Posted in glasGOwest

Edinburgh School For The Deaf

I spent so much time listening to St. Jude’s Infirmary that I completely missed Deserters Deserve Death.  Above all, I couldn’t listen to The Church of John Coltrane enough. Ironically, I passed the actual church for years, but it was the song that made we look at it twice. – could you impart anything about the song’s inspiration?

Grant:” It was written in the sincere belief that John Coltrane’s saxophone was as much of a vessel of communion as any Priest or Minister.  We were lucky enough that Archbishop King and Reverend Mother King got in touch with us through our kind pal Susan Bryan to give us their blessing.  This was pretty much the highlight of my time in St.Judes.”

Asleep at the wheel again, I never noticed the Edinburgh School approaching.  Suddenly, Bubblegum Records was offering a signed pre-order.  That ‘one’ copy you signed was mine! How would you characterize the overall reaction to the new record?

Jamie: “Positive, surprising. I would typify it as us being the proverbial winger haring down the wing and seeing the lumbering centre half approaching. We steel ourselves to be halved in two and deposited somewhere in the deep part of the stands. After no collision comes we look up to see the centre half laying askew and acres of open grass in front of us, panicking, we tear forward again.”

I think the best way to frame this question would be to say that your music isn’t typical of everything that I would be enthusiastic about right now. In fact, having you follow Fergus Lawrie seemed a ‘natural’ thing to do. How do you react to this sort of thinking?  Were any of you Urusei  Yatsura fans?

Jamie: I do remember Urusei, but they’re not a band I have thought about for a while.  It is possible that we are all channelling a distant universal malaise. We feel a bit out of place here, in Scotland, ourselves. I do feel like we are working against the grain to a certain extent, although I like that. We want to be an evisceration, an immolation, Phil Spector handcuffed but still gun toting. 3 minute love songs soured on the shelf and stretched to breaking point by neglect and ineptitude. If what you have come to expect is a singer songwriter melodically detailing the fragile breakdown of a love affair, this is the flipside; the 3am crawl and howl of a maniac playing Otis Redding records in a lightless flat.”

Grant: “I was personally drawn to a new sound as I was ill and felt sickened by music.  The dogs days of St.Judes threatened to sour all music to me.  It felt as if we had lived and died for something in this rotten city only for our inheritance to be a dry rot of wet little meaningless, mawkish, middle-brow, foppish, bland folk.  It felt like an incredible freedom to break so completely with the past and return to dropping guitars drunkenly on the floor in dive bars.  It was the innocent sound of our youth.”

We are always interested in any Scottish influences and bands you admire.

Grant: Edinburgh is terribly overshadowed by Glasgow because it didn’t have the venues or the labels and had an often transient college population.  Edinburgh bands tended to revolve around the art school, have a three month accelerated trajectory of greatness, never hold it together long enough to record anything of substance and then drunkenly implode at some scummy venue with bad sound.  There are some great `lost` bands that have more or  less slid away from the grasp of the clammy hands of popular culture – Khaya, Desc, 55’s, Sacred Heart Losers…and some good currently living, breathing bands – `Magic Eye` who Alex from the band plays in and the `Young Spooks` which Alex and I have served in.  Oh yeah and the `The Dead Champagne`.”

Have you ever played in America? Do you have any desire to do so?

Jamie: “No, we haven’t, but would love to,I would be interested to see what they would make of us. I would ensure that we cultivated a persona of fey Scottish winsomeness just to destroy the first row of hipsters.”

 The new band name seems perfectly natural. I’m curious if there was a runner-up?

 Jamie: We have pages upon pages of names, a veritable litany of the deterioration of our metal health! We learned early on that our first name Deserters Deserve Death which was part in joke (we were all moonlighting from various band) and part nod to the Commando comic of the same name, led to confusion. People thought we were a metal band, not so bad, others thought we advocated shooting army deserters, really very bad. So we decided to change

Grant: There was quite a list – lots of `institutional names` – lots of institutional names – `The Royal Academy`, `The Scottish Arts Council`, `Scottish Action on Drugs`…etcetra,etcetra.”

Listening to the CD on way to work early, in the  dark through the SF fog.  All Hands Lost — would love to know the story behind the song.  It is so evocative yet almost vague in that it suggests lyrics not sung. It literally forces you to add your own heartache into the song. On that level it is genius.

