Wednesday, 30 June 2010

K&A with Blue Sky Archives

(left to right: Ross, Lauren, Matt, Paul, and Pete. Photo courtesy of Nicola McGrath.)

Glasgow's Blue Sky Archives have been racking up the plaudits recently. I caught up with Lauren, her with the "good set of pipes" according to Mr. Galloway, and asked a few questions about the band, their gem of an EP, and what the future holds in store for Blue Sky Archives.

<a href="">Crash Your Face by Blue Sky Archives</a>

Kowalskiy: Who are Blue Sky Archives?
Lauren: We are a new(ish) five-piece from Glasgow. I play percussion and synths and sing co-lead vocals with Paul, who plays guitar. Pete plays bass and does the recording, Matt does guitar and backing vocals whilst Ross plays drums, percussion and some keys.

Kowalskiy: How did the band get together, and what's the story behind the name?
Lauren: It took us a while to find each other, but we've been going as Blue Sky Archives since December when Ross joined. Paul and I had been writing together for a bit before that but things came together piece by piece as the other guys joined. Getting a name we could all agree on was a struggle, since we all have very definite ideas of what we do and don't want, so many monikers were mooted and scrapped. We came up with Blue Sky Archives the weekend we were recording the EP, after making a massive A4 list and voting on them. Hardly the most romantic story but it was a much better way of sorting it out than me and Paul wrestling to the death over it, which might have been the next step.

Kowalskiy: Can you think of a sentence that best describes the band, and the music you make?
Lauren: So far, we've been going with "post-rock pop music with a heart". Maybe that sounds quite emo but I think it sums everything up quite well. I always think that if you don't really believe in what you're doing and if it doesn't have a bit of your heart in it, people can easily see through that. It's got to be earnest, or you might as well not bother at all.

Kowalskiy: Who or what are your main influences?
Lauren: Musically, it's hard to say who are influences are as a group, because I'm pretty sure there aren't that many bands that all five of us could agree on but I think that diversity and range is what gives the sound some of its kick. I harbour a great love for girly rock like Sleater Kinney and PJ Harvey but we're all big fans of sweet harmonies and heavy rhythms. Paul and I agree on most things to do with Saddle Creek and bands like Broken Social Scene. Ross and Matt are a bit heavier in their tastes (Tool is a regular topic of conversation) and Pete says all he ever listens to is Andrew WK but I'm not sure I believe that.

Kowalskiy: Your self-titled EP is out now on bandcamp. Is there a story behind it?
Lauren: We recorded the EP in one week at Pete's barn studio. We recorded drums and percussion on Sunday, bass on Monday, guitars on Tuesday, keys and vocals on Wednesday, mixed it Friday and Saturday, then mastered it on Sunday. Sounds a bit like a Craig David song. We're pretty lucky to be able to do so much ourselves, whether it be Pete doing the recording and mixing or Matt doing the designs. It makes it a lot easier to get things rolling as a band when you don't have to rely on people outside your unit too much in the early days. It's up on Bandcamp now for 50p per track, or we've got swish physical copies to sell at shows.

Kowalskiy: What would your ideal gig be?
Lauren: I love reading about that Fugazi/Bikini Kill DIY era in Washington. The whole ethos makes it seem like it would have been a pretty amazing time for live shows. Realistically, I'd love to play something like Primavera, as they get such rare performances as well as lots of contemporary bands that maybe don't tour as far into Europe that often. Last year, they had Sonic Youth, Neil Young, Shellac and Jesus Lizard, which is pretty incredible.

Kowalskiy: What's been the highlight of being in Blue Sky Archives so far?
Lauren: No bands I've been in before have ever really been played on the radio, so when we got played on the Vic Galloway show in May, that was very cool. We didn't really know it was going to happen as we'd only just got the EP mixed and only figured it out when scrolling through the track list of the show later on, so that adds to the warm and fuzzy feel. I just sent Malky B a track for interest's sake and he took it into the A & R zone the next week. What a guy.

