The blog has crossed some sort of threshold. We seem to have worked our way onto a list(s) of sorts and are starting to get some submissions. Yours was a very pleasant surprise. My initial reaction to listening to the first single ‘Zombies’ was fairly atypical – at 11 seconds in it was “Wow” and by the 20th second it was incontrovertible that I had to get the record and do a blog post. Usually I need to search for stuff this good and there it was in my inbox. I’m curious, how did you find glasGOwest?
“Well first of all thanks. We’re glad you enjoyed the track. We always try to do something a bit different and unexpected with our songs so we’re glad it caught your ear.
We came across your blog a few months ago after searching for some blogs on the internet, but haven’t had anything to send to you until now! This has changed now though as we have a lot of releases planned over the rest of the year.“
I then discovered that the pledge process was still ongoing. I just managed to get in on the top floor the day the project reached its goal. I wish one of the pledge music categories was Scottish indie. As a new and proud sponsor at the Ultimate Deep Red Sky Fan Pack level, I’m really looking forward to the vinyl. I sort of feel that there must be a net loss involved in that package somehow. Was the pledge drive mostly intended to help with the promotion?
“No, actually the Pledge Music campaign has been a valuable source of funding for us. The promotional advantages of the campaign were kind of a second thought. One of the main advantages of this type of campaign is that it allows us to get money from our fans up front so we can bulk buy all these lovely bits of merch everyone is waiting for. Pretty soon all these pieces of merch that we usually can’t afford will arrive and they will have already paid for themselves, which is quite a nice thought.”
‘Zombies’, on the surface is about, well zombies. I’m probably the most literal person in the world, so deconstructing these things proves difficult. Could you explain some of the subtext and intentions behind the song?
“The verses are about the bad things that can happen to you in life. Be it things people say to you or things just not going your way. The “zombies” are the people and the things that keep you down. This song is about two people looking out for each other through hard times and fighting against the “zombies”.
When is the official album release date? How much sooner might the pledgers be able to expect theirs?
“The album comes out on the 25th March. There, we said it. That means we have to stick to it. Up until now we have been deliberately keeping it vague so you kinda just landed an exclusive there. The pledgers are expected to get their stuff a week before that but we really want to show our appreciation to everyone who supported us so we’ll probably start sending things out the moment they arrive with us.”
I often ask about them, and certainly like reading about them, but what would you say is the real value in knowing a band’s musical influences? I’ve read, presumably penned by your selves, that they include Frightened Rabbit, Biffy Clyro and The Twilight Sad.
Influences are a bit of an arbitrary thing bands always seem to put in their bio’s but it gives people who come across you an idea of what your aiming for with your music.”
I have to confess that Frightened Rabbit did come to mind on the initial listen. However, I would characterize you as more laid back, focused and disciplined. Your use of the sound space is very subtle and effective. I’m really looking forward to the record. What other Scottish bands do you think helped shape your musical sensibilities?
“As we said, Twilight Sad are definitely up there! We played with them when we were under a different name a number of years back. They had this huge, spacious sound. I think we manage to do this at least a little in our own way now.
Biffy Clyro and Glasvegas are there as well, as their songs are so well-crafted. We spend a lot of time making sure we are happy with the structures of our songs, a lot of tinkering definitely goes on before we are happy putting something out there.”
I’m still getting used to the idea of ‘east’ and ‘west’ coast Scottish bands. Somewhere you are labeled as the former. Where is everyone from? Did geographic origin play any significant part in the band’s development?
“Well geographically we’re a mixed bunch. Jamie and Scott are Edinburgh (East Coast) born and bred while Jos comes from the borders and John comes from the tiny little village of Crawfordjohn which is lost in the very middle of Scotland but if you ask him he’s west coast and proud, despite having lived in Edinburgh for the past 6 years. Jesse on the other hand is an American from Buffalo NY. It’s hard to say how much geographic origin has influenced our music. There’s no doubt that the recent success of Scottish bands has influenced and inspired the whole music scene in the country so we would be naive to say it’s not had an effect on us. It could be argued that Scottish music has started to influence the rest of the world though. Jesse for example was a massive Frightened Rabbit fan even before she moved to Edinburgh.”
