At one point in the course of 2011 Edinburgh School for the Deaf looked unstoppable. Having never checked out their previous incarnation as Deserters Deserve Death, I was blown away (almost literally) by their one original at the Dylan Uncovered show.
They followed that up with spectacular live sets (at the Grassmarket Festival and twice in Dundee), released a debut single followed quickly by the debut album. The departure of guitarist/vocalist Kieran to London in the autumn was a significant blow (along with Grant, Kieran was the visual focus of the band live) and the live line-up seemed a little fluid in the last couple of months.
But 2012 beckons – before that Jamie, Grant and Alex from the band round up their 2011s in the longest set of responses to the MPT Inquisition. Strap yourself and hang on for the ride …
Your own Musical highlight of the year?
Jamie: This would require me to be a musician of some sort or another eh? I think when we played a new song which was basically just a jam. I remember thinking it would be good if it picked up speed and got louder here, I just looked up and everyone else was thinking the same thing, so we just launched into it without knowing what was going on (not that this is really an exception to how we do most things)
Grant: Squier doing a cut-price, tramps version of the mustang bass guitar. No bad music has ever been recorded on this instrument. Talking Heads, Richard Hell etc. That and the Sunday Times Culture magazine reviewing the album – which was a bit like reading of your own obituary in the Fife Free Press.
Favourite performance of the year?
Jamie: Definitely outdoor in the Grassmarket festival. It was bright sunlight, we were following an acoustic band and a very drunk man was attempting to dance with us all. We arrived like a malevolent thundercloud and were told to stop for being too loud. I loved it.
Grant: Dexters Dundee, I was having the time of my life, I’m sure it of it. The audience might demur. There is a joyful physiological response in seeing Hookers For Jesus that drives me to down vodka like Stalin at Yalta.
What inspired you musically in 2011?
Jamie: The wish to destroy Adele and Coldplay 🙂
Grant: I re-discovered my first fuzz pedal. It’s orange. I swear that the older I get the quieter and more depressingly attired, they get. There is a down-wards linear trajectory from the cheery bright red, gurning fuzz face to the austere sophisticated stomp boxes of today. This is perhaps not the forum to air my concerns in this matter and I may also be getting deaf and perhaps my eyes are failing, or else I am stuck in some regressive adolescence where bright loud objects instinctively appeal.
Alex: Marty Friedman/ Jason
What you gonna be doing next year?
Jamie: Next year, more recording. We’ve got so many songs we are playing around with – not Bradford Cox figures, more “Use Your Illusion 1 and 2” amounts. And some shows we are excited about playing.
Grant: Trying to get the sound man to turn up the bass.
Alex: Recording an international number 1 hit/bestseller
Song and/or LP of 2011?
Jamie: My LP of the year is Peaking Lights -936. My song of the year is Deathgrips – spreadeagle cross the block.
Grant: Dona Dumitru Siminica – A German compilation of his that I got out of the music library in Edinburgh. What a voice, surely the greatest falsetto ever committed to acetate. The music is no less awesome, sounding like a bleaker, more medieval, bedraggled Bjork hammering on the door of a home-sick Stravinsky’s Gothic Castle – it.is.that.good!
Alex: Real estate – days
Best gig attended?
Jamie: Practice for and playing of gigs has really dented my gig attendance, but I did manage to catch Factory Floor, and they were outstanding.
Grant: Pennybone, Divorce (Art School, Edinburgh) and Vic Godard (Dexters Dundee)
Alex : Julian Lynch/Ducktails
Who should we be looking out for in 2012?
Jamie: I’ve given up trying to predict things; someone mentioned that Grunge may be on the way back, which gives me a cold shiver to my bones; another bunch of trustafarians slumming it with thousand pound guitars. I’m hoping for good things for Lorelle meets the Obsolete, Main Attrakionz, FORMA, and Dive.
