Glasgow has a rich musical history, such big name acts as Simple Minds, Del Amitri, Primal Scream, Franz Ferdinand, and Mogwai to name a few have come from the largest city in Scotland. These days, the music scene still bristles with that same creative energy.
Within the past year, Chvrches exploded out of the city becoming a worldwide phenomenon, going on to sell out venues all over the States, and having a legion of rabid fans. And now Honeyblood is making a play for a bigger audience with their honeyed vocals and power pop stylings. Focus too tightly on London, New York or Los Angeles, and you'll miss some fantastic music.
I'm just starting to pull back the layers of the Glasgow scene. It seems whenever I take a peek, I discover a great artist. A few months back it was Pinact. I've written about them a few times, not to the point of being banned from future contact, but enough to know I'm excited about their sound. That association lead Fraser from Great Cop to contact me, and gently nudge me towards the band's new song, Vacancy, on their Soundcloud page. I gave Vacancy a listen and loved it, striking me as the perfect distillation of anti-establishment by way of alienation. Music for the margins. In other words, punk in general. Polished and melodic with a wicked choppy tempo, it made me want more. I then went on to write an odd piece about not going to prom and Vacancy.
After the piece, I talked Fraser into a Q&A session, Iain responded later on. Here's what Iain had to say.
Tell me a bit about the band.
Iain Bethel - Guitar/Vocals
Fraser Welsh - Bass/Vocals
Joe Campbell - Drums/Vocals
Alan Rodrigues - Guitar
I joined the band in 2012 when the band had already been rehearsing with our old bass player Adam (now in Spoilers), Joe and Alan. Fraser joined last year when Adam departed. I originally joined to just play guitar but plans changed. We released out first demos 'Faint Light' in 2012, followed by 'Spanish City' last year.
Who dresses the worst in the band?
I'm not gonna say too much about our dress sense, however, Joe our drummer plays every gig in only his underwear. Make of that what you will. Most people find it pretty strange. The boy sweats a lot, let 'em breathe.
Who has the worst taste in women?
In reference to taste in women, the less said about a certain member of the band and a certain bakery the better.
You have new music coming in May, what can you tell us about it?
Yeah, we recorded a few live tracks this year in 45 A-Side Studios in Glasgow. The EP is called 'Stay Human' and is out now on our Bandcamp. It's the first recordings we have with Fraser in the band.
What inspires the music?
I think with this new EP it certainly has themes of isolation, lack of direction, loneliness. It's some of the noisiest stuff we have written, aligned with some of the most melodic. I like that it varies quite significantly track to track.
I'd say overall, we have all always loved doing it. The more places and more recordings we can do the better. Problems with the opposite sex dominate a lot of our music, but this EP stays away from that theme for the most part.
In terms of musical influences, I'd been listening to a lot of Ceremony during the recordings as well as a lot of Title Fight/Husker Du/Touche Amore/Sonic Youth.
Are there other forms of art that inform the music -- TV, movies, books, comics, art? Any particular favorites?
I sometimes refer to a lot of Bukowski writings for lyrics. Our previous EP contains the line 'South Of No North' which is the title of one of his books.
'Sick Of Me' ends with the line 'Exist like mercury' which is taken straight from a poem in the Bukowski book 'What Matters Most is How You Walk Through the Fire'. I guess a lot of other media affected the record subconsciously.
Is the songwriting process a collaborative effort? Describe the genesis of a new song.
Usually I will take a guitar part or just some chords to the studio with some lyrics, and we all build it up bit by bit. It's a fairly democratic effort and everyone has a say. We change our minds on new songs/parts a lot, we usually try things out a number of different ways before we settle on anything.
How does the band balance music with other obligations - family, job? Any frustrations?
Hmmm. Real life is probably the worst thing about being in a band, ha ha. Getting everyone in the same place at the same time is always very difficult. We get by though.
Financially being in a band is one of the most expensive things you can do, which is hilarious because musicians are the biggest skinflint, scrounging, dependent people on earth ;-).
Relationships in a band are tough, really tough. Friends/Family usually find it pretty difficult to understand why you live the very skint/frantic life that you do. It can be very difficult to balance all this in personal relationships as well.
As the band continues to grow, are there different musical directions the band would like to try?
I think we have only recently found our sound again with Fraser adding his voice/bass to the fray. We plan to write a full length album as the next step, I'd like to add more melody and more layers to the sound. We are happy with the way the music is progressing though, I can't see it delving too far from the sound we have, but its always best to keep challenging yourself and to keep trying out new ideas.
Any plans to tour in support of the the new EP? If so, where can Great Cop be seen this summer?
We've been down to Manchester/Nottingham/Huddersfieldrecently on a short tour. We will be in Inverness/up north in July as well as more dates in England over August including Leeds/London/Manchester. Our label Struggletown records also has an all-dayer coming up which we are playing, and we are on a bill in Stereo, Glasgow on July 12th. We play the Carefully Planned Festival in Manchester this October.
You can check out all our upcoming shows here.
And one last question --- What's the worst or funniest musician joke you've ever heard? Or best insult from a heckler.
Erm, I'm not really sure but our old bass player Adam introduced us at our first gig with the line 'Hi we're Great Cop, sorry'
That one always makes us laugh.
That was Iain of Great Cop. Stay Human is available right now for £2, or about $3.50. Having listened to the three songs on Stay Human multiple times as I wrote this piece, I can't help thinking this band has found its sweet spot. Go buy it, listen, love it, and then say hello to the guys in Great Cop.
They can be found here: