For those of you that don’t already know, I am a Glasweigan, born and bred. The reason that I mention this, is that it really does feel as if I spend every other week posting about some amazing Edinburgh band that I want to share with you all. This week it’s The Last Battle, an indie-folk sextet from Auld Reekie.
I first came across the band on Ian from Have Fun At Dinner‘s blog at the start of the year. He had tipped them as one of his band’s to watch for 2010 and his post really sparked my interest as up to that point they had passed under my radar. Since then, the band have recorded sessions for Song By Toad and Leith FM, toured all over the country, been tipped by Vic Galloway as one of his ‘Future National Anthems’ and possibly most excitingly been signed up by esteemed Scottish Music Blogger, Ed Jupp, to his Seventeen Seconds Record Label.
The band are set to release their stunning debut album, ”Heart Of The Land, Soul Of The Sea’, next month, I think this album will take quite a few folk by surprise, and it’s already one of my favourite albums of 2010. Without further ado, I would like to present to you one of the most exciting bands to have emerged from Scotland this year, The Last Battle……
Scots Way Hay Would you care to introduce yourself?
We are The Last Battle from Edinburgh. Some of us are related, some of us are in relationships with each other and some of us went to school together.
How would you describe the music you make?
Low key ramshackle folk with wee pretty bits
How did you come together as a band?
Early last year Paul (Bass) and I began recording on a mate’s 12 track. After realising we’d probably want to play live we roped in our girlfriends Ella (glockenspiel) and Flora (cello) to help out. It turned out Ella’s sister Arwen (vocals) could hold a tune so we begged her to join along with an old school friend of mine Liam to play percussion. It works surprisingly well – when we go out on tour, in between playing, the girls can go off and do nice things and leave the boys to huddle round a laptop and be smelly.
How did you start out making music?
Paul , Liam and I have been in various bands over the years, mostly art rock affairs. Flora used to drunkenly play cello for The Love Gestures, who were an Edinburgh anti-folk group made up of Withered Hand, Enfant Bastard and Neil from Meursault. Arwen and Ella on the other hand have never been in bands before.
What process goes into the way you write songs?
It’s pretty straightforward really. Strum the guitar, come up with a melody and some words, then play it to my other half, who’s brutally honest and will say “that’s rubbish” or “that’s pretty”. The pretty ones get recorded, and the rubbish ones get put on ebay.
Who are your big musical influences?
As a whole I’d say we all agree on the following: Bright Eyes, Sufjan Stevens, Meursault, Eagleowl, King Biscuit Time, The National, Richard Thompson, The Middle East, Belle & Sebastian, Burnt Island, Camera Obscura, The Phantom Band and Tom Waits.
Is it true that you took your name from one of the Chronicle of Narnia books? And if so, which Narnia character would you say The Last Battle can relate to most?
Yup, Paul suggested we name ourselves after the book. I’d been trying to come up with a name for ages and mine were all terrible, so we plumped for his one in the end. The character we can relate to most would be Prince Caspian because of all the sailing malarkey, as some of our songs are quite oceanic.
What made you decide to hook up with Seventeen Second Records? How did that come about?
Ed Jupp who runs the label stepped in and offered to put out the album after hearing us play a session on Song By Toad. He’s put records out for Aberfeldy and Ex Lion Tamer, is a massive vinyl junkie and a thoroughly lovely chap, so that was enough for us really. He also works in a Library, which we took as a strangely ironic sign.
The Edinburgh music scene seems to be thriving at the moment, do you feel that this has had much influence on you as a band?
Very much so. There are a lot of great bands, promoters, bloggers and labels all helping each other out at the moment. For me, watching Neil from Meursault, who I’ve known for about ten years, going from playing to 5 people in a pub on Rose St, to supporting Frightened Rabbit at The Queens Hall has been massively influential. Watching them stride onto that big stage and the massive cheer they received nearly made me greet!
What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond? Do you have any new releases planned for any time soon?
Our album ‘Heart Of The Land, Soul Of The Sea’ is out on 4th October, which is a year to the day we played our very first gig at The Pond in Leith. We’re all excited about it as none of us have ever made an album before or had anything released. We’re hoping to release a single on vinyl before the years out, which would be amazing. We also have a talented young film maker called Sarah Wickens working on an illustrated video to go with the closing track on the album, ‘Soul Of The Sea’. We’ll also be trying to play as much as we can.
The Last Battle – Soul of the Sea (Live on FreshAir.org.uk)
‘Heart Of The Land, Soul Of The Sea’ is out on the 4th October 2010 on 17 Seconds Records. The band celebrated the album’s release with an official launch night,last Friday at the The Roxy in Edinburgh. The band are also playing at the Sufjan Stevens tribute night tonight in Glasgow, (22nd of September).
You can also get yourself a free download of their ‘A Wee Red Tale’ Live E.P, which features three live tracks recorded at surprisingly enough the Wee Red Bar in Edinburgh, on their Bandcamp.
Photo Credit: William Edward Head