Panda Su

Back in the myspace era, you mentioned that you’ve actually played in San Francisco. Do you remember the venue? How was the experience?

 Back in 2008 I went travelling round the States for two months and stopped off in San Francisco for a visit. I can’t remember where it was exactly, but we went along to an open mic in a venue on a very bumpy street. I also have a very vague memory of eating breakfast with sea lions the morning after.

2 EPs done. Any word when we might start to look forward to the first full length?

 It’s obviously something that I’m working towards but it’s a big project and I want to take my time. I’ve not had a chance to do much writing this year but I’m back in the studio over winter and I’ve got lots of ideas I’d like to work on.

Having recently stumbled across the book ‘Moviegoer’, I instantly and naturally thought of Panda Su. Was it the inspiration for the song?

 I wasn’t aware that there was a book called Moviegoer. I’ll need to track it down and have a read.

 I became aware of ‘Go North’ this summer. It seems like my kind of festival. What was the experience like?

 I’ve spent a lot of time in the Highlands this year and every show I’ve played there has been really enjoyable. Go North is more of an industry affair – keep your eyes peeled for other festivals taking place in and around the Highlands like Belladrum and the Black Isle Shindig. There’s plenty of new music on offer and some fairly spectacular scenery too.

 So I just ordered 4 Panda Su badges. You are not going to suddenly grow weary of the bear are you? I’m sure you’ve been asked countless times and you should probably tell me to go find out for myself, but why the love of pandas? Now that I’ve got my receipt, I also need to ask about this Peter Panda?

 I’m not going to grow weary of the bear – although admittedly I did grow weary of spending a tenner on face paint before every show! The panda is a very solitary creature and I’m quite a private person so it was a perfect fit for my music. Peter Panda Records is the name of my record label. I was reading Peter Pan at the time and obviously felt inspired.

 What Scottish artists do you fancy? Is there anyone you would like to recommend that we should check out? Is it wrong that I like the Pearl and the Puppets song ‘Make me Smile’?

 Jonnie Common’s album ‘Master of None’ just came out on a lovely little label called Red Deer Club and is brilliant. I’m also fond of I Build Collapsible Mountains, who have also just released their debut album. It’s not wrong if you like ‘Make Me Smile’ but it is wrong if you try to emulate Pearl’s Glaswegian accent, unless of course you are actually Glaswegian. And a girl.

 What’s your favourite Chemikal Underground record?

My answer probably isn’t going to help you get noticed, but I don’t actually own any Chemikal Underground records. I’ve spend my life on the east coast and although I was aware of bands like The Delgados, I was probably more inspired by labels like Fence Records than Chemikal. Next time you’re over here visiting I’ll take you on a whistle stop tour of Fife and we’ll stop off in Dundee too. There’s a whole host of musical happenings taking place in these places – and nothing beats a good bout of fresh sea air!

And lastly, would you be so kind as to ask glasGOwest a question?

It’s something I didn’t get the opportunity to do while I was there, which I now deeply regret, but have you ever been to Alcatraz? If yes, were you there as a visitor or a prisoner? Also, what’s the worst crime you’ve ever committed? (I know I appear to be asking you three separate questions, but you asked me eight so I think it’s fair)

I have been here for 15 years, and even though I pass it every day to get to work I’ve never actually gone out there. New Year’s resolution #12I am most definitely a prisoner. Crime? I’ve heard throwing old wedding rings from the Golden Gate bridge is punishable by law.

T&P

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2011 – Year’s Best Albums

While this isn’t necessarily a list of the year’s best, I could easily state that the first 6 would be found on my top 12. ‘Everything Getting Older’, given my advanced years, resonates strongly enough to be my actual number 1.

It is, however,  a list of the records purchased on vinyl this past year.  I got rid of all my vinyl at least 20 years ago. For the most part, I don’t miss the collection much. Afterall, it was primarily the 80’s. There are a few things I wished I kept but generally speaking I’ve always been one to search out new material as opposed to becoming to comfortable with and settling for the old. In each generation of music, I would look for something that moved me as much as the previous. Thankfully that something was never limited to just a certain sound.

Last Christmas, I received a turntable. My initial reaction was a befuddled bemusement. I owned exactly 2 records. Blue Peter’s Radio Silence ( the sole record from my original collection) and a never listened to Urusei Yatsura  signed debut that I’ve kept for 15 years. I bought it in addition to the CD at an instore on launch day.  Getting the turntable  occurred just at the point where mp3s themselves were threatening to replace CD.  I had been acquiring so much music that I couldn’t honestly claim I had the time to enjoy and listen to all of it. When you can’t actually name a good deal of what comes up on an ipod shuffle, you’ve probably gone to far.

