It’s a funny wee world. I have been running the Peenko blog for almost two years and I honestly can’t quite believe how many cracking local bands I have ‘discovered’. The one thing that I hadn’t fully expected was to have my little sister ask me if I had heard of one of her best friends from school, Emma’s band The Social Services.
Here was a band who’s album, ‘It’s Nothing Personal, It’s National Security’ I had on heavy rotation when it came out last year, and now here was my younger sibling announcing that the record I’d been enjoying had been made by her pal from school (she’s all grown up now I should add). Right I’m starting to dig myself into a dangerous hole there, so I suppose I should tell you a bit more about the band.
Having originally formed in Sweden, they blend elements of both Scottish and Swedish indie pop. Combine this with wry, ironic lyrics and it makes for quite a unique sound that’s a welcome addition to the Scottish music scene.
Would you care to introduce yourself?
We’re an indiepop quartet, two parts Glaswegian, one part Swedish and one part Northern Irish, formed in Stockholm and now based in Glasgow.
How would you describe the music you make?
Imagine a 70s Elton John riding an elephant through a circus and stepping on all the clowns on the way past, then being knocked off by a stray trapeze artist while the tango band plays on as if nothing untoward has happened. Or: melodic, guitarless, dramatic, lyrical pop
How did you come together as a band?
Some of us are married to each other, some of us are childhood friends, some of us live on the same street. We’d all done lots of music before but never together so we thought it was worth a try.
How did you start out making music?
There were three of us snowed in in a tiny Stockholm flat with a guitar, two basses and a £10 charity shop keyboard. We ditched the guitar and one of the basses, brought in a drumkit and lots of harmonies, and suddenly it started to work.
What process goes into the way you write songs?
We all write material, which means we have new songs on the go most of the time. One of us comes with anything from a rough idea to a full song and we work on that together. We find the end result is much richer because we all have a lot of creative input.
Who are your big musical influences?
They’re pretty varied, since all of us write and we all listen to quite different music. To cite a few… Regina Spektor, Mogwai, Ben Folds, Tom Waits, Tchaikovsky, Nina Simone, Entombed, Rufus Wainwright, Cult of Luna, Mahler, The Magic Numbers.
You seem to have been on a bit of hiatus when it comes to playing gigs in Scotland, have you been locked away writing new material for the past few months then?
Um… we’ve been doing quite a few gigs actually… we moved back to Scotland from Sweden last autumn and we’ve been finding our feet in the lush and plentiful music scene of our hometown. There’s so much good music being made in Glasgow at the moment so we’re excited to be part of that scene.
If you could support any band you liked in a venue of your choice, who and where would it be?
The Magic Numbers in a beautiful theatre in Stockholm called Folkan, which was recently demolished to make space for yet more office blocks and luxury apartments.
What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond? Do you have any new releases planned for any time soon?
We’re sitting in the studio at this very moment, recording an EP which we hope to release later this year. Next week we’re heading off on a Scottish tour with Open Swimmer. In the autumn we’ll be doing more writing and gigging around Glasgow, then we’re heading back into the studio to record our second full-length album early next year.
The Social Services – The Baltic Sea
The Social Services – Touch the Swede
The Social Services finish off their Scottish tour tomorrow in Glasgow at Nice ‘n’ Sleazys.
If you can’t make it to that, then make sure you keep the 10th of September free, as they’re playing at Stereo alongside Rachel Sermanni, Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, and Danish band SLARAFFENLAND. Tickets are available directly from the band for the princely sum of £5. While you’re at it, make sure you pick yourself up a copy of their debut album, ‘It’s Nothing Personal, It’s National Security‘, it’s a cracking wee record.
More from Lloyd at Peenko