October 25, 2011

This week we’re running a competition for you to win tickets to Creatures of the Night, a Halloween themed street party in Ashton Lane. It’s being put on by Miller Genuine Draft and taking place this Saturday, with a host of musical talent on show, including Foals, who will be DJing. We had the quickest of the quick chats with the band’s keyboard player Edwin Congreave ahead of their journey north of the border to find out more.

Are you pleased to be coming back to Scotland? Is it a place that holds many memories for you?

I love coming up to Scotland, it’s a fantastic place. My sister actually lives in Glasgow, so it’s especially nice to be up there as it means I get to see her.

What sort of tunes should the punters expect in your DJ set?

They can expect a complete mixture. I’m a massive underground house fan, so will definitely be throwing a few tracks into the mix, as well as some more mainstream, recognisable tracks – I might even throw in a bit of MJ on the night.

Halloween is a’coming – will you be dressing up for your set?

I’ve only ever dressed up once in my entire life, and won’t be repeating that mistake again. That said, I might think about wearing a wig from the set…

What’s your favourite Halloween memory?

I grew up in a very religious family, so we didn’t celebrate Halloween when I was growing up. It’s only as I got older that I really started to go out and make the most of Halloween. I’m sure ‘Creatures of the Night’ will be a night to remember!

Veronica Falls

October 18, 2011

VERONICA FALLS/Captain’s Rest, Glasgow/22.10.11

You’re playing in Glasgow on 22 October. Why should people come down and check you out?

(Patrick Doyle, drums): Because otherwise the show will be empty and nobody wants that, do they?

Why is your live show better than anyone else’s?

I never said it was! But it probably is…

You’ve got strong links with Scotland, with half the band originally from Glasgow, before moving to London. How much of Scotland do you think comes through in your music?

I think any influences that come out in music are only ever subconscious, so it’s kind of impossible to say. But I know that I’m personally influenced by a lot of Scottish music, so hopefully some of it comes out in our music.

What is the best time of the day to listen to Veronica Falls?

At night, in the dark, in a club, hopefully with a smoke machine in full blaze.

You recently released your self-titled debut album. Have you been pleased with music critics’ response to it?

I haven’t had a chance to read much of it as we’ve been on the road for the last few weeks, but maybe that’s a good thing. I tend to read too much into reviews sometimes, which can be pretty unhelpful.

What’s 2012 got in store for Veronica Falls?

Shoulder length hair, hopefully.

And finally – Veronica falls over on the street. Do you help her up?

Absolutely not.

Numbers and Letters

October 11, 2011

Numbers and Letters: Life’s a picnic

NUMBERS AND LETTERS/Various venues across Scotland/11 Oct – 16 Oct

You’re playing a number of shows in Scotland this week. Why should people come down and check you out?

(Katie Hasty, frontlady): This is Numbers And Letters‘ overseas debut, so we’re beyond excited and I think it will show. We are debuting T-shirts, which we’ve never done before; we also have a pay-what-you-want CD model, so you can get a CD for free. But importantly, we fancy ourselves as people persons – we like to talk to the audience, before during and after. The tunes are assorted, so like them as you will; but we’ll clink your glass afterward regardless. James Apollo is also threatening to tear off his shirt mid-song.

Is Scotland a place that holds many memories for you?

It does. I studied at the University of Edinburgh for a number of months during the fall and winter of 2003, when I was 20. While I don’t remember much ‘studying’, I was formally introduced to scotch and varietal gin. People here are incredibly friendly, they like talking about where they’re from. I also remember war protests and the Isle of Skye very keenly.

Are Numbers and Letters best heard live, or on record?

Our upcoming full-length recording is going to be phenomenal, but I write a lot of songs that involve death, water and death by water. So listening to the album is – forgive the pun – more fully immersive. Live, we play those same songs but between them I take time out to make fun of such seriousness.

You’ve got Admiral Fallow’s Joe Rattray on bass for the tour. How did that come about?

We shared a bill with Admiral Fallow when they made their way through New York, and it was just one big fat love-in. I just love their album so much. Their manager has been an incredible force in helping to get us over here, and Joe’s playing made such an impression. We’re very lucky to have him on.

You also let people have your CDs for free. Is that a good business model?

For immediate return: certainly not. But I’d rather people hear our music and pay nothing than having the cost of a CD barring them from checking it out. We’ve allowed people to pay what they want for more than 800 CDs now; I hand-make every cover for more production value, to have a connection to the physical object. The music ‘business’ has lost that lovin’ feeling, so I like to bring it back in a teeny, tiny way. And I hope when we finish our album, folks will come back around, and that’s where the ‘model’ works.

