Rhian Daly 19/08/2009
Back in 2005, four Scottish lads burst onto the scene, heralded in some parts as the second coming. After looking like they might prove the believers right, disaster struck as the label they were signed to went under, putting the brakes on The Cinematics' rise. Four years later and they've returned to pick up where they left off. They spared us a few minutes of their time to talk to GIITTV before the launch party for new single Love and Terror...
So you were signed to TVT and then it went bust. How did that affect you? Some bands might not have wanted to carry on after that...
Adam: It was pretty demoralising...
What motivated you to keep going?
Scott: I don't know, I didn't find it demoralising at all. I thought it was the best thing that ever happened!
Adam: I think for the first week I was like “Oh shit, what's going to happen” but then it became... I don't know, it just seemed like our options were open.
Ross: We didn't have to go looking for anything cos The Orchard bought TVT over so it was a seamless transition.
Scott: I think once it all came through everyone was like “Well, hurry up and die”. I mean, the only thing I found annoying about it was we had all these songs that we're about to release on [the new album] Love and Terror written ages ago so the complications with TVT and The Orchard were a bit annoying. But to be honest with you, we had a bit of a fractious time with TVT; they always wanted to put their finger in places where it shouldn't be involved. Artistically, they'd sometimes try to pull the sway over what we did, which I would find really annoying. The Orchard seem to be quite good at letting us just get on with it. For me, when I heard that TVT went bust I was pretty pleased. And to be honest with you, I think it was a really good opportunity for us to just be able to take back artistic control of things. It was like a new lease of life for us. It kind of filled me back up with a lot of enthusiasm about doing what we want to do. And I really think we have been free this time.
Your guitarist Ramsey left as well, around the same time...
Scott: He left, he got married and had a baby and some other commitments so he decided to move on. It was a bit strange to begin with for a while but we got Larry in quite quickly and, again, I think that was a... well, it was more like he walked in. It was seamless, it was almost like he'd come in before Ramsey left! Again, that was good as well. It brings a new sort of dimension to the band. A lot of people have the “difficult second album” and it sounds like a terrible thing to say but I almost see this as a second debut album, in a way. Everything's different this time... apart from me, him and him [points at Adam and Ross].
Do you feel like you're in a much better situation now?
Scott: Yeah, definitely. I'm much more enthused about it than I think I would've been if we were still signed to TVT trying to get another album out with them.
Tonight's the launch party for your new single Love and Terror - what's the song about?
Larry: Its complete nonsense. It was never supposed to be a single. Adam and I had written a lot of songs that we thought were really good pop tunes so I disappeared into a cupboard for a couple of weeks and thought “Well, I'm going to write a series of songs that totally aren't singles” and one of them was Love and Terror. I handed it over to the label and they're like “Great, that should be the first single”.
Scott: I kind of agreed with that as well.
Larry: Well, yeah everybody did... Its about relationships almost breaking down and realising there's no point in that kind of madness.
Scott: What does that mean!?
Larry: I wanted to write a song called Love and Terror cos I think they're the two most overused words in the world right now. Love has been overused since the beginning of time and in the last maybe eight years or so, so has terror. Its like they've completely lost their meaning. So I was like “lets write a song and hope they disappear into the ether”! Its quite a dark song about looking at relationships that I had in the past and watching them break down and then having another relationship that doesn't break down cos everyone realises that this is probably the way its supposed to be. Its about relationships and thats all songs are about really. I guess all songs are saying “Hey, I want to get with you” or “Hey, I want to get with your daughter” or “Hey man, we've been friends for a long time. I've got something to tell you...”
How did you find recording the album, bearing in mind you had to wait to get into the studio because of all the complications with the label...
Larry: Yeah, that was probably the most infuriating thing because we wrote the songs... we could have had the album out a year ago I think because we had all the songs.
Scott: It was good fun this time though. Three of us had the experience of being in a studio before so doing it again, you kind of think you know what you're doing. We did a lot of the production ourselves; Larry did a lot of it. As I was saying earlier, we got a lot of control over what we were doing so it was kind of us sitting around, getting drunk, smoking and just doing whatever we wanted to do.
