Franz Ferdinand: Always Ascending

It may have come to your attention that the mighty Franz Ferdinand are poised to return with a new line-up.
The band’s latest configuration features Julian Corrie, aka synth pop maestro Miaoux Miaoux, on keyboards and vocals and Dino Bardot, once of glam indie pop trio 1990s, on guitar.
They also have a brand spanking new album, Always Ascending, out on 9 February.

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Photo by David Edwards

But we have also been tickled to note that Franz have been touring for the past few months with a striking new backdrop which pays homage to the legendary Barrowland. This fan-shot footage illustrates it well.

The band have already drawn on Barrowland iconography, holding a photoshoot for third album, Tonight:Franz Ferdinand, in front of the venue, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to come up with the idea when they needed fresh visuals.

Something exciting is about to happen

According to bassist Bob Hardy, all they had to do to gain Barrowland’s blessing was to ask nicely. “We emailed them to ask if they’d mind and they said it was fine,” he says. “On the occasions when we have a full screen behind us and it’s lit, it’s amazing. I find myself turning round and watching. It looks just like the sign and flashes just like the sign does.”

“I’ve got so many good memories of going there to gigs,” says frontman Alex Kapranos. “When you see that sign flashing, you think something exciting is about to happen. It’s like going to the carnival, seeing those lights in the distance.

It’s good to go back to Glasgow

“It does feel like you’re taking a little bit of Glasgow with you. It’s quite a good representative tool, because having Julian and Dino join the band brought the band back into Glasgow. It was a conscious decision. When we were first looking for new members, there was so-and-so in New York and there’s that guy in LA or whatsisname over in Australia. We’re a band that plays all over the world and we could have asked someone from anywhere to join but it’s good to go back to Glasgow.”

Hometown gig

Ironically, the band’s first opportunity to show it off in their hometown will be when they play a sold out homecoming gig at…O2 Academy in a few weeks.

Franz Ferdinand play O2 Academy, Glasgow on 17 Feb. Always Ascending is released by Domino on 9 Feb

Walk with us and check out the logo for yourself: http://bit.ly/1WmZjP8

Big Country 35 at Celtic Connections

Big Country were one of the biggest Scottish noises of the 1980s, renowned for their anthemic singles and the distinctive twin guitar attack of the late Stuart Adamson and Bruce Watson, which seemed to echo the skirl of the bagpipes. The current incarnation of the band, including Watson and his son Jamie, original drummer Mark Brzezicki, bass Scott Whitley and vocalist Simon Hough make their Celtic Connections debut this year with a concert to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their beloved debut album, The Crossing.

We spoke to Watson, who now also fills Adamson’s shoes in his original band, Dunfermline punk veterans The Skids, about his memories of the early days of Big Country and working on the songs which would form the backbone of The Crossing.

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“The Skids actually wanted me to be in the band round about the time of their second album because Stuart was doing all the guitars in the studio, so they thought about getting me in when it came to do it live. But I was probably too young. I was working at the dockyard at the time and there was another ten bands that played down the dockyard and everybody played in each other’s bands. You couldn’t go to school or college to learn about music, you just had to pick it up in little dark rooms above pubs.

Stuart always said that during that Skids period he wanted to do a two-guitar thing with me and I just thought he was being kind but one day he just turned up at my flat and said ‘today’s the day’. The week after that we got ourselves a portastudio, a couple of guitars and a synthesizer and started writing songs and those songs became part of the first album. We had at least half the album written early 1981.

At the time it was just Stuart and myself, we never had a band, we had a drum machine and a synthesizer. We would stick the synthesizer on an ironing board. We could have ended up like Soft Cell or Depeche Mode at one point because we were doing a lot of synthesizer stuff. There wasn’t a time limit or pressure to come up with something because no one else was interested at the time so we were doing it to amuse ourselves, but there was an end game aswell, which was to come up with some really good songs. We would send demos away to different labels but a lot of them weren’t interested and said ‘guitar music’s dead, synthesizer music is coming in now’ but we kept chipping away at it.

The idea from the very start was to make it cinematic and as big as you can get. There was loads of twin guitar bands out there like Status Quo, Thin Lizzy and AC/DC and we loved those bands but we didn’t want to sound like them. They were very blues-based and we decided not to do any blues bending, though we did do that later on. What we did was play melodic lines straight and put loads of effects on them and we had the big power chords. Every song that Stuart and I recorded in the early days was almost like The Shadows without Cliff Richard – every track was an instrumental until Stuart took the cassette away at the end of the day and worked on his lyrics and we would change guitar lines to suit the vocals after that.

