Posted in Bands We've Chatted With

Campfires in Winter: White Lights

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I quite like the single art work. Who designed it? Simplicity itself compared to a Biffy cover, but it is just as effective. Will the little campfire carry forward as a bit of branding?

“The artwork was designed by a friend of ours called Geo Chierchia (Eleven Eighty Seven). We had originally planned to do the artwork ourselves but asked Geo to design a poster for the gig. The idea he came back with was fantastic and we took the decision then to ask him to design the CD artwork too. I think we probably will continue to use the wee campfire, aye. It’s weird because one of the first things we decided when we chose our band name was that we could never use fire, campfires or winter on any artwork. And then when we saw Geo’s design we just thought fuck it, that looks really good.”

Not being a stranger to the band, I took a great interest in listening to ‘Cardboard Ships’. I was quite surprised by how much more I liked it than I remembered. I didn’t recall it being one of my favourites from the early recordings. I’d certainly think of it as one now. It is remarkable how nicely you’ve polished it up and given it a deeply moving new musical underpinning. Are there any other older songs that have been reworked?

Our songs are always developing really. We’re always looking for ways to make them better. Cardboard Ships was one of those ones that, when we listened back to it, we felt could be better. In fact, there was an acoustic version we recorded for a radio session once that this new version is actually based on. We just wanted to make something epic and beautiful (despite the dark subject matter) because we felt it was a good enough song. We are taking the same approach to a few older songs too, one of which is ‘They Looked Just Like Fallen Leaves‘. We’ll see how it all goes.”

The new single ‘White Lights’ seems to be richer and a little more musically diverse. Is it a good indicator of where your song writing is taking you?

“Lyrically, it’s a little more personal than much of our previous material. I feel that I’ve shied away from writing about personal stuff in the past and that, while I like writing about imaginary situations happening to imaginary characters and having those same characters appear over different songs, I should open up a little more. I think that’s something I’d like to carry on. Musically, it’s maybe a bit more poppy than we normally are – a bit ‘straighter’”

Is the single a solid step toward an upcoming full length? (please assure us that an updated version of ‘Before The Owl Will Fly’ will be there as well)

“Yep. The next step after this will be an EP in the autumn, then a full length album sometime next year. As for ‘Before The Owl Will Fly’, I certainly hope so”

What do you think of the new Fake Major single?

“I really like it. I was sorry to hear Endor had finished because I thought they released a really fantastic album and didn’t really get all the recognition they deserved for it. But aye, it’s great. It’s a bit more atmospheric than Endor, and kind of feels like how they might have progressed had the stayed together.”

Ever since starting up the vinyl collection again, quite a few 7” singles have travelled across the Atlantic. I was just looking at the stack of them and marveled how much more substantial (and artistic ) they were compared to CDs. Do you still buy them? If so, what were the last 2 or 3 you’ve picked up?

“I do indeed. In fact when it comes to new releases I try and go for vinyl over CD if the option is there. My last vinyl purchase was Frightened Rabbit’s Pedestrian Verse with the Dead Now 7”. Over the next few months I’m planning to look back at my CD collection and get some of my favourites on vinyl too.”

Right now advance copies of the single seem to be attached to the launch gig. What forms will it be available in after that?

“It’ll be available as a digital download and a limited run of CDs. No vinyl this time I’m afraid but hopefully we’ll get some of those done for a future release.”

 

 

The Campfires are pretty clear in stating who their influences are. Take a bit of Frightened Rabbit, a little Twilight Sad, and some of the more raucous potential of their own early demos and you’ll just begin to describe their sonic potential. Perhaps oddly, I’ve always been a little bit afraid that Campfires in Winter would be dismissively compared to them by ‘critics’ who then commit the additional sin of failing to appreciate the  warmth, depth and range to be found in their music. Obviously, the musical terrain they tread on is similar – To American ears it is almost stereotypically Scottish. But that’s the thing about stereotypes – they are exactly that for a reason.

It is almost impossible to grasp that the band is just releasing their debut single considering how good their demo catalogue is. A revamped version of ‘Cardboard Ships’ included on the single highlights the strength of their musical development. Editing this section queues the song in my mind and now I’m compelled to listen to it yet again.

 “We’ll get as far as we would in the sea on a cardboard ship as we would in the air on a paper plane trip”.  Soaring poignant vocals flowing on a low sonic wave that opens up to a beautiful mid song instrumental melody that ushers in the next vocal round before ending in a slow washed out organ (or whatever sound it is) fade. When done – it begs to be played again from the beginning. This is no B-side.

The actual single comes in two lengths – a full 6.04 and a 4:32 radio edit.

With the introductory musical paragraph of the longer version neatly truncated, the shorter version lunges into the vocals almost immediately. “It will take 3 parts liquid and 2 parts luck”. Radio friendly and possibly more engaging; I rather like having both included even though there is not much difference after that. Interestingly, the vocals have been confined to the first part of the song allowing the music and guitars to have more expression than ever before. Describing it won’t do it justice (at least by me) and to be honest it isn’t something you’ve not ‘heard’ before. It is, however, a song that is better than the sum of its parts.

My reaction to this single oddly mirrors my reaction to the new Frightened Rabbit record. For them it is a very positive course correction and for the Campfires it is the herald of a potentially incredible debut album to come. Hopefully they’ll go as far.

For a little extra treat, I came across this clip of this acapel-a-coustic version of ‘See Us There, Both.’and don’t forget to get the actual demo here.

(update) The video for ‘White Lights was released on March 4th, 2013.

(update) I’ll let you work out what a fish in a sub is — White Lights Acoustic

Thor

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Posted in Bands We've Chatted With

Iain Morrison

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My LP just arrived, completing an almost 3 week journey. I purposefully didn’t listen to the downloaded files as I wanted to hear it on the turntable first. Is it fair to assume that artists who release on vinyl tend to have an affinity for it as well?

“I guess so, we’ve been on the journey of seeing and hearing vinyl in the house when you were a kid and then to see it being replaced by minidisc/cd’s/downloads. It’s really nice to see it still surviving in some way through the years. It’s only recently that I’ve started buying more vinyl than cd’s but I’m enjoying music even more now and I’m looking for all the subtleties a bit more, maybe they call that getting old, not sure!!!:) My manager Rose, she owns a record store in Edinburgh  and they have just renovated the shop to have a vinyl only room, which is fantastic!” 

I do have 2 Crash My Model Car records, downloaded from emusic, but I didn’t initially delve deep enough to know who the band members were. It wasn’t until looking at your bandcamp page a few years ago that I put 2 and 2 together: or rather, as I said – “There’s Taketori!”   I was about to ask about its origin, but a quick internet search led to bamboo seeds and an author’s first name. Do you often derive inspiration for a song from literature?

“It was my good friend Daibhidh Martin who dreamed up the Taketori story. Daibhidh is a poet/storyteller from the Isle of Lewis and we have worked together for years culminating in the release of our album a couple of years ago, Haunted Bird! Books, folklore and stories are a big influence on my own writing though, the cycle of artists inspiring each other I guess.” 

I’m listening to Omu Prin’s Lament right now because I’ve become somewhat obsessed with trying to unravel this mysterious character. The video for ‘Homeward’ is tagged as being based on the Omu Prin story. A bit of research led me to getting the kindle version of ‘In the Year of Opened Doors’. I was hoping that it would reveal all, but I’m still left wondering. At this point, I’m inclined to conclude that the gentleman in the video is protraying Omu Prin himself. Am I wildly off the mark? 

“The gentleman in the video is the character of Omu and he’s played by one of my old teachers, Ken Inglis. It was Daibhidh who directed that video too. I’ve written about Omu Prin for years now, he’s travelled with me from the Crash days up until now which has been nice!”

Looking at the album credits, I see that Pete Harvey played cello. I’ll have to pull out “An Eagle to Saturn” afterwards. Are Leg working on or close to releasing a second record already? 

“Pete is the other person who has travelled with me from the Crash days and actually even before that. He is an amazing musician and seems to approach things with a blank page, which is always refreshing. The Leg have just finished a new record and I have heard bits of it, it sounds chaotically beautiful.” 

The new record does a have a slightly different tone than the last efforts. How much of that is attributable to the trip to Vermont?

“I suppose that is down to constantly growing and trying to get better at what you do. We’re always learning and I find that one of the exciting things about creating and recording music. If you have your eyes and ears open you will be taking things onboard as you go and I guess you get the focus a bit better each time you have a stab at it. Working with Michael, Rob and Geza in Vermont was amazing. It was such a beautiful space and they are people of depth and kindness so it was always going to be a positive experience. Michael has a very simple approach to recording, place the mics and then just play! We recorded it in Michael’s wooden house so there will definitely be a resonant tone from there.”

 How did growing up in the Isles shape your own musical sensibilities?

“Growing up on Island cut off from the rest of the world is a good start for sparking off the imagination so it has been a huge influence. The traditions & history, good & bad, have informed a lot of how and what I write. And wherever I end up staying I think it will always travel with me. Musically my father was a big influence as he taught me the pipes at a very early age, I was taught using a technique called ‘canntaireachd’ and I think this has influenced in some part the way I approach melody etc.” 

I see you that are playing in Aviemore this month. Having just completed the journey from Edinburgh to Inverness, in spirit at least, with Rebus, the name stands out. What towns and venues have you found the most interesting to play in?

“One that springs to mind was a show in Mary Kings Close which was a room in the hidden streets of Edinburgh, buried beneath the Royal Mile. They had never held a gig there before but myself and Daibhidh were asked to play for an Oxfam charity show. It was an amazing experience because of the atmosphere of the space and all the history that went with it.  Going home to Lewis to play is always nice, your home gig will always carry a lot of different vibes so I always look forward to that. I was on tour at the end of last year and the 2 gigs that come to mind are the Union Chapel in London and the The Lowry in Salford, both really beautiful spaces that carry a lot of energy, always great walking onto a stage when there is a natural vibe already happening.”

The art on your LP is rather nice. When I was young records were just taken for granted and now that I’ve started ‘collecting’ them again they have become truly special. Holding a CD cover is just not the same as grasping the more tactile LP jacket. Could you elaborate on the cover art’s origin and significance to the record?

“Cover art is important as it in some ways sums up a bit of the focus you are trying to get at, if that makes sense? I was introduced to Natalie Jones through a friend and I just really loved her vibe. What I did was just send Natalie a brief description of where my head was at and then let her just do her thing, which she did. It feels nice doing it this way as there is a collaborative thing that happens between the music and the art which takes on a new life.”

I have discovered literature through music before. It doesn’t happen often enough. A long time ago, listening to Johnny Clegg’s ‘Warsaw 1943’ led from sleeve notes to Czelaw Milosz’s ‘The Captive Mind’? Have you ever experienced such a journey?

“I was asking Michael one day in Vermont about his own songwriting, influences  and he got onto the subject of Paul Bowles and his books and I’m actually just reading The Sheltering Sky at the moment”

The album comes across as being particularly well suited to listening to on vinyl. I’m pleased with just how much warmer it sounds. The music seems even more focused and intimate than previous releases. Is there an overarching guiding principle behind it? To state it slightly differently, which side of the horizon does it focus on?

“I was keen to create a space in my head for this record and stick there, I guess being confident on one of the things that you do rather than throwing it all on the plate, if that makes sense?”

You’ve just recently released a new EP. Is a new full length something you are already considering? It would seem plausible that musically it might go in a slightly different direction. Any thoughts yet on what you’d like to do next?

“Yeh, not sure where it will all go from here. It’s the first time in a long time that I really feel there is a blank page. I have a few things ticking over in my head but I’m just going to take some time to see where things will go. Could be a while before I release anything else or who knows could be this year. We’ll see.”

Could you point us toward three essential Scottish artists anyone would be remiss to overlook?

Calamateur (aka Andrew Howie) , Lee Patterson and, although not Scottish, one artist who has influenced me from your side of the Atlantic is Matthew Ryan. His album ‘Concussion’ is my all time top 5! I worked for a very short spell in a venue in Glasgow where Matthew was playing, I was asked to do the merch stall and had the pleasure of hearing Matthew for the first time. There were about 15 people in the audience but it was something that still sticks with me.” 

Does this now mean that the Omu Prin story is complete?

“I think the Omu story will be ongoing”

Thor

Here is another excerpt from Daibhidh Martin’s short story Omu Prin and Me. If you feel the need (and you should) to watch Homeward again the following quote should set the table nicely:

He stopped walking and turned to face me. The way he looked at me as he began to speak was otherworldly. “It was the same year my wife and I were married, we had just built the house and we were looking forward. We were twenty three. She was swimming in the sea and was pulled out by a rip tide. For years, I wouldn’t set foot on the beach and then I remembered the sand castles. Every night since then I have come down to this beach and collected whatever washes ashore and used it to build my gates”

Homeward

 

Posted in glasGOwest

#biffy-behindthecover-opposites

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When the double album format was announced for Opposites, I thought of my favorites- like Blonde on Blonde or Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma- and how the artwork for these records is integral to the listening experience. Coincidentally, the artist for Ummagumma, Storm Thorgerson, created the concept for Opposites and his studio has come up with the artwork for all of Biffy’s releases going back to Puzzle. In my ongoing mission to champion the “behind the scenes” artists for the work they do, so all of us can enjoy a fuller listening experience, I present you…

Rupert Truman, photographer and jack-of-all trades, of StormStudios unveiling the meaning of life, death, and the album cover art.


Your work once again graces the cover of Scotland’s finest power trio, Biffy Clyro. How did the creative process begin for the concept of their first double album, Opposites? Does the band come to you with an idea? Are audio recordings sent to you ahead of time for feel?

We have been working with Biffy for a few years now, since ‘Puzzle’ in 2007, so it’s a natural continuation – we love what they do, and they seem to like what we do…  

Usually bands send us the music which we listen to ALOT and generate a bunch of ideas which we then present to the band.  We listened to this one as well…  Initially Storm and Pete travelled up to Scotland to meet Simon, James and Ben to talk about the album and bat around some ideas for the design work.  Pete took some pics of the band while he was up there. Later, Simon wrote to Storm –  apparently he’d had a dream about a ‘tree of life’.  Storm started to think about different kinds of trees, trees of life trees of death, trees of interconnectedness and trees of disconnection. Storm and Dan’s tree designs came from that line of inquiry. 

 Originally we shot mirrors, telephones and scissors. The telephones suggested life and interconnectedness, while the scissors implied cutting off things, so maybe disconnectedness and thus death. When we use mirrors they often suggested consciousness, self-reflection. The fact that mirrors reflect light, gives them something more in common with life rather than death.  I’m not entirely sure about the glass bones though, although surely they don’t symbolize the world of the living. They did make a lovely lively tinkling noise as they swung in the Icelandic breeze.

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The background locations also suggest a connection with the loose themes of life and death, one being arid and sterile looking, and the other being verdant with a gushing waterfall in the background. Life needs water.

Tell us about the creation of the cover art –  from photo shoot, to layout and collaboration with your fellow designers, Peter Curzon and Dan Abbot – to the final printing process.

“After coming up with the designs, with Dan making drawings or roughs as we call them, of what the image and its layout could be like, we wanted a couple of opposite locations.  We needed a barren landscape for the tree of death and a lush landscape for the tree of life – the home counties really wouldn’t do it.  We thought – ‘Iceland’.  So, after extensive research on the web, I was despatched with Jerry to go and have a look around.  We hired a 4×4 which allowed us to get off road and into the highlands.  We drove all the way around the island, and saw some beautiful things – from the biggest waterfall in Europe – the one in the beginning of Prometheus (awesome), to glaciers and icebergs, to volcanoes, hot springs and huge barren wastes.  A beautiful country.  This generated a shortlist of locations from which we chose a few areas.

 In the background, Storm and the band had been talking, and in the end the tree design was confirmed.

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 The next phase was to make the tree – Iceland is rather short of trees, so I employed my local chippy – Nick Baker – to make us the tree – we supplied him some rough sketches and told him how big it should be and he did the rest… I dropped by his workshop every day or two to check progress, but apart from a few minor alterations, it was spot on – a magical tree.  It came in bits in a huge unwieldy box which we took unannounced to Heathrow – that was fun, but after paying the excess, it was allowed on board the plane.  

 In Iceland, we strapped it to the roof of the car and headed off into the wilds.  We quickly bought some wheels for our box so we could get it in and out of hotels easily – a hugely important design upgrade…  We had a very clear idea where one of the locations would be, we wanted the waterfall in the background, so went and chatted up a local farmer who let us put our tree up in the garden of their house…  This was the tree of life in the vinyl version.  We managed to find two more locations for the tree of life just driving around, one of which is with a lake in the background in the CD package.

 In search of a location for the tree of death, we had a pretty good idea of where to go, and headed into the highlands. We shot it in three different locations I think, that were all pretty close together. There are large areas of barren desert there that were perfect for us.

 After we finished shooting, and had got our tree home in it’s box, it was the turn of Lee Baker to get to work retouching.  This was a lengthy process, especially the bent tree on the cover… Storm and Pete oversaw the retouching.

 We designed the CD package and the booklet inserted in it, the vinyls, the box set and all its inserts, posters etc etc. this was largely done by Silvia Ruga, with Peter Curzon overseeing the covers and all the typefaces (one of his specialities). He did endless layouts with things in different positions, trying out all sorts of typefaces (he makes them himself).”

Were there any significant changes made to the design along the way?

“Well, yes!  initially, the design was just for the two trees – the tree of life and the tree of death that are the vinyl covers and appear inside the CD package.  The label wanted something more, and after racking our brains for a bit we came up with the idea of a bent tree…  Frankly i thought it was a daft idea – just goes to show how wrong you can be – I now think it’s stunning – the piece de la resistance….”

Are there any hidden gems /references in the cover art that fans may not be aware of?

“There are certainly several things in the packaging that might not be picked up easily…  our images are rarely straightforward – they represent ideas, and that requires some thought and lateral thinking…  but I’ve explained alot of it already…”

You’ve worked alongside Storm Thorgerson, creator of numerous iconic album covers including Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, for the past 20 years. How do you keep his vision and legacy moving forward?

“As a team, we’ve been working together for several years now – we know how each other think – our respective strengths and weaknesses.  The way we work is well practiced.  The design team is strong – many of the ideas originate with Dan and Pete, and we develop them as a team.  Each job is necessarily treated differently and imagery arises spontaneously (with alot of hard work) that fits the particular band we are working for.  There’s not much thought of the legacy moving forward as such, we treat each job as unique when it comes along, with our shared vision.”

Storm’s philosophy of having the studio’s work presented in an informal fashion allowed for 2 pop up StormShops recently. How did they go? Any plans on invading America? San Francisco would be a much appreciated venue for one! Afterall, we are the mecca of rock poster art…

“The popup shops were an exciting experiment.  We don’t currently have any plans to do more – but you never know…  We already have strong links with the San Francisco Art Exchange on Geary Street – we’ve had 2 exhibitions there over recent years and Theron at SFAE continues to sell our work for us.  We’ve also recently exhibited in Chicago and LA…”

What can people expect on the merch table featuring your art for the upcoming Biffy tour?

“That’s down to 14th Floor I imagine…  I’d expect to see our imagery all over it!”

Your principal medium of photography has changed immensely over the last 20 years. In my (pre-photoshop) dark room Art School days, I recall the surreal photomontages of Jerry Uelsmann, as a focal point of study. Coincidentally, my own artwork has been an ongoing variation on photomontage for the past 10 years.  Who are some artists that have influenced you early on?

“Well… as a teenager, I was, in fact largely buying albums that had Hipgnosis images on the cover…  UFO, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Brand X, Led Zeppelin etc… they were the sleeves that interested me, and coincidentally had great music!  I love Cartier Bresson and had an interest in Ansel Adams.  Cartier Bresson has a wonderfully vibrant expression of life in his images…  I went on to develop an interest in architecture (my wife was an architectural journalist), and started my photographic career shooting architecture.  I think this comes across in my imagery with the studio – they are very matter of fact images of wierdness.  Up-front images of the impossible.”