Then instantly – everything slowed down again.  I’m now down to a single emusic account that I have to be reminded to empty of credits at the end of the month. Getting something immediately digitally is still impressive but I’ve come to be equally fond of the Royal Mail.  There is a noticeable difference in tone between analog and digital. It really does have  a comforting warmth that is  especially noticeable after all these years away from it.  I’ll wait until next year to make my subjective pronouncements of which ones are the ‘best’. For now, it is as if I’ve rediscovered music itself.

Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells – Everything is Getting  Older

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine

Zoey Van Goey – Propeller Wings

Found – Factorycraft

We Were Promised Jetpacks – In the Pit of the Stomach

Mogwai  – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Mogwai – Earth Division

KC and the Canaverals – 7”

The Seventeenth Century – Part 1 and 2

Delgados – Universal Audio

Delgados  – Peleton

Lord Cut Glass – Lord Cut Glass

Aereogramme – Chemikal Underground Box Set

Belle and Sebastian – Write About Love

Broken Records – Let Me Come Home

Mitchell Museum – The Peters Port Memorial Service

Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks

Camera Obscura- My Maudlin Career

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Automatic

Urusei Yatsura – Urusei Yatsura

Los Compesinos   – Hello Sadness

Sigur Ros  – Inni

Comet Gain – Howl of the Lonely Crowd

U2 –remastered October

Asobi Seksu – Fluoresence

Morrisey – Swords

Los Campesinos – Romance is Boring

Loney Dear – Hall Music

Manic Street Preachers – Journal for Plague Lovers

iLiketrains – Elegies to Lessons Learnt

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing

A Minor Reflection – Pledge Music  EP

British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall

Kid Canaveral – Shouting at Wildlife

My Kid Canaveral came yesterday and a copy of the last Twilight Sad is on its way. Counting it, 22/35 of these are Scottish artists. I am looking forward to hearing what 2012 will bring; whatever the format. Wherever possible, I’ll be looking to buy it on vinyl. And as you can see in my little squirrel friend, this time around, I’m making the music even more personal. Bring on the Fence 7″ subscription.

T&P

Happy Particles – Under Sleeping Waves – Review

Here in California it is still the night before Christmas and even though ‘Under Sleeping Waves’ is downloading  right now, the Happy Particles’ new record surely shouldn’t be counted as a 2011 release. I hereby petition to change the rules to reflect that anything released after December 25th counts toward the next year’s best of lists.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have watched ‘Inni’ just prior to sitting down to listen, but the opening bass lines of ‘Infinite Jet” quickly dispels that atmospheric comparison of the lead track ‘Aerials’.  I can’t shake the feeling that I already know this voice.  I can’t place it and quickly settle in. Toward the end of the song the ‘tape speed’ suddenly slows down. One can’t but help but wonder why. The third track ‘Slowness’ explains it somehow.  The established pace continues with the 4th cut. It is dreamy and delicate. A little trepidation does set in though. Surely this pace won’t be maintained throughout the record? So often I battle with what I want to happen on a record and what is actually unfolding before me. ‘Offline Contact’ doesn’t really stray from what has gone on before. At this point, it is pretty clear a second pass will be necessary before I can even form an objective opinion.

The lovely string arrangements on a ‘Reprise’ raise the anticipation. In a way it all hinges on the next song. This is a very quiet introspective record. There is an undeniable beauty here and ‘Come Home all Dead Ones’ typifies just how lovely the record is. Lyrically it has not engaged me emotionally yet. The unintended comparison to Sigur Ros might be more appropriate than originally thought. I’m most familiar with the next song ‘Empty Circle’. It is an excellent song. I’d go so far as describe it as the diamond in what has been a gradual and elaborate sonic setting that has been constructed for it so far. It has a hint of an edge and it is all too easy to imagine how it would close a live set. I clearly need to lose my conception of this record as just a series of songs.

There is something impenetrable about it on the first listen. ‘Classes in Silence’ another haunting instrumental piece provides the book end to ‘Reprise’. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much pressure put on a last song to inform my first opinion of a record over all. I know what I want to end the record; I really have no idea what it will be. Something hauntingly beautiful – ’10 Am Sky’ – fits the bill. It is shimmering and lovely end of a near perfect length. Then the short gap and subsequent instrumentation throws you off guard forcing you to reassess the ending again. The second listen from the top will have to wait until the morning.

