Monday 29 August 2011

K&A with The Last September

I'm normally never one to pass up a gimmick, so as much as it pains me that I'm posting this before Thursday, I've sat on it long enough, plus I'm gonna try and squeeze in another interview this week  Anyway, after a 5 year hiatus, Edinburgh's The Last September are back with their second album As The Crow Flies.  I was only introduced to the band with their gorgeous recent single Precious Time and its the perfect taster for what is not only a very impressive comeback, but a downright, lovely album too.

With the launch gig preparations taking shape (10th September at the Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh since you ask), I asked that man above, Pete Deane, a few questions...

Kowalskiy:  Who are The Last September?
Pete:  We're a bunch of pals who have been in a few different bands over the years.  We're sort of half way between a singer-songwriter situation and a conventional band.  I tend to write all the material, but the songs take on their own life once the rest of the guys add their parts.  Which I think is more interesting than simply a band hired to back a singer.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound' to all the good folk out there?
Pete:  I think when we started out years ago there was a slight Americana feel to the band, which was nice at the time, but now we just want to sound like us I think.  We're essentially an Indie band I suppose, but some of those other influences creep in from Americana or folk stuff.  I think a slow drip of influences is much better than all members liking exactly the same stuff and ending up like a pastiche of one or two bands.

Kowalskiy:  After a five year sabbatical, you're back with your second album in a few weeks. So er... why the wait? What have you been up to in the meantime?
Pete:  We split up a few years ago because we simply got a bit fed up with it at the time.  I had personally lost faith in my songwriting and felt like I was simply writing the same songs over and over.  I want to be in a band which always excites me and where I feel like we're genuinely progressing musically or stylistically.  That's why I took the time out and went to study music, which in turn has given me a new thirst and loads of new ideas about the creation of music and the inception of ideas, which in turn made me want to get back in a band again!  We're the band that I wanted us to be six years ago but didn't know how.

Kowalskiy:  So what can you tell us about As The Crow Flies? Is there a story behind it?
Pete:  It may sound an unusual starting point for a record but it began with me having to write music as part of my degree.  That was a weird situation to be judged all along the way, but I think made me explore different styles of writing and different techniques.  I think a lot of the writing process was a real cathartic outlet of frustrations and darker thoughts which hadn't been let out for a while.  It sounds very cliched, but As The Crow Flies represents a journey to me hence the title.  That and the fact that I bloody love birds!  It's another of my themes.

Kowalskiy:  It's only a few weeks 'til the release gig in Edinburgh. Was it a conscious decision to release the album in 'September'?
Pete:  Not at all.  It's purely the way it had worked out.  I'm quite chuffed with that however.  I'm not superstitious but it feels nice.  We've had the album ready to go for a wee while now, but would have been daft I think to do it during the festival.  September just seemed like the next opportunity to do it.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe a typical Last September live show?
Pete:  I hope we're a band who don't simply make a racket.  There are powerful moments to the sets, but we're not believers in "louder, harder and faster is better" kind of thing.  We use a bit of a mixture of sounds like acoustic guitars and piano and then some noisier stuff when needed.  Jos has built a little activity centre for himself which he beavers away at during the gig, sometimes on his ebow and sometimes tapping on his glockenspiel!  Other than that, we just play pretty songs without too much fanfare or banter.  I'm not Freddie Mercury, so I don't try to be!

Kowalskiy:  What would be your ideal gig?
Pete:  Since I was a nipper I've always loved the Queens Hall in Edinburgh.  It's such a great venue and holds a lot of memories of bands I've seen there.  To fill that place would be incredible.  As long as the gig went well I wouldn't be bothered about any other details!

Kowalskiy:  What other Scottish bands are you listening to at the moment?
Pete:  Hidden Orchestra's debut album Night Walks is fantastic and has been great seeing them have a successful year.  Poppy from the band played some string parts on As The Crow Flies and they're a lovely talented bunch.  Other than that, I still listen a lot to Hobotalk, who haven't released anything for a wee while.  Their keys player Ali Petrie co-produced our album with me and played some keys on the record.  Jeez, sounds like I'm one big name-dropper!

Kowalskiy:  What else can we expect from The Last September in the future?
Pete:  I think we'll release another single sometime in the autumn or winter.  That and just lots more gigs really.  We're really enjoying playing live right now.  Hopefully we can put together a Scottish tour soon.

Kowalskiy:  Anything else you fancy adding??
Pete:  I think I've rambled on enough!

So that's that then.  The Last September release As The Crow Flies on the 12th September, with the launch gig two days before that in the Wee Red Bar at Edinburgh's College of Art.  Until then, I'll leave you with Ventolin, my favourite track from the album.  Enjoy!

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