It seems everyone is a “photographer” these days without knowing the history and nuances of the artform. With the ease of technology also brings some to discover or revisit what came before. We’ve seen it with the resurgence of film and vinyl. Did you foresee this happening in your field? I’m sure there were some dark days in the industry?

“I count myself as one of those who don’t know much of the history or nuances…  For years I purposely avoided looking at other people’s work – it clouds your own vision – and you can easily end up copying everyone else…  Photography has a language of it’s own, and either you speak it or you don’t… I was very lucky to learn alot from a talented friend – Tony May, who introduced me to Storm.  The pair of them showed me that anything is possible.  What you can do is only limited by your vision.  So, for example, Storm gave me a 35mm film camera and we shot a promo.  I also shot the Wish You Were Here film footage for the web film in the early days of streaming video. For the past year we’ve been making a documentary.  

 Having a science background helps me see the mechanics of photography as a means of achieving the image that we are aiming for.  A bunch of tools – camera, lights, props, location, models all come together – orchestrated to achieve our aim.  We as photographers and designers are part of that.  None of us on our own could make these images.  The magic is in the collaboration.  Our shared vision.

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 Going back to your question…  Yes, I agree – the ease of technology does allow people a whole new easy route to making great images.  My favorite camera right now is my iPhone, especially coupled with a few apps that make wonderful images in a few button clicks. It encourages play.  It’s about having fun – enjoying the image, exploring it, playing with it. I’m really enjoying an app called camera + at the moment…”

What was your first camera and what do you use currently?

“My first professional camera was a lovely wooden Wista 5″x4” field camera.  A beautiful thing that required you to look at the image upside down and back to front on a ground glass screen. It had to be on a tripod, and you needed a black cloth over your head to be able to see anything.  It was a very slow way of working, and as a result I quickly started to be able to visualise exactly where the camera needed to be without looking through it, developing a kind of three-dimensional view of things in my mind, being able to imagine shots from different places and on different lenses.  

As a teenager, my first camera was a Zenith E – a basic Russian camera.  Being fully manual, I quickly learned what apertures and shutter speeds do…  Professionally I’ve been using a Hasselblad to shoot for the studio for many years – it’s the natural format for the square of the vinyl cover.  When digital came along, I invested in a Phase One digital back for for the Hassel which is still serviceable.  I’ve now bought a Nikon D800E which is only just short of the Phase One in pixel count, but has many advantages over it – and it shoots good quality video”

A couple of years ago, the school I was teaching at still had a dark room, so I dug up my grandfather’s Nikon FM 2, a beauty with a 35-105 mm Nikkor Zoom plus an L37c 52 mm lens and hit the streets of NY for a crash course refresher with a great photographer, Mike Vorrasi. One of my favorite no nonsense blogs, KenRockwell.com gave me tips on film type, etc. It was like learning all over again-I had a blast. Any advice I can pass along to my students who may be interested in picking up a camera and pursuing a career?

“My advice is to just do what you enjoy – the passion will shine through if it’s there – and you allow it to shine!  Really dive into it.  Get Passionate! Have a Blast! Love what you are shooting!  For me, it’s about the image – it doesn’t matter really what you shoot it on – it’s a means to an end – a tool.  You need the right tool for the job, which is why I use good optics and high pixel count for the studios work.  Equally, I like lower res, gritty grainy stuff.  Look at the work of Cartier Bresson – gritty 35mm – often not quite sharp or with motion blur etc – yet fantastic images.  As I say, I love my iPhone.  I gather that there’s an award winning war photographer that covered the Libyan uprising on his iPhone…  

 Don’t get me wrong, I love the beautiful craftsmanship of a beautiful camera like a Leica, and I’d love a set of Zeiss primes for my Nikon – that’d give me great pleasure…  The romantic in me sees myself standing on rocky promontories with my old wooden Wista… I’d probably take the Nikon now…”

I received a beautiful book, Vivienne Maier: Street Photographer, this past Christmas from a good friend. There is nothing quite like the continuing and endless discovery of good art. Are there any artists( musical or visual or other) that we should check out?

“Ooh – that’s put me on the spot…  As I mentioned, I rarely look at the work of others…  

A couple of musicians – Marques Toliver – young black violinist – some real raw bluesy stuff from the heart – on youtube.  And a band called Unknown Mortal Orchestra that Dan went to see in Berlin last week – very good.  And we’ve just done the artwork for AP and the Heat’s debut EP – really rather good bleak punk psychadelia…”

Pedro

 

Posted in glasGOwest

Lonely Tourist

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The CD arrived about a week and a half ago and the postmark confirms that you are indeed based in Bristol. That might partially account for my having missed this release altogether. I don’t usually need a best of list to find music I like but there you were on Jockrock’s top 40. How did I miss a number a 3? Was there any noticeable uptick in sales? Have you ever discovered a band or artist in this fashion?

Definitely sold a few more because of review and press in Scotland.  There were plenty of artists on top 40 lists I hadn’t heard before and then listened to after I read them.

Blogging from afar, I’ve likely developed an overly romanticized view of the Scottish music scene. Is there a tangible difference between the local scene in Bristol and that of Glasgow?

“A bit. Tangible… in that there are more outdoor gigs in the summer because the weather is a bit better in Bristol. They both have good music scenes. Good in different ways. Glasgow’s is probably a lot bigger with more acts and great musical heritage… Bristol’s is probably more diverse in terms of genres having their own scenes. Loads of touring acts come to Bristol so you can see most acts that tour… same with Glasgow. Almost every wee town and village round the South West has some form of festival during the summer. I think that’s more down to the weather again.”

What’s the last Scottish act you’ve caught in Bristol?

“I supported Rachel Sermanni at the Thekla last october. She was great. I also went to see Twilight Sad at the Louisiana on their last tour (in fact, I’ve seen them every time they have played here since I’ve lived here… 4 or 5 times.)  Supporting R.M. Hubbert, Admiral Fallow and Malcolm Middleton were all great nights as well.” 

Even though we technically won’t feature them, do you have any local musical discoveries that you have made that you’d like to share? 

“Bristol acts – Poor Old Dogs, Scarlett Rascal, Locks, Minke Whales, I Am Horse, Clayton Blizzard, Gaz Brookfield, Chris Webb, Yes Rebels, Beau Ties and a band called The Bad Joke That Ended Well. There’s whole load of decent bands who look like they are going to do well. Idles, Velcro Hooks, St Pierre Snake Invasion. You can find some of them on youtube.”

I had not heard of Odeon Beat Club until I did a little research and I was immediately taken with ‘Being Realistic’. I couldn’t track down an actual CD, but I did find a digital copy of the record on Amazon. Are there any other Scottish bands from the ‘noughties’ that we probably overlooked and should investigate?

Viva Stereo, Uncle John and Whitelock, Popup, Sneak Attack Tigers.”