Kowalskiy: What can we expect from Blue Sky Archives in the future?
Lauren: We're currently recording a follow up to our first EP, so our near future plans are to release that, gig more around Scotland and hopefully book a UK tour for later in the year (if you've got a pub toilet we could play in, please get in touch). Next year, we'll try our damnedest to get into some festivals and just really do as much as we can before we all get old and tired.

Kowalskiy: Lastly, anything you'd like to add? Maybe some interesting or embarrassing facts about a fellow bandmate?
Lauren: I couldn't do that... We ride together, we die together or something like that? Plus, if I rumble them, then God knows what they'd do to me. Put me on a high object I couldn't get down from or something terrifying like that...

In that case, best to leave it there then! Anyway, more info can be found on their blog and their great wee three-track EP (which in no way sounds like Craig David) can be bought from their bandcamp site for £1.50, or for a shiny CD version, head along to one of their gigs...

Upcoming Gigs
17th July - Pelmet Nights @ Nice 'N' Sleazy, Glasgow
31st July - Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh
1st Aug - This Is Our Battlefield @ The 13th Note, Glasgow
9th Sept - Define Pop vs. Daily Dose @ The 13th Note, Glasgow

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Meursault - BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury (25/06/10)

...just makes you wish you were there! Here's 4 songs from Meursault's performance on the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury on Friday. Three from their outstanding new album "All Creatures Will Make Merry" and one newbie by the sounds of it!

Download: Meursault - Glastonbury (25/06/10)

1. The Young Gentleman's Guide To Maintaining Standards*
2. Crank Resolutions
3. What You Don't Have
4. One Day This'll All Be Fields

*or it may be "The Spark Which Begat The Flame" according to the BBC

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Peenko's Friday Freebies feat. Kowalskiy! June Roundup

Now that Peenko has popped up his last Friday Freebies of the month, here's a recap from June's Korner!

Week #1 - Another cracker from Curators in the shape of their entire set from Stereo on the 22nd of April.

Week #2 - This weeks freebie came from Futuristic Retro Champions. Their 3-track "LaChunky EP" is up for free on their bandcamp.

Week #3 - Here's a free download of "Seize the Day" by Bottle of Evil. Stay tuned for a wee K&A session coming up.

Week #4 - Get well soon Beerjacket! For those of you waiting for his Oran Mor gig to be rescheduled, here's two live sets from Peter to tide you over.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Ming Ming and the Ching Chings - Not In Anyone's Gang EP

It's been the best part of a month since Glasgow's Ming Ming and the Ching Chings released their "Not In Anyone's Gang" EP, and it's been even longer since I began this review! So, having listened to it on and off for a while now, what's the verdict?

First of all, at times, much like the cover art, there is so much going on in this EP. So many influences and styles creep up and intertwine. F**k knows how they do it though, because everything just clicks! "High octane" and "high energy" have already been bandied about. Well you can add highly recommended to those. This is a seriously good EP!

Pick of the 5 tracks is "Secrets of Men" which kicks off like The Cinematics' "Love and Terror" before veering off into a psychotic, punk-pop romp!

Secrets of Men

I'm sure, like me though, you still have a few questions (presumably about the band name and cover art), so I took the liberty to ask them for you. Here's what Ming Ming had to say...

Kowalskiy: How did you come to pick your band name?
Ming Ming: The bass players wife came up with the name. It's basically slagging's of members in the band... so it's personal!!

Kowalskiy: So, what's the EP all about?
Ming Ming: The EP has 5 tracks that we'd been working on since we formed in 2007 so there quite old tracks. They sum up a lot of various influences we had at the time. We set out with the intent of going down the surf/rockabilly/rock route when we started but deviate quite a bit. We realised that we find it hard not to squeeze lots of ideas into a track so that's why there's a lot of different styles going on, we wanted the energy and interest to maintain through the 5 tracks.

Kowalskiy: The cover art is quite distinctive. Is there a story behind it? Is that the girl from Avatar riding a shark?
Ming Ming: Ha, no it's not the chick from Avatar... was she not blue anyhow? By distinctive you mean reminds you of Avatar then???
Kowalskiy: Pretty much that and the sharks in space thing!
Ming Ming: It was a piece I came up with when I was working doing various collage stuff last year and always wanted to use it as a cover.

Kowalskiy: What can we expect from Ming Ming and the Ching Chings in the future?
Ming Ming: Well, were working on a lot of new songs at the moment and start recording some of them at the end of the month. We then plan to release another EP in the autumn and do a bit of touring. Were also doing a lot of work to incorporate live visuals in our set. We tried it out at Sleazys on our EP launch. It worked quite well but the computer kept crashing so we're gonna have to sort out a few technical problems before we try it again.

Those of you in Glasgow can see if they manage to sort them out in a few days time!

Upcoming Gig
26th June - Spectrum @ McChuills, Glasgow

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

This Friday... Pin Up Nights

This Friday, my first two K&A victims Little Yellow Ukuleles and Foxgang join Glasgow-based post-punksters Casino Brag and a whole host of DJs (see poster) for the latest Pin Up Nights at The Flying Duck. Here's how you can get your hands on some cheap tickets:

"On top of all this action they've decided to offer up a special offer reduced entry for their Facebook and Mailing list chums. On the night they're running a £3 guest list, with the usual £5 entry on the door. To get yourself and any of your pals on the £3 guest list, all you have to do is send a Facebook message or email to Pin Up Nights with all the names you want added to the list before midnight on 24th June. You gotta love those kids."

So if you find yourself at a loss in Glasgow this Friday, then pop down to The Flying Duck at 9pm!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

K&A with The Recovery Club

Next in line for a Kowestion & Answer session are the delightful The Recovery Club. Having already supported one of my favourite bands, The Hidden Cameras, they recently signed to Glasgow's Antimatter record label and have their debut single "Rest and Be Thankful" coming out on the 5th of July. So without much further ado, here's what they had to say about themselves...

Kowalskiy: Who are The Recovery Club?
The Recovery Club: We are Amy Rafferty (vocals), Dochan MacMillan (guitar/banjo/mandolin/lap-steel/etc.), Allan James (guitar/vocals), and Graham McCarey (vocals/guitar).

Kowalskiy: How did the band, and the band name, come to be?
Graham: Potted history: Allan and I (Graham that is) were previously creatively involved through the band theoceanfloor - Allan met Amy at a party and fell in love with her voice, this led to us starting a side project centring on her vocal talents which then became our main thing when theoceanfloor imploded - we met Dochan at our first proper TRC gig, he liked what he heard and before long had hopped on board too. There is a real Recovery Club somewhere in the east end of Glasgow. It’s a social club for drivers of recovery vehicles, I believe. It seemed to be a good fit for us as at least one of us seems to be recovering from something or other at any given time.

Kowalskiy: Who/what are your main influences?
Graham: Hmm.. musically, there are far too many to mention and probably some we don't even realise. We're definitely inspired by bands like Low, Lambchop and Red House Painters, and comparisons have been drawn to the likes of Mazzy Star and Madder Rose. But really, we all have such broad tastes that I'm sure we're drawing on far more than that.

Kowalskiy: You're releasing your debut single "Rest and Be Thankful" on the 5th July. Can you describe it for us?
Graham: "Rest and Be Thankful" was one of the earliest songs we started working on together, and has become a real favourite with our audiences. There seems to be something about it that really touches people. It's quite a gentle, fragile song about moving on positively from a crisis situation, with a heart-stoppingly beautiful vocal from Amy. The title track is backed by two demo recordings of our songs ''Weird Weather'' and "DNA", both of which we think help to give a broader sense of the essence of us as a band.

Kowalskiy: What would your ideal gig be?
Graham: In the real world.. would love to play venues like Barrowlands and The Queen's Hall in Edinburgh, in the fullness of time. And in the realms of fantasy, I could see us going down well in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse in the early '60s, with support from Judee Sill.

Kowalskiy: Which bands/artists are you listening to just now? Any tips?
Graham: Old favourites such as The Handsome Family and Bonnie "Prince" Billy seem to be in frequent circulation just now, but also newer music by bands like Field Music and The Low Anthem. I've also personally really been enjoying the first album by Kitty, Daisy and Lewis which sounds like it could have been recorded in 1930s America but is actually the work of three young siblings from present-day London.

Kowalskiy: Aside from the single, what else can we expect from The Recovery Club in the future?
Graham: Well, we'll be lining up further gigs both far and near just now to promote the single. We also have a further single pencilled in for after the summer, and work is underway on our first album. We have a large backlog of sturdy material to choose from, so we just need to whittle that down to make what we feel to be the best opening statement we can present to the world.

Kowalskiy: Keep your eyes peeled folks! So, any interesting facts about someone in the band?
Graham: Amy makes an appearance in the original movie version of 'The Wicker Man'. Really..!

Rest and Be Thankful

"Rest and Be Thankful" is released through Glasgow-based independent record label Antimatter on the 5th of July.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Stornoway - Janice Long Session (17/06/10)

Time for some more from Stornoway. On Thursday they performed three tracks from debut album "Beachcomber's Windowsill" on Janice Long's BBC Radio 2 show. Here they are...

Download: Stornoway - Janice Long Session (17/06/10)

1. Zorbing
2. Fuel Up
3. On The Rocks

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Leith Records presents... Batter Of The Bands

On the 17th June i.e. tomorrow night, Studio128 in Leith opens its doors to host the chippie-inspired musical showdown Batter of the Bands. Hosted by The Leith Agency's Leith Records, the event will see 5 great up-and-coming Scottish bands vie for a promotional "leg-up" courtesy of a release through the host label with CDs printed by Cameron Presentations, radio air-time on Rage Music, and in keeping with the theme of the night.... a fish supper!

The competing bands are Jakil, Little Eskimos, Schnapps and Kowalskiy favourites Futuristic Retro Champions and The Fusiliers. Here's the promo video...

Batter from The Leith on Vimeo.

If that wasn't all, the proceeds from the night will all go to the charity Fairbridge. Tickets are on sale here for £5. Great idea, and should prove to be a great night! Best of luck to all five bands!

Penguins Kill Polar Bears - Dawn EP

Linlithgow glacial-rockers Penguins Kill Polar Bears may not have the most factually accurate band name, but what they do have, is one of the best debut EPs I've heard this year. Combining elements of fellow Scots The Twilight Sad and We Were Promised Jetpacks, the "Dawn EP" is breathtaking at times! None more so than on closing track "Valley".

<a href="">Valley by Penguins Kill Polar Bears</a>

If you're a fan, then the EP hits the shelves on the 19th June. You can pre-order it here and over on their bandcamp page they have a free download of new song "Wish With Worry" to tide you over. It's pretty good too!

Upcoming Gigs
18th June - Instore @ Avalanche, Edinburgh
19th June - Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh (EP launch)
23rd June - Westport Bar, Dundee
24th June - Cafe Drummonds, Aberdeen
25th June - Cape, Stirling (with Sound of Guns)
26th June - King Tut's, Glasgow (with Sound of Guns)
27th June - Harley's, Bathgate
16th July - The Watershed, London
17th July - The Enterprise, London
18th July - Wimbledon Calling, London (with The Xcerts)
22nd July - King Tut's, Glasgow

Monday, 14 June 2010

Mitchell Museum - Warning Bells

I'm not one for doing the whole 'single-of-the-week' thing. I'm far too disorganised and my blogging is a bit sporadic for that kinda commitment. That being said, you'd be very hard pushed to find a better one this week than the new (and proper debut) single by Glasgow's Mitchell Museum. Out today, "Warning Bells" is bloody good, though I wouldn't expect anything less from Cammie, Kris, Dougie and Raindeer.

