Girobabies are back and they’re celebrating with a special equinox gig at Glasgow’s Pie and Brew on March 23rd. They’ll be playing new music alongside some of their classics during this super extended set featuring a Q & A and maybe even a film premier… free entry… big afterparty….
Selina McLean speaks to Girobabies’ Mark McGhee where he talks about Giros old and new.
Can you explain to new listeners, who the Girobabies are and a bit of your background?
We have been round the block a little bit now. I would say there has been 3 phases, 3 stages , 3 bands and 3 albums . We are now excitedly moving into Girobabies 4G and really buzzing to get back in about it all with a fresh outlook. There is a lot of different influences that have inspired us to make various musical experiments over the years. If you look for a song online and you don’t like it then you might like the next one. Or you may like none of it. That also happens sometimes. But I would say the sound is mainly a weird, post-punk psychedelia with a poetic, almost Hip Hop focus on lyrics and telling our audience stories that we think they may like to know about. We also want the audience to have a jump about and enjoy their night out but hopefully they leave the show with something new to think about.
Having only played a single show last year, who are the Girobabies and what have you been up to?
Our first ever gig was just before Xmas so every year we try and put on a big show round about the same time. In December 2016 we took over both floors of The Art School and it was such a perfect end to a brilliant year. We had done things we never expected like being able to play our then new album
‘Who Took Utopia?’ from start to finish to a sold out Glasgow Barrowland crowd , released our first vinyl and supported one of our biggest ever inspirations in Steve Mason (The Beta Band) . It was a crazy year and I realised we had been on a roller-coaster for a very long time indeed and decided the time was right to have a little hiatus for the first time since we began this thing. I had also just finished another album called ‘Need the Character (S)’ with a an electro/ hip hop side-project called Jackal Trades and was keen to take that on the road and try something different while we took a breath . Originally, my plan was to do some UK tour dates and the summer festival circuit with Jackal Trades whilst booking a European tour to comeback with new Girobabies music but unfortunately during festival season it became apparent that my voice was taking a few days to recover from the weekend shows so I knew something was up. Turned out, I needed a throat operation which obviously curtailed any plans of singing or even spoken word for a couple of months . I was lucky to have a brilliant surgeon who did a fantastic job so I followed her orders and rested up until her comeback show last month at Stereo. It was a beautiful moment to play to those songs again to a capacity crowd who sung a lot of those words back. Made me realise that life is short , don’t take anything for granted and make the most of opportunities. I knew all that anyway when I started the band, but this was a bold , underlined reminder of all of that but more importantly do not wait around for stuff to happen. That’s not how things operate. I never used to wait and I will try not to ever wait again.
Where does your preference lie as musicians, in the live or production aspect?
my favourite moment is probably an idea coming together in the studio like a lightning bolt of magic out of nowhere. It could come from anyone in the band but when it happens it feels amazing and you can feel the mood suddenly elevate. The live equivalent would be when a show is going well , the crowd are enjoying it and you look around and you can see the band are enjoying it too. Those are special moments. Both those examples are pretty rare moments to happen in the grand scheme of things unfortunately. There is so much legwork and boring stuff that needs to go on before those things are allowed to happen. Most independent artists are spending their days emailing, lifting amps, sorting merch , working day jobs, holding down relationships , dealing with real life and arguing with band members . It takes a lot of graft to allow the great moments to happen. But in my opinion, they are worth the effort. It is totally frustrating at times but I love creating music and I love taking it on the road and I can’t ever see me stopping either.
You just announced a Manchester date, does this mean there’s more further afield happening for listeners to look forward to?
very much so, this is the first of many announcements that will hopefully include a bunch of European dates before the end of the year. We have been sitting on a few of these offers for a while now , it’s just about getting a string of dates together that makes sense and committing to it. We are also weighing up shows in Ireland, England and Wales as well as a bunch of Scottish dates. Then when you add festival season into the mix, there is only so many weekends in the year but we are determined to play new cities and towns and countries as well as visiting some of our favourite haunts. As for April, we love the Manchester crowd and I think this will be our 4th trip down there but it’s been a while since we made the journey , maybe 2015 ? There is a lot of very supportive people down there. Paul Heaton (The Housemartins / Beautiful South) gave us our first BBC radio play and a gig in his pub in Salford and since then we’ve met a host of characters including The Moods who invited us down in April. They are an incredible 10 piece live machine who the Scottish crowds are starting to really know well. Can’t wait to see them play their home crowd. We are also bringing a wee Scottish invasion for the ride in The Twistettes and Yoko Pwno so should be a memorable evening and I would expect maybe a couple of other shows in Northern England might be confirmed next week for that same weekend . We are also very close to confirming some Perth and Inverness shows the weekend before that and I would expect another Glasgow one in May to warm up for the festivals.