The opening track of the new record kicks off with, to my ears at least, a Sons and Daughters like vibe underscoring the notion that this release, unlike the last one, seems to strive for a fuller band sound. I’ve noticed a few blogs saying just how much it has ‘upped the game’. Do you think you’ve found a proper balance as a solo artist as opposed to being in a full time band?

“Nearly.  I probably should do more band gigs. I’ve been rehearsing with the band and we did a few gigs at xmas. We will do more ….but probably not as a week in week out gigging band. I can (and often do) play every night of the week on my own and I like that. If a gigs rubbish there will be another along in a couple of nights.”

The  track ‘A Lonely Tourist’ is especially infectious. “The trappings of youth are mostly gone, I’ve got vinyl collection to remind of where it’s gone”. Is your collection still intact or is the lyric merely an apt metaphor for the subject of the song? 

“Haha…it is a metaphor but… my vinyl is sitting in my mums loft like a time capsule. Still intact. I didn’t sell anything. A few more dodgy Riot Grrrl and Indie Dance singles than anyone needs. I only stopped buying vinyl around 1998.  But I’ve also got some good stuff. A picture disc copy of The Holy Bible by The Manic Street Preachers …say what you you like about what The Manics turned into later…. but that album is amazing. I’ve got a vinyl copy of Peng by Stereolab that I think is rare-ish. I tried to get it on CD and there aren’t many around. A Captain America 12′ that I played to death when I first got it. Then again, I’ve also got a copy of Star Fleet by Brian May. (I was only 13 when I bought it… so leave me alone!).”

While digging further, I noticed that OBC once played a show with Cooper Temple Clause. I had the ‘misfortune’ of seeing them live once. While I rather enjoyed their albums, the live effort was almost comical and I left after the 3rd song.  Fortunately I discovered the opening act Calla. I can’t help imagining that a few people had a similar experience with your show. What opening acts have you ‘discovered’? 

“I saw a Canadian act called Basia Bulat supporting Johnny Flynn. She was great (possibly better than the headliner). Honky Finger supporting Jim Jones Revue were the loudest thing I’d ever seen ever until Jim Jones played. They were louder.”

The closer ‘Viking Jazz’, an instrumental piece, that you yourself describe as “Mogwai type noise”. I can’t argue with the description. Can you share any thoughts about the musical direction for the next release?

“I don’t quite know yet. I’m trying to write and demo everything and see what is taking form –  possibily less acoustic guitar and more noise.”

I imagine there is a bit of interest back in Scotland to have you do some shows there? Any plans to do so?

“Yes. I will sort some gigs in Scotland soon… Possibly a festival too if it comes off. Open to offers as ever.”

Thor

Since sending these I realized that I had, in fact, mentally tucked away the first Lonely Tourist record planning to revisit it later. The problem with mental notes is pretty obvious, but I’m not sure why I originally felt the need to suspend judgment until later. Much of it has to do with my evident preference for full bands as opposed to singer song writers. I’d strongly suggest you get this as well. It is nicely priced and contains this gem Patron Saint Procrastinate. And as for the Manics, I maintain that ‘Life Blood’ is a nearly perfect musical inversion. Give me it over ‘Send Away the Tigers’ – the supposed comeback record – any day.

Posted in Bands We've Chatted With

Rose Parade

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The CD arrived today, and to demonstrate my gratitude I’ll hold off listening to the second Biffy LP to give it a proper listen or two. After all, it isn’t that long a drive back down the A77 from Kilmarnock down to Ayr. How far did you typically travel to play shows? Have any good stories? 

“That’s brilliant that you held of listening to the new Biffy record for ours! We are actually still based in Ayr but we play most gigs in Glasgow and other places usually an hour or a couple of hours away. Before Stuart joined the band we had to use public transport to travel to places and I remember once a couple of years ago we had a showcase sort of gig and all ticket sales went to a charity for kids, also Jim Gellatly was hosting it so it was quite an important gig for us. We had to get the train but we got stuck for about 2 hours because somebody committed suicide on the rail tracks. I remember that everyone on the train was moaning about being late & the amount of suicides that happen on the rail tracks between Irvine and Kilwinning, nobody seemed to care about the poor guy that just died.”

I had noticed Rose Parade previously and, intrigued, made a mental note to explore further. While I was deciding on whether to include you on our ‘roster’ you ended up contacting me first. By this point, the video for Grace had come out and any reluctance I might have had evaporated rather quickly. Where was the video filmed? Have you decided which song to use for the next one? 

“The Grace video was filmed down a dirty old basement in a clothes shop in Glasgow by Bella Rebel Media. They asked us what kind of video we wanted and I told them to make it look distressed. They were really good and found two locations to film in, so we chose one, went to it, rearranged some stuff and put up some lights. The basement was cold and massive. We kept investigating it and it just went on and on, which made for lots of different shots. It was a lot of fun filming as the team was made up of guys around our age. At one point they asked us to lie on a bunch of bin bags, which we thought was a bit weird but went along with it. However, it turned out great, the guys work ethic were superb and the video surpassed our high expectations. The next video will be for Sea Of Lights by our friend Martin Graham. We have other video plans too but we’ve got to keep people in suspense.”

I was just playing around with Google maps. Touring around Scotland, virtually, it is pretty evident how west coast bands would gravitate toward Glasgow and east coast bands to Edinburgh at the beginning of their careers. Does this account for any pronounced musical differences or is it purely a matter of distance? 

“I don’t think it’s to do with musical tastes rather than the musicians looking for opportunities. We love Ayr but you can’t keep asking the same people to go to the same venues all the time. So we’ve moved to playing different parts of Ayrshire and Glasgow just because it’s close and that’s where the majority of our fans are. Now the album is out, it’s time to spread further out, get heard in places we haven’t touched.”

Relatively speaking, the 13th Note is not too far away then. It is one of the first venues romanticized in song for me. Ever since I heard Kid Canaveral’s ‘Smash Hits’ I feel like I need to go there. For now, I’ll just have to imagine I’m at the launch. Since you’ll get these questions after the show, please let us know how it went. We want details. 

“The album launch was absolutely immense, the whole thing seems like a dream now. The 13th Note came about as a friend of ours wanted to start gigs there so we were the first of many hopefully. It was very intimate and kind of looked like the Grace video. It sold out 3 weeks prior to the gig, before some of our close friends had even got a ticket. There were people travelling from Liverpool, London and Greece who came to see us. The support acts were fantastic and the crowd were absolutely buzzing and full of energy all night. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Still a bit lost for words to give you finer details right now, sorry.”

If someone had not heard your music how would you describe it? 