You can get your hands on 6 free remixes of the single from their bandcamp page. Here's the pick of the bunch from fellow Scots We Were Promised Jetpacks:

<a href="">Warning Bells (We Were Promised Jetpacks Remix) by mitchell museum</a>

If you like what you hear, then the single itself can be bought from the links here, which also includes the cracking video. Keep your eyes peeled for their debut album "The Peters Port Memorial Service" which is released on 12th July.

Upcoming Gigs
3rd July - Kelburn Castle Garden Party, Ayrshire
9th July - T in the Park, Balado
18th July - The Latitude Festival, Suffolk
24th July - The Wickerman Festival, Dumfries

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Futuristic Retro Champions - Define Pop Session (08/06/10)

With two cracking EPs to plug, Futuristic Retro Champions visited the Subcity Radio studio on Tuesday to perform 3 tracks for the Define Pop show. One oldie, one cover, and one live favourite were given the acoustic treatment. Here you go!

Download: Futuristic Retro Champions - Define Pop session (08/06/10)

1. Hi
2. Pulling Box Shapes
3. Talking Italian (Bananarama cover)

If you like what you hear, then they'll be playing an acoustic set at Bar Brel on Monday, with a few more gigs planned over the summer.

Upcoming Gigs
14th June - West End Festival @ Bar Brel, Glasgow
17th June - Leith Festival @ Studio128, Edinburgh
26th June - Hidden Lane Festival, Glasgow
1st July - Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh
30th July - PINUP Nights Summer Festival @ The Flying Duck, Glasgow

...Jack James!

Jack James - Lights Off, Headphones On Jack James - Quarter-life Crisis

For the last week or so, one man's music has dominated my playlist. His two cracking albums are available (just click the covers above!) as name-your-own-price downloads, yet I didn't know much about the man in question, Glasgow singer-songwriter Jack James.

All his personal and album info seems to be "written by a friend". So I thought I'd ask him about himself and his music. Here's everything you need to know straight from the horses mouth....

Kowalskiy: First of all, I can't help noticing your About Me's are all written by a friend. Who is Jack James in your own words?
Jack: I find it weird writing about myself. Also, I think a lot of low-profile artists write these bio things things themselves in the 3rd person, then they maybe draw attention to that fact to add a bit of humour. So I decided to get a good friend of mine to write something for both albums, and I think reading that alone probably tells you all you need to know, I was really happy with what he came up with. But if I were to write something about myself I'd probably start talking about how I want to write cliché-free music, but already that's making me sound a bit pretentious and it's feeling weird.

Kowalskiy: You have 2 EPs up for grabs on your bandcamp. Can you describe them for us?
Jack: Well, I'd describe them as albums for a start!
Kowalskiy: My bad!
Jack: Everything was recorded at home with a fairly basic set-up. The vast majority of the first album is just guitar and vocals, which were done together in a single live take. In the second album everything is built around this exact same structure - a guitar and vocal live take - though I added a lot more instrumentation, such as banjo and some percussion. Whenever I record anything I'll use as close to the first take as possible, in fact some of the songs on the albums are my first take. Neil Young is a great believer in recording like this, I've also heard Ben Folds talk about similar things and how your perceived mistakes can become great parts of the song. It's an honest way to record I think.

Kowalskiy: What made you put them up as a name-your-own-price download?
Jack: I'm a big fan of music-sharing, especially online. People shared music before we had computers, and you're not going to be able to stop them now. I read something about the "Listen, Like, Buy" model, which just makes total sense to me. Who is going to buy music, without first listening and then liking it. Personally I think the best way to get people to listen to my music is to make it readily-available, and this means free streaming/download on places like bandcamp and If people like it enough that they want to pay for it, the option is there for them. But I'm definitely not doing this to make money, music isn't my job, it's something I love spending time doing.