For first time viewers what can be expected from this show and your live set generally?
Waves and waves of weird melodic noise, catchy hooks and a sometimes shouty man. In the literal sense it will be Guitar, Bass, Drums, Synths and at least a couple of vocals. It has been great since Jo D’arc (lead singer of The Twistettes) and Jess Aslan (Synth) joined us as they really give us a whole new pocket of possibilities to where we can take the live show. We try to stay as true to the records as possible but we also want to keep things interesting and take the crowd, and ourselves, on new adventures.
Also made the first festival announcement in nearly two years, what can be expected from the Girobabies over the summer and for the rest of 2018?
Festival season is our favourtie time of year and this week we confirmed Audio Soup Festival in the Scottish Borders and Lindisfarne Festival in England . And before that The Bread Shed in Manchester , after a couple of Scottish warm up shows in April. There should be a few more summer dates in the UK and then hopefully further afield in October. The plan is to break ourselves back in gently before a flurry of live shows as the year goes on . This means we have time to hit the studio and work on finally getting some new material out there. We pretty much have an EP ready to go but we have enough songs to just go and do an album . It would be quite bold to record and release it without road-testing the material first. For us anyway. We usually take the songs for a walk outside before we commit it to record because doing it live is a great way to get a feel for the songs, gage responses and make changes when needed. There will be new songs and videos coming to co-incide with these shows for sure either way.
You’re engaged with online formats including acoustic sessions and podcasts something you want to do more of and how important do you find engaging with listeners in this way?
I personally really enjoy listening to podcasts so I’m always happy to appear on shows that I like such as Darren Connell and Mood Swings most recently. I think more traditional radio stations such as Sunny Govan , Camglen and Salford City also do really crucial work in engaging the wider community an underground music scene they may not have been aware of otherwise. I am currently working on a live show/ podcast idea that I hope will come to fruition in March so I hope people enjoy what we have planned. I have flirted with various internet radio shows of my own over the years but I really think the mainstream is relinquishing it’s grip on culture as a whole and hopefully this could open up new doors to independent journalism, insightful conversations and meaningful music . Or it will be branded ‘Fake News’ and be hidden within a robotic maze of algorithms and we will all just discuss ‘Coronation Street’ and ‘Im A Celebrity..’ whilst listening to Robin Thicke on Facebook. But I , for one remain hopeful. Acoustic sessions are pretty rare for us but it is nice to do on occasions as you get to re-imagine the songs and see what ones are good enough to shine when stripped away of any bells, whistles and FX pedals.
Scottish music is truly thriving, who are your recommendations for 2018?
I completely agree. So much stuff going on . I would expect big things this year for:
Yoko Pwno, Darryl Donald, Spring Break, The Void, Declan Welsh & The Decadent West, Loki, Mickey 9s, Zesh, The Twistettes, Busker Rhymes, Josephine Sillars, Steel Valley Saints, Ash & Sev Dudzinska, Bombskare, Oddacity, Killer Whale, Chrissy Barnacle, Space Dolpin, Andy Martin, Lucky Lowe , Ciaran Mac. The list goes on. I have stopped myself at about 20 ha but really there is probably about 100 – 200 of really diverse talent that could do amazing things with some hard work and a little bit of luck. Some of the folk mentioned are well on their way and already doing brilliantly. Everyone could help everyone else by going to more shows or even simply sharing each others videos , gig announcements slightly more often. We need to support each other so we can make a big enough splash that people outside of Scotland can hear it. We have the tools at our disposal to bless the rest of the world with our
Personally, what are your goals for 2018?
I heard someone say the other day ‘If you want to make God laugh then simply say your plans out loud ‘ or words to that affect. But why not give the big man (or woman) a wee chuckle . This year I hope to record and release new music, Play a few shows outside of Scotland and continue to help other acts get out themselves out there. I’ve also been threatening to release a book of poetry and do a proper spoken word show, both are nearly there. I’de also like to dare myself to do a gig in a comedy club. Most of all I want to Have fun, work hard and be grateful.
Giro babies @ Pie and Brew event page here >>>https://www.facebook.com/events/837106293080514/