Larry: There was a lot of stuff on it where if we were doing it with a big time producer who's reputation was at stake, they wouldn't have let us do it. There's loads of weird instruments on it, like timpanis... not that that's that weird.. we just wanted to experiment a bit, which we wouldn't have got to do if we were with some huge producer.
Scott: We certainly got to do a lot of stuff that we weren't able to do last time we've done, like being able to make it a bit more raw, more genuine.
Larry: We blew up an amp as well, and there's no way we would've been allowed to do that.
Did you choose to produce it yourselves because of the artistic control or because it was cheaper?
Adam: A mixture of the two..
Larry: I think it was quite an organic thing. Because we had so much time on our hands we demoed all of the songs quite extensively. Usually on a demo its just the singer with an acoustic guitar but this time round we actually demoed it with guitars and vocals and that. We thought to ourselves if we hand that over to producers to produce the record, we've basically done all the work anyway.
Scott: It would just be giving money away...
Larry: You pay big time producers for their ideas on how to the songs sounding really good and we already had them sounding really good with lots of the production techniques that we'd used so we'd already done all the work. The label didn't know we produced the demos ourselves so when our manager came down to London to discuss these things they asked him who we'd got to produce them and Glen said we'd done it all ourselves so they let us just carry on. I think if we'd made an arse of it they would have had somebody waiting in the wings to come in and take over.
Scott: Yeah, it was a mixture of the two. I mean, obviously its much cheaper. I think producers are going to find themselves in a very difficult situation; people can record on their computers now, anyone can get hold of the software themselves and come up with really good stuff. I don't know if producers are really going to be a necessary thing in the future, its kind of an extra thing that musicians have to learn how to do but I think if it means you can get it to sound how you want it to sound and have that control over it. It sounds like a nasty thing to say but its your songs and you want them to sound how you want them to sound and sometimes if you're working with someone else, unless you've got a really good connection, you can find yourself fighting with them all the time.
Do you think you'll carry on doing your own production in the future then?
Scott: I don't know, I think we'd probably be most likely to do it ourselves but if we found someone who we really got with and had great ideas then totally. We'd never rule anything out.
What are your hopes for this album?
Scott: To be successful! I think its a really good album, its a lot better than our first album. Its a really genuine and honest album, do you know what I mean? Its kind of going in the face of lots of music thats around, which a lot of is just pop tunes that people can dance to so bands can make some money. Of course we want to make people dance and we want to make some money as well but I think its a genuine and honest record and we're a genuine, honest bunch of guys. We're not from London, we're not really from Glasgow - half of us are from the Highlands of Scotland. We're not part of a scene, we're not trying to fit in or do anything to be cool or wear brand-new vintage clothes. So, I don't know... I suppose I just want it to be successful so we can carry on doing what we want to do.
Do you feel like there's less pressure with this album cos back in 2005 there was a lot of hype about you being bigger than Franz Ferdinand and obviously there's none of that this time round...
Scott: Obviously we would have loved it if that had happened but that was never our intention. Other people write things and other people make their own perceptions of who you are and what you're about. Sometimes on the first album I think people just really didn't understand us at all. Going back to that thing about us being from the Highlands, I mean in a sense we were slightly naive; we weren't interested in image or any of that. But of course you have one whether you like it or not and if you don't try and control your own, other people make it for you. So we found ourselves in this position where people were telling us what we sounded like and what we were about. We don't sound anything like Franz Ferdinand! I think my fringe looked a little bit like his at the time. They're going to compare us to Frank Sinatra now cos I've got my fringe back. Other people make that up and we've just been left going round in it. This album certainly wasn't written to be a big poppy successful album, this is a record that we wanted to make. And the way that we've made it... we've done everything ourselves, we've even made our own videos. Everything's completely in our control, so its up to the public how it goes down but to be honest with you, we're not trying to impress anyone.