“You often hear artists saying they hate to be labelled and categorized. It’s not that we do –  but even we struggle to pinpoint it ourselves. Someone said we were like Mumford and Sons on Prozac. Other descriptions have been country-tinged indie. I think the best way to describe it would be to take it apart. Pop vocals and glockenspiel, maybe dance bass and kick drum, folk acoustic instruments, rock-blues electric guitar. We all have different influences ranging from the Pixies, Fugazi, Slint to Bright eyes, Yo La Tengo, My Bloody Valentine, the Sound, Jawbreaker, Afghan Whigs , the Brian Jonestown Massacre etc etc. I could go on for ages listing all our influences, but I guess the important thing for us was to create something new and not pinpoint ourselves to a certain genre.”

I did come across a description of “whimsical pop”. I wouldn’t describe the album as pop and the whimsy seems almost entirely due to the unique, and rather inspired, pairing of the glockenspiel and banjo. How did that come about? Were there any less successful experiments? 

“Haha, not really any other experiments to be honest. The banjo came about because I like the sound so I bought a cheap one. Ed and I lived in a five-bedroom bedsit where people moved in and out of constantly, one of them left their glockenspiel. We also bought a cheap drumkit which turned out to be useless except the kick drum. The sound came from drunken jams of these instruments really. We had experimented in recording studios before we did many gigs adding things like full drumkits, cellos and pianos as you can hear from our first EP, but the more we gigged, the more we knew our sound and wanted to capture that live sound as close as we could in the album. By the way, we have upgraded all of our instruments.”

I’m going to list three songs. Could you try to describe and capture the heart of each one in exactly 3 words.

The Sea of Lights: summer, drifting, overcome

Closer: envy, tension, intoxication

Slide: despair, rebound, freedom

The thing I liked the most and didn’t expect was how much the banjo was used throughout the album.  This was satisfyingly effective. While it does not  dominate the record, the abundant banjo gave it a cohesion and a freshness that might not have been there otherwise if it was used more sparingly. Was that something conscious? 

“It came from the practices.  Ed had the banjo around his neck and a glockenspiel stick in his hand, if that’s what they’re called, to play the first few songs I had written. So when he was shown the new songs, he just stuck to playing those two instruments. We do like folk music so it’s important that the folk influence is still there in every song, without the banjo we would sound more like a straight up pop rock band without a drumkit.”

I just read about the Kitchen Sessions. Is that something you will continue? Any thoughts on who you would like to have come over in the future? 

“The kitchen sessions was a lot of fun and we do want to do it again. Our main focus for the last while was to get the album right. Schedules between artists, the director and ourselves often clashed so it became very difficult to organize routinely. We had a great time doing it. My girlfriend would make lovely spreads of food depending on the artist or the date and we got free entertainment in our very own kitchen. When we start it up again, we might rebrand it as a new thing as it will be a new kitchen and take it more seriously and professional. This time we plan on getting different genres other than acoustic acts like dance or rap. Some of the people that have shown an interest in playing in a new Kitchen Sessions are Trusty and the Foe and Anna Sweeney but there’s nothing confirmed or being done about this just yet.”

I’m intrigued by Ari’s coming to Scotland from abroad. Did that bring anything different or unique to musical table? What sorts of music did you listen to growing up back in Greece? 

“Yeah there’s not many Greek people about in Ayr – loads of them in Glasgow though –  students.. They all seem to come here and study and the fuck off back to the sun, as they can’t stand the freezing cold and rain. I love it though! I always used to come to Scotland on holiday. My mother is Irish and I’ve got a lot of family here. In my case, I came over to study for a couple of years but ended up staying for good! Athens was great for music actually and still is..I grew up listening to Brit pop and then punk and then indie & alternative. My friends use to run an indie record store in Athens so they introduced me to loads of music that I fell in love with  including: Jawbreaker, Slint, Afghan Whigs, Fugazi, Dinosaur Jr, Madrugada, My Bloody Valentine, and Bjm. I was also listening to loads of Swedish underground indie bands like Last Days of April.”

Are there any local bands you’d like to champion?

‘Little Fire, Trusty and the Foe, Anna Sweeney, Brave Young Red, The Imagineers, Matt Scott, Julia and the Doogans, Brown Bear & The Bandits & the one and only Paul McGranaghan.”

I noticed that one of your face book pictures had an envelope with Vic Galloway’s address on it. I like to think that our address was about to be penned next. How many did you actually send out? Who would you say a new band might covet a positive reception from the most? 

“We made 100 promos and sent them to magazines, papers, blogs, radio stations… We’re just improvising on how to do this, they were unsolicited so I couldn’t tell bands if it’s a good idea or not. However, we did get through to you. We like online blogs like yours –  so thank you very much for having us. We made this album on our own time and finances, no label behind us, no big approval from a man with an non-musical degree in a suit, just like you do your blog yourself, we did it with love and passion and not because we’re paid to do it. Obviously though, we were over-joyed to be played on BBC Radio 1 a year ago. We would love to get a feature in NME or Rolling Stone but those are very difficult to do without a man in a suit to solicit it.” 

I happen to have a woefully underused banjo sitting in the corner. Would you care to share the banjo chords for Grace? 

Tune it like the last four strings on a guitar and play the high open chord F, Am, G, F with a few twiddly bits. Is that helpful? 

Do think you could come up with something dark and melancholic using the banjo and glockenspiel? I’d actually like to hear that. 

“We do like darkness. It sounds like a plan. Our last track which is quite different to the rest of the album is quite dark and playing it live we use the glockenspiel. We’ve also started writing a new one with a slightly sinister banjo riff. It’s not that difficult to make something sweet become something sinister, how many horror movies have a child as a demon or a ghost?”

The second Biffy record is just going to have to wait until tomorrow and if there is any banjo on it, I will laugh at how ‘derivative’ of Rose Parade that is. When will the record be released? Where can people pick up a copy? 

That would be quite funny actually. I’m pretty sure Simon Neil lives very locally to us, seen him plenty of times, who knows he might have heard us jamming late one night and decided to stick some banjo in the new record. I doubt it though. The record will be officially available on the 18th of February 2013.  Hard copies will be available via our site and digital files via itunes, play, amazon and it will be up on Spotify as well. 

Thor

Posted in Bands We've Chatted With

Milwalkie

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Having to repeatedly force the search engine to accept Milwalkie as opposed to Milwaukie is enough to make me ask about the origin of the band name. Is it a good story?

“It’s kind of a funny one to me. When thinking about some names to put to all the songs we were recording, my brother and bassist Steve suggested that he liked the sound of the word Milwaukee. I said “yeah, that’s a cool sounding word”, but immediately in my head all I pictured was taking my dog (Millie/Mildog) for a walk – let’s take her for a Mil-walkie. I liked the idea of paying homage to my first and oldest dog, so that’s what we called ourselves.”

I confess that I was rather intrigued by the notion of a Scot-German band based in Berlin. How did you end up there? Are there any other musical expatriates we should be looking out for?

