Crash Club on a collision course with the big time.

Ask the movers and shakers of Glasgow to sum up how buoyant the local music scene is at the moment and, for many, two words will give you the answer you’re looking for: Crash Club.

The band, who formed in 2010, seem to be subconsciously providing the soundtrack to the city, with their strobe-heavy, swagger-inducing, energetic live shows continuing to win over audiences and help cement their status as one of the best bands in the country.

Collaborations with the likes of Tony Costello from Tijuana Bibles and Ian Mackinnon from Medicine Men show that they well and truly have their finger on the pulse musically, helping to hone and add another dimension to their sound – one that offers shades of Primal Scream’s XTRMNTR mixed with a heavy dose of The Chemical Brothers – as well as their live performances.

It’s a case of so far so good then for bassist Neal McHarg, “We’ve already done a lot of things we’d have put down on a musically bucket list kinda thing, like releasing a 12” record, and playing with bands that got us into dance music, being involved in festival season and to play T in the Park.”

This week saw a step up to the mantle in more ways than one for the electro-rock outfit, after they picked up the ‘Best Electronic’ act accolade at the recent Scottish Alternative Music Awards, where they also performed at alongside the likes of Holy Esque and Hector Bizerk.

This came hot on the heels of a support slot with The View in Edinburgh, alongside a barnstorming midnight show at the day-long Tenement Trail festival in Glasgow, which, I’m told, left even an attending Mhairi Black MP with her tongue wagging.

Surprising, it seems, is bassist Neal’s level-headedness amidst all the commotion.

“We just get on with it, to be honest,” he explains, “the hype could die down as quickly as it started. I’ve been around long enough to see it with bands I really believed were going to break through so I think for us we’ve got to keep writing better tracks and come up with new ways to make the live shows better.”

Meanwhile, the band are currently knuckled down in Glasgow’s Rocket Science studios, working on their new EP, which, by Neal’s own admission, is sounding “massive”.

“It is heading towards a New York sound, one where you really feel the beats and it’s hard not to groove,” he reveals. “It resembles the sound you probably would think of when you listen to DFA Record’s acts like LCD Soundsystem, Holy Ghost and The Rapture, although a bit darker in tones.”

When probed about possible future collaborations, he isn’t giving anything away.

“We are lucky to have some of the best acts in Scotland involved with us,” he boasts, “but I’ll keep that hush hush until it’s all finished.”

And with an upcoming King Tut’s headline slot on November 6th, alongside the promise of more late night shows in the near future, the hype surrounding Crash Club sees no signs of being written off.

The Twilight Sad and a bright future ahead.

The Twilight Sad are 4 dates into a slot supporting Editors on their European tour, and basking in the fresh critical acclaim coming their way in light of the release of ‘Oran Mor Session’ – a compilation of stripped back renditions of songs that mostly made up last year’s Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave.

James Graham emits a relative calm amongst the storm, as the frontman and I sat down for a chat within the not so glamorous surroundings of Glasgow’s Laureston Bar, to talk about New York posters, Glasgow crowds, and social networking.

As the pints arrived, James gave us the lowdown on the Editors tour and winning over new fans.

“It’s going really good so far, we are going to try and win new fans and make an impression on people as opposed to playing to people who know who we are.

There’s a confidence in showing these people what it means to you but at the same time there is the scary element of, thinking ‘this crowd could hate us’.

As we have been playing people have been cheering louder, so I guess it feels like we are winning them over with every song.”

The impending gig that night, however, up the road at Glasgow’s 02 Academy, may have required a different mind-set.

“I think because our other Glasgow gig is sold out, which is mental, some people are coming to see us here just to see us. Glasgow is different in that at the gigs you see the same faces you’ve seen since day 1 and the support is always amazing… I’m basically a big back of f@£$ing nerves.”

Not that he was showing any signs of it. The excitement was evident. The recent filtration of the mammoth 25 date support slot for The Cure in America – with a three night stint at both the Hollywood Bowl and Madison Square Garden – still had the band swimming in awe and anticipation, an opportunity James described as ‘mad’, coming off the back of frontman Robert Smith’s cover of ‘Girl in the Corner’.

“I must have listened to his version around 500-1000 times, and I remember when we heard it for the first time in a van in San Francisco. We just sat there in silence and said ‘What the f£$k just happened there’. I had to stop listening to it because I was getting obsessed by it.