Christmas morning, with the soft glow of the tablet monitor … I fully understand the first 2 and ½ songs. I know that “70 percent” of the record is ‘storyboarded’. The opening is executed brilliantly. It is as if the e ‘Infinite Jets’ slowdown toward the end of the song is somehow deliberately telling the listener that the aptly named follower ‘Slowness’ is the actual pace and heart of the album.  Knowing that vinyl was likely envisioned from the beginning, ‘Offline Contact’ is a satisfying end to the first side. ”Say one thing true – I dare you” – starting to be able to see past the beauty of the vocal and appreciate the lyrics. They are broad brush strokes that can be interpreted any number of ways; they are both lovely and evocative.

The decision to start side B with ‘Reprise’ is perfect; clearly another set-piece. I have a much firmer grasp on the scale and pace of the record. It is simultaneously epic and close and introspective at the same time. I can’t wait to pick up the vinyl version of this – the record begs to be played in that format.  By now it is clear how ‘Empty Circle’ shines as the centerpiece of the second movement. The static lead in and the end to the next instrumental piece is very effective as is the piece itself to continue the feel of ‘Reprise’ and set the stage for the finish and  ’10 AM Sky (Bleary)’ delivers; a haunting ending to a spectacularly beautiful record.

The 2 best things about bandcamp are the ability to listen to an entire track or album and the fact that the money goes directly to the artist. There really is no point to the preceding words. I am very reluctant to even post them. They represent my inarticulate attempt to capture my feelings of the listening to the record for the first time. Countless reviews will be more eloquent and they might even mention a Sigur Ros reference or three. It is hard to imagine that this won’t hold up as being one of the best of 2012, even if I’m the only blogger who acknowledges the wisdom of that convention.

T&P

http://happyparticles.bandcamp.com/

Happy Particles

The new album is available for download on bandcamp on Christmas Day. I know it is a present I’ll be opening first. Here are some answers from Steven.

‘I would think that you get a lot of ‘you remind me of comparisons. I honestly can’t think of who comes to mind. My first impulse was Pinback/Mercury Rev; but that misses by quite a lot. What have been some of the more interesting comparisons people have made?’

“we haven’t really been compared to anyone consistently, a lot of them will have a falsetto… Red House Painters sticks in my mind, probably only because I actually like them.”

The good folks at the Radar seem to regard you highly. Just over there listening to ‘Slowness’, I can see why. You sound so familiar yet new. Reading about your emphasis on string arrangements was interesting. My first reaction was that it sounded like inverted ‘post-rock’ where the soft gentle bits were switched with the loud bits to form a foundation. Does that even make any sense?’

“We are hugely appreciative of the support we have had from the radar folks and others like Ally McCrae, Vic Galloway and Hallina from Glasgow Podcart just to name a few.

Inverted post rock kind of makes sense I guess, I think post rock originally was just rock music with a few of the ingredients missing or replaced, now it’s pretty much just straight ahead guitar rock. There are a couple of songs on the album where the vocal is used very sparingly and the onus is on the instrumentation, so I suppose in that way it’s not traditional ‘rock band’ fare, although I’m not sure we have intentionally tried to invert the quiet – loud format, some of the songs on the album get quite banging.”

The Olympic Swimmers (in a previous post) cite you as a band to watch for. I’d be interested in your take on them. Personally, I think they are one of the more accomplished and exciting acts to emerge of late.

“My take on Olympic Swimmers, they are some of my favorite human beings, never mind one of my favorite bands. They remind me of early R.E.M. , i love the way Susies voice pretty much bullies all the wee boys lovely, pretty guitar parts. They also have one of the most primal rhythm sections of any scottish band i can think of. We pinched Graeme Smilie off them (when our bassist, Graeme Ronald, was over in the states) to play a wedding.There is a sickening mount of love between both bands, urgh.”

From way over here it seems that your first full length has come together fairly quickly. What has the experience been like? What prompted the decision to self-release? We are interested in any recording secrets or experiences you’d be willing to share. Was there an unexpected innovation that found its way onto the record?’

“It took ages for the album to come together in truth, I’m glad it did though as a few new tunes appeared throughout recording and we had time to do exactly what we wanted.

Recording the album was pretty miserable in some ways, we had no money, our friend Robin recorded it as a favour, we paid him peanuts, so we had to arrange recording days around his schedule. He did it as a fan of the music which is unbelievable. It took just over a week in days in total, but spread out over a year. Having a record in your head unfinished for that amount of time is psychologically unfavourable to say the least. Saying that, I miss going up to Dundee to hang out with Robin and the band in the studio, he did a better job on the record than we could have imagined in our heads at times. I think his results speak for themselves.