“Steve and I played in different bands for a few years and having sort of dropped the last one we were in, after just losing interest in the songs we were writing, we wanted a change of scenery and wanted to move  somewhere else. We actually almost moved to Leeds ( I know, why?), but then I took a short trip there, and although it’s a nice place I guess, I suddenly felt like the UK wasn’t the place for me any more. I said Steve, fuck it, let’s go somewhere cool. He said he’d been to Berlin in a trip and it was awesome; I had never been, but I said yeah – it does sound cool, let’s go!”

As for expats, actually there’s another guy from Aberdeen there, Chris Glen, who I was passed on to from a friend (admittedly never got round to meeting him), but he seems to be doing cool stuff – nice voice too.”

Where in Scotland did you grow up? What sorts of music would we have found in your collections?

“Steve and I grew up in Aberdeen and lived there until we moved to Germany. I was never actually musical as a kid until I was 15 and my brother went to a Biffy Clyro concert; I heard them and got obsessed instantly, bought my first guitar and started learning tabs to their songs. A couple of years later I was introduced to Death Cab For Cutie who undoubtedly have been and probably will always be my biggest musical influence – that lead into bands like The Shins, Rogue Wave, Nada Surf, Stapleton and lots more.”

I read somewhere that your previous band experiences in Scotland felt somewhat restricted by conventional expectations and labels. Has moving to Berlin helped you break through some of this?

“To be honest I’m not sure if that’s entirely true. A couple of years ago, I found myself in a point where I was so eager to please people and write pop songs that I hoped to be popular, that it became so evident in my songwriting and I think it was really bad for it. I don’t even know where that pressure came from, but it was that moment when I realized – what the fuck am I doing? I’m going to write music that I like, I don’t give a fuck if anyone else likes it – and that’s basically where the first Milwalkie album came from –  a batch of small experiments – probably the most fun that I’ve ever had writing music.

Unfortunately due to the cruelness of life, and the loss of Steve and I’s dad, Berlin hasn’t had a chance to make much of an impact yet because I ended up spending a lot of time between Berlin and back in Scotland visiting my dad when he was ill. That really explains why Milwalkie hasn’t managed to tour yet. There’s been a few unfortunate things happening to me over the past while, and I’ve been living back in Scotland for the past few months, spending more time with family and my girlfriend, but I feel things are getting back on track again, and I’m feeling a lot more positive and focused.”

Have you caught any Scottish acts in Berlin? If so what were the shows like?

I was absolutely gutted to have missed the Xcerts playing with Frank Turner, all great dudes and my bro told me it was a belter! 

What’s the last Scottish album you picked up?

To be honest, I haven’t picked up a Scottish album in ages! The last ones were probably ‘Yearlings’ by Dundee’s Pensioner and ‘Under Sleeping Waves’ by Happy Particles – both absolutely incredible albums from two of my favourite Scottish bands.

Just prior to being made aware of the band, I was reading about ‘Das Gift’, Barry Burn’s bar in Neukoelln. Shortly thereafter, I received January’s Skinny that happened to contain an article entitled “So, You Want to live in Berlin”. Strangely, the guide doesn’t really mention music. The article was even more amusing because I had just finished watching this quasi-parody against the influx of foreign residents to the neighbourhood and, in many respects, the advice given in the article underlined the ultimate intent of the video. As members of the “Kreative Klasse” what is the local music scene actually like there?

“Haha! That video is bizarre – the guys voice get’s pretty unbearable though! Some of the things he says are true though, and you do get those stereotypical types of cheesy expats, doing their best to appear as ‘Berlin’ as possible – but really, they’re not hurting anyone I guess – rather them than NEDs. I’m sure many people might have thought I was one of them.

As for the music scene, there’s a lot of house music and drum & base – and a lot of ‘arty’ music – there’s also a lot of absolute tripe though – stoners in dreadlocks putting their guitars through 40 pedals making a wall of noise which, is maybe fun to create if you’re knocked off your block – but sounds quite shit blasted out of a 20 watt valvestate amp.

Despite that, there are a few places where you can catch generally awesome bands – and it seems audiences are totally open to that, they just don’t seem to get enough of it.”

Outsmarting MBV by waiting a day, you just premiered (online) the video for ‘Back to the Snow’.  A bit softer of course, but in many ways, this song is rather complementary. Did you create the video yourselves or enlist some of your creative colleagues?

“I filmed the video myself with help from a good friend Rob Hill. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, I managed to get it very close to how I imagined it so yeah, ace-ic!”

The next track on the record, ‘Frozen Lake’, would very much appeal to a Happy Particles fan. In fact, I just had to restart it. As much as I like the new single this is the standout song for me. Would you be so kind as to provide a little more background for it?

” I don’t actually remember the recording process of that one as much, it seemed to form from nothing very quickly. The interesting thing about the Happy Particles comparison is that – I’m a huge fan of the Danish band Mew, and I always thought that HP must be influenced by them, so I’m intrigued if the likeness comes from a mutual passion for Mew – that would be cool.”

I do remember, however, one morning leaving my girlfriend and me asking her “what should I write about today, I fancy writing a song” – she said “write a winter song”. I think she was implying something more sweet and Fleet Foxes-esque, but what came out was a harsh story of someone ignoring someones advice, skating on some ice and coming close to death. I was very much in a Mew mood, and thought – I want it to suddenly explode – so that’s where the loud part come from. After that, I felt I didn’t want it to end and I still had more to say, so I made it kind of transform into another section and built it up again from there.”

One of the first songs I listened to, and the one that had me hooked, was ‘The Stamp Collector’ ( a B-side). I’m glad this version found its way on the album. There is such a relaxed beauty to all these songs. What is the typical song writing process like? 

“Actually, The Stamp Collector wasn’t originally on the album, but my bro insisted he loved it and that it had to be on it – at the time I was reluctant but now I can’t imagine it not being there.

My usual song writing process comes from me hammering away tons of shit at my guitar/keyboard/drums  until eventually a tiny sound comes out that I think “that sounds nice”, then usually the rest just comes quite quickly after that. I tend not to think to hard about things when i’m writing and just throw down lots of stuff and clear out any at the end that’s not needed. As for lyrics, much the same, a sentence will pop into my head and I’ll just go with it – it’s weird, sometimes for a good part of the writing I’ve got no idea what I’m actually writing about, but it always becomes clear at the end.”

It has been a pleasure to listen to the album in advance. Do you have a fixed release date yet? In what formats will it be available?

“We’re releasing it ourselves so there’s not really a definite or strict release date – but it’ll be online for people to stream very soon. Hopefully if we can afford it, we’ll buy a wee batch of vinyls – probably for my own enjoyment over anyone else’s – I guess people just listen digitally nowadays anyway.”