As for the tour, I saw a poster in NY someone tweeted us that had our name on it…I don’t think doing Madison Square Garden will sink in until we stand on the stage and start sound-checking.”

The offer to play alongside a band they consider as being one of their favourites says a lot, to James, about the kind of band The Twilight Sad they see themselves are…

“We seem to be more of a band’s band where people in other bands like us. As far as the other sh@£e is concerned we are not on their radar completely and I’m quite happy for it to stay that way.

It shows me that we are doing things in the right way as bands should do and not just be there on hype.”

To him the success hasn’t allowed them to deviate from the ideas and philosophy from which they began writing and recording songs…

“I hope we can become a band that can go and play places and has a room full of people who want to see our music. At the same time, we won’t change even if people’s perception of us change. I don’t care about anything else apart from writing music and playing gigs.

It’s the reason why we started the band in the first place, to make music that we thought kind of mattered, and that’s why we do it.”

Through the European jaunt with Editors, alongside a handful of concerts on the continent, the Barrowlands end of year gig looms as large and bright as the venue’s famous exterior…

“It feels like we have joined a club we have always wanted to be a part of, like a badge of honour or seal of approval from where we live. The gig feels like it will be the end of a chapter for us, so we can give the record (2014’s Nobody Wants To Be Here…) the send-off it deserves. We’ve got to make sure that it is the best gig we have ever played”.

With that in mind, James feels that the city itself has had, and continues to have, a definite influence on the band.

“We say we are from Glasgow and we are proud of that. That’s where our favourite music came from. Plus the fact that all those folk we listened to have taken us under their wing. To even be mentioned in the same sentence as some of our favourite bands is just as big an honour as anything.

We have always been a band that shies away from any kind of scene or group, but I’m very happy to be part of the ‘Glasgow Gang’ along with them. I’d be quite happy to be the tea boy for that group.”

Another interesting point to note, is The Twilight Sad’s use of social networks to further spread the word and maintain that very ‘real’ contact with fans and doubters alike, a role that James taken on personally.

“The first thing I do before I go to bed or when I get up is see what people have been writing or tweeting about us and I do try my best to respond to it. If someone shows an appreciation for us I like to respond and say thank you.

On the same note, if someone is being a fanny I will tell them they are a fanny, you have to take it both ways”, he says.

As for any further musical developments to look forward to come 2016, fans will be happy to know that they seem intent to keep the Sad momentum going.

“Andy and I started writing some stuff over the summer. There’s a few concrete tunes in there, in as much as I can see the (new) album opener and another two at least. All going to plan we will have the album recorded before we go away with The Cure.”

With so much on their plate for 2016, and with the enthusiasm for making records and playing live shows as strong as ever, it sure seems like it is gearing up to be the year of the Sad.

Especially if their blistering performance at the 02 Academy was to go by, it seemed that they were in full ‘Barrowlands’ mode a full two months early.

Meeting Mogwai; 20 years and still going strong.

As Scotland’s seminal post-rock flag bearers, Mogwai have been making noise and splitting ears for as long as we can remember. With a new ‘Best Of’ compilation making its way into record shops at the end of the month, Central Belters, I sat down with guitarist Stuart Braithwaite to discuss everything from film scores, Lou Reed, nostalgia and of course, Glasgow.

20 candles recently blown, and yet for Mogwai, Glasgow’s post-rock pioneers, they show no lack of enthusiasm for making music that has so far churned out a heady amount of albums to add substance to any good record collection.

After their triumphant, face-melting anniversary shows at the Barrowlands and London’s Roundhouse in June, the band were keen to cement passing the double-decade mark with more than just a run of gigs, especially for those unlucky enough not to have been there to see them.

I think we really wanted to do something to kind of mark the occasion.  Not just the concerts.  They were great fun.  Something more permanent.  It seemed quite an obvious thing to do,” explains Stuart.

With new Best Of compilation Central Belters, the band have been careful to provide fair representation to all strands of what has been a remarkable career, with the 35 tracks spanning all 8 studio albums as well as the Les Revenants and Zidane soundtracks, whilst attempting to cater to all possible sections of the Mogwai ‘Young Team’.

“I think a lot of people got into us in the last five or 10 years.  Maybe some people liked us at the start and fell away, or stopped going to record shops.  So this is an opportunity to show what we’ve done over the last 20 years.”

With such an expansive back catalogue to choose from, Stuart had his say on what would be included where.  “The rarities were harder, as there is so much there and they were less obvious picks,” he explains.  “With the rest, I kind of ran with it.  It was more that the rest of the band would say ‘no’, rather than being five different ideas.”

