The volume of posts on here about David, Kate, Ross and Scott over the last few years is a pretty fair indication that Kid C are one of my favourite bands. So, again just like with Martin John Henry, they were high on my wishlist for ‘A Brighter Beat’. I consider myself fortunate that, in a year when they’ve played in the US, Canada and France, as well as recording their second LP, they’ve managed to fit in this show.
So last week I caught up with singer David MacGregor on the events of the past 12 months and get an early view of what’s in store for Kid C in 2013.
With the second album in the can though, David first reflected on the impact that first LP ‘Shouting at Wildlife’ has had on the band and David is fully aware of what the album had done for the band.
“An awful lot. It brought us to a lot more people’s attention and took us across the Atlantic and to mainland Europe.
“I don’t know what happened really. It seemed to do well from word of mouth, as when we released ourselves we had a very limited amount of promotion we could do, and after the ‘Straight to Video Records’ run sold very well Fence wanted to re-release it. The coverage by local press and from the BBC helped an awful lot.
“I remember looking at that first 1,000 CDs and thinking ‘when are we ever going to get rid of all of these?’. Turns out ‘fairly soon’ was the answer.”
If the success of Wildlife and its consequences is clear, David is still satisfied with what the band achieved artistically.
“It’s interesting to listen to it with hindsight, because I can look at a lot of it and think ‘we did a great job there’, something which I’d never have allowed myself at the time.
“The last time I listened I was hearing things on the record that I didn’t recall being there. Wee bits that were perhaps improvised and thinking ‘that was a good idea’.
“So yeah, I’m still very proud of it although some of the songs I can’t even imagine playing now.”
The Fence re-issue of ‘Wildlife’ prolonged the promotion for the record but it wasn’t an obligation that David found in any way frustrating.
“Not at all, actually. It was a huge compliment to have Fence re-release it and I was very aware that we were still playing to people who’d only just heard of us at every show, so I didn’t have anything against playing what had garnered the attention.
“Also, because we were still in the process of playing so many gigs to promote the first album, I didn’t even consider trying to sit down and come up with a whole bunch of new songs. I had loads of ideas that I just put to one side on voice memos on my phone, answerphone messages to myself and scribbles here and there.
“It took a wee while once we’d said ‘this is it for Shouting at Wildlife’ at last year’s Baubles to sit down and make sense of it all. I sifted through the notes I had and wrote most of the album between January and May this year, so the writing process wasn’t finished when we went into the studio at first. I was determined that we weren’t going to have a huge gap in between records. However, in saying that I didn’t want us to just record anything half-baked.”
As is usually the case with second albums, Kid C LP 2 was conceived very differently from its predecessor.
“The songs from ‘Shouting at Wildlife’ were written over a four year period as we were still finding our feet as a band. Many, many terrible compositions were ditched during that time.
“This time, the songs were all written over a ten month period and I think we all had a much better idea of what we were doing.”
If the process of writing the songs and even the confidence were different this time around, the recordings were laid down in familiar territory.
“We recorded the album with Gal at Fourth Street Studios in Glasgow again. We’d put down a couple of very rough demos during tea breaks when we were recording the ‘Homerun and a Vow’ 7″ with King Creosote but these got left alone for months and months because our debut was re-released as was the KC/KC single in the interim. The promotion and the touring blocked out our diaries for any potential recording.”
If the last album came together organically, David reckons that the subject matter for the new songs has resulted from some conscious choices.
“I’ve been much more careful with the lyrics this time and thought more carefully about how they fit into the idea behind a song. One song was re-recorded because it became apparent the words weren’t conveying what I wanted them to.
“A lot of things in our lives have changed between now and when the first record was written. Everything has influenced it, but there are no tiresome ‘on tour’ songs. It’s a personal record, but I hope I’ve managed to temper the more sombre elements of it by placing my tongue back in my cheek. I’ve tried to be as sincere as possible without becoming mawkish. I guess it’s not down to me to decide if I’ve succeeded.
“I’m not sure what’s influenced it musically. It’s got electronica, goes a bit shoegaze at one point and is as heavy as we’ve been, in places. It’s still pop music, though.”
With a comparatively light gigging schedule in the UK this year, the band instead chose to explore foreign opportunities for shows with almost fatal consequences not just for the second LP but also for David himself.
“We had originally hoped to get the album out around now, but we were forced to cancel a lot of studio time in June that we had booked to finish off the recordings because I ended up in hospital. I got really ill when we were on tour in France and ended up unable to get out of bed or eat for a fortnight. I looked drastic. They thought it was Legionnaire’s disease at one point.”
Fortunately David has since made a full recovery and the recording of the album was completed in the autumn. Preparations for finalising the release are well advanced.
“We’re just approving the wording on the artwork just now. It’s beautiful. Eve McConnachie who did our first record sleeve has produced it again. The album is days away from being sent for manufacture.
“We’re going to be doing a lot of shows. We’ll be touring the UK and mainland Europe. There’ll be a press release and album announcement in the next few weeks.”
As well as the French shows in June, the Canaverals returned to North America last month after their successful trip to SXSW last year, an impressive feat for a Scottish independent band with no tour support. Yet David makes a significant achievement sound almost mundane.
“We decided to go back. Simple as that. The first record gave us the means and knowledge to be able to do it and Kate is a master of organisation.
“It was fantastic to go back and play for people who caught us first time around and play to some new folks. They’re an enthusiastic bunch.
“We played some fantastic venues. The Drake in Toronto, Double Door in Chicago, and The Saint in Asbury Park were all great.
“The venue we played in New Jersey was owned by Scott Stamper, whose father is Scottish. His partner ran the bar and she had spent time in Blantyre as a child. We had a traditional drinking binge and a great laugh.”
Kid Canaveral may have started out seven years ago but their list of achievements is impressive and growing almost by the month. They’ve achieved what they have so far not just because they’re talented but because of their drive and determination. Simply put being in this band means everything to them as David illustrates with his final words.
“I can’t imagine not doing it.”
‘A Brighter Beat’ takes place at Watt’s in Cupar on Sunday 11th November and also features the Bad Books, Sam Barber and the Outcasts, Cancel The Astronauts, Martin John Henry and TV21.
The show is a family friendly event which runs from 2pm until 9pm. Tickets are £10 in advance (£5 for Under 16s) from Watt’s, Avalanche in Edinburgh and Groucho’s in Dundee or online from Brown Paper Tickets.
Proceeds for the show will go to the Kingdom Kids charity.