Here's my favourite tracks from his debut "Lights Off, Headphones On" and recent release "Quarter-life Crisis". Listen, Like, Buy!

<a href="">Burnsy Lang by Jack James</a><a href="">Gathering Dust by Jack James</a>

Friday, 11 June 2010

Stornoway - BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend (22/05/10)

Just before the release of their majestic debut album "Beachcomber's Windowsill", Stornoway took a wee trip to Bangor to play at BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend. The video of their entire set can be found here, and the mp3s below.

Download: Stornoway - BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend (22/05/10)

1. We Are The Battery Human
2. I Saw You Blink
3. Fuel Up
4. Coldharbour Road
5. Zorbing
6. Watching Birds

Their album is available from Amazon MP3, iTunes and pretty much all the other usual places!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Steve Mason - Absolute Radio Session (27/04/10)

One of my favourite albums of the year so far is ex-Beta Band frontman Steve Mason's "Boys Outside". Here's a few songs from it performed for Absolute Radio back in April. Enjoy!

Download: Steve Mason - Absolute Radio session (27/04/10)

1. Boys Outside
2. Am I Just A Man
3. All Come Down

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Cinematics - FM4 Akustik Session (26/04/10)

While I'm on the subject of The Cinematics, here's an acoustic session they performed for Austrian radio station FM4 back in April. It features three tracks from their second album "Love and Terror" and one from their criminally-overlooked debut "A Strange Education".

Download: The Cinematics - FM4 Akustik Session (26/04/10)

1. New Mexico
2. Love and Terror
3. She Talks To The Trees
4. Maybe Someday

K&A with The Cinematics

Apart from all the great freebies, the best thing about this blogging lark is I get the chance to ask some of my favourite bands a whole host of questions, without coming across as a nosy, crazed fan. One band I've been itching to interview is Glasgow's The Cinematics. I've loved this band for years and its no secret I think they're one of (if not thee) best live Scottish band around. So when they contacted me for an interview, I was quite understandably chuffed!

The guys have just released their amazing "Silent Scream" EP (available here) and are in the studio working on their third album, the follow-up to last years "Love and Terror" (available here).

Here's what Scott and Larry had to say about the band, those releases, and why (oh why?) the band aren't big in Scotland...

Kowalskiy: Who are The Cinematics?
Scott: In short, we are a rock n roll band, originally from Scotland. I sing, Larry here plays guitar, Adam plays bass and Ross hits drums. Between us we make all sorts of other noises on whichever instrument we lay our hands on at any given time. It’s an often-tried approach, you could say, but I think the end justifies the means. People tend to say that our music is dark, but I don’t think it’s any darker than Elvis Presley or the Rolling Stones.

Kowalskiy: How did the band come about, and why did you choose the name?
Scott: I’ve known Ross since I was about three foot tall and we met Adam at school in the Highlands. We met Larry in Glasgow. However, we originally had another fellow, Ramsay, on guitar. We always had a desire to make large, expansive music, and so “The Cinematics” seemed fitting.
Larry: I think most band names come about because they sound cool. Only bands from Glasgow and Canada try to be witty in their name choices. Most of the world doesn’t understand wit, so it’s a futile cause. You’re really much better picking a name that will impress girls and look good on posters.

Kowalskiy: You released your 2nd album (and 1st with Larry) "Love and Terror" (Kowalskiy's #6 of 2009) last year after a series of pretty turbulent events. Fancy reliving it for me?
Scott: Most of the turbulence arrived when our label, TVT Records, went bankrupt. This would have been fine but for the fact that, as well as TVT not being able to release our record, they insisted that we do not release on any other label, so we were in Limbo for six months until our contract was bought by another company, The Orchard. It’s not really a very interesting story in itself- lots of corporate nonsense and contractual bunkum- but during this period of enforced stasis we wrote songs about our lives at the time. Money got a bit tight, relationships broke down, and everything seemed a bit hopeless.
Larry: Sometimes I think I may be a bit of a Jonah, as the very day I joined the band we learned that the label had went into administration.

