On Friday, Come on Gang! released their new single ‘Fortune Favours The Brave’, it’s one of the best pop songs I have heard all year, and not only that, but they’re also giving it away for free. If you’ve never come across the Edinburgh trio then boy are you in for one hell of a treat. It would be pretty lazy of me to simply bracket them as indie-pop starlets as there is so much more going on here.
The most obvious thing that makes them stand out is that lead singer Sarah is also their drummer. Live they’re tighter than a chubby hipster’s skinny-jeans and they make amazingly catchy pop tunes. Having already played at the Reading & Leeds festivals, T in the Park and SXSW, the band are all set to make some serious waves with the release of their new single (or at least they will if there’s any fucking justice in the world).
Would you care to introduce yourself?
SARAH: We are Mikey, Rob and Sarah, three piece Edinburgh pop merchants Come On Gang!
How would you describe the music you make?
SARAH: Take the largest number you can think of, multiply it by three, take away two, turn right and you’re there.
MIKEY: Pretty honest I guess. I love that all we really care about is writing the best songs we can and we never really give a seconds thought to genres and crap like that.
ROB: Better banter than jesus? I’m pretty sure the Beatles quote used “bigger” rather than “better banter”, but I’m sticking with my first answer.
How did you come together as a band?
SARAH: It was both by accident and design. Our initial basis was the art college in Edinburgh where we met and where we wrote our first songs, but Rob and Mikey lived together at the time and that’s how they knew each other.
MIKEY: Sarah forgot to mention how many guitarists they ‘auditioned’ before they found me. I think it almost reached double figures. In hindsight, I don’t think they found me as much as settled for me. Either way, they’re stuck now and I get the last laugh!
ROB: I told Mikey I’d give him one of my balls to be in a band with him (true story), but I think geographic convenience was the deal clincher.
How did you start out making music?
SARAH: I’ve been playing the drums and singing my whole life and also I’ve always been a writer. So by the time I got to about 17 I was writing crap adolescent songs and playing in my teacher’s band at school. Then, when I started hanging out with non-teachers, and no longer played dodgy versions of You Really Got Me, I started putting my own imagination to good use and I’ve been honing it ever since.
MIKEY: Yep played in loads of bands as a kid (including my teenage band playing a couple of shows with Rob’s teenage band, but Rob doesn’t remember any of this. The dick.) Always written tunes and just thought it would be good to start playing in bands again.
ROB: Mikey’s right, I don’t remember him. But I do remember the drummer from his band – that guy used to drum topless because he was totally awesome. At that point of course, I didn’t write music, I just played covers of Guns N Roses, Limp Bizkit and Manic Street Preachers. Good times. Anyway, in my final year of high school I started writing stuff for the guitar, then writing lyrics, then piano, then bass. These days I’ll happily write for any instrument that makes noise.
What process goes into the way you write songs?
SARAH: It depends, we usually come into the practise room and one of us might have a ditty in their head and then we all work it out and build it into a song, someone adds a chorus and so on. There have also been times when one of us has a clear idea of how the song will sound and that’s quite straightforward. And I write the lyrics, most of the time, as I love rhyming patterns, they’re a lot like drumming rhythms. Although we all listen to different music, we’re of similar temperaments and our songs often get written quite rapidly.
MIKEY: Sarah’s spot on. As far as the guitars go though, the parts need to be interesting to keep my attention. There seems to be a lot of guitarists around who make whole albums without a single memorable guitar line or sound and, to me, that would be a horrible existence.
ROB: Every once in a while, I’ll see a new band that just blows me away. After a night like that, I desperately need to go home and write music – can’t stop myself. Most of the best stuff I write starts like that.
Who are your big musical influences?
SARAH: I love songs that tell stories, so things like Fairport Convention or Johnny Cash, and that upbeat-downbeat tension in Motown and Philadelphia records. But there’s a big part of me that just loves a big, strong, stompy song, which is why T-Rex is my all-time favourite band.