Seems many moons ago that the Mogwai as we know came to be, after that first jam in Stuart’s family home in Glasgow, and the city, if not directly, has certainly had some part to play in the longevity of their music, as he himself notes, “Maybe it’s a subconscious thing that has probably happened without us thinking about it.  Glasgow was a scene that helped us and we’d like to think that we’ve helped it as well.  It’s definitely a community thing that you have here.”


Stuart also took time to give us some news on his side project with super-group Minor Victories, revealing that, with the album nearly complete, he has been working with James Graham from local heroes The Twilight Sad on a song for what will essentially be a “pop record”.

The band will go back to the drawing board shortly after the release of Central Belters with the completion of Mark Cousin’s Atomic documentary soundtrack, alongside the promise of more live shows next year.  “We are going back into the studio this month…to turn the Atomic music into a record, do some shows and make that live along with the film,” he says.  “Then next year we’ll be making a new album.”

And as for continuing to experiment with other ideas, it seems the motivation is also most definitely there.  “I think we would like to do a proper film.  To be involved right from the start,” he explains.  “We’ve came close to a few things happening but nothing came of it.”  With that in mind, a passing suggestion was made of throwing their hat into the ring for the upcoming Trainspotting 2.

“That would be great.  I know Irvine (Welsh), he is a brilliant guy.  I don’t know if I know him well enough to phone him up like you would phone your pal,” he jokes, “but you never know, it might be one of those, ‘If you don’t ask you don’t get’ things.”

As for the future, he doesn’t see himself, or the band, hanging up their instruments at any point soon, not while the desire is still there to experiment with new sounds, play more gigs and travel to more places.  “I’d love to be still making music when I’m 75,” he says, “I think if you’re lucky to do what you like doing anyway then there’s no reason to stop.”


Any regrets then as the release date draws nearer?  One or two, none more so than the missed opportunity of a collaboration with a certain Lou Reed.  “We actually once got asked to play with him.  That is a real, real regret, we didn’t do it because we were making a record (2008’s Hawk is Howling).  He wanted to do a noise jam with us.”

And while history, as it happened, robbed us of what would have surely been an astonishing musical get-together, we can, without doubt, thank our musical stars that Mogwai have led our ears and our minds into realms the likes of which we had never entered previously.

Here’s to another 20.

Tenement TV continues to blaze a trail.

Saturday seems a long time ago but my ears are still ringing from a quite incredible day and night’s worth of music thanks to the guys at Tenement TV.

Their annual shindig, Tenement Trail, took over 6 different city centre venues while hosting more than 40 bands from all over the UK. With a line up that boasted the likes of Neon Waltz, Be Charlotte and Laura St Jude, alongside ‘the new Franz Ferdinand’ in White, the movers and shakers of Glasgow were certainly spoiled for choice.

Early sets by the bluesy, Deep South influenced ‘The Bar Dogs’ and the rapid fire Jake Bugg-esque Declan Walsh set the early tone, with both gigs pulling in a healthy, vocal crowd.

London’s The Amazons, making their Glasgow debut in Sleazy’s, didn’t disappoint, as their jangly, intense sound and tales of junk food and misplaced affection brought with it comparisons with The Vaccines.

As the day rolled on the Art School became witness to some, if not all, of the best concerts of the day. The likes of Pronto Mama pulled in a huge crowd with their calypso themed trumpet driven melodies, whilst Holy Esque showed everyone just how far they have come in recent months with a set that eschewed ambition, drive and creativity.

Headliners White, taking to the stage at 9pm, more than lived up to the hype their recent gigs at Wickerman and Glastonbury have established within UK music circles. Leo Conde embodies the spirit of a young Bryan Ferry as their self-styled ‘pink noise’ turned the Art School into something akin to an 80’s high school reunion.

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Headliners White at the Art School

However, it was electronic outfit Crash Club who stole the show, Their midnight slot had Flat 0/1 bursting at the seams as they brought the festival to a thundering close. Flying beer, strobe lights and heavy riffs were aplenty as the band ripped through a blistering set high on emotion and confidence. It’s a matter of time before they themselves will be the name on everyone’s lips.

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Crash Club bringing the house down at Flat 0/1

A fantastic event which, like no other, highlights the health of the current UK music scene, placing the fan at its heart and providing the setting for some memorable gigs to leave even the most avid gig-goer waiting for next year.