Kowalskiy: After the release of Love and Terror, you relocated to Berlin. How does the music 'scene' differ between Berlin and Glasgow?
Larry: We haven’t really relocated, as such. Scott and I both still have flats in Glasgow and we’ve been in London a fair bit this year also. We’ve been staying in Berlin while we write and record the album, but I’m not sure what we’ll do after it’s done. I think we’ll probably stay here for a bit at least, while we tour in Europe. There is talk of moving to America afterwards, probably New York. Most of our plans are in the US, so it would probably make sense to be there full-time, if it’s possible.
Scott: The music and art scenes in Berlin are pretty crazy. The cost of living here is oddly low, so a lot of creative people are drawn here. I imagine that New York would have been like this in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. Being surrounded by interesting people like that is healthy for writing an album. Here it feels much more like we’re at liberty to do whatever we like.

Kowalskiy: You've made more of an impact over there than in Scotland (so much so that you've released new EP "Silent Scream" on a German label). Why do you think that is?
Larry: The EP was released digitally in all territories, but one of our friends in Berlin runs an indie label and he asked if he could license it for a limited-edition physical release.
Scott: Our music seems to be received better outside Scotland, certainly. In the US and in Europe we’ve had much more success, but even within the UK we’re received better in most of England than in Scotland. It’s an odd situation whereby we can easily sell out shows in cities all over the world- New York, London, LA, Berlin, Rome, Paris and so forth- but when we come home to Glasgow we play to less than 250 people. In fact, it’s crazy when I think about it! We’ve been on American Network TV, playing to 18 million people on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, and next month we’re playing live on prime-time MTV Europe, but Radio Scotland only plays our songs once in a blue moon.
Larry: Scotland has a funny attitude to people being successful. Scottish people like glorious failure. I think there is an attitude in the Scottish music industry and media that this band is somehow too big for its boots. The band formed, quickly got signed to one of the biggest labels in the world, recorded an album in one of the most expensive studios in the world with a big-name producer and then packed off to America for most of its touring-existence. That rubs a lot of people up the wrong way and I think these people are delighted that the band hasn’t yet gone stratospheric. Glasgow bands are supposed to wear checked-shirts, have beards, sing in forced Scottish accents and put their records out from their bedrooms, which is fine by me, but we just want make a different sort of music. I mean, some of my absolute favourite bands are Scottish - the Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Cocteau Twins, the Associates... - and these bands are all, quite rightly, highly regarded by music fans in Scotland, but only because they never became huge. Take, for example, a band like Simple Minds. If you played them in Nice n Sleazy or the 13th Note you’d get shot. They were the biggest band in the world and Scotland is ashamed of them. Fair enough, Belfast Child is an abomination, but they were a great, great band and I’m proud to say I like them. When I want to feel good about life I put in New Gold Dream, which isn’t considered cool, and I will categorically say that Empires and Dance is one of the greatest albums ever made.
Scott: It’s best, I think, not to get bogged-down in the politics of it all, as it’s not good for the creative process.

Kowalskiy: Can you tell us the story behind the new EP? What do you think the reaction in Scotland will be to it?
Scott: We didn’t intend to release a record until our album comes our later in the year, but we found ourselves with a collection of songs that we felt our fans would like to hear.
Larry: We recorded the EP tracks while on the road at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, here and there after sound checks and on off days. It was really just a little project of mine to stave-off the boredom that comes from waiting around in the tour bus or in dressing-rooms. In the end, when the tracks all sounded good, it seemed like a good idea to stick it out.
Scott: To answer your question, I can’t imagine there will be too much of a reaction to it, in Scotland or elsewhere. Our label were lukewarm on the idea, so there hasn’t been much of a promotional push. In their minds, there are no obvious radio songs on the record, and I guess they’re right. I think the CD release is limited to 5000 copies and most our fans will just download it anyway, so it’s really just a way of letting people hear some songs that we think are great.

