Edinburgh’s Come On Gang! will be in Washington DC this week for a St Andrews Day show hosted by the Scottish Affairs Office. The band were one of the stand-out Scottish acts at SXSW 2009 and an excited Sarah, Mikey and Rob spoke to Dear Scotland this weekend before they headed back across the pond.

Dear Scotland: Where are you now and what did you do last night?
Sarah: I am in my kitchen. Last night I was eating dinner in a bizzarely constructed fake ski chalet which had been built indoors, covered in fake snow. I don’t really know how I ended up there.
Mikey: Watching the glorious Face/Off in my front room. Last night I was getting drunk with friends on what was apparently Cuba’s finest rum.
Rob: Right now I’m at home with a guitar and laptop, writing a Christmas song. Need to buy some sleigh bells to play it live. Last night, was out with my brothers and some mates at a slightly odd restaurant where they only serve starters.

DS: Paul McCartney said he got into music to avoid a job – and get lots of girls. What made you get into music?

Sarah: I got into it because I just really really had to play the drums and sing and nothing else would do!
Mikey: I absolutely got into this for girls. Paul was right. My first guitar teacher warned me not to waste my time playing guitar for any other reason.
Rob: I started playing guitar when I was pretty young. When I was about 17, I started writing my own music – totally loved doing it and haven’t stopped since!

Come On Gang! – Wheels


DS: What is your favourite song of yours to play right now?
Sarah: ‘This Familiar Road’ – it’s a new one, a cheerful little number and I get to play brushes. It’s one of our more pared down songs and we’re all very fond of it.
Mikey: ‘Santa Maria’ – we don’t play it too often but it covers pretty much all of my favourite guitar tricks and is a joy to play… though every song’s got to be fun to be worth playing it.
Rob: A new song of ours called “Need To Run” – me and Sarah share vocal duties and it’s the first time we’ve done harmonies together! It’s a lot of fun to play at gigs.

DS: You’re playing a special St Andrews gig in Washington DC this week, and you were over in Austin for SXSW earlier this year, are there any other places outside the UK that you are looking forward to playing?
Sarah: I’d love to go to New York, or Japan, South America, the rest of Europe and Russia…
Mikey: Hmmm? We’ve had to turn down 2 trips to New York this year which has been hard, so probably there. Though Japanese fans sound like great fun!
Rob: It would be well bizarre, but I’d love to play a gig in Cyprus. Got lots of family there, and my cousins complain about how they never hear any modern music on the radio – would be great to play some of our music for them!

DS: Do you feel more Scottish when you are abroad, or do you adapt well to new places? Anything you’ll miss about Scotland?
Sarah: I’m the least Scottish member of the band so I don’t think this question applies to me!
Mikey: I’m the most Scottish band member and I definitely do feel more Scottish abroad, as it becomes part of your identity which you occasionally take for granted at home. Always miss friends and loved ones, but mainly the weather and sense of humour… I’m not as funny abroad.
Rob: I think I adapt quite quickly to new places, and I’ve got plenty still to tick off my list of places I want to visit! After I’ve been away for a while, I miss three things: family, friends and Irn-Bru.

Come on Gang! – Bang


DS: What will be your first words on stage in Washington DC?
Sarah: Who knows? “Hello”, probably. Nothing too rude or sinister, we don’t want to scare people.
Mikey: “Good evening WASHINGTON!! We’re the up-and-coming band Come On Gang! from Scotland!’ That’s how we’ve been described in the promo…
Rob: “Check… check… is this thing on?”

DS: Are there any Scottish musicians, past or present, that have influenced you?
Sarah: My dad instilled a love of Big Country in me when I was a child, and it’s still a guilty pleasure. Making a guitar sound like bagpipes – brilliant!
Mikey: Yep, as a teen I loved all Idlewild’s stuff, also Aereogramme all through their days and a handful of bands playing around Edinburgh right now.
Rob: I’m influenced by different bits of the current Scottish bands that I like: the overall arrangements of Broken Records’ songs are so perfectly epic, and I love the way that Frightened Rabbit’s lyrics walk that fine line between being catchy and brutally honest.

Broken Records – Until the Earth Begins to Part


DS: Any plans for more international shows next year?
Sarah: We are recording our album in the new year so we’d love to travel anywhere and everywhere to play it to people. We don’t have concrete plans for international shows just yet but we fully intend to travel!
Mikey: We were supposed to play in Berlin this month but it was cancelled, so be good to go there. We go to Ireland quite often as it’s always great fun, other than that wait and see where the album takes us!!
Rob: Hopefully, we will play everywhere! My ideal would be a different county every night, but I’ll settle for a different city every night!

DS: What should the Scottish national anthem be?
Sarah: 500 Miles, by the Proclaimers. Come on, you know you love it – and you know all the words, which is more than can be said for most national anthems.
Mikey: “I’m Only Happy When It Rains”… or anything else with Shirley Manson singing on it.
Rob: Del Amitri – Nothing Ever Happens. You can’t grow up in Scotland without knowing a bit of Del Amitri, and the merry futility of that song feels quite Scottish to me.

Garbage – I’m Only Happy When It Rains


DS: What is the best after-show experience you’ve had?
Sarah: Ooh, there’s been quite a few. It was great when we played Reading Festival, because it was the final destination after a lot of travelling and we could finally relax and enjoy the festival once our set was over. There was a real sense of achievement then, and we felt on top of the world. Also, when we were at South by Southwest, having Americans want their photo taken with us – and being given free Mexican food – was pretty great too.
Mikey: Probably every show we’ve played in Dublin. We’ve a lot of friends over there who just care about having a good time, ALL of the time. Though, it was my birthday when we played our SxSW showcase gig, so we came off stage to A LOT of free drinks in the early afternoon, which crippled us almost immediately…
Rob: We headlined an event called The Revel at Edinburgh Art College earlier this year, two days before we played at Rockness. The crowd stormed the stage during the first song, which resulted in an amazingly fun (but well hard going) gig. I was so wired afterwards that I couldn’t sleep that night, so after the gig I could only swing by my flat before getting the bus up to Rockness at 9am.

DS: And finally, many many years from now, when you finish your farewell world tour, is there one place to where you would like to retire?
Sarah: Sussex. In the countryside.
Mikey: Probably Plockton – so far it’s one of my favourite places.
Rob: I really love Edinburgh – so after a lifetime it’s probably still the place I’d choose to come back to, but I wish the weather was a bit better. While I’m obviously against global warming, I’m a big fan of warming across the Central Belt of Scotland!

Come on Gang! – Start The Sound



Photo Credit: Come On Gang by John L. Morrison