This is largely a video introduction to the band. The questions were written in a relatively short amount of time while awaiting the release of the official video for ‘Rubber’. It didn’t quite turn out as the experiment in internet immediacy that I hoped it would be, but it still stands on its own. After all, questions or not, there really is no substitute to hearing the music and seeing the band in action. In that sense, the sequence faithfully mirrors my own voyage of discovery.
I’ve been watching clips from a Montreal music show credited for being the prototype for both MTV and MuchMusic. This Simple Minds video caught my eye and I was fascinated by how things have not really changed all that much (with the exception of the internet – of course). As a young band trying to emerge from Scotland, what are the paths available today? Can London be bypassed completely?
“We’ve been to London once as a band and played a cool show and we’re hoping to go back for a week in the summer. It’s just such a big place that you could probably just go a tour of London on it’s own if you’re a smaller sized band trying to recruit fans. As far as trying to emerge from Scotland is concerned there are some great Scottish bands so it’s good to try and be different. Unless you get signed to Columbia after your first gig in Ivory Blacks then it’s just all about building hype and playing as many good shows as you can and building your fan base. We’re trying to build a reputation as a really tight band with good songs, that’s all you can do and hopefully the rest will follow.”
How does Pronto Mama utilize the internet to promote the band? Any ideas how to take this one step further? Incidentally, could you explain how you came up with the band name?
“When we first started out we didn’t have any money for decent recordings, so we got help from one of our mates and started doing acoustic videos to try and give people an idea of what we were going to do. Our mate has now started doing these kind of acoustic videos as a project called the BAAD Sessions and has his own youtube channel. If think we probably got a few fans out of doing that and got some folk interested. We also use the internet to distribute our music. We used a thing called Emu Bands to distribute our first E.P “Lickety Split” on the usual digital outlets.
The band name just came about from one of Rooney’s bosses telling him to do something quickly or “pronto mama” when he used to work on the roads. People say pronto in Glasgow meaning quickly, who knows why “mama” though.”
If you had to describe your music what would you say? More importantly, how would you characterize your musical aspirations?
“Our stuff is generally energetic and eclectic. We don’t have a specific genre that we want to assign ourselves to, so we just do what feels natural. Everyone in the band plays lots of different genres of music out of the band so this kind of overlaps with our tunes. I think everyone just wants to get better at their instruments individually then we’ll be tighter as a band and have more scope for arranging tunes.”
Watching some online videos I became increasingly impressed with the bands range. The more I discovered online the more I was able to get a better feel for it and enjoy the music. The video of this acoustic version of ‘Still Swimming’ provides a different window than the final recorded track. How does the band go about writing a song? Where are these acoustic sessions recorded?
“Someone generally comes into the studio with the bare bones of a track and we’ll play it a few times through so everyone can get the feel and the chord structure. Then it’s just about jamming it and creating your own part. Although you don’t really know a song till you’ve played it live and recorded it in my opinion.”
“Basically in our houses and out and about by our pal Paddy who does the BAAD sessions with a few mics and a camera.”
By the time I found the video for the debut single ‘Little Scheme’ and my desire to follow the band was firmly cemented. What’s the latest musical discovery that you’ve made?
“A band called Dutch Uncles are fantastic, I’ve been listening to their new single “flexxin” on repeat and the album’s not half bad either.”
Was the video for ‘One Trick Pony’ the only official one from the first EP?
“We did a video for Still Swimming as well but the acoustic version video seems to be preferred by folk for whatever reason.”
I’ve literally just found this ‘Oor Bitt’ alternate take on Still Swimming. Where was it performed and recorded? It is probably the loveliest thing I’ve seen yet.
“We put on a Christmas show in the Barras Art And Design Centre in Glasgow and that preview is the start of a different arrangement of that we did. Once again, it was recorded by one of our mates. It’s good tae have pals.”
How does the Chem 19 demo fund work? Could you tell us about the application process and your reactions when it was earned?
“I can’t really remember, our drummer just applied for it on the off chance and we managed to get it. I think they give it to a few bands every year and you get to record in Chem 19 which is a lovely studio for 3 days and then play a showcase gig. We were really pleased to get it as it gave us a real hand in making the EP.”
These questions were all written shortly before you officially released the new video for the song ‘Rubber‘. It was interesting to work my way up to the video instead of using it as a launching point for the post. When I first began streaming the song itself, it took me a little while to decide if it was really my cup tea. That is entirely due to my own issues. I occasionally fall prey to making decisions a little too quickly when considering a new band. Most of the time, 30 seconds is usually enough. Sometimes, I become too easily dismissive when considering music that is just outside of my usual, admittedly narrow, framework. I’m very glad I gave it a proper listen and explored even further. Not only am I rather fond of the material now, I’ve gained a heightened appreciation for the band’s depth, versatility and promise. I can’t wait to hear what comes next.
What is on the musical horizon?
“We’re doing a few headline gigs and are planning a tour of London in the summer and just want to get some good support slots. We’ve also just finished recording our second EP but we’re not sure when we want to bring it out.”
The video for ‘Rubber‘ just went live and having watched it I can report that, like the song itself, I enjoyed it very much. Not unlike the recent Fake Major video, you’ve chosen to ’employ’ young stars. How much did they get paid?
“Those two scallywags are Rooney’s two nephews and I think they were promised £20 but got paid in sweets and half an empire biscuit off the van. Not really fair, but at least they weren’t stitching trainers.”
Just two more. With each listen, my appreciation of Pronto Mama keeps getting deeper. – Sheep and Going Home