As for an unexpected innovation, not Per se, 70% of the time everything was quite well planned in advance before we recorded, like the record was a wee film with storyboards but the remainder of the time we were pretty much throwing things against the wall to see what stuck. For instance, a lot of James parts on ‘Slowness’ were improvised on the day we got a hold of the Rhodes piano, I love that part too.

We have decided to put it out ourselves for a few reasons, one is that the music industry has changed so drastically in the last few years, we really aren’t sure if we even need to be apart of it in a conventional sense. Another reason is that as I mentioned it took ages to finish the record, people have been asking when it’s coming out for the best part of the year, we kind of owe it to them. Also we don’t have a manager, label or promotion people, we have done everything ourselves to this point, why not just do the last bit too.

I’d like to say it was all inspired by our love of hardcore and of people like Ian Mackayes philosophy (which we do love and respect) but in truth it just felt natural to do it, if you don’t see your band as a commodity you can avoid a lot of trappings and other bullshit, there’s simply nothing to risk.”

I guess I don’t understand the mastering process very well. What did Iain Cook bring to the table?’

I don’t understand it myself to be perfectly honest, the only way I can explain it is that it brings clarity to the recording, also sometimes little frequencies or odd audio artifacts pop through that annoy you and once it’s mastered you can kind of listen in the safety of knowing that’s not going to happen. Iain Cook has made a reputation for himself by giving bands the opportunity of a professional and talented mastering service at an affordable price, the direct opposite of what the majority of mastering engineers do in my experience. I don’t know if he’s been inspired by people like Steve Albini or whoever but we dig his philosophy and it’s obviously symbiotic to making a record in a DIY manner.”

I’m glad to see you are thinking of re-releasing on vinyl. I’ve just ‘rediscovered’ LPs after being away from them for 20 years. What is the last record you picked up in that format?’

“An old Joseph-Maurice Ravel record I think. Not the Bolero, a more low key thing that sounds like an early Hitchcock soundtrack, ‘String Quartet in F major’. There is a track on the album which is a string reprise of the melody from ‘Infinite Jet’ which reminds me of the style of Ravel.”

Is there another Scottish band that you could point out to us as being worthy of being followed? This is a bit of challenge question in that we are fairly likely to say ‘well… yeah”.

“Yeah loads,. ‘Alec Cheer’ has made some of my most loved records of the past few years… http://mecheer.com/

‘No comet’ are gorgeous… http://soundcloud.com/no-comet

I’m excited to hear the new ‘RM Hubbert’ record, that’s out on Chemikal Underground soon.

‘North American War’ blew me away recently… http://www.myspace.com/northamericanwar

there’s tons more. Oh yeah, Olympic Swimmers obviously.

I’m starting to sense that Christmas time in Scotland is a very musical event. Are you participating in any special shows?

“We have in the past but not this year. Everyone is pretty busy at the moment and we like to put some effort into things in the rare event that we do them.”

Speaking of Christmas, where will “Under Sleeping Waves” be available?’

 “We are going to release it on bandcamp on Christmas day, if we make any money from it we will put it towards a 500 run of Vinyl copies.”

Looks like I’ll be buying it twice yet again. Here is the link to pre-order yours.  http://happyparticles.bandcamp.com/

T&P

David M. from The Scottish Enlightenment

As perfect as it actually is, it is not a timid band name choice. Who is your favourite Scottish Enlightenment figure?

” I don’t have favourites. Its a part of the normal psychology of preference that seems to be missing for me. So I like Hume, because you’re supposed to like Hume. Not liking Hume is like not liking Stephen Fry. It makes you evil in the eyes of many. I don’t know much about Adam Smith yet, although my wife played a geisha girl in a panto at the Adam Smith theatre in Kirkcaldy, so I suppose he’s pretty much family. I worry if I said I liked Adam Smith people would think I was a Tory, Baggy Snatcher fan, death penalty advocate, homophobe and xenophobe. But I feel there are invisible hands everywhere. My favourite thing about the Scottish Enlightenment philosophers was their ability to switch off. Hume said that all this metaphysics, epistemology and stuff was fine but when he was having a lark with his friends it all seemed like nonsense. And Reid’s whole thing was based on the idea that you could just bypass philosophy when it got silly and everyone knows the answer really. Solipsism? Dont be ridiculous.”

