It’s no great secret that Scotland’s music scene is a thing to be proud of. So we here at TSA have teamed up with Scotland’s very own New Hellfire Club to bring you a monthly pick of who we think are doing epically well right now. Keep your eyes out for these up and coming bands. This is TSA and New Hellfire Club’s ‘Pick of the Month’.
Hi there guys! We are overjoyed to finally get you guys on here as our Pick of the Month, having a few volunteers of our own who count themselves as fans of both your musical projects! So, open up the chat and tell us a bit about the strange blue dreams, and how it all started?
The Strange Blue Dreams are me (Dave-vocal and guitar), Duncan – guitar, Ross-drums, Richard – double bass and vocal, and Davie – mandolin and vocal. We came together through most of us playing together in The Shiverin’ Sheiks playing a mix of R&B, doo wop, country and gospel and getting Davie involved who I’d been running the Halt Bar open mic with for a few years.
I had a handful of original songs that needed a home and those guys seemed the right fit, from then on we’ve developed into a bit of a writing team, also helping write and producing albums for other artists on the Glasgow scene we like such as Christine Bovill and Les Johnson.
This has been a fantastic experience and we hope to continue collaborating in such a way but we realised it was high time we got our own stuff out as well!
As touched on above, you guys have two bands on the go, both quite different from each other, do you find it hard to keep the two projects apart, or do you get some artistic bleedover every now and again?
The main difference I guess is that The Strange Blue Dreams is when we do our own songs and have Davie on board as well on mandolin and backing vocals and The Sheiks is our interpretations of old songs with more of a dancefloor orientated slant.
Having the mando there with the SBDs I guess gives the sound a bit more of a folky/gypsy vibe at times, we do more ballads and atmospheric type of songs as well, though we like to get folk dancing sometimes with the SBDs and The Sheiks will pop out the ballad from time to time so it’s not always completely cut and dry!
I guess in terms of building an audience both have spread the word of the other, over the past couple of years between playing festivals like Glastonbury, Wickerman, Belladrum, among others, some quite high profile support slots like CW Stoneking, JD Mcpherson, Glasvegas, and Martha Reeves and various telly and radio appearances (most recently we’ve been filmed as part of an ITV Drama ‘Muncie’ that airs in October!) it’s all helped get our various musics out there!
You guys have a brand new video coming out soon, how easy was that to shoot as a DIY project? Would you recommend other bands give it a go?
I think it’s good if a band’s musical aesthetic works well with the visuals so either the band are involved in this or they leave it in the hands of someone who gets what their doing and comes up with something that complements the sound.
As with the previous two videos it was us working in tandem with Iain Mutch who filmed them. Iain’s been great in terms of camera work, lighting etc and bouncing ideas off but he’s very much let us do our own thing in terms of the content.
This has been quite the learning experience. The last one I thought a film noir style would suit the song ‘Reverberatin’ Love’ so basically I sat in watching loads of old film noir movies and made notes. Then I scoped out locations, planned shots then assembled a cast of the band (obviously!), our pal Kenny (or Les Johnson to his fans!), and my good lady wife. Iain did an amazing job of putting it all together and on no budget at all, I think made a pretty excellent video.
It goes to show with a strong, simple idea, some research, a bit of creativity and a fair amount of begging, borrowing and stealing you can get pretty cool results. The first one we did at the Panopticon which was such a fantastic location we didn’t need too much else! We can’t wait to get back there and play!
The new video we’re working on at the moment is for a new single called ‘Electricity’ which should hopefully be released soonish. This one’s a bit more adventurous and deals with a dystopian society saved by cosmic forces. A bit more of a challenge on a zero budget but hopefully we’ve pulled it off!
You seem to be gigging in one way or another pretty relentlessly, does it take it out of you a bit, or do you guys just live for the live shows, which by the way, are bloody excellent to experience!
We do this full time between The Sheiks, the SBDs and the other things we’re involved with so yes it all keeps us pretty occupied. We love the buzz of playing live and I think that comes across to audiences and it’s a magical thing when you get that back from them.
It’s always up to us to bring the atmosphere though, as I guess if we’re not into it then no-one else will be. Doing it full time for these past few years and, to start with taking any gig going up and down the country has definitely been a good apprenticeship and grounding in how to put on a good show.
If you can win round seven angry regulars who have no idea why you’ve just walked into their pub on a dismal Wednesday night in February in Auchenshoogle or somewhere then playing a decent slot at a festival or a gig in a big venue is a doddle!
What venue in Scotland would you say you get the best reaction from the crowd? Is Glasgow generally better, for you guys, than Edinburgh?
We play more regularly in Glasgow and have a pretty good following here so probably Glasgow but we’ve had some great nights in Edinburgh too at the likes of The Jazz Bar, the Voodoo Rooms, Elvis Shakespeare record shop and Stramache so don’t want to go dissing the East Coasters! Auchenshoogle’s definitely our favourite place to play though.
What do you have coming up next then, any shows the readers should be heading to? Or new releases we should be looking out for?
Our next Glasgow shows are Thurs Sept 1st at the Oran Mor as the warm up act and also the backing band to Christine Bovill, playing a set of our own songs then playing the album we co-wrote and made with her last year.
Then, very excitingly, playing a show for you guys in the legendary Panopticon on Thurs Sept 15th. A really cool label called Trashwax are releasing a 7” of Reverberatin’ Love and ‘The Ballad of the Sun and the Moon’ in October, then come the New Year it’ll be all systems go with our debut LP coming out and a single ‘Electricty’.