Understandably, much of my exposure to the band has come about via online video. I couldn’t let this cover of ‘Vienna’ pass without a mention. I am fascinated with the general love of this song having just recently heard it live for the first time and witnessed the crowd’s reaction to Midge Ure’s version – hands in the air, tears in their eyes, mouthing or singing “Vienna”. Don’t get me wrong – I love it too. It just has always struck me as incongruous that this central European city has such a worldwide resonance. What does Vienna mean to you? How about Bratislava?

“Amazing! I can’t believe you found that! We were wrecked one night at Sam Coleman’s house and thought, we need to do a Vienna cover – so voila! My singing is a little off I would say (I’m in the afro wig) but overall, a bloody good performance!

Vienna doesn’t really mean much at all to me, but Bratislava to me means my brother and I being robbed in our hostel a few years back whilst backpacking. That was scary night – my bro went with a couple of  non uniformed cops (who’s proof of actually being a cop was apparently a torch???). I was waiting for him in the hostel shitting myself, he said it was pretty rough at the station.”

One of the few German bands I like happens to be based in Berlin as well. Could you please find out what’s going on with Wir Sind Helden’ and let us know?

“I’ll get my brother on it!”

People should  judge for themselves, but I rather prefer Milwalkie’s Vienna.

Thor

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Posted in Bands We've Chatted With

IndianRedLopez

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I keep this basket of signed or otherwise personalized items including the cardboard CD mailer that ‘Open Your Lungs and Breathe’ was shipped in; which has a lovely sketch of the Golden Gate Bridge with a wee Nessie swimming below. As it turns out that sketch, predating our blog, was the spark that first had us envisioning creating a link between San Francisco and Scotland. Not only that, it was also the direct inspiration for our masthead logo. Long overdue thanks are in order. For whatever reason, I’ve never gotten around to including I/R/L on to the ‘roster’ of bands we champion.

Could you explain the band name origin or significance?

“I remember Dave (Our then singer, now guitarist) talking about how we should change things up with the band, the usual “what sort of music we could make?”, “how should we dress onstage?” etc blah. The usual types of things young bands traverse over. He had been talking about the film ‘Sleepers’ at rehearsal for ages, and when we finally sat down to watch it, the name just sort of popped out. We didn’t want a name that would allude to a particular type of music, and more one that well…just sounded odd, but intriguing, I guess. I’ve always thought about changing it, but just never got round to it. I suppose it’s the music we make that matters.”

Admittedly, I have not listened to the debut for a little while. Listening to it now, I’m struck by how much better it sounds than I seem to remember. I’ve spent a bit of time trying to figure out just why Scottish artists are so sonically appealing to me. For I/R/L, it seems to be the case of adding something uniquely yours while incorporating a good deal of what is going on around you. If the band were to have a mission statement what would it be?

“Where we’re from in Scotland (the North-east), plays an important part in what we write about. It always has been I suppose. The idea of home is a thread that seems to run through our functioning as a band, and it’s subsequent output.”

Who would you cite as your musical influences?

“I think all our tastes are quite eclectic, (yawn, I know) but I’ve found that just working with each other, separately, and then all together can been really inspiring. Two of us may meet up whilst others are unable, and can record the bones of ideas in an afternoon sometimes, and then bring to the rest of the guys that same evening. We’re enjoying the pace of things right now! I think it influences each other to have more confidence on material they might otherwise do on their own. I’ve been listening to Dutch Uncles a lot recently.”

Is the song ‘Break Us Both’ one of the songs that will end up on the next record? Do you have any other snippets floating around?

“Yeah, it was pretty much the catalyst for the rest of the material we’ve written for this record. It was written and demoed in 24 hours. We wanted to give ourselves a bit of pressure and write, or rather complete songs quicker, rather than stew over the details for months and months. It’s not a way we’ve worked before, so it was a healthy challenge for us to take on. This record will have much more of human rawness to it. We stuck a new one on a compilation CD a few months back. It was for a small label in Aberdeen called Fat Hippy Records. The rest will appear when the record is finished…”

Since I saw Midge Ure the other night, I’ll ask, if tasked to do so – what Ultravox cover would you do? 

“Dave would kill me if I didn’t say Vienna! He loves that song more than life. We lean towards The Blue Nile, so we’d happily cover ‘Tinsletown In The Rain’  instead!”

Apparently, Vic Galloway took notice of our blog about a month ago. I see that you were on his top 50 band list of 2010.  For a bit of fun, I looked up your pool from back in 2010: 

Miaoux Miaoux, Maple Leaves, French Wives, Pablo, RM Hubbert, Gogobot, Lord Cut Glass, Divorce, Indian Red Lopez, Copy Haho, Drums of Death.

Rather impressive company. Have you heard any of the other releases? If so, what did you think?

RM Hubbert we’ve bumped into a few times, and he’s amazing. Utterly amazing. He’s such a nice dude, and his latest record is still on my stereo. Miaoux Miaoux is also great. We’ve played with him on a few occasions, and he’s a lovely gent. ‘Autopilot’ is a track I listen to on a regular basis.”

What does IndianRedLopez hope to achieve in 2013?

“I think to just finish the new album and try to build a bigger machine to promote it as best we can. A few of us are getting married this year and we’re expecting our first Lopez baby in the summer so we’ll do as much as we can before that hits us. I’m really looking forward to getting the record done and released. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Apparently, Copy Haho are an Aberdeen band as well. My introduction to them came courtesy of the Sky Larkin bassist sporting one of their t-shirts at a SF show. Are there any other ‘local’ bands we should be looking out for? 

Yeah, Copy Haho were a great band. We were in the same class at Art School and I keep in touch with Joe. It’s sad that they aren’t still playing. There is a wealth of talent around our area that I feel don’t get the recognition they deserve. One of these is a band called Stanley. They mix orchestral arrangements and make grand pop music, and the singer sounds like Scott Walker. They are good friends of ours, and we owe a lot of what our band is now to them.”

Come to think of it, have you ever discovered a band from someone’s t-shirt?

“Hmmm, good question!”

I’ve written these questions rather quickly, on purpose, to break a bit of writer’s block on this end. How does the song writing process work in the band?

“See what you did there? Our process has largely been a collective effort in a sense that we all write parts that we may not necessarily end up playing live and vice versa. The bulk of the 1st album originated from us jamming for hours, but with the wonders of computers, these new songs have sprung from a snare sound, drumbeat or some fucked up synth noise. It’s amazing how quickly you can capture the essence of the idea and work into it. Things are somewhat more malleable too.”

Is there any truth to the ‘sophomore slump’?

“From where we sit, I think it’s difficult to just concentrate solely on writing constantly, due to the fact that we all have day jobs and other things going on but despite these things, we’ve written just over 75% of the album. This new method of working for us means we can have the bones of an idea much quicker than before, and there’s always something to bring to the table. Fingers crossed everything goes to plan.”

Finally, can we look forward to a release by year’s end?

“Most definitely.

Naturally our banner is currently in the shop so go and watch ‘Ropes‘.

Thor

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