Why did Saint Thomas Aquinas provide the debut title? -“Can something come from God and make us feel” – Is the battle between faith and reason enough to summarize the record?

 “Don’t assume it is St Thomas the Apostle, as in doubting Thomas, not St T Aquinas. Also, the line is “…and make us fear.” Dont feel bad about that one, I do mumble a bit. I think what people call a battle between faith and reason is not really that at all – it  is just different people exercising their own reason based on different assumptions. But there is definitely a battle at the heart of the record, and its an internal one, and its more a battle between emotion and experience; like if you loved someone who didn’t love you back. That kind of battle.”

Musically you executed a perfect 2:31 instrumental intro followed by the lovely Earth Angel then punctuated by the song of the year (2010) contender ‘Little Sleep’. How in the world are you going to follow that on the second record? When can we begin to hope for the second record? Can you give us any hints as to the direction it will take?

” Our second record is absolutely not guaranteed to be any good. We’re right at the start of the process, rehearsing everything, and its been pretty hard so far. I’ve just become a dad of two, so rehearsals will just happen when they happen for now. There are a whole load of songs that came out of reading a lot of books about mountaineering, so the album has a very strong theme. There will be some huge riffs too. As long as the direction it takes isn’t straight down we’ll be ok.”

I’ve followed you from early on and downloaded all your EPs. The full length debut was the first one that I bought from you directly. In fact, faced with a finite budget that month, in the battle of download cost versus physical cd, transatlantic shipping and exchange rate, it came down to you or Over the Wall’s ‘Treacherous’. Are you familiar with them?

“No, although I intend to become so. And thank you for your patronage, very much.”

I watched you play ‘The Universe is Drifting Apart’ on a Toad session. Who is this Toad and ,perhaps more importantly, do you have any ebow tips? I keep telling myself I need one.

“Toad = Matthew Young, and while I may be going out on a limb here, I’d say he’s the long legged mac daddy of the genre non-specific music scene in Edinburgh. My instinct is to say merely ‘the music scene in Edinburgh’ but that would be to ignore the existence of metal, jazz, hip hop and other stuff like that. And while some people would use the word ‘folk’ to describe stuff that Matthew’s label (Song by Toad Records) puts out, I’d say you can just about get away with ‘folky’, but calling it actual folk music would have The Corries turning in their graves. Actually they may not be dead yet, I dont know. So I’d say for that big part of music which is no particular genre other than, in the broad sense, pop music, as far as Edinburgh is concerned Matthew Toad is something of a leader. The Song by Toad blog is, along with Popcop, my first port of call. I dont know why the pair of them aren’t salaried journalists by now.

EBow tips…its very difficult not to sound cheesy, like Enya or something. If you want to make atmospheric celtic folk rock, its a godsend. But otherwise put loads of drive and delay and reverb on it and abuse your guitar, hoping for a morass of beautiful accidents.”

I don’t suppose you’d consider recycling ‘Universe’ for the second album? If you hadn’t already thought about it, no need to thank us.

“No we would not. We had not thought of it, and as you point out, no need to thank you.”

T&P

We were asked to describe the SF music scene, but I’m going to reflect on that a bit and include it later.

Mark Gardener

We intend to feature one favoured artist each month who is not Scottish. This interview comes courtesy of Pedro and his admiration of Ride.

Mark Gardener (of seminal Oxford sonic guitar pioneers, Ride) has been on the road lots over the past couple of months with the Upside Down and Anyone Can Play Guitar film/ documentaries. He was kind to answer some of our questions.

You’ve been busy mixing and producing a variety of bands and projects. What tips did you pick up from all the engineers and producers you recorded with over the years?

 ” I picked up different tips from different engineers and producers over this time. Everybody I worked with had different ideas and ways of doing things in order to try and get the best results out of their musicians. Ride were always pretty headstrong about how we wanted to sound and that we wanted it to be great and we worked hard on the songwriting as individuals and also as a band  so we never really worked with any producers who would have to pull all apart and start all again from scratch.  All the  producers we worked with used trusted and very good engineers so they could really concentrate on getting the best performance and takes out of the band. There’s loads of technical stuff to learn to become a great engineer and every studio is set up differently from the other so having great house engineers is essential so that you concentrate on the people and trying to get the best out of the people in what these days is always a pretty tight financial situation as there are not the budgets anymore to sit around and waste time in studios that are costing money. I always insist that a band is very well rehearsed and ready before we go into a studio situation and I will always try and set up in a live as possible way so that the responsibility of the take is shared between the band and the magic of the band is then hopefully captured. I also think it’s great if songs have been played live in front of an audience before they are recorded as this can tell a band lots about how a song is working or not before they get into the studio environment.  Being a singer I also make sure that the vocalist can also sing with the band during the takes and if possible have the good mic set up for this so he also has the possibility of capturing his good vocal take like this. In the end I think it’s really important whichever way you work that the general feeling of all the band and the environment is as relaxed and enjoyable as possible as power and great takes to me always come from this feeling in the room. During the recording process I will also try and keep managers and record companies away until all is recorded so there are as few distractions as possible. Every band is different so you have to be pretty adaptable to the differing needs of the people.”

“Moonlight Medicine” (from Carnival of Light) is one of the great opening tracks of my youth. I remember opening the cd at the mall and blasting it on a department store stereo because I didn’t have the patience to wait till I got home to listen to it. How was it working with two of the greats on that record, George Drakoulias and John Leckie?

   “George Drakoulias was great to meet and work with. I spent some good time with George hitting the record shops with him as we got to know each other before any work commenced buying  some of his essential listening material. Dusty in Memphis and the Stax box set springs to mind amongst a few others all of which are amazing dessert island disc records.

We recorded How Does IT Feel to Feel in LA with George in the end for Carnival Of Light and he also spent some great rehearsal time with us in our rehearsal rooms in Oxford when we were getting the songs together. We had all caught a strange sickness bug on the plane when we landed for the How Does It Feel recording sessions in LA so one by one thankfully after we had recorded the takes for How Does It Feel we all started dropping like flies and being sick. I then remember coming back to the studio when we had recovered and hearing the finished mixed takes and George had also put on some percussion and I was pretty blown away with his mix. Moonlight Medicine was then recorded at the legendary Sawmills Studios in Cornwall in England with John Leckie. I had written the song and had got it into pretty good shape so it was then just a case of playing it live as a band and getting that great take. I remember the Moonlight Medicine recording sessions very well and loved the feeling of recording that song together. The atmosphere was very smoky and that combined with the sawmills studio which sits next to a creek and estuary with the tidal waters flowing in and out of the creek which you could see out of the studio window which was the perfect place to record that song. It was a night time session which also fitted perfectly with the darkness of the song and I just remembered feeling totally lost in the music, sound and place. John Lord overdubbed his organ part at a later date at Abbey Road studios and along with the Tambora loop that I recorded separately for the track,  other than that the main track and instrumentation was all recorded through the night as a band live.

John was also a great guy to work with and also turned me on to some great music and albums during that session including the Dr John Gris Gris album and Alice Coltranes, Journey In Satchidananda album which again are total classics and I remember tripping out with him listening to these albums in the sawmills control room between Ride recording takes. John was a great vibe merchant who also understood the art of not overcooking and overdoing the work on the songs and with the people. Again we had spent time with John going over the tracks in rehearsals so we all knew what we were doing when we came to record them at the Sawmills which helped to make it a very enjoyable recording session. He also had a lot of random atmospheric sounds that he had recorded on his various world travels and some of them fitted very well as background atmospheric noise on tracks such as Birdman and before us for The Stone Roses “I wanna be Adored” intro.

Great Times !”

I’m interested in your expansion into experimental as well as incidental soundtrack music (Upside Down: The Story of Creation Records). What can we expect from your future solo work?

  ” Now I’ve got my studio up and running in Oxford  I’m a bit like the kid in the toyshop with lots of instruments , gear and sound sources so I think I’ll always keep the more experimental and hopefully interesting sounding music for future solo work and future soundtrack music work. I always wanted to get into soundtrack music as well as my solo and band work as I really enjoy playing different instruments and the challenge of making weird and wonderful sounds that sit and hopefully enhance the narrative and the vision of film. It’s been great to see the different reactions of people at various film festivals around the world in cinemas when they’ve been watching “Upside Down”. In a way when it’s right with soundtracks you don’t even notice them in the sense that you just feel yourself getting more involved in what you are watching and hearing. You are also never concerned with how you can play this music live as most of the time the music will not be played live so there are no restrictions.”

Any new bands you’ve come across that we should check out?

  “Well I’m off course biased with the bands I have been working with so do check out my recent mixing and production work on my site (www.markgardener.com) All are great !!!”

P&T

Kid Canaveral

I mistakenly assumed the Scottish Enlightenment’s debut’ St. Thomas was named after Aquinas. No more assumptions. Would you be so kind as to spell out the meaning of your debut full length ‘Shouting at Wildlife’.