It’s like losing your virginity, it’s your first time and it was a good experience. Everything was new to me and I can remember a lot of stuff from that era. I was able to work in big studios with top class producers, just watching them, looking and learning all the time. It was a dream come true for me. I preferred the studio to live actually because that’s what I always wanted to do.

Nowadays technology is so different. I could record an album on my phone. It’s great being back in the studio with The Skids again, that was absolutely wonderful. There’s not that many recording studios left apart from RAK, Abbey Road and Rockfield from those days. There’s just the sound of the room and a combination of the desks, the microphones, the engineers. It’s just the mojo, it’s the magic.”

Big Country play ABC, Glasgow on 26 Jan

 

Concert for Stewart: Guest blog by Rab Noakes

On Friday November 24th Saint Luke’s will host a celebration of the legendary radio producer Stewart Cruickshank, who lived for music and for people. His work from Beat Patrol to the Iain Anderson show gave a start to countless musicians and enriched the lives of all music lovers in Scotland. He made things happen, brought people together, and always shared his knowledge and his wisdom unstintingly. One of the musicians appearing is Rab Noakes, who has written this lovely guest blog on his memories of working with Stewart. Big thanks to Rab for taking the time to do this.

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The concert is raising funds for Drake Music Scotland and tickets are available here We look forward to seeing you there! Over to Rab…

I knew Stewart a little in the early 1970s but got to know him better at the BBC in the 1980s. At that time he was working in the Gramophone Library and I was doing work on Radio Scotland shows, mostly the afternoon show presented by Art Sutter. Over and above his librarian duties Stewart, along with his colleague, Sandy Semeonoff, and presentation announcer, Peter Easton, produced a vital new-music show called Rock on Scotland, which went out late on Friday nights. Stewart had also produced a definitive story of rock’n’pop in Scotland called Beatstalking.

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At the Apollo: A Postcard From Roddy Frame

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Guests on our Music Mile tour love hearing and sharing stories about the late, great Glasgow Apollo, and we’re re-running Roddy Frame’s guest blog on the fabled venue in case you missed it first time around.

Although he decamped many years ago, Frame will always be linked to the town: partly, because he gave the city an unofficial anthem in the yearning bus-station epic “Killermont Street”; but mostly due to his years as Postcard Records’ prodigious post-punk boy wonder. Signing with Alan Horne’s fabled DIY label aged 16, Frame’s Aztec Camera put the young into The Sound Of Young Scotland, yet shared with labelmate Edwyn Collins’s Orange Juice a preternatural knack for writing songs that seemed simultaneously to reference every record he’d ever loved – in Frame’s case, from Wes Montgomery to Motown via Bowie, The Clash and Joy Division – while sounding unique. From wiry, charging acoustic jangle to gorgeous plastic soul, a restless, mercurial spirit has remained constant across his ever-changing career.

We’re beyond delighted to have a few words from the man himself. We asked him to cast his mind back to his own early gig-going memories in Glasgow, and a favourite venue. Over to Mr Frame:

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Belle and Sebastian’s Chris & Sarah chat about TRNSMT

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With T In The Park taking a well-earned rest this year, the festival focus shifts to Glasgow this weekend when the inaugural TRNSMT festival takes over Glasgow Green from Friday to Sunday. Kasabian top the bill on Saturday and Biffy Clyro bring proceedings to a rocking close on Sunday but it’s the Friday line-up we’ve got our eye on, especially our beloved Belle & Sebastian, spreading the good vibes before the brooding clouds converge over headliners Radiohead.

We spoke to Chris Geddes and Sarah Martin from the Belles about being part of TRNSMT, as they both looked forward to playing their biggest ever hometown gig.

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Glasgow Jazz Festival 2017: The Bevvy Sisters

The audience know they’ve seen something special * * * * * BROADWAY BABY

Energetic yet measured. Skillful and exuberant* * * * THE SCOTSMAN

Mixing equal measures of sweetness and sass, grit and glamour, heartbreak and hilarity – cut with a dash of potent Scottish spirit – Since 2006 The Bevvy Sisters have won a uniquely distinctive place in audiences’ hearts … imagine the Andrews Sisters with switchblades! Their radiantly triple-layered voices and artfully wide-ranging repertoire of vintage,contemporary and original songs stand out from the crowd in both style and substance. Pure vocal magic, distilled to the power of three. The Bevvy Sisters are HEATHER MCLEOD, GINA RAE & LOUISE MURPHY with DAVID DONNELLY.

The Bevvy Sisters play Drygate on Saturday 24th June at 9pm. You’re in for a real treat. Tix available here

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Get the lowdown on Glasgow Jazz Festival with our walking tour on Sat 24th June: 

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