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Lloyd Cole & Justin Currie talk Glasgow bands & bandstands

This Wednesday 10th August*, Lloyd Cole and Justin Currie, two titans of Glasgow pop return to their west end stomping ground to co-headline at Kelvingrove Bandstand. Although in Currie’s case, he never went away. Cole, on the other hand, has lived in the US since 1990.

Their respective bands, Lloyd Cole & the Commotions and Del Amitri, emerged from the city around the same time at the turn of the 80s – a period Currie describes as “the gold rush” – and played together on many occasions over the years, so we sat the pair down together and got them reminiscing about Glasgow’s post-punk glory days, starting with their memories of the Bandstand back in the day.

Lloyd: I remember walking by it but I don’t remember ever seeing anyone there.

Justin: I’ve been there since it re-opened and I love it but all I remember about it back then was it was the naffest venue. For me it had long held associations with shitty rock bands who didn’t like punk. Then Postcard [Glasgow’s first and most influential independent record label] came along and it was all Velvet Underground and The Byrds. Following that, A&R guys from the London labels were up every week and every fucker got signed, even the worst bands got signed and were given loads of money so all of a sudden, you’ve got rehearsal rooms and recording studios popping up.

LC: There were some great bands in retrospect – APB were great. They were from Aberdeen. And I always forget The Blue Nile emerged at that same time as us.

JC: You had little gangs of bands, lots of snobbery. Bands were fighting for the limited amount of funds that were flowing in to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

LC: I don’t think there was massive rivalry between so many bands. I think there was a rivalry between Alan Horne [head honcho of Postcard Records] and everybody else!

JC: Alan Horne cooks up this mad Glasgow version of the Factory with a manifesto and there’s a big spotlight on that because it’s the hippest thing going on in the UK in independent music at the time and everybody comes out of that. Because if you walk down the street and you see somebody who’s a successful pop star like Edwyn Collins or in my case I would see Lloyd and think ‘I could do that’, it just makes it seem possible. Whereas if you live in a town where there’s nothing going on then you think it’s not possible.

LC: There was a feeling that if you were to go into Nico’s [Sauchiehall Street bar which was the hangout of choice for bands during the 80s] and you wanted a girlfriend in those days, unless you were in a band that was doing something or trying to be a proper artist, there was just no hope. So I think that pressure was healthy.

But that last year I was in Glasgow, things were different. If I wanted to go to a club or a bar, then there was a lot of people there who either wanted to have sex with me or fight me, and I don’t think I’d had a fist fight since I was 14. I remember being in this place in the Merchant City and there was a barmaid who was quite voluptuous who was being very friendly to me and I was being quite friendly to her and this wee guy came in said ‘are you trying to get off with my bird? do you want to take it outside?” and I said ‘alright’ and then he backed down. So my nickname for the last two years of the Commotions was Basher.

Lloyd Cole & the Leopards and Justin Currie & the Pallbearers play Kelvingrove Bandstand on Wednesday 10th August. *This is a rescheduled date: today’s gig has been postponed due to a weather warning, for more info: