Posted in Bands We've Chatted With

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.”


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



Musically 'living' in Scotland

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