“I’m afraid we’re going to keep a little bit of mystery. It’s the last three words of the last line on the LP, use the rest of the line it is in and draw your own conclusions.”

I identify all too well with the character in Smash Hits, can I call him a musical snob? Being based in SF, I know who Erase Errata is. Are you actual fans or is it just a musical reference because it flows so beautifully from your lips? Which Scottish bands make you smile?

“That song made a lot of people paranoid. I got an Erase Errata single around the time I was writing the song. They are a very different artistic and sonic prospect to McFly. It seemed like a good contrast at the time. And it has a lot of ‘R’s. As far as Scottish bands go, I’m looking forward to hearing the new Twilight Sad record, and I think that Cancel the Astronauts might actually finish their LP at some point soon, too. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the vinyl of the new Frightened Rabbit EP. I think the Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells album is bloody magnificent. It’s brilliant to have a new album from Martin John Henry, too as De Rosa were a band that meant an awful lot to me. Their set at their label’s Christmas show in 2007 was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.”

I‘ve just discovered the Pop Cop. I was especially drawn to the Christmas concert listings. I’ve always associated the season with the utter lack of U.K. shows here but never noticed how wonderful the holidays are musically over there. Are these shows different in any way compared to shows throughout the rest of the year? Do you have any plans to attend anyone else’s show?

” Our Christmas Baubles show is a bit different from normal shows because it’s our Christmas Party, too. We chance our collective arm and ask some of our favourite performers to come and do a turn and make it is as much of a friendly atmosphere as possible – tinsel, fairy lights, dancing, drinking and no religious iconography. The first year was brilliant and we had the pleasure of putting on ballboy, King Creosote, Come On Gang!, The Last Battle, Gummi Bako and Cancel the Astronauts. This year we’ve got Slow Club, comedy from Josie Long, Eagleowl, Standard Fare, Sweet Baboo, Martin John Henry, us, and two secret special guests that I think you’d be rather happy with. It’s on the 17th December at Summerhall in Edinburgh and it sold out a couple of weeks ago, which is very pleasing. I’ll be attending the Fence Records Christmas Party and the Song, By Toad Records Christmas Party. If it wasn’t the same night as ours I’d be heading to Glasgow for The Phantom Band’s Phantomime.”

My KC and the Canaverals split single just arrived. The joint song ‘A Homerun and a Vow’ is smashing. How was the collaboration handled? The B-side, your ‘Nowhere Near Half Done”, is as solid as ever. Is it indicative of what can be expected from the second record or do you have something completely different up your sleeves?

“Thanks for buying it. When we found out that we’d been asked to play at SxSW, Kenny asked us if we fancied doing some songs with him over there as he was going as well. We’d been given a setlist of some Creosote Hits to learn and he asked us to do a brand new composition with him. We recorded him playing it on his acoustic guitar on Kate’s phone and we wrote some more music around it and arranged it into a full band piece. ‘Nowhere Near Half Done’ was, at one point, the sound of a band under studio deadlines. We originally recorded it in a session in Manchester after throwing it together in 20 minutes beforehand. We’d been doing so many shows to promote the first record that we’d not had time to write anything. Kate had some lyrics and I had two different bits of music that I put together. I wasn’t satisfied with the first version, as it wasn’t really a finished song. We re-recorded it in Glasgow with Gal, who did our first record, at the same time as mixing ‘Homerun and a Vow’ and that is the much, much better and finished version that appears on the 7″. I’m not sure if it’s an indicator of the second record, it’s got a guitar sound similar to some of the other stuff we’ve recorded for the new album and the overt poppiness of some of the first. We’re not going completely different on album #2, but there’s no point in making the same record twice.”

How was the KC squared tour? Was there a stop that was exceptionally satisfying?

“It was excellent! Everyone had a great time. Personally, I’m finding it difficult to pick a favourite show. If pushed, I’d say either Inverness, Edinburgh or Newcastle. We played a looooong KC squared  in Inverness and it was our first time in Newcastle. The crowds were universally great. Actually, I always forget the last show of the tour, because it was also the Fence Records Hott Loggz Festival and that is a separate thing in my head. That was an incredible show. A properly triumphant and euphoric way to end the tour with renditions of ‘You Only Went Out to Get Drunk Last Night’, ‘Not One Bit Ashamed’, ‘Homeboy’ and ‘Twin Tub Twin’  by Kid Canaveral, The King Creosote Band and The Pictish Trail rounding off the night. I lost my voice in Aberdeen. That wasn’t ideal, but we just had a great show at The Tunnels in Aberdeen at the start of December, so I feel like I’ve made amends. It was the best tour I’ve been on.”

I know you made it to the last SXSW, with King Creosote as well. How was that experience? In particular how was the Scotland Rocks epicenter? Do you plan to come back and retake America on your own?

“We did come to America on our own. It just so happened that Kenny was going to SxSW, too and a few weeks before the festival he asked if we fancied backing him up at the Domino, and one of the Scottish, Showcases. We had our own shows in New York City prior to heading to Texas, and had 5 showcases as Kid Canaveral including the evening Showcasing Scotland Event. Our first stateside shows were an excellent experience and it really was fantastic playing in NY and at SxSW. We went down rather well with US audiences, so in 2012 we’ll hopefully be able to take up an offer to come back to the US that we had to turn down this autumn, due to UK commitments.”

What is your take on why Scottish music, overwhelmingly, rocks?

” It’s a dark, cold place for 7-8 months of every year. Scottish Summer lasts approximately 3 days. Music is something that is primarily done indoors, so there’s a lot of practicing.”

It is that time of year where everyone is reflecting on the year’s best. Do you have a most memorable ‘Kid Canaveral’ moment?

“There’ve been a lot of very memorable moments this year. It is impossible to pick only one… here is a list that is in no particular order:

1. Stepping on stage in Brooklyn, NY for our first North American show and wondering “how on earth do all these people know who we are?!” We were standing in front of a bigger crowd than we could draw in Aberdeen at that time.

2. Selling out of the original pressing of ‘Shouting at Wildlife’ – something which seemed a laughable notion when we were surrounded by dozens of boxes of CDs at the start.

3. Fulfilling a teenage dream and signing with Fence Records – not to mention them bringing out our album on Vinyl! VINYL!

4. Bloody well playing at SxSW.

5. Leading the crowd in a sing-along of ‘You Only Went Out to Get Drunk Last Night’ from the BBC Introducing Stage at T in the Park.

6. Playing to a 600 strong audience at Homegame this year and being able to hear a pin drop during our song ‘Her Hair Hangs Down’.

It’s been an amazing year.”

In terms of records, I’d probably have to go with ‘‘Everything’s Getting Older”. Has any record moved you enough to consider it one of the year’s best?

‘Everything’s Getting Older’ is stunning. I’ve got it on the 3 x LP vinyl edition, which is an aesthetic, aural and tactile delight! ‘David Comes Alive’ by Fucked Up is another album that I’ve really been enjoying this year. It really surprised me – it’s blended harcore punk with elements of indiepop. Magic. ‘Diamond Mine’ by King Creosote and Jon Hopkins is an incredible record, too. “Bats in the Attic” is my favourite song of the year, very closely followed by ‘Glasgow Jubilee’ by Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat. Oh, ‘Gabriel’ by Joe Goddard is a brilliant song, too, but there’s no album to go with that. And FOUND! Factorycraft by FOUND.”

Do you have a recommendation for someone we should definitely be looking for in the New Year?

“If you extend your gaze a little south of Scotland to Yorkshire, I’d reccommend that you check out Sheffield’s Standard Fare. They’re about to release their second album ‘Out of Sight, Out of Town’. Their debut album ‘The Noyelle Beat’ was my favourite record of 2010. I’ve heard the follow-up and it is most satisfying. Closer to home, I’d point you to our label – Fence Records – they’re starting to release a series of 7″ EPs starting with new material from Withered Hand. Very exciting. I feel like I’m a bit out of touch because I’ve been away from home a lot. I finally heard PAWS last night after lots of people had been raving about them. I’m into it. What I’ve heard sounds great, and I hear they’re into Built to Spill – you don’t get much cooler than Doug Martsch.”

Are there any additional details you would care to impart about the next record?

“It’s going to be a double album that will most likely be a cheap knock-off of both Black Sabbath’s ‘Masters of Reality’ and ‘Forever Your Girl’ by Paula Abdul. We set up in the AIA Town Hall in Anstruther over the weekend, to record some rough demos as we’re heading into the studio proper between Christmas and New Year for Album #2 Session #2. It’s all very exciting getting to work on new material. After this session we should have at least three songs close to completion. It’s definitely sounding a bit different from the first record already.

We’ll have a new single out in the Spring and the album will follow sometime in the Autumn.”

T&P

The aforementioned last line sounds like “We were so out of it last night, we were shouting at wildlife. “