I always find that the best way to find about new music is to listen to you peers and in the past couple of months two of my fellow bloggers, Manic Pop Thrills and Song By Toad, have both been raving about this week’s newest addition to the Scots Way-Hay club.
My attention pricked, their scuzzy shoegaze sound took me a couple of listens before it clicked, but once it did I was hooked. Formed from the ashes of St Judes Infirmary songwriters Grant and Ashley Campbell, Edinburgh School for the Deaf remind me a lot bands like Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine when Grant takes the lead role, and cult Liverpool band, Johnny Boy, when Ashley is doing the honours. It’s a cracking wee combination so you can expect to hear a lot more from Edinburgh School for the Deaf in 2011…
Would you care to introduce yourself?
Jamie – Drums /clatter Grant – Child’s bass / Yammering. Kieran – Guitar/Vocals/Ear ache Ashley – Vocals/guitar/centre of storm calm
How would you describe the music you make?
Jamie : Someone said we were shoepunk (shoegaze and punk) the other day. I like to think we sound like an indie pop band with feedback and literary pretensions.
Grant : Songs made to be pop, doomed by our inability to master populism rooted in a history of unpopularity.
Kieran – There’s pop tunes at the core of it, underneath all the reverb, fuzz and wailing guitars there‘s melody. Although our style tends to alter slightly depending on who’s signing; all the songs definitely have a distinct sound and feel to them. I still like the term ‘Death Jangle’ 🙂
What process goes into the way you write songs?
Grant: In our previous band, Ashley and I used to sit down and write all the songs together, with a very clear division of labour in the same way as we had always done since kids. With ESFTD things have been much more haphazard, less regimented, everyone writes and there are no distinct roles. This album itself is the sound of us racing euphorically towards a sound and vision that we could call our own. It includes all of the passionate, love-struck trips and prat falls along the way!
Kieran – Together? Well, I’d know the others from their previous band Saint Judes Infirmary through putting them on and serving them drinks in the dear old Southern Bar in Southside a few years back, we got to be friends and started going to each others gigs, I was a huge fan of Saint Judes so when the guys approached me with talk of a new project I was stoked!
What process goes into the way you write songs?
Kieran – We have two 8-track recorders in the band that ideas get jotted onto and get played in the car to and from rehearsal/gigs, we quite like to air any form of idea whether it be a set of acoustic chords or programmed electronics or even 7 minute long string epics we’ve made on the latest toy we’ve got our hands on……then we do our best to destroy them .
Who are your big musical influences?
Jamie : As a band I think we are all fans of JAMC, VU and Phil Spector. After that it all goes somewhere different. Cliché I know, but I listen to as much as I can, whether it’s Ritchie Hawtin, Odd Future, Guitar wolf or Otis Redding.
Kieran – I’d agree with Jamie, there’s a big Mary Chain influence there, personally for me though I really love the aggression of bands like A Place To Bury Strangers and No Age, recently I’ve been listening to a lot of the resurgence of American slacker bands like Yuck and Male Bonding and think that has maybe been trickling into the new stuff I write, does that make me a hipster??
Grant: I really like Slumberparty, K -records stuff, The Fall, recently I’ve been getting into Turkish and Welsh freakbeatish- stuff. Most lyrics are just so harrowingly banal that I would rather listen to music in a language which I don’t understand -luckily enough being Scottish, that’s pretty much every language other than English!
What kind of influence do you feel that where you come from has had on the music you create?
Jamie : I’m not sure. I come from a smallish town outside Glasgow (incidentally the same one as The Twilight Sad), but being as it was so close to Glasgow there was plenty to go and see musically. In the past I think coming from a small town would have informed your taste to an extent. Now with the proliferation of the Internet you are not as cut-off – you can get tips and suggestions on whom to listen to from NY to Auckland.
Grant: Ashley and I are from Kirkcaldy. I don’t mind Kirkcaldy but as Lou sang for Drella, the best thing about a small town is that you know that you want to get out.
Kieran – I think geographically speaking it doesn’t really make much of a difference, I grew up in Birmingham playing in punk and grunge bands but could have just as easily have been in a post rock or twee indie band, I think it’s just the time and place your in but that place could be anywhere. We’re definitely not part of any Edinburgh ’scene’ anyway.
You are releasing a single and an album with Bubblegum Records, how did you end up hooking up with them?
Jamie : We were playing a gig in Perth and Gary, Bubblegum records CEO (he will not enjoy us saying that) came along, and it all just clicked. We were blown away by his enthusiasm and dedication, not only to us, but just to music in general.
You were previously Deserters Deserve Death, why the change of name?
Kieran – For a couple of reasons, it was taken from an old commando comic but we started getting sent certain sour emails from people who actually believed in the execution of soldiers leaving battle, then we decided maybe the sentiment was open to horrible interpretations.
I have always wondered, but never thought to ask any bands before, so you can be my guinea pigs. Do you feel that you like to play music more for your own or others enjoyment?
Jamie : I think it is a bit of both. I think, trite as it sounds, being honest with what you are doing helps, it’s better to try and convert people to your cause than change to suit them.
Kieran – I agree, it’s always good to know that people liked a show or track but that can’t be the only reason you do it, I know we put a lot of ourselves into our music be it through Grants lyrics or physically through actual blood and sweat during a gig and that’s not for show. A good example in answer to this question might be when we played a gig to a packed Forest Café in Edinburgh 5 minutes after a dinner service and a string quartet, and I remember thinking “they are going to hate us!…excellent”
Grant : I want to play the noise that I want to hear. If no one likes it, if no one listens, if people stopped turning up at gigs then I will just play in the rehearsal room. I’m utterly selfish. If the crowd don’t get it, then I just think less of them! It’s not arrogance but sincere, if perhaps misplaced (?), absolute, nigh imperial belief in what we are doing.
Starting a band, playing in a band has become nothing more than a leisure activity, a gap year activity, a reason to dress in X and sound a bit like Y, because this girl likes Z who was apparently influenced by Y.
Unfortunately this intransigence often takes the physical manifestation of me on stage getting petty and noisy and making things unbearable for the rest of the band and thus, by extension the audience. I am pretty much a total pr**k in this respect.
What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond?
Jamie : More recording and more playing in and outside of Scotland.
Grant: To finish the second album and for it to begat a new Scottish Renaissance. To find bass fuzz that sounds like Selda’s (My Turkish heroine) guitar.
Kieran – More pedals! No, enough. We’re gonna get the album out, see what happens, see if anyone takes notice and then either way start work on album number two.
The band are going to be through in Glasgow on Friday 13th May at Nice And Sleazy’s supporting Johnny Rebb. Followed by gigs in July on the 1st at the 13th Note, Glasgow supporting Plastic Animals (E.P launch) and PAWS, then the following night (2nd) they are playing at a Song By Toad night @ Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh with The Louche FC.
Photo Credit: Horsemeatpie