Friday, 9 July 2010

Ten for 2010 Revisited... and K&A with The Kays Lavelle

It's been a few months since one of my tips for 2010, The Kays Lavelle released their debut album "Be Still This Gentle Morning" and like the three Revisited... bands that have gone before them, with its release, they've more than lived up to expectation.

That's largely down to "Be Still This Gentle Morning" being as close to perfect as you can get. From the dark, haunting piano and strings on opener "The Hours", to the heartwrenchingly beautiful "The Life And Death Of A Moment" and the Sigur Ros inspired epic "Aftermath", it is breathtaking.

Those of you familiar with the The Steinberg Principle blog may know that the ├╝bertalented mastermind behind it, is The Kays frontman Euan McMeeken. For a change, he's agreed to be on the other end of some questions. Want to know about their future plans, which bandmember is also a ninja breakdancer, and the definitive truth behind the band's name? Read on...

Kowalskiy: Who are The Kays Lavelle?
Euan: The Kays Lavelle are 6 guys. Some live in Edinburgh. One lives in Dundee. One lives in Carnoustie. We play instruments. Some of us can play more than one instrument. Some cannot. We mainly have beards, where possible. One of us has 2 dogs. One of us likes Wilco (a little too much). One of us is a primary teacher. Sometimes we like to get together and play songs. Our debut record "Be Still This Gentle Morning" was released on Wiseblood Industries in May this year. The Skinny did not like it. However, many others do.

Kowalskiy: Including me! So, how did you all meet and what's the story behind the name?
Euan: Graeme and I are school friends. We met our violin/voila player Russell and guitarist Chris through friends. We knew drummer Chris from back home in Dundee and then Michael used to be in a band with Chris called The A Forest. I guess that’s how it all came together.

As for the name, The Kays Lavelle is a type of Peruvian llama that you can only find living in Bolivia and is therefore very rarely spotted in Peru by the Peruvian llama spotters. This in turn has had a pretty drastic impact on the Peruvian economy, as they were pretty dependent on the llama’s to increase tourism…

Kowalskiy: How would you describe your music?
Euan: I’d say at the beginning of the process, when it’s just me, it is heavily steeped in minimal classicism. Then the others get their hands on the tunes and they become something different. A different beast altogether. I like the description that we make midnight music though, that made me smile. It’s the kind of time that I like to write songs. When the sun has set and the zombies, vampires and werewolves are out for the night.

Kowalskiy: Who/what are your main influences?
Euan: Well, as I mentioned above, the obvious starting point for me is minimal classical. Olafur Arnalds, Max Richter, Goldmund, Einaudi. Those kind of artists tend to be where I find initial inspiration. However, my biggest influences in terms of more mainstream artists would definitely be the likes of Wilco, Elbow, Sparklehorse, The National, The Notwist, Sigur Ros and many more. At the same time, I’m influenced by people passionate about anything. People inspire me all the time. Without ever knowing it. Passion is infectious I think.

Kowalskiy: Your debut album "Be Still This Gentle Morning" was released earlier this year. What's the story behind it?
Euan: I guess ultimately it’s quite observational as a record. It’s about society mainly. Things I’ve noticed. Things I’ve heard. Things I’ve done. We had all these songs sitting and felt like we were treading water, missing out on a lot of opportunities. So we just got our fingers out and made the record that we wanted to. Hopefully people like it and hopefully we’ll get the chances we were not getting when there was no record. Lovely people like you, for example, writing about us.

<a href="http://kayslavelle.bandcamp.com/track/first-light">First Light by The Kays Lavelle</a>

Kowalskiy: Sook! Now for a more personal one, not only are you in The Kays Lavelle, there's Trampoline, mini50 Records, your solo stuff and you're the man behind The Steinberg Principle. Is there time for much else? And if you had to choose one (or-your-dog-would-get-it kinda scenario), which would you choose?
Euan: I think there’s always time. Since the birth of my son I’ve had to put going to watch gigs and my social life to one side, and I’ve been happy to do so. The blog and label can be run from my home and Trampoline has pretty much come to an end, due to time restraints and a lack of financial security to keep it going. That said, I’m always keen to be involved in promotion and musical projects. I have a really exciting one in the pipeline for October as we speak.

If I had to choose one thing though it would be The Kays. Without a shadow of a doubt. Because creating my own music is far more important to me than any of the other things.

Kowalskiy: I see you're busy looking for some venues for the upcoming tour. What can we expect from this tour? Any support acts in mind?
Euan: I have no idea what to expect myself to be honest! I’m assuming a touch of drunkenness. An interesting tour diary perhaps. Some live recordings for sure. Possibly a badger hunting expedition. Definitely some good gigs. And hopefully we’ll make a lot of new friends and fans along the way.

Kowalskiy: What would your ideal gig be?
Euan: My ideal gig? Well I’d really like to see a line up featuring Tom Waits, Radiohead, Wilco, The National, Olafur Arnalds and The Kays Lavelle...

Kowalskiy: Sounds pretty good! What can we expect from you and The Kays Lavelle in the future?
Euan: Well, I’ve started writing new tunes for the Kays. I have about 12 or 13 ideas in various states of assembly. So it’s time for me to take them to the band, flesh out the bones and see if we’ve got something to work with. It’s the beginnings of the follow up to BSTGM I guess.

In terms of myself. I have the solo EP entitled ‘Memorials’ coming out on Too Many Fireworks later this year. No confirmed date as yet. I also have a solo project called ‘Lost Again On Waking’, which is a project by myself and Heidi Kuisma of We Sink Ships, exploring music and photography. It will take the form of 4 sets of 6 photos, each with an accompanying piece of music. I’m not sure when this will be out but Heidi finished the photos ages ago and I’ve just finished writing the music for it. So later this year or early next year I’d imagine. I’d love a nice label to take it forward, but at the moment I guess it will be mini50.

Finally, I’m working on songs with Chantal Acda, better known as Sleepingdog. That project is called Nine Threads and we’re just writing songs together and seeing where it leads us. There may well be a mini album or EP at some point.

Kowalskiy: Anything you'd like to add?
Euan: Our guitarist Graeme completed the London Marathon a few years ago. Chris our other guitarist looks like Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. Michael our bass player supports St Johnstone FC. Russell our violin player got 3 out of 5 in Uncut magazine for his solo record. Chris our drummer is a ninja, break dancer in his spare time. And I am good with capital cities of the world.

The Kays Lavelle - The Hours The Kays Lavelle - Ten Times

The Kays Lavelle are giving away the first two singles ("The Hours" and "Ten Times") from their outstanding album "Be Still This Gentle Morning" for free over at their bandcamp site.... just click the cover art above. The album itself can is available in CD form here (£7) from the band or digitally from bandcamp (£5) and iTunes (£7.99)*. If you've not gotten the hint already, it's a stunning album. Well worth a listen to say the very least.

Upcoming Gigs
October Tour - Keep your eyes on their MySpace for details

*prices at time of posting

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