it’s ours. There is probably nothing especially unique about theScottish music scene other than it’s the Scottish music scene, rather than, say, the Swiss music scene, or the Columbian music scene. There are all sorts of bands from all sorts of places that have grown up listening to all sorts ofbands from all sorts of places, so it might not even be relevant to label it the Scottish music scene. Why do you think it’s special?

How’s this?

Cheers!

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