Kowalskiy: What's the future plans? And will your new album have a song "Moving (Back) to Glasgow"?
Scott: Well, we need to get this album finished as soon as possible, otherwise it won’t be released on time. Then we’ll tour Europe, the UK and America. It would be good to see some other parts of the world this time around also. Some Japanese promoters wanted to bring us over there after Love and Terror, but we didn’t have time, as we wanted to get another album out first, but it would be great to go there this time. We also get a lot of requests to tour South America. I’d love to play there, but I don’t know what record labels think about that. We’ll try our luck and ask the question anyway.
Larry: I don’t think there will be a Moving (Back) to Glasgow, no. You know the scene in Cinema Paradiso, where the old projectionist tells the boy not to come back to the small Sicilian town until he’s made something of himself? Well, that’s how I feel about Glasgow. I don’t think we’ll go back there, as a band, until we’ve made something of ourselves.

Kowalskiy: Here's hoping you make something of yourselves then! I've always said you're the best live band I've seen. Can you sum up your live show for us, and where's the best place you've ever played?
Larry: We try to be spontaneous: we never play the exact same parts twice. In this day and age, where no-one buys records anymore, your live show has to be special. We have to put on the best show possible and we have to do it with the sweat of our own labour. A great gig is not about the light-show or the band being dressed as giant animals. In my mind, anyway, it’s about going on-stage and kicking out the jams, hopefully connecting with your audience in the process.
Scott: I think highlights so far would be the Bowery Ballroom in New York or at the Arena in Vienna. Also, we played at an outdoor festival in Kaiserslautern last year, where the rain was so heavy during the final support act’s set that the organisers actually announced on the stage that we wouldn’t be performing, for safety reasons, as the whole stage was submerged in an inch of water, even though it was undercover. The crowd went nuts and people actually climbed on-stage in protest. We stuck around for almost an hour, waiting to see what happened, and all the time the crowd were getting increasingly restless. Anyway, the rain stopped and the crew swept the water from the stage. When we finally took the stage, the crowd went insane and it turned out to be a hell of a great show.

Kowalskiy: What would your ideal gig be?
Larry: Outside of time and space, the mini-festival bill would be... Bowie (1977), The Clash (1980), our band (2011), Roxy Music (1973), the Jesus and Mary Chain (1985), with Neil Young (1972) opening, just him and his acoustic. I’d say that the Barrowlands would be a great venue for it, but with Bowie and the Clash involved, we’d probably have to move it to Glasgow Green.

Kowalskiy: Finally, any interesting/embarrassing facts about someone in the band you'd like to reveal?
Larry: As I speak to you now, Scott is on his laptop, watching a video on Youtube compiled by the National Federation of Fish Fryers. Not a word of a lie. He worries me enormously.

Cheers guys!

If that's not enough, here's a bit more from Larry and Scott...

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Futuristic Retro Champions - FREE La Chunky EP

No sooner do I review their "insanely-catchy" debut EP, than they announce the release of a brand spanking new one, which is every bit as good.... and it's FREE! Next Monday (June 7th), Futuristic Retro Champions are giving away their 4-track "LaChunky EP" on their bandcamp site. The EP was recorded earlier this year at LaChunky Studios (funnily enough) in Glasgow. Here's a wee preview of "Strawberries and Vodka Shots" which is being described as a "summer pop anthem in waiting".

Strawberries and Vodka Shots

Also, a quick snoop about and I stumbled across THIS. Not sure if these tracks are old or new but they're free too! Something to whet your appetite, while you wait for June 7th. Or you could just pop over to their bandcamp now and get your hands on a copy of the cracking "FRC EP" for a few quid!

Upcoming Gigs
14th June - West End Festival @ Bar Brel, Glasgow (acoustic)
17th June - Leith Festival @ Studio 128, Edinburgh
26th June - Hidden Lane Festival, Glasgow
30th July - Pinup Nights Summer Party @ The Flying Duck, Glasgow