Outside of the band, you’re a music journalist. Ignoring any nepotism, how would you critique your music in one sentence?

Numbers And Letters has a nice, neutral name.’

And finally, what are best – letters or numbers?

I’m a numbers kind of girl, myself. Preferably 4 and 7.

Young Legionnaire

October 4, 2011

Photo: Stuart Leech

YOUNG LEGIONNAIRE/King Tut’s, Glasgow/05.10.11

You’re playing Glasgow tomorrow night. Why should people come down and check you out?

(Gordon Moakes, bass): The quick answer is why not? But more seriously, if you ever think, I wish there were more good, heavy, interesting bands that would come through town. And if you love to be brutalised by a gorgeous wash of noise, then this is for you. Plus, the tickets are great value.

Is Scotland a place that holds many memories for you?

Oh wow. So many things. Going right back to holidays near Inverness in my teens.  But gig-wise, great times at King Tut’s, gigs at the Barrowland, and the chance to get to places like Dunfermline. Not to mention the fantastic bands from Scotland. Dananananaykroyd and United Fruit are two great bands just now.

What are your pre-show rituals?

Tuning guitars. Plugging things in. Putting alcohol inside our bodies.

You’re a bit of a rock ‘supergroup’, with members of Bloc Party and yourcodenameis:milo/The Automatic among the ranks. How much of those bands come through in Young Legionnaire’s music?

Not sure. Inasmuch as those things are also expressions of who we are. I’m sure there are links, but maybe a musicologist could provide a little more detail.

Young Legionnaire’s 2011 has been pretty busy. But what does 2012 have in store?

2012 is likely to be more of a quiet year for YL. We all have lots of things to juggle!

How often do you listen to your own music?

More than is advisable. I end up coming back to it to check it against other records to see that we got it all as heavy as planned. By and large, we did.

And finally – they say there is a time and a place for everything. So what’s the best time and best place to listen to Young Legionnaire at?

Probably at a Young Legionnaire gig, in close proximity to the PA. I’ve heard it works well in thunderstorms too.

Rob Moir

September 27, 2011

Rob Moir: One moir tune, one moir tune…

ROB MOIR/Various venues around Scotland from 28 Sept-2 Oct

You’re playing a number of shows in Scotland soon. Why should people come down and check you out?

Because I’m probably related to them – my last name is Moir after all. Once we figure out that we are long lost blood brothers I will play and sing my guts out for those fine folks.

Is Scotland a place that holds many memories for you?

I was in Glasgow once and thought it would be a smart idea to add both ketchup and mayo to curry sauce and fries. The cook told me I was crazy and after the first bite I concurred. Aside from my little understanding of curry fries and appropriate toppings, I have nothing but great memories of hilarious and kind Scots. It’s a country that calls it like it is, and that is special.

Your tour itinerary says you’re also playing at ‘Neil’s House’ and also ‘Emma’s House’ in Aberdeen. What’s that all about?

Yes! I’ve been lucky to find some good people who organized small, acoustic living room concerts for me. Drop me an e-mail if someone wants to pop along, they are some of my favourite concerts to attend and play. The environment and mood is always fantastic.

You used to play in the band Dead Letter Dept. Do you feel more vulnerable playing solo?

Yes and that’s what I love about it. It’s challenged me to step out in front of a new audience every night and create something special and memorable with one voice and one instrument. The margin for error and failure is a lot wider, but that’s what makes it exciting.

What is the most gratifying thing about playing music?

I suppose to hear feedback about a song you wrote that made an impact on someone else. That is hard to compare to anything else I do in my normal life. I also love travelling/touring as it introduces me to people and places I never would have met. I’m waiting for it to get old but it never does.

If you had to invent a new genre for your music, what would it be?

I kinda like ‘Folk-Noir’. I’d like to be the grandfather of Folk-Noir – they would call me ‘Papa Noir’ and already I’m warm and fuzzy thinking about that legacy.

And finally – if you have to pick one musician, dead or alive, to play a set of Rob Moir covers, who would it be and why?

I’d love to have Roy Orbison sit down and play some of my songs on piano, singing them in that booming voice. He’d let me try on his glasses and all I would think about would be how cool this man is.

Hayseed Dixie

September 6, 2011

HAYSEED DIXIE/Various venues across Scotland, 9-13 September

You’re playing a number of Scottish gigs soon. Why should people come down and check you out?

