Interviews

Get To Know: Scottish Alternative

Scotland consistently produces really fantastic music in all sorts of genres and recently Leo was fortunate enough to talk to some of this country’s most promising and exciting exports, check out what they had to say…

Scotland consistently produces really fantastic music in all sorts of genres and recently Leo was fortunate enough to talk to some of this country’s most promising and exciting exports, check out what they had to say…

WITHERED HAND
Dan Willson, Singer & Songwriter

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Who are you & where are you from? 
Dan Willson of Withered Hand, from Edinburgh.

What was the first album you ever bought? 
License to Ill, Beastie Boys

What inspired you to start making music & who have been your biggest influences?
I think my friends have been the biggest influence on my starting to make songs, people I knew who were making music themselves. People like Bart Owl (eagleowl), Neil Pennycook (Meursault), Mark Hamilton (Woodpigeon) and Charles Latham. I fell in love with the sound of the electric guitar at an early age though through T Rex, The Kinks and The Eagles in my parent’s record collection, then discovered heavy rock and rap and punk and grunge in my early teens.

Describe your sound in five words. 
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

What is your proudest musical achievement to date? 
Making it to a second album, against all odds.

Obviously you have toured and played quite extensively do you have any funny or embarrassing tour stories?
Too many. In my dreams I will write a comic someday, compiling them all.

From one of your own songs can you pick a favourite lyric?
“Here I go, pigeon toed to the great divide, it’s like the same old story how, did you put a horseshoe in my glove?” – Horseshoe

If you could have written any song what would it be and why?
The answer to this would change with the weather but right now I’d love to have written ‘America’ by Paul Simon. Because it is beautiful and the lyrics always resonated with me.

Why should I listen to your music?
Don’t feel like you have to, it’s probably not for everyone. (PressPlay strongly encourages you listen!)

Your new album ‘New Gods’ comes almost five years after ‘Good News’ do you feel you have changed and evolved as an artist in that time?
Yes of course I am a different person five years on but I don’t tend to separate my life as an artist from my life as a person, a citizen, a father, husband, friend etc. I feel like I have come to terms with this so-called career as a singer-songwriter and bandleader a little better now. It’s a weird thing to do. I have had a lot of new and unexpected experiences both in music and in life and my feelings and thoughts are collected and scattered through the songs on the new album, as you’d hope.

Your songs are consistently honest and open on an emotional level I feel and I was wondering if this was always drawn from personal experience or whether you ever fictionalise song content for art’s sake?
You can reveal truth through artifice. That’s part of what art is about. But for me, if it doesn’t ring true to me I won’t be standing up there and singing it, I’m old fashioned like that

*Catch Withered Hand live on 17/04/14 @ Liquid Room, Edinburgh or 18/04/14 @ Glasgow CAA

THE WINTER TRADITION 
Mark Morrow, Guitarist & Producer 

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Who are you and where are you from? 
We are The Winter Tradition – an alternative rock band – from Edinburgh.

How did you meet? 
We met when we were back at high school when we first formed a band. Ewan, Stephen and I (Mark) have been playing music together for around 11 years. Our drummer Callum joined us around 3 years ago.

Describe your sound in five words. 
Interesting, exciting, energetic, Alternative Rock

What inspired you to start a band & who have been your biggest influences? 
I was very much brought up around music so I was always interested in playing music and starting a band. Our biggest influences, as a band are bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Sigur Ros, Jimmy Eat World, Bombay Bicycle Club. We also genuinely listen to all sorts of music between us. So we pull a different sound and style from a lot of varying places.

What is your proudest musical achievement to date? 
Towards the end of last year we played our biggest headline show at The Liquid Room in Edinburgh. It was very almost sold out which was unbelievable! We then did a very successful UK tour and released a new single which has had a lot of positive feedback and press!

Obviously you guys have now toured quite a lot, have you got any funny or embarrassing tour stories? 

Haha, oh so many! We once slept in our van in an Inverness car park and went to a nearby swimming pool to grab some showers in the morning. None of us had swimming trunks so we had to rent from the swimming pool. They provided us with pretty tight, small, purple, matching swimming trunks for us to wear. I’m not sure what people must have thought of us…

From one of your own songs can you pick a favourite lyric? 
“If we can find dry land, we’ll grow old together” from our song Tides and Telegrams.

If you could have written any song what would it be and why?
I would love to have written the ‘Clarity’ album by Jimmy Eat World. I just love every track on that album and there is a real honesty behind the music and production!

Why should I listen to your music?
If you like Scottish Alternative Indie Rock then I think you will like us! We always try and keep things fresh and exciting and don’t limit ourselves as a ‘guitar rock band’. We like to experiment with different instruments and sounds both in the studio and live.

As a producer yourself do you have a different approach to the recording process compared to your bandmates?
I record The Winter Tradition much the same as I would record any other band I am working with. Some people ask me if it’s strange being the writer and the producer on the same record, but I don’t see it like that at all! We’ve always recorded our own music so it’s very much a part of why our band sounds the way it does. We tend to build up demos as we are writing, so the recording and production process is there right from the start of the song idea.

DONNIE WILLOW

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Who are you?
Arthur Piddington (Centre) – Guitar and Vocals, Sam Peppiette (Right) – Bass and Vocals, Peter Bunting (Left) – Drums

Where are you from?
Originally from Edinburgh, where we all met at school in 2009, but have now all moved to Glasgow

What inspired you to start a band & who have been your biggest influences?
Our earliest influences were from bands like Biffy Clyro and Nirvana; three-piece rock and/or roll

Describe your sound in five words…
Loud, Dynamic, Tight, Electronica, Phunk

What is your proudest musical achievement to date?
The best line up we have been part of was supporting The Xcerts at Studio 24 in Edinburgh. We are also very proud of our latest EP, as we believe it’s our best release so far.

From one of your own songs can you pick a favourite lyric?
“Tricks to relocate your mind, the cost’s a lie.” – Tricks

If you could have written any song what would it be and why?
A) Return of The Jedi – Reuben (Incredible alt rock song with amazing riffs and powerful lyrics describing the problems with the modern music industry and music piracy) Arthur: The song goes through so many stages that you wouldn’t think that it’s the same song you’re hearing. Plus there’s this huge aggressive riff at about 4:30 which is followed by such a calm section with the most brutally honest lyrics you’ll hear for a while. Lenman is god.
B) All The Way Down – Biffy Clyro (Really powerful rock ballad, ‘tis a tear jerker) Arthur: the whole song flows so well; it’s beautifully written. It’s like a gradual build up from the first chord, which climaxes with a very life affirming chorus. By the end, you’re given a sense of closure which makes listening to it 6 more times acceptable.
C) Any song from the album ‘Daisy’ by Brand New (Cause fuck yeah this album is unbelievable)

Why should I listen to your music?
We try to combine interesting elements of various kinds of bands to create our own sound. A sound that reminds people that a band doesn’t need to stick to a certain style or genre

*Catch Donnie Willow on 03/05/14 @ The Mash House, Edinburgh with support from We Were Hunted

Interview: Leo Bargery

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