I’ve had the EP ‘All That Glitters’ for a little bit now. Having to type in the song titles for iTunes illustrates the DIY nature of the release. Oddly, iTunes has added the following information to the lead off song ‘Surfacing’ –Album artist: Brian Eno with Jon Hopkins & Leo Abrahams. Album -Small Craft on a Milk Sea Disc 2. I’m sure you’ve had worse comparisons made by people who’ve actually listened to the music. Care to share any?
“In no particular order: Aerogramme, Flaming Lips, Teenage Fanclub, Elbow, The Blue Nile, Mogwai, Kraftwerk, Jane’s Addiction, NIN, Holy Fuck, Errors, LCD Soundsystem, Placebo, Santana. There are clearly some differences of opinion…”
Was the self-release born of conviction or necessity?
“We almost didn’t release All That Glitters. It was originally a full-length album but 6 of the tracks were binned and won’t see the light of day. By the time the record was finished (early in 2011) we had already written and were performing a good chunk of what will be the next release.
The encouraging thing was that folk seemed to like the singles from All That Glitters so we thought we would release something to tide people over until we got our album together. Self-releasing was a quick and simple way to get the tracks out there.”
As someone who has to deal with ‘Homework’ a good deal of the time – I have to ask why?
“My favourite dance record of all time and the only name that all four of us didn’t Danny Devito. It still sounds bigger and better than a lot of the stuff coming out now. It’s a unique sounding pop record.”
If I were to sort all the Scottish acts I like, I’d probably throw you in to the Song of Return, Indian Red Lopez, and North Atlantic Oscillation pile. Do you see yourselves as fitting into any genre? How would you say you ended up approaching things musically the way you do?
“Journalists & bloggers seem to enjoy creating new genres these days. Examples we’ve had so far include Witch House and ADD Art Rock. I’m not even sure what either of them mean but they seem to describe certain tracks of ours quite well. It’s more fun trying to exist in a few different genres.
I think when we first started out we were kind of stumbling around in the dark about with the electronica side of things. These days we seem to be hitting our stride a bit better and are definitely finding a way of working that suits us. The next record is already sounding more focused. Less is more.”
I imagine the previous sorting has something to do with the instrumentation. Do you have any specific approach of how you wield your electronic arsenal? I personally like how the synths seem to form the foundation for the music.
“The best thing about synths and effects etc is that new ideas can spring purely from a certain sounds or noises rather than just a set of chords. You can quite easily approach things from a different angle every time. The bass line in Why Oh Why was made by running a Moog Rogue that was kicking about the studio through a couple of delays and ring modulator. One of those happy accidents. Rich likes to mess about with acoustic drums trying to get electronic sounds. For example the snare sound on Talk Down is a splash cymbal on top of the snare. It quite common these days for a new finished track to sound completely different to the original idea. The important thing is that no matter how mental you go with sounds etc there is always a hook.”
I love the closer ‘Foil’. To these old ears – the background thumping is something from ‘Dazzleships’. At least until the soaring vocals kick in. Then again, earlier on, there was a brief moment in ‘Why Oh Why’ when I thought I might be hearing traces of Images in Vogue. Having dutifully sought out the comparisons, I’m happy to report that sound is sufficiently modern and your own. What vintage synths do you own or want to get your mitts on?
“We are starting to get into geek territory here. Luckily we as a band tend to have a lot of these conversations… Ross has got a Moog Little Phatty, Korg Electribe and some sort of Boss Sampler. I’ve got a Prophet 08, Juno 6, Mopho, Korg Microsampler, MC303. Ally has a fair amount of bass pedals including a Moog Freq Box. Which is pretty much a synth. I did have an SH101 but I swapped it with the synth player from Remember Remember for my Juno. Some of the sounds in the mini-album are from Reason.
I’d like a micromoog.?
I’ve watched ‘All I See’. Based on the single song and the fact that it is a live performance, it is a little difficult to gather the direction your new material is heading. Could you share your musical vision for the future?
“Hopefully the new stuff will jump out of the speakers a bit more. Some of it is also a fair bit darker. There are more grooves and less chords.”
Noticing you are playing (or rather played) with Dead Boy Robotics tonight. I’ve been meaning to check them out. How was it?
“Limbo was a great show. It’s always good to work with promoters who actually like the music and go out of their way to look after the bands and the audience. DBR have been on the go for about the same time as us and it’s good to see them doing well for themselves.”
Are there any other bands you have come across that have impressed you enough that you feel compelled to mention them?
We supported a Canadian band called Suuns last year. I thought they were excellent. Definitely trying to do something different and their album is great. Good banter as well. You mentioned NAO earlier they are a brilliant band. As were Mitchell Museum, Action Group and RBRBR – three bands who should have got more recognition. It’s good to hear that Call To Mind are rumoured to be working on new stuff and also that Bronto Skylift have some new material out this year.
I saw Remember Remember at Vic Galloway’s night in November and they were stunning live. Haven’t got round to listening to the new Errors album yet but looking forward to checking it out.”
In a way, we are trying to paint a picture of the Scottish music scene – or rather those parts that are most compelling – from some 5,000 miles away. What is your take on its vibrancy?
” I honestly can’t remember the scene being so diverse. It’s almost laughable how many good bands there are kicking about here at the moment. It’s also a crime that so many of these bands will end up splitting up without breaking out of Scotland.”