Friday 5 November 2010

K&A with The Scottish Enlightenment

Fresh from the release of their Pascal and Little Sleep EPs, The Scottish Enlightenment are set to unveil their brilliant debut album St. Thomas later this month.  Unlike other bands before them have done, the album is not a mere lumping together of these two EPs with the odd new track thrown in to appease existing fans.  Instead, only the two title tracks have made the cut and are joined by 9 cracking newbies, of which, my favourite 2 can be heard below.

Via 'cool' Al over at Armellodie Records, I posed the band a few questions.  Here's what they had to say about, amongst other things, the mathematical definition of the band, who used to bunk up with who, and their ambitious plans to mark the Queen's 100th birthday...

Kowalskiy:  Who are The Scottish Enlightenment?
TSE:  Well, mathematically speaking The Scottish Enlightenment = (2David + Angus + Michael) - gameplan / blown.

Kowalskiy:  How did the band come about, and what's the idea behind the name? 
TSE:   The name is supposed to make people think we are clever, and talented - a hotbed of genius would be nice, but no reviewer has said that yet so it may be that the smokescreenonym is not functioning as intended. The band came about in 2005 when David met Michael and hooked David in and then eventually Angus joined. Angus and David are brothers. David and David shared a bunkbed in Aberdeen for three years. In 1999 David, on the bottom bunk, syncopated with the marital relations going on in the flat upstairs, while David chuckled. It is well known that Michael works out drum parts on a calculator. David has intermittent self-indulgent depression. That's how the band started.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound'?
TSE:  Miserable. That's a contingent truth though, so the next record may be all afro beats and kazoos. The St Thomas record is supposed to sound like it takes place in a big old church. David and David use sessionette amplifiers, and they contribute a lot to the sound.  Crescendo Pop. Ecclesiastic Rock.

Kowalskiy:  After the release of your Pascal and Little Sleep EPs, you're about to bring out your debut album St. Thomas. What can we expect from the album, and why 'St. Thomas'?
TSE:  The record is about doubt, and in a way it celebrates doubt. Ask Rene Descartes - doubt was great for him, did his career a lot of good. We're basically just copying him. We want to be known as the fathers of Modern Music. But the album is also about loss. Doubt and loss go hand in hand. Doubt swaps conviction for integrity. And it is also a document of the beginning of depression. So its about Doubt, loss, mental health. And living donor kidney transplant. And the place of the religious (and ex-religious) person in society. Take the foregoing with pinch of salt. Its just pop music too.

Kowalskiy:  Was it a conscious decision not to flood the album with EP tracks?
TSE:  We recorded 18 songs for the album, and weren't going to put them all on so the EPs were a way of releasing all the songs. It wasn't a matter of putting the best ones on the album and all the guff on the EPs. It was about making records that make sense as a whole. And we wanted to release all the tracks so we just found a way to do it. Bingo! Three records.

Kowalskiy:  What's the plans to promote the album?
TSE:  There is a man called Al who is one of the coolest people in Scotland right now. He runs Armellodie Records, which the album is coming out on. He is our plan. In the not to distant future we will be celebrating the record's release with special ceremonies in Edinburgh on Friday 12th November at Wee Red Bar and in Glasgow on Thursday 18th November at 13th Note. Nice.

Kowalskiy:  What's a typical Scottish Enlightenment gig like?
TSE:  David falls apart mentally and emotionally. Other David arrives late still in his school clothes. Michael and Angus mill around being the weird one and the normal one respectively. Then we take to the stage and all good things in the universe flow from every sound emitting device in the room.

Kowalskiy:  What would be your ideal gig?
TSE:  Playing on top of Buckingham palace at the Queens 100th birthday. We're all passionate royalists and it would just be a joy to see the old dear hit the ton. We could play happy birthday, but we'd probably actually play songs from the album. People would think it was a bit rum playing miserable songs on her birthday, but we think she would appreciate it. We think she listened to Smashing Pumpkins too when she was at school.

Kowalskiy:  What other Scottish bands out there are taking your fancy just now?
...there's a Scottish 'Musical' Enlightenment question in there somewhere. Can't quite word it though!
TSE:  Its best you don't, others have tried and not come off well. Everything related to Armellodie Records is the dogs. Everyone in the band would have different thoughts here. Angus is huge De Rosa fan and is regularly wetting himself at the thought of a Martin John Henry record. David likes eagleowl and The Second Hand Marching Band. David from up north has a wee baby, so probably just listens to nursery rhymes these days. Michael is quiet. There are a lot of good Scottish bands and artists just now. Kid Canaveral are amazing too. And Withered Hand.

Kowalskiy:  What does the future hold in store for The Scottish Enlightenment?
TSE:  Table Tennis. In about 5 minutes.

St. Thomas will be released on 15th November through Armellodie Records and online from The Scottish Enlightenment's bandcamp page. Until then, the whole album can be streamed there along with their two EPs.  And just to repeat what they said above, they have two gigs coming up...

Upcoming Gigs
12th Nov - The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh (w/ Jesus H. Foxx and Trapped Mice)
18th Nov - The 13th Note, Glasgow

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