MIKEY: We’re all into very different music and I think it comes through when you hear a bunch of our songs back-to-back. There’s no solid influences on the band as a whole though, not musically anyway, so we each just dip into our own wee stash of faves. When you write songs it often feels like you’ve discovered them rather than written them, and I love that feeling.
ROB: Like Mikey said, we all have a lot of different influences, and it’s hard to see how they meld together into the end result. Par example: I love Otis Redding, I love Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, I love Eels. It’s a weird mystery of songwriting that these disparate influences can end up in anything cohesive, but I reckon that’s part of the fun!
Is Sarah the only female singing drummer in Scotland/The World?
SARAH: There are girls who sing and girls who drum of course, both in Scotland and the world. But I haven’t seen anyone else do exactly what I do. It’s the best feeling in the world, doing both. It’s brilliant.
MIKEY: Well Karen Carpenter’s dead, so I thought we were okay, but I’ve been starting to worry about these guys recently.
ROB: Other girls can sing, other girls can drum, and women are supposed to be good at multitasking. So in theory we should be able to teach an army of Tanat-Jones clones. But none would be as awesome as our Sarah.
Is it true that your music once caused a man to dance so hard that his trousers split?
SARAH: That’s nothing. Our music once caused a drunk man wearing a questionably-stained kilt to expose himself on the royal mile, though that was in the middle of the Edinburgh Festival so normal rules don’t apply.
MIKEY: Yes it’s true – here’s a shit photo of it. We also caused a fully grown man in a suit to start literally clawing at his face with glee; I’ve never seen such joy manifested before or since.
ROB: The morning after a particularly heavy night at GoNorth in Inverness, someone showed me a naked video of that same guy demonstrating the “mangina”. That night was brilliant carnage actually – but thankfully there was no video evidence of me afterwards!
Most gangs have ‘tags’ which they spray paint around their territory. How do Come on Gang! scare off rival bands?
SARAH: We get Mikey to go round their house with a rounders bat.
MIKEY: Tru dat. I’ve got ‘Gangster’ tattoed across my knuckles (and ‘4 Life’ inside my bottom lip) so when Mikey “The Enforcer” Morrison comes round, they shit it. Basically.
ROB: And you know how some people scare people off with dogs? My Dad has donkeys at his house, which we can borrow – they are easily three times as good as dogs. To be clear, he doesn’t keep them INSIDE his house…
What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond? Do you have any new releases planned for any time soon?
SARAH: We’ve got major plans afoot, our single Fortune Favours the Brave is available as a free download from September 10th; after that, we’ll be touring the UK and Ireland. Hot on the heels of that, we’re releasing another single out into the world, with lots more touring and an album release in the new year. We’re also planning a web-based online tour diary which will feature artwork, photographs and exclusive news and work that will reveal what it’s like to be on tour, as we think it’s a good way to link the worlds of art and music, and get people more involved in the realities of life in a band. And of course we’ll be writing new material and experimenting with New Wave directional clothing, possibly.
MIKEY: The rest of 2010? Apart from the single/tour/album etc, I’m really keen to add a few more desserts to my repertoire. Right now I make a very popular banoffee pie but that trick’s getting old, so I might look towards a pavlova or some sort of tart. I also really need to pass my driving test, seriously.
ROB: Single releases, touring… I think the next year is gonna be a whole lot of fun! Might get Mikey to bring some of his pavlovas on tour, but I’m not into tarts. We’re better than that.
Come on Gang! ‘s new single ‘Fortune Favours The Brave’ is now available for free download. It’s one of the best pop tunes you’re likely to hear all year, so make sure you check it out.If this sets the benchmark for their forthcoming album, then we are in for a massive treat. The band are also in the middle of a massive tour of Scotland calling at the following venues;
Inverness Hootanannys – Fri 17th
Aviemore Bridge Inn – Sat 18th
Bathgate The Attic – Sun 19th
Island of Eigg, Inner Hebrides Away Game Festival – Sat 25th
Come on Gang! – Start The Sound (Reading & Leeds 2009)
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