“Jamie:Without too much needless pre-amble I re-discovered a few letters documenting a protracted break up. It was clear to see exactly how it went wrong, and it felt like reading the account of a slow- motion capsize.  I’d also been reading a lot of Hemingway and Mccarthy at the time, to be fair I always seem to be reading and re-reading them. A lot of their novels are delivered in the leanest of anaemic prose. In “A Moveable Feast”, Hemingway even talks about deleting an ending, where the character kills himself, he had with the knowledge that everything he hadn’t included served to inform the story better. So the song was sketches to be filled in, rather than the complete picture.”

Perhaps it is a feature that won’t last long, so while it does could you ask glasGOwest  a question?

Jamie:”Electric or acoustic?”

All three: electric, acoustic, electric-acoustic. And if you can’t amp it , then you can always mic it. 

Posted in Bands We've Chatted With

Loch Awe

Not a folk band

Did you notice that Chemikal Underground signed Loch Lomond? They went all the way to Portland, Oregon to sign a band named after a Loch. Maybe they could have shopped locally?

“Ha! I think, objectively, that Loch Lomond are far better than we are. Even though they’re named after one of the more mainstream lochs…”

I’ve developed a Glasgow and Edinburgh bandcamp tag habit. It is where I found your first record. I like the idea of money going directly to the artist and there you go and offer it for free. Not pay what you like maybe you’ll get something for it free, but FREE. Whose self-interest are you promoting?

“We liked the idea of giving our music away free, because it didn’t cost us anything to make. However, as of last week, we’ve made it Pay What You Like. This is so we can hopefully raise a bit of money to pay for the recording of the second album. So, if anybody really, really likes us and wants to give us a wee bit of money, that’d be lovely. If not we still 100% support – and, indeed, encourage – people taking the record for free. We just want you to listen to it, really.”

The page also mentions that you are not really a folk band anymore. I also have a copy of ‘Bookmarkesque’ from ‘The Inside Track’ and it is such a lovely song. Is that song the direction you are moving toward or away from?

“Bookmarkesque was the first song written for the new record that we were 100% happy with. Basically the whole theme of the album is centred on the lyrics of that track. I don’t like to tell people what to take away from what we write, though, so maybe listeners will disagree. As for the sound of the record, some of it sounds like that, and some of it is a bit louder.

Here’s a link to a new demo we just finished:

As a middle school math teacher by day, I’m more than a little impressed with your facebook ‘likes’ running commentary providing some mathematical fact for each successive new number. Is anyone a math-s major?

“Yes indeed! I’m in my third year of a maths degree, and hoping to study for a PhD when I graduate. On top of that Jack (our bassist) is a computer scientist, Oliver (our drummer) is an engineer and Brian (our guitarist) studied geophysics. We’re all scientists except Joy, who studies English Language and Linguistics. But we don’t talk about Joy.”

When can we contemplate buying your second record? Is there anything you can tell us about your plans for it?

” Certainly – we can tell you that the album’s written. We can tell you that we’re going to be spending three days in Chem19 (where albums like Mogwai Young Team and Arab Strap’s Philophobia were recorded) in December to hopefully get down most of the LOUD bits of the album, and then, hopefully sometime in January, we’ll be heading into another studio (we’re not entirely certain which, yet) to record the rest of it. Finally, we can also tell you that you won’t have to contemplate buying it, as we’ll be putting it out as a Pay What You Like download.”

Have you ever gotten the chance to see Kenny Anderson? I saw that he made it as far as SXSW last year. I’m thinking that’s as far west as he’ll ever travel. Are there any Scottish bands you think highly of? Maybe you could point out something we’ve yet to discover.

“We have indeed. We actually played a show with him (backed by Kid Canaveral, like he was at SXSW) and The Last Battle in July this year. That was a damn good show. You seem to be pretty clued up on the local scene, but here’s a list of bands and artists I really like, maybe you’ll find something new:

Adam Stafford, Andrew Lindsay, Beerjacket, Conquering Animal Sound, Edinburgh School for the Deaf, The Leg, Meursault, PAWS, Reverieme, Rob St. John, Shambles Miller & Withered Hand.

There are more, but those are the names that come to mind right now.”

Lastly, we’d love it if you asked glasGOwest a question, as long as it isn’t about crisps.

“Hm. I obviously really want to ask something about crisps now. Maybe ask about your dislike of questions about crisps. But I won’t. Instead, a maths-related question: what’s your favourite number? I’m a big fan of palindromic numbers, so I’d have to go with 101, which is not only palindromic, but prime too. Yay!

Thanks, Matthew”

Ironically, it is 101 as well, but that had everything to do with a house number, the first high school love, and a broken heart. Incidentally, I’ve never heard of The Leg and one of the bands in that list is our next post.