Barley Scotch (vocals/guitar): Honestly, they probably shouldn’t. Really bad things sometimes happen at Hayseed Dixie shows. Everyone would probably be a lot safer at home. Of course, more people (statistically speaking) are killed by slipping and falling in the shower than by violence involving another person…so maybe they should just throw caution to the wind and come down after all. If you worry about dying all the time, you’ll never really properly live. Risk is such a conceptual thing…and is probably best viewed in a proper context.

What makes your live show better than anyone else’s?

‘Better’ is such a subjective thing. I mean, I personally think there is no better ice cream than black walnut ice cream. I just know that there is someone out there who will disagree with that. But they’re wrong! At least, from my perspective they’re wrong. And it’s the same with our show.

What is life on tour with Hayseed Dixie like?

Well, we get through about 48 bottles of real ale every night. And I ride a motorcycle between all of the shows. I’ve put 52,168 miles on that bike in the past two years, and I’m not done with the year yet. Most of the hotel rooms look more or less the same as the previous ones. But we don’t spend any more time in the hotel rooms than we absolutely have to. Mostly, I drink ale and ride my motorbike…and try to rock my face off for a couple of hours each night on the stage.

You’re well known for bluegrass covers of classic rock/metal songs, but you write your own songs too. Which do you prefer playing live?

I prefer playing whatever the audience is yelling for. Whether I wrote a particular song or somebody else did, after singing it 1,000 times, the song becomes rather transparent – it’s just a vehicle for delivering some energy to the audience. And the audience is the party…we’re just the hosts.

Does it annoy you that a lot of people don’t really take Hayseed Dixie seriously?

Probably about as much as it annoys a lot of people that I don’t really take them seriously. What does it mean to be ‘taken seriously’ anyway? Sounds rather joyless to me.

In April this year you released an album of Norwegian songs. Why?

Because there was absolutely no good reason to do something so bizarre.  Hell, everybody in Norway speaks perfect English, and most of their bands tend to sing in English most of the time. And because it seemed like a good idea after about 15 pints of beer at roughly 3:30am at a lock-in at the Elm Street Rock Cafe in Oslo, Norway on the night of 18 July, 2010 – and we’re the people who, unlike a lot of people, actually follow through on ideas we have at 3:30am after 15 pints of beer in a pub lock-in. That’s how we roll. Finishing is everything.

And finally – your first album was a bunch of AC/DC covers. But do they like your band?

I reckon you’d have to ask them. But I will say that they were very supportive ten years ago when the album first came out. Brian [Johnson, AC/DC singer] was gracious enough to rant and rave profusely in the US press about how cool the record was…they just happened to be doing their ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ US tour around the same time. And that was more than good enough for me. I mean…after the singer of AC/DC gave the record his endorsement, why should I care is some ‘critic’ in some magazine in Des Moines, Iowa still said that we suck?

Vivian Girls

July 13, 2011

VIVIAN GIRLS/Captain’s Rest, Glasgow/18.07.11

You’re playing Glasgow on 18 July. Why should people come down and check you out?

(Cassie Ramone, guitar/vocals): People should come out because we only play Glasgow about once a year, so it might be your only chance to see us for a while.

Is Scotland a place that holds many memories for you?

Yes. I remember getting into a fight with my boyfriend and then having a drink at the casino before hopelessly trying to sleep at the Etap hotel. I remember being put up in a great mansion and taking a luxurious bath in a claw foot tub. I remember seeing our record in Monorail and being really excited.

What is different about your live show that makes it better than anyone else’s?

I wouldn’t say our live show is ‘better’ than anyone else’s, but I think we do play with an intensity and energy that the crowd is usually excited about!

How would you describe your sound in three words?

Vivian Girls Sound.

Lo-fi music seems to be pretty popular at the moment. What’s the secret to its success?

A lot of great songwriters are in the ‘lo-fi movement’.

Does being an all girl band empower you? Or does it have no effect on music and the music industry?

It goes back and forth. We try not to let the bad parts affect us too much and only focus on the good. Although I’ve never been in an all-male band, it seems like there is slightly more adversity towards a band of all women, but we’re tough as nails when we have to be, so it works out ok for us.

And finally…people get asked who their musical influences are all the time – so who would you say are your biggest anti-influences?

Anti-influences? There are lots of bands we don’t like listening to, but I don’t think any of them has had us saying ‘Let’s not sound like that’. Personally, I don’t really like a lot of stuff on the classic rock section.