Kid Canaveral: Now That You Are A Dancer

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While there are a least a 1000 words in this picture, I’m going to simply leave it as the decision to continue with the blog has been made -scaled back, more personal, and without the illusions of reaching a wider audience. The last 2 months have been spent listening to music, often with guitar in hand, instead of worrying about what the next post will be. These answers, temporarily lost in the send folder, arrived the other day and cemented the tentative decision to continue. The hulking shadow of the first record probably accounts for the 9/10, perhaps it lost a point because there is no wildlife on the cover this time. It is an impressive second record and I can’t wait to hold the 3rd LP in my hands.

Watching the recently released video for lead track ‘The Wrench’ had me thinking about cover art, the creative process and whether the video in any way mirrored the song writing process in Kid Canaveral. Was there any difference in the song writing process this time around? 

David: The song writing was done over a much shorter period of time. All of the ideas were put together within about four or five months from notes and short recordings made during the promotion of our first record. I think it was easier for me, this time because I approached it with more (or any) confidence. It didn’t feel as uncomfortable to allow myself the notion that I might be a songwriter.

 Kate: I’m still not sure I feel like a proper songwriter to be honest but I think there was definitely a bit more confidence there to try things out and maybe not be quite as quick to dismiss something that maybe just needed more work and more developing.

Your album cover is quite interesting. While watching the video, I couldn’t help thinking that it was an album cover being painted. Who did this cover? Could you explain the idea or concept behind it? How does it encapsulate the record as a whole?

David : The very talented artist Eve McConnachie does our artwork. Rose actually painted the mural in the video. The arms are embraced in a dance. There’s a lot of references to dancing, literal and otherwise, on the record.

What are some of your favourite albums covers?

Kate: I guess it’s a bit predictable but I think Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures is amazing. I like covers that stand up in their own right as a piece of artwork. It’s definitely something your album can get judged on so getting the artwork right was a really important part of the process for us.

The album’s vinyl version had a slight delay. I take this as a hopeful sign that the demand for vinyl is actually increasing thereby taxing the existing manufacturers’ capacities. Wishful thinking?

David : We got caught up in record store day delays.

Kate: I don’t think it’s wishful thinking. There’s no doubt that more and more people are getting back into vinyl, or even getting into vinyl for the first time. I work in a second hand record shop and have done on and off for a few years. It’s definitely been noticeable how many more young people are interested compared to even 3 or 4 years ago. Shame the majority just seem to want Dark Side of the Moon, Sgt Pepper and Rumours though…

This live version of the new song ‘Who Would Want to Be Loved’ addresses the age old problem of whether or not to apply stickers to one’s guitar. Guitar strap badges are such an obvious solution! I can’t make them out though, what were some of them?

David: Let me think… My guitar is in transit to the BBC for a session tonight, so I’ll need to this from memory. There is a Come On Gang! Badge; a Meursault badge; a Withered Hand Badge; a ‘Love Music Hate Racism’ badge; there is a badge that says ‘David’ on it that Kate got me from a charity shop; there is a badge that has a map with my current neighbourhood on it; and an Is This Music? Magazine badge. I couldn’t bring myself to put stickers on my Tele.

Breaking Up is the New Getting Married” seems to have a little bit of an early Wedding Present vibe to it. More specifically, I think it is representative of a slightly more aggressive guitar sound throughout the record. Is this a natural development due to your growing musical finesse or more of a deliberate decision?

David : When we were recording that song Gal, our engineer, asked if we wanted him to make it less abrasive. I think he was pretty happy when we said “No”.

Kate: We’re definitely more adventurous and more adept on this record. It feels like we were still learning to play a bit with Shouting at Wildlife.

The band’s male/female balance, while not unprecedented, is nevertheless fairly unique. Has that had an impact on the song writing? One of my favourite tracks is ‘Skeletons’. It has the faint echoes of a Lush song; something seriously missed these days. Are all the songs sung by Kate written by her separately?

David : On this album, whoever sings the lead vocal has written the song.

Kate: Yep, the songs are written separately and then we come together, as a four piece, to make them into a proper Kid Canaveral tune. Skeletons was a bit different because most of the fleshing out was done in the studio rather than the practice room. I went in with the chords and the vocal melody and we really had no idea where it was going to go or if it was even going to work on the album. Gal really helped shape the direction it went in.

Velocity Girl also comes to mind (and I have just learned that the name was culled from a Primal Scream B-side) It is easy to forget how different they were from most of their 90s American contemporaries. In terms of their brilliantly melodic songs, I can certainly place KC in that tradition. Would you consider writing an alternating female-male voiced song or is that something you’ve purposefully avoided?

David: Do you mean like a duet? That’s not something that I’m sure would suit us. ‘Who’s Looking at You, Anyway?’ has maybe a 70% me/30% Kate and Rose vocal split.

The “Who’s looking at you Anyway” spoken word backing part sounds so familiar but I can’t place it and it is driving me nuts. It sounds oddly Joe Strummer like, but I just can’t figure it out where, or even if, I’ve heard it before. What is the source?

David: It’s not Joe. I’m afraid I can’t reveal the source of the voice to you.

Thank you so much for your part in organizing the photo from the March 16 show in Dundee. The unintentionally washed out piece of paper has provided much post editing amusement for my desktop background. Assuming you read them, are you pleased with the general reception and reviews for the new record? Is there one you think really ‘got it’?

David: You’re very welcome. I know we shouldn’t read reviews, really, but I do. I’ve been very happy with the reviews that we’ve had for the new record but it’s important that we don’t get carried away with all the positive press, because if you attach too much importance to the good reviews then a bad one will floor you. Every good review for us is a real help at the stage our band is at. One very prominent slating could be very damaging, but ultimately if we’re happy with what we’re producing and people still want to see us, that’s what’s important. I think they’ve all ‘got it’ to some extent, yes. We’ve all grown up in each other’s company in this band. I’ve known Scott and Kate for 10 years, now, and Rose since we were at School. A lot of people have noted that it’s an album about progressing through you 20s. About realisations and disappointment; borderline alcoholism and heartbreak.

Many bands would be content to make a song from the secondary guitar bits in ‘Low Winter Sun’ alone. (and they’d have a pretty good song on their hands) The beauty of the new songs seems to be just how much more is brought into the mix and lovingly crafted into something special. Did the recording process differ for the second release from the first?

David: Thank you! That’s very kind. It was recorded over a shorter period of time. Also, I was definitely more adventurous in the studio. We all were. We’re all better musicians and we approached the recording sessions with more confidence and more of a sense of adventure. I didn’t feel as self-conscious about trying things this time. Also, I bought an excellent reverb pedal.

Kate: I think it helped that the four of us had been playing and gigging together for quite a sustained and intense period before we went in to record the album too. It made everything a bit more coherent and free flowing I guess.

I hadn’t realized David was from Glasgow (see press release!) Chemikal Underground to Fence records has partially mirrored my own musical voyage of discovery. I just re-read our last feature on KC and it obviously captured you at a very good and exciting moment in time. This is the first full length released completely underneath the Fence umbrella. Is it all you hoped to be or have you started to notice any leaks? 

David: Rose and me are both from Glasgow, and Scott is from Girvan in Ayrshire, not far south of Glasgow. Kate is from Wokingham, not far south of Scotland, really. When you interviewed us last time, we’d just finished the busiest and best year of our musical lives. It’s been great to have Fence to work with on this one. They’ve helped us at every stage after the songwriting. The good ship Fence has a sound hull.

I was looking at the lineup you were part of at the recent ‘Wales Goes Pop’ event; tucked between the Onions and a Big Wave. Those other bands were all so ‘poppy’. How was the experience? (I honestly don’t think of KC as a ‘pop band’)

David: Wales Goes Pop! Was a great experience. A really fun gig. Why do you not consider us a pop band? I know we’re quite noisy, but we still write pop songs.

Kate: I would definitely consider us a pop band.

David: It’s difficult to label yourself. People are always wanting to have a one or two word genre to describe you. We get sold under the Indiepop banner a lot, but I’m not sure that we properly fit in that genre, really. I used to want to just sound like Mogwai. It’s not really worked out.

You went back to Wales in early May for a comedy festival. Career change? Can you share a few jokes from the routine? There was a rather impressive line-up of free music being offered up by Fence. Is this the first time for this type of cross promotion? 

David: My jokes are all improv. And ill-advised.

Kate: I let David tell all the jokes.

David: This idea came from Johnny (Lynch – the Pictish Trail/Fence Head Honcho) going on tour with the comedian/writer Josie Long a couple of years ago – actually was it 2009? Connections and friendships were made in comedy circles on those 40 or so shows, I suppose. I also supported Josie at a couple of her tour shows last year. Most people don’t find music prior to a comedy show too jarring, in my experience.

The album launch was a few months ago. Like most album launches we wish we could have been a part of, we are resigned to asking how it went?

David : The two nights at The Glad Café in Glasgow were excellent. We wanted to do something intimate and a bit special. The venue attached to The Glad Café only holds 120 folk but it is a really nice space, so that’s why we did two nights there. In hindsight we could probably have done 3, but I think that keeping it to 2 retained some magic? I’m in danger of disappearing up my own arse. We had soundman extraordinaire Tim Matthew looking after us, too, so I think the whole thing went according to plan. I’ll not forget those shows in a hurry. The London album launch was a lot of fun as well.

Kate: It was the first time ever I was able to make a “SOLD OUT EXTRA DATE ADDED” poster and it felt pretty awesome.

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