Friday 2 September 2011

K&A with Prince Edward Island

Say hello to London-based Prince Edward Island.  Not content with releasing one of the years best singles in the recent You look like I need a drink, they followed it up last week with arguably, one of the best albums of the year too.   Hardly surprising though from a band billed as 'a happy Arab Strap'.  What's not to like about that!  Their debut album This day is a good enough day is chock full of upbeat quirky songs (and slightly weird song titles) offset by the dark Scottish humour of frontman Darren Bruce.  It really is a wee bit of an understatement to say this album is a very good album indeed!

I asked Darren a few probing questions.  So here's what he had to say about the band, the unusual circumstances surrounding their big break, and his marketing proposal for Bassetts.  You can take the boy out of Scotland...

Kowalskiy:  Hey folks! Who are Prince Edward Island?
Darren:  A Scot, obviously, and a lass from the debatable lands, and some other riff-raff from around the fringes.

Kowalskiy:  How did the band all get together?
Darren: wasn’t an advert in MNE or through a module at Brit School. The normal way, I guess, through work and social drinking. And then Phil bought some recording equipment and that was that. It’s still just a big excuse for a drink and a natter.

Kowalskiy:  You got your first break in quite unusual circumstances. Do explain!
Darren:  The short version is someone sent our song to Xfm who were running an unsigned band competition at the time. Basically the listeners voted for their favourite song to be played on the radio that week. What we didn’t know was they were running a simultaneous competition for unsigned bands to play at the O2 festival and somehow our CD got added to the bag. For reasons still unknown to us we won both. And we didn’t even bother to rig the voting. In fact we actively dissuaded all our friends from voting, primarily as the song we entered was the only song we had. Hardly enough for a 45 min showcase set. I can still remember the strange feeling of euphoria and panic when they announced the winners.

Kowalskiy:  You're debut album This day is a good enough day is out at the end of the month, and a very impressive album it is too! Is there a story behind it? How'd you describe it for those who haven't heard of you?
Darren:  Well, ta very much. There’s lots of stories behind it none of which I’m going to share with you. Primarily they illustrate our poorly spent and often unsuccessful lives to date. And it’s about sex.  More specifically, it’s a bunch of miserable buggers trying to make sense of their previous mistakes set against a 3 minute pop song melody. And did I mention it’s about failed sex.

Kowalskiy:  There's a lot of influences running through it. Who/what/where have had the biggest impact on your music?
Darren:  Any number of influences (Chemical Underground, punk, childhood, John Peel, Jenny from 3rd Year Chemistry who broke my heart...etc) but music-wise ‘a happy Arab Strap’ is usually the one that’s thrown at us most which frankly we’re more than happy to accept. There are some eclectic ones hidden away in there too that might not be immediately recognisable to the listening public. From a lawyer’s point of view that’s probably a good thing.

Kowalskiy:  With the Scottish connection in the band, are there any plans afoot to come north of the border and tour?
Darren:  Err..we have done. Where the hell were you?

Kowalskiy:  Kicking myself!  So, for anyone else whose missed out, what's a typical PEI gig like?
Darren:  Usually fun for us but I can’t speak for the audience. I imagine, if nothing else, we provide sufficient visual intrigue to keep people interested beyond the first beer. Then we’ve pretty much got them until they sober up.

Kowalskiy:  What'd be your ideal gig?  Any place, era, venue, support acts, celebrity roadies, entourage, backstage snacks etc etc.....anything you like really!
Darren:  Ah, now there’s a question. Okay, I’m going with –
  • Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
  • Late 70’s (punk, innit)
  • Sounds In The Grounds Festival (look it up...)
  • Aidan & Malcolm obviously
  • Emmanuelle Beart (look her up...)
  • and beer-flavoured Jelly Babies (made it up...)
There’s a definite marketing opportunity there though. Look, if ACDC can release a range of wines for chrissakes...’PEI Piss Babies’. Yep, I like it.  (You could be onto something quite unique!  This is the closest I could find.)

Kowalskiy:  Pardon the Scottish theme again, by are there any new Scottish bands on your iPods at the moment?
Darren:  Not necessarily new but current Scottish fodder includes Broken Records, My Latest Novel, the entire Delgados back catalogue etc, etc.  As for Phil, he doesn’t have an iPod. To be honest he has enough difficulty operating the van door and Faye just prefers to stalk bands. She finds it much more immediate.

Kowalskiy:  What else can we expect from PEI in the near/not-so-near future?
Darren:  The usual amount of laziness and general inability to focus our collective mind. We seem to take a painfully long time to achieve anything. I offer you exhibit A, this album. 5 bloody years. Then again, maybe that’s no bad thing - some things benefit from a bit of fermentation.

Kowalskiy:  Anything else you'd like to add?
Darren:  Nope, I don’t think so unless Bassett’s want to get in touch? Oh, and thanks for not asking where we got our name. Pets will sleep well tonight.

This Is A Good Enough Day is out now via Crocfingers Record.  You can have a listen to it on SoundCloud and get yourself a copy over here.  Here's one more to whet your appetite.


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