Wednesday 16 May 2012

K&A with Stanley

Aberdeen tea-loving quintet Stanley have recently released their debut album Animals With Amazing Disguises... and it's not just those animals that have rummaged together something amazing.  It may be slightly lazy blogging, but listening to the album, it's difficult to escape the major influence from The Divine Comedy, from the eclectic subject matter and musical styles to singer Stephen Podlesny's Hannonesque vocal delivery.   All of which is none more evident than on Made For TV and the brilliant Sandwiches & Tea.  If you scratch the surface a bit though, there's much more to be heard across the album.  Take my own personal favourite, Hollywood Endings as a prime example.  It has elements of Morrissey's (finest work in my opinion) You Are The Quarry about it, in terms of the intensity it has bubbling under this scratched surface, and the sheer quality of arrangement and production.  This last point can be said for every track on the album to be fair.  It's one of the most impressively thought-out and put-together albums I've heard in a while.

The album was officially released a month ago (available here from the band).  I caught up with guitarist Ramsay Clark shortly afterwards.  Here's what he had to say...  
Kowalskiy:  Who are Stanley?
Ramsay: Stanley are a Aberdeen-based group of 5 musicians, fronted by founder member and song-writer Stephen Podlesny. We’ve been going for a few years now, however the last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind of activity, what with the release of our debut album last month as well as two singles the previous year. We play all the usual instruments associated with bands, however we supplement and blend our sound with carefully put together orchestral sections and instruments such as the vibraphone and trombone.

Kowalskiy:  Before we get to the music, who's your favourite Stanley?
Ramsay: The band is named after the legend that is Stan Laurel because of Steve’s love of movies and music from the 20s and 30s, however my own personal favourite Stanley would be Stanley Kubrick. Great films, great visuals and equally great film soundtracks.

Kowalskiy:  From listening to your debut album Animals With Amazing Disguises (it's very good by the way!), it's clear you've got a lot of diverse influences, Who'd you say has had the biggest influence on your music?
Ramsay:  Every member of the band will most likely give you their own unique musical influence, and they’ll have probably changed their mind before they answer the next question! I’d say that the biggest influence on our music would probably be a musical style rather than a group or individual – song-stylists like Sinatra and Scott Walker, for example. Tough question! It’s in the nature of a musician to take inspiration from a patchwork quilt of influences. How’s that for a vague answer!

Kowalskiy:  Quite vague!  So, with all these different influences and styles in your songs, how do you go about making your music?
Ramsay: It’s probably no different to any other band, to be honest – as boring as that sounds! Steve will let us hear an idea for a song – sometimes is embryonic, other times it’s already got arms and legs on it. The band will jam on the idea, and quite often we’ll have the semblance of a song by the end of the practice session. That’s about it really – there are still lots of fragments of tunes that haven’t been used yet, so we may go down the route of finishing them off some day. Maybe we could sell them as downloads or give them away for free via our website –

Kowalskiy:  Or even contribute one to your friendly neighbourhood blogger's series of free monthly EPs?  How'd you describe your album? Is there a story behind it?
Ramsay:  Ah, the dreaded “CONCEPT ALBUM” question! You’ll have to ask Steve that! Now that the album’s finally out there, it’s been great fun reading the reviews to see how other people have perceived it, and some of the stuff that’s been written is fascinating! It’s funny – today was the first day that I was able to really appreciate listening to it as an album proper and not as the album that our band recorded. I’m really proud of it – to me it looks and sounds great and every song has it’s own distinct character.

Kowalskiy:  What would class as an amazing disguise for an animal?
Ramsay: You’d have to ask Charles Darwin! At the end of the day, we’re all animals, however some of us would like to make out that they’re something else and maybe hide behind a mask.  Did I get it right, Steve?
Steve:  No Ramsay, you’re sacked!

Kowalskiy:  Are there plans afoot to tour the album?
Ramsay: Chance would be a fine thing! We’re working on it at the moment – right now, we’re really desperate to play in as many new places and in front of as many new audiences as possible, so promoters, if you’re reading this!

Kowalskiy:  What'd be your ideal gig?
Ramsay: Ach, that also changes from day to day – for me it’s currently the old Aberdeen Capitol (complete with pop-up, lighted cinema organ), supporting Roxy Music in the early 70s. We’re going through a bit of a Roxy-listening phase right now!

Kowalskiy:  What'd be your dream sandwich and tea combo?
Ramsay: Again, this changes all the time. Currently, it’d be a Tuna Mayo and Highlander Sea Salt and Vinegar crisp sandwich, made with old-school Mighty White bread – cup of Builders on the side.

Kowalskiy:  Last of all, what can we expect from Stanley in the future?
Ramsay: Publishing deal, sign up with a booking agency, Radio 6 airplay, national tour supporting Richard Hawley, performance on Jools Holland, give up day job, new album out in Spring 2013, who knows? Music industry types – again, if you’re listening…

All seem perfectly reasonable to me!  So, to recap, Animals With Amazing Disguises is out now.  It's very impressive indeed.  And you can get your hands on it over here.   Cheers Ramsay!

No comments:

Post a Comment