I think I speak for countless fans that are overjoyed that you’ve decided to use the Mull Historical Society moniker again for this release. What prompted that decision?
“Basically I’ve returned to the MHS alter-ego because as I was recording the album it just sounded like it should be – and then while writing the album I walked into a shop to buy a hat in NYC and one of my MHS tunes came on! Also, while making it my first MHS album ‘Loss’ went gold, and it reminded me it was 10 years to the month of the new one coming out. All signs from somewhere?”
Though I am a little disappointed that the pledge music process didn’t result in the album directly, I’m more than happy that you’ve released the seven song sampler for pledgers to make up for the slight delay. One question: are you seriously not going to include “Not Today” on the full length? The song is so quintessentially MHS it strikes me as a shame not to.
” Yes I hope the Pledger’s understand – that is really important to me and I’ve been closely involved in communicating that. We sent them all those bonus tracks as a gift to go with it and the album will be with you all before Xmas! ‘Not Today’ is on the iTunes download of the album. As is ‘Who Would Have Known’. Hope that helps 🙂 But thanks.”
One quick MHS lyrical question: Why are your carrots frozen all over?
“‘The supermarket Strikes Back’ – yes it’s because this is the voice of the 24-hour supermarket owner who has put the shopkeeper in ‘Barcode Bypass’ off my first album out of business. Things are going wrong in his store as a result of his actions.The barcodes on the leeks no longer match, and the carrots are frozen all over. Next would probably be his wife…”
We had the good fortune to see you at the Café Du Nord here in San Francisco several years back. Despite the acoustic necessity, it was a most enjoyable evening. Do you have any recollections or anecdotes about that trip?
“Yes many, thanks and glad you enjoyed it. David Byrne turned up at my New York show, and then I had the best time flying to the West Coast and San Francisco, Seattle and LA. I remember the time in San Francisco involved a day off before the Cafe Du Nord show. It was my first time there. We got into a taxi with the tallest man driving I’ve ever seen, and he was sitting down. He was so large there was no seat behind him and he pretty much sat in the back… on his CD player was The Twilight Zone music. He drove us down one of these hills and I swear I thought he was going to keep going into the sea. Maybe he was Jaws out of James Bond? Then we went to a bar and there was a Harry Connick Jr type guy playing up above the bar, way up. We went up and did a tune – I’ve no idea what it was, too many cocktails later. A fun time, and I hope to come back.”
The end of show cover session was inspired. If you could cover any Scottish artist’s song what would it be?
“Belle & Sebastian – ‘It could have been a brilliant career’. It will change tomorow though …”
It has been over 10 years since the release of ‘Loss’. I just noticed that the new release date reflects this. Are there any other plans to mark this anniversary?
“Yes, I hope at the end of next year I’ll play some shows featuring each of my MHS albums in full each night. The album was a response to the death of my dad suddenly, so it really means a lot to me.”
How likely is a return to San Francisco?
“Very – I hope! If nothing else, to see if that taxi driver has grown… Oh and I forgot I’d booked a taxi (not him!) to take me to the Golden Gate Bridge pre-flight the next morning. And I slept in…”
I seriously considered buying your Dot during the pledge process. Had it not been for the exchange rate, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. Additionally, I had just picked up a ’92 Korean made Epi Sheraton 2 so that made me think about it three times. In the end I didn’t pull the trigger. What is your favourite guitar at the moment?
“That’s a nice sounding guitar. My current favourite is a mandolin I’ve just bought for the new upcoming shows. I’m going to thrash it through some tremelo and distortion pedals. My long-term fav is my USA original Tele – it’s my first guitar and my Dad carried it into Mull off a fishing boat above his head (he had to wade to the shore). Just as well it wasn’t plugged in…”
I read that “City Awakenings” is, in part, a tribute to Glasgow. Could you share some of your sentiments regarding it with us? As you can guess, it holds a fond place in our hearts as well.
” I bet. Well, it’s a great city. My home from home (Mull, the island, being home). I formed bands there, met musicians there, played football there, worked there, went to uni there, so it was a flood to my Hebridean senses – my songwriting really found its focus there and it reminds me of my other favourite city – New York.”