Grant: Our new record, Magic Eye, The Machine Room , The Dead Champagne…Somebody in Dalston that sounds like James talking about the influence of House of Love … Some kids in Williamsburg, Brooklyn carefully excavating the rich seam of lost musical treasure that is Tartan Techno. Quentin Campbell & the Learned QC’s (Oi / Fado / Powernoise Pop by posh PP Anglo Irish lad) …A Young Spooks retrospective and accompanying all-star soviet dissident tribute album …I’ve no idea…I’m sure the BBC sound of 2012 list will be just the ticket …
Alex: Magic Eye/Ducktails new album/felt probably becoming cool and everyone liking them because some reason they are getting more attention than they did 30 years ago
Anything and everything
Event of 2011
Grant: Christmas. Secondly, those new beer bottles that are machined in aluminium and look like artillery shells. 21 gun salute indeed.
Alex : That oriental woman who tried to jump out of the window on her wedding day after her husband dumped her then and everyone saving her. I wonder if they had gf/bf, that makes it even better if they didn’t. 2nd anniversary of the death of Edward and Joan Downes, proving romance still lives on even though they are dead.
Lowpoint of 2011
Jamie: Too many to mention, it’s been a year of death, dismantling, decay and destruction.
Grant: Kieran leaving for London to pursue his Olympic Dream. Good luck. Sob.
Alex: Young Spooks dying/ my next door neighbour’s Santa light up display looks like it is Santa getting an erection then quickly not and for some reason when my mum drives by it does it even faster.
Hero of 2011
Jamie: Lou Reed or Christopher Hitchens
Grant: The giant Pandas. Glasgow might get all the better gigs but we get the better cute animals. It was worth us kow-towing laying ourselves prostate before such a vile regime just to get those wee cuties.
Alex: Me, I think I have come out of my shell and that is inspirational.
Villain of 2011
Jamie: Gordon Wilson, Cardinal O’ Brien and anyone else involved in “Scotland for Marriage” – small minded thugs backed by a huge corporation.
Grant: The Electric (no spark) Circus (no fun) venue Edinburgh. Firstly, it is a soulless, vulgar, horrible, hen-night centric, karaoke-bordello, whose only real function is as shock aversion therapy for anyone intending to build a time-machine and journey back to an Eighties, Thatcherite, City-boy cocktail bar.
Secondly they ratted to the Police on the Young Spooks singer for the outrageous behaviour of dropping the mic and standing his whole 3 and a half stone nothing frame on a fender guitar amp which wasn’t even the venues, ensuring he was slung in the cells and up before the procurator fiscal. Pah? No wonder music in Edinburgh is usually so crushingly dull, stationary and self-worthy. What kind of military junta, are we living in if they are arresting people for being rowdy (5/10), foolhardy (2/10) and drunk (7/10) at a rock and roll gig? It makes the film Footloose look like a prescient, Orwellian parable …sheesh.
The Electric Circus you’ve inched out the Liberal Democrats, Sepp Blater and Hurricane bawbag (which overturned the stairs bench) in my villain of the year.
Alex : Johnny Marr because he has spent another year making really bad music again with the cribs, I just don’t understand why.
Something to look forward to in 2012?
Jamie: Radicalisation, unionisation and uprising.
Grant: The British Olympic Football team leading to the destruction of separate home nations national sides. I cannot understand why Scottish Nationalists should be wedded to such a vile, post-colonial, imperialist hang-over as her Britannic Majesty being allowed to field 4 teams to the detriment of the African continent and the nations there in who have had the courage to shake off the shackles of Westminster. Oh, yeah and seeing Kieran compete in the Skeleton Bobsleigh.
Alex : Everything, loads of good stuff can happen and you just don’t know it is going to happen, it is amazing!
From the Grassmarket Festival performance:
Previously on MPT
Interview in June
‘New Youth Bible’ review
‘New Youth Bible’ LP Launch
Grassamarket Festival live review (photos)
Interview in March
Dylan Uncovered performance (photos)