Friday 24 December 2010

2010's Top 10 Albums: #2 - How To Swim

Second place goes to Glasgow's orchestral behemoth, How To Swim, for their meticulous, musical masterpiece Retina (or More Fun Than A Vat of Love).  Back in September, I made my feelings known on how good this album is.  Here's what How To Swim's Gregor Barclay had to say about the album, what 2010 has been like for the band, and what the new year holds in store...

Kowalskiy:  What is Retina all about?
Gregor:  The idea with the album was to see how far we could push the heavily orchestrated thing - we experimented with string sections and marimbas and stuff on the last couple of EPs (It Stings When I EP and The Littlest Orgasm), and we wanted to see how far we could go with that and still keep on the right side of sickly. World of Fear, The Ghastly Ones and another couple in there are really us trying to see what we can get away with (WoF was described as an "indulgent car-crash of sound" in one review - that's arguably an accurate description...). Our whole agenda since we were the Electric Honey band has been to try and not be restricted by having no money behind us; if a song needs a string section or an oboe or something, we'll find a way of getting it, rather than leave it out because it's a hassle to organise. I think, overall, that's been something that people have responded to. Even if they're not massive fans of the band, I hope that people see that we're busting a nut to make what we think is an interesting sound.

Kowalskiy:  Sum up How To Swim's year for us.  What has your highlight of 2010 been?
Gregor:  2010 has been a mixed year for us; we were really happy to finish the album and see what people made of it, but we've also seen a few players departing - a couple of guys who'd been with us for years have gone on to do other things, so it's a little bit like the end of an era. I think they can be happy, though, that Retina's a fitting swansong. Gig-wise, our launch show at Stereo in October was a definite highlight; we got a chance to play the album through in full, in order, with most of the guys who played on it (I think we had 15 on stage at one point). Making a very silly music video on Millport was also a blast.

Kowalskiy:  Lastly, what can we expect from How To Swim in 2011?
Gregor:  We're going back into the studio in March or April to record the follow-up to Retina, which is mostly written at this point. It's going to be called Blood Orange, and it'll be a little bit more stripped back than the current album, and a little more poppy.  Beyond that, I'm planning on directing a feature film in the summer, which HTS will provide the soundtrack for. We're hoping to get some gigs down south too, as well as some festival slots - we didn't really do the festivals this year as we were 'between' drummers, so we're pretty keen to make up for that in 2011.

Before all that, How To Swim have uploaded a selection of early demos and recordings from 2002/03 called How To Swim Start Life In 2D on a name-your-price basis, and a wee early pressie for you in the form of Santa's Got All The Best Tunes, their three track free festive EP.  It's a cracker!


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