Have I mentioned that the label I co-run have a new album coming out this week? If not, then we have a new album coming out this week from Dundee’s finest, Pensioner. I think they’re going to take quite a few of you by surprise as they’re not exactly folk. I have to give credit where it’s due as it was my partner in crime Halina who brought them to my attention, as she really wanted to work with them.

Even before I heard their music, I must admit that we were on to a winner with song titles such as ‘Annannannawiddecombe’, ‘Bruce Forsyth’s Chin it to Win it’ and ‘Enter Shakira’. With titles like that, you’ve really got to have the tunes to back them up. And Pensioner do in spades. Not normally the kind of stuff that I would actively find myself listening to these days, but I am chuffed to bits that we’ll be releasing their debut album. Right that’s enough of my ramblings, here are the Pensioner boys for more ‘sensible’ words…

Would you care to introduce yourself?  

Mike Lennie. Bass guitarist. Gemini. Ross Middlemiss. Guitarist. Leo.

How would you describe the music you make?  

(Mike) Structurally unsound.

How did you come together as a band?  

(Mike) Well after the Beatles split up I really missed the thrill of playing to big crowds. I’d always respected Cal as a guitarist so when he called with the offer of joining a supergroup he was putting together I jumped at the chance. I think Ross’ creative output suffered when he left Sun records and he was kind of just going through the motions during the ’70s. I always got the impression that he wanted to team up with other songwriters he admired in order to light a fire under his ass. Mark was the obvious choice of drummer, his session work with the Plastic Ono Band was exemplary and we all felt he would provide the solid backbone we needed. Nothing flashy, let the songs shine through on their own merits.
I can’t really remember for sure though, to be honest the ’80s are kind of a haze.

How did you start out making music?

(Ross) I started off by playing Beatles songs on my brother’s crappy Yamaha keyboard in my early teens. It had the best ‘demo’ feature I’ve ever heard on a keyboard, shifting from ragtime to stadium rock in the crack of a poorly synthesised crash cymbal. Eventually I wanted to join a band, so the keyboard got ditched in favour of the bass and the guitar because no one wants to start a Jean Michel Jarre covers band in high school. I didn’t start writing anything of my own until my late teens; I remember it being toe-curlingly woeful.
(Mike) To get chicks.

What process goes into the way you write songs?

(Mike) Sometimes Ross and/or Cal come to practice with something semi-formed and beat Mark and I until we’ve learned them flawlessly. Other times we take unrelated, unfinished jams and haphazardly cut ‘n’ shut them together.

Who are your big musical influences?

(Mike) We’re all constantly getting into different, quite disparate stuff. Hence we’ve never really decided whether to make pop music or horrible noise!

(Ross) Cal really likes the collected works of Chaka Khan, for reasons beyond the realm of comprehension.

What kind of influence do you feel that where you come from has had on the music you create?  

(Ross) I would say that we’re quite lucky in Dundee in some respects. Other than the ‘lad-rock’ movement of recent years, there aren’t really any other obvious trends in music up here. If you don’t like ‘lad-rock’, then it only serves to catalyse you into making the music you want to make. The bigger cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow are permeated with a multitude of trends that disappear as quickly as they arrive, so much so that I think it’d be harder for a young band to establish themselves and maintain longevity if they are particularly susceptible to the influence of others. Life is simpler up here. As a band, we subscribe to the view that if a song is good, then it is good.

What can people expect to see/hear from your live shows?  

(Mike) Sexy men, great music.

(Ross) Adventure! Mystery! Romance! More adventure! Actually, wasn’t that the tagline to The Jewel of the Nile?

Has there been a particular gig that has stood out for you so far (good or bad)?  

(Ross) I really enjoyed our recent support slot with The Phantom Band. Lovely fellows too. They are a great band.

(Mike) Elton John. Wembley ’04. Damn!

What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond? Do you have any new releases planned for any time soon?  

(Ross) We are releasing our debut album ‘Yearlings’ on the 2nd of May through Olive Grove Records, then we plan to bask in the ensuing glory and riches. Seriously though, we’ve started work on album number two, and we’re hoping to fill up the rest of the year with shows. On the other hand, we might just give the smack a go – you’re only smoking it.

Pensioner – Gadgie Weddin’

Pensioner’s debut album ‘Yearlings’ was released on Monday 2nd of May though Olive Grove Records.


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