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’.
Hello there Savage Cut! Great to have you guys in the TSA for the POTM, Finally! Start us off then by telling the readers that are new to you guys a wee bit of band history, who are you… what are you?
Great to be here for a start, so thanks for having us! We are a three piece from West Lothian, Brian Kiernan on guitar, Liam Innes on drums and me, John Innes on bass, and have been together for just over two years. What are we? I suppose we are just all music lovers, inspired by everything and determined not to repeat ourselves too much. We don’t have a singer, so started out using samples from TV and film, which was fun and we didn’t envisage playing live if I’m being honest. The samples thing was wearing thin, so we started pestering people – that we didn’t necessarily know – to come up with vocals for the tunes we were writing. A lot of people must have thought we were a bit mad, but Hextasy – an MC from Arbroath stepped up, and others followed. We have been so lucky to have had the input from so many brilliantly talented people.
You guys are pretty unique in the fact that you don’t have a dedicated singer of your own, can you tell us a wee bit about the writing process of working like this? Do you start writing with particular vocalists in mind, or do you write the track then choose a singer depending on how the track sounds?
We basically jam out songs at practice – we can usually get a feel for what might work there and then. It might be spoken word, or a straight down the line pop or rock song. We have a number of people who have expressed an interest in working with us, so will send a phone recorded demo to them, and they’ll ping us their ideas. We are generally rubbish at counting, so will usually need an extra bar or so to make things fit. We’ll then record the tune and get who ever it is, to come over and do their bit. Once in a while the ideas from the ‘talent’ will alter the vibe completely – most notably by a choir of 8-10 year olds who were just so amazing we had to scurry about looking for new parts to complement what they had given us.
What is your favourite track to play live? Is it harder for you to get gigs due to the fact that you use so many different vocalists? Have you ever used a stand in vocalist, or is that kind of a no no?
I’d say Konsul Miklan is our favourite – a post rock (epic!) where we can just go a bit daft with pedals, mad drumming and volume. It features our late pal Shug O’Neill performing parts of a speech made in 1917 by Glasgow socialist John Maclean. We have Shug on our sample machine and it still sends shivers down our spines – even at practice. We are in the process of getting our vocals onto backing tracks, so that we can do our full set at shows rather than the vocalists having to come out for one song – they have all been gracious enough over the last while to do it, but it really is an imposition, and fills us with guilt! Hextasy has done more than most, travelling religiously to and from Arbroath to Glasgow, Edinburgh and beyond. They all have an open invitation to join us and we are so grateful to them, words can’t express. In any case, we’ve just recorded with Mike Pougounas from New Zero God in Greece (in Greek), so that would be a non starter! Stand-in vocalists…nah.
Who are your own favourite acts playing in Scotland at the moment? Anyone the readers should really be checking out, apart from yourselves?
There are so many brilliant acts out there…Lisa Kowalski, Bobby Deans and Jim MacKellar (and his group Everywhere) are killer; Hextasy has to be seen to be believed; Gordon Harrow, Drunk Gods, The Gimme Gimme Gimmies, Spectacular Primate Disaster are just brilliant; The Filthy Tongues…we could go on all night…and of course Mogwai, who should be available on the National Health Service! Last but not least everyone should check out Leyla Josephine who did Andy From Finance with us – mind bogglingly talented spoken word artist who’s just finished a run at the Edinburgh Fringe.
The floor is yours, anything exciting in the pipeline for the rest of the year? New tracks or big gigs?
We are working on a couple of tracks just now including one that will have two versions – a Greek vocal and another version featuring Tommy Sheridan – a kind of update on Konsul Miklan 100 years later, but with a similar message. The other track will feature local legend George Thom doing a re-working of a song that we’ve done about a murder near here – not very cheery but we hope it’ll sound pretty decent. We have plans to release an album of our collaborations with The NHC, and gigging in Bathgate and Wishaw in October. We are also running a project with West Lothian Council to get school kids to form bands and write their own songs – an antidote to the karaoke nonsense that seems to be everywhere just now. 30 kids – 20 weeks……..help!
One thing I would ask is that if any of the readers likes the cut of our jib, has any ideas they fancy getting off their chest – words, art, video, mad instruments – ANYTHING, get in touch – we are open to almost anything!