‘The Look on Your Face’ was tucked away on the pledge page. At first I thought it was on new record though now realize that it is in fact on the first EP. The ending on the song is excellent. So many bands seem to have forgotten how important that is. Could you share the TDRS philosophy on how to end a song properly?
“Finishing a song is a lot like making love to a beautiful woman, when it’s going to finish you better let the neighbours know about it. Hmm, can you post that??
We like the builds in our music and having the big pay-off at the end, be that a loud break or a catchy chorus. Most of our songs then tend to wind down after that, a bit like a storm hitting, I guess. The storm doesn’t immediately end after its biggest bit, it has to wind down too.
“Look On Your Face” does this, but it also pretty much starts and ends at the same place. This goes with the sentiment of the words really. Things might be hard right now, but things aren’t going to stop around you. For good or bad, you have to just keep going and, you know, try make the best of it.
‘Look On Your Face’ will actually be included on the new album too, but it will be an all new recording featuring Jos and Jesse who both hadn’t joined the band when we recorded the first EP.”
What releases (Scottish – of course) are you most looking forward to this year?
” The release we’re actually looking forward to most this year is our friends Hagana’s album. David Chisholm of Hagana has done a massive amount of work producing our album which has sometimes got in the way of him working on his own album so it’s going to be great to see them finally release it. Hagana are a totally different style from us, up tempo riff driven 3 piece rock, but we’re all fans. It always bemuses us why they aren’t already huge.”
Our early posts contained an occasional non-Scot band. In the beginning we had no idea how receptive and open you lot would be and we feared we couldn’t generate enough content. Admittedly, it is a little bit of an angle – a blog daft enough to try and cover the Scottish music scene from abroad. But in reality, it is a reflection of my personal taste. There are so many past, current and up and coming bands to cover that at times it seems overwhelming. What do you think accounts for this prodigious Scottish musical output?
“Two things; the scenery and the weather. Scotland is such a beautiful, inspiring place to live. There is so much space and beautiful things to look at in our country, and I think you can hear this space and beauty in a lot of Scottish music currently. It is seems to be very popular with people across the planet.
The terrible weather adds enough melancholy to the mix, and obviously the time having to be spent in doors so we can get the tunes written!
This was quite a hard question to answer as we’re on the inside looking out. We are a small nation though, and it gives you a sense of pride to see our wee nation mixing it with the rest. Maybe it’s also because we’re so bad at football these days that we’ve focussed our efforts elsewhere?“
Apparently, you are ‘big’ in Eastern Europe. Could you share an anecdote or two about your experiences playing there?
“Haha yes, the tour of Eastern Europe was a pretty amazing experience. We had no idea what to expect and that was probably a good thing. Our first night we ended up playing at and sleeping at a venue named Rog which turned out to be a squat set up in a disused factory in the middle of Ljubljana. You haven’t really experienced roughing it on a tour until you’ve woke up on your mattress on the floor to see that it’s started snowing through the window that doesn’t have any glass in it.
We couldn’t mention our Eastern European tour without mentioning Ljutomer in Slovenia though. This place was tiny but the whole town made us feel like super stars. Our posters seemed to be up everywhere and when we arrived at the venue we found they were holding a ‘whiskey night’ to celebrate the fact they had a Scottish band playing. The people there really know how to have a good time and it seems like pretty much everyone owns a vineyard and insists on you drinking their wine for free. We have so many friends in Ljutomer now, we would love to make it back over for a gig sometime.”
Could you give us a tip for an upcoming band or two we should keep our ears open for?
“Well we mentioned Hagana earlier on so check them out. The Red Show, a Glasgow band who will be joining us for both our Edinburgh launch night and Glasgow tour date have their own album coming out this year too which isn’t finished yet but from what we’ve heard of it, it’s going to be pretty special.”
Have you established an album release show yet and what is planned after that?
“Yes. The album launch night is going to be at Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh on the 23rd of March. After that we are doing a tour that will take us around the UK. We’re hoping to announce the dates at the end of the month once we have all the details ironed out but right now it’s looking like at least a 10 date tour that will see us playing a lot of cities for the first time. So we really can’t wait to get out on the road!”
Listen for yourselves: Not literally about Zombies Afterall