This Scottish rock quartet added a member (Stuart McGachan, on keys) to record their last album Unravelling, and, when we dialed them up to talk before their Indy show at the Hi-Fi on Tuesday, was already back in the studio recording again. Now, before we start transcribing, we've got to add that it is absolutely imperative to add a charming Scottish accent as you re-read in your head.
"We've been writing for a good while now," said bassist Sean Smith. "We're hoping to play a couple on the upcoming tour, and we're going to try out a few on the road and see how we get on. It's been going very well." The band has been staying in a cottage in Scotland recording before they return to the US for shows, like this week's Indy stop. "We've been up in the cottage for four days. This is our second time up here writing new songs, our third in total but our second for brand new songs. We've got a really nice wee cottage on Loch Fyne just north of Glasgow. We love it up here. It's got a separate little studio, a nice live room, and then you can come down and stay in the little cottage."
What else is up with the band? Here's a bit more from my interview with Smith:
NUVO: How important is it to the band to work these new songs out live, and how much do they develop before recording from live experimentation?
Sean Smith: Well, we're trying to do things a little bit differently these days. Before hand, I suppose we were very much fully completing a song in the practice room, and then taking it to gigs and trying it out. And then it would change slightly, and we're probably going to record it, and then it would change a bit more than it would had we ... beforehand, we were just getting songs finished, then playing them live, kinda recording them, and that was the songs. These days, we're trying to do things the opposite way. We're taking things to the studio and working through them, and then maybe trying them out live afterwards, so the songs are hopefully a bit more completed.
NUVO: Since you've lived with Unraveling out in the world for just about a year now, how have these songs developed in their live show from their recorded versions — have any taken on new lives of their own, interesting jams or things to look out for, or any big differences that would surprise someone who hasn't seen you live since the album has come out?
Smith: I don't think so, to be honest. I think with Unraveling as well, we had a spell were we wrote the songs, we took them to the studio actually, demoed them, and then we played them a bunch of times, and they were different before hand. So there's probably a bunch of folk who have seen the earlier version, and then when we went to record them, they changed slightly. And we've taken them on the road since then, and so it would be closer to the full studio version.
NUVO: Tell me about Stuart joining the band.
Smith: After In The Pit Of The Stomach, we started writing again and we kind of felt like we needed something else. It wasn't quite working just the four of us with two guitars, drums, bass. We thought we need to expand our sound slightly, and have got a good friend called Stuart McGachan that we brought in. He's a very talented keyboard player, can play guitar and sing. We brought him in mostly to add keys and a bunch of synths and stuff, and he's a great friend and writer as well. We wanted him to completely help us out. He wasn't there to just do any background noises or anything additional.
NUVO: Because it's so key for the bass and the drums to lock in together, I always like to ask if there's anything you particularly admire about your drummer [Darren Lackie]'s musicality or style.
Smith: Me and Darren are best friends. We've been friends for like 20 years. Now you want me to pick him up? [laughs] Darren, he always moves away from the straightforward, go-to drumbeat and puts his own kind of wee flair on it. I really enjoy writing towards that. So I'm kind of looking for something that's fairly melodic, but is also tying into his slightly different rhythm that he's going for.