A week on Saturday, the Cool Cat Club will be hosting the Dundee debut of Randolph’s Leap – in their full 8 piece glory.
Ahead of the show I caught up with Leap main man Adam Ross, surely one of Scotland’s most prolific songwriters. But more of that later.
To start with, Adam described what anyone new to Randolph’s Leap can expect.
“We’re generally fairly ramshackle! Generally there are 4 chords in a song maximum. With the full band you will encounter brass strings, keyboard, electric guitar. It’s really fairly upbeat songs with hummable melodies”
Whilst most of the recorded songs so far have featured a limited range of the band’s members, the band seems to have been expanding live almost every time since I first saw them – to the current roster of 8 people. However Adam thinks that the potential for expanding the line-up may be very limited.
“No, it’s not manageable! With 8 people it’s a struggle as it is with arranging practices and things. It’s definitely the limit.
“But for the album there’s one track that will extend to 9, no, 10 people! There will be accordion and saxophone on 1 song. “
Commenting on the fact that there were 20 plus songs released under the Randolph’s Leap banner last year, Adam resists the notion that he’s prolific. Initially at least.
“It’s a weird one. I don’t really sit down to write songs. I’m not very good at forcing myself to do it. So it’s just little ideas that get fleshed out over time.
“I should maybe do less but up the quality! I quite enjoy recording at home and once I get going I go ‘I’ve got 3 songs, it would be good if this was a 4 or 5 song e.p.’ In that sense once I get going, I’m quite good at pushing myself to write a couple more.
“That was the way with the ‘Haunted Headphones’ album. That started out with maybe 4 songs and grew just because I was really enjoying mucking about with keyboards in the flat. Once I get going I like people to hear it.
“The beauty of it is that record something at home for absolutely no money whatsoever. You can design an album cover with Paint and release it! That’s my proudest achievement to date, getting something I made in Windows Paint printed in The List.”
Although they seem to have been releasing albums and mini-albums for some time, Adam still doesn’t feel that the first ‘proper’ Leap record has been released yet. But it should appear later in the year.
“We’re aiming to have it finished by the end of March and we’ll see how it goes from there. It will be released hopefully in October if it all goes to plan.
“The album will probably have about 11 songs on it, most of which will be the full band, along the lines of ‘Hermit’. That was the first record to have all 8 band members recorded.
“It’s been practicalities really. We’ve never done a studio recording since the brass joined the band. We did ‘Counting Sheep’ and ‘Deep Blue Sea’ in a studio and Ali came in just for the day to do it. She knew Fraser from playing in Blochestra, we got them for a gig, they joined the band and haven’t left!”
With the ‘Hermit’ EP having been released through Fence records, Adam hopes that the label will also be releasing the debut LP
“I don’t know if I can say that with complete assurance yet because they haven’t heard it. But Johnny’s on board and has made rough plans and schedules and deadlines and so on. Unless he hates it, it will be out on Fence!”
Releasing the album through Fence would fulfil a long held ambition for Adam.
“I’ve been a fan for years, I got into them maybe 6 years ago when I was at uni and they just seemed to be making music that I really connected with. I guess I’ve been influenced by them quite a lot in the way that I write and record songs. They showed that it was ok to release a lo-fi album.”
Catching the ear of Fence however wasn’t straightforward and took a degree of perseverance on Adam’s part.
“I just kind of pestered them. I sent a CD to Johnny (Lynch) once but I never heard from them.
“I gave it to James Yorkston as well and he told me to spend longer getting a good drum sound! He critiqued the drums!
“Then one time I wrote a wee poem to Johnny asking if we could play at Awaygame first time round. He didn’t get us to Away Game but he got back in touch and asked us to do the Halloween party. That must have been 2010. We then did Homegame after that and kind of maintained the email relationship and it’s just gone from there.”
2012 was a big year for the Leap with a profile that many other Scottish bands would kill for. Adam claims he can take no credit for that.
“I don’t know! It’s not much to do with me. We’re very, very lucky to have Lloyd Meredith in our corner who is kind of our unofficial manager. He gave himself that title (laughs).
“But we’re in a really good position because he does it for the love of doing it! He’s not jaded or cynical about the music business. He doesn’t expect money from us, he does it to get free gig tickets and that’s about it!”
“Lloyd’s really connected, he knows everyone and that’s helped.”
Adam is sure that the network of Scottish bloggers in particular has helped the band get to where they are.
“It’s worked really well for us. We were wondering if DIY recordings are inherently appealing to bloggers because blogging is DIY thing itself, doing it for the love of doing it. And that’s the way we’ve released music as well.
“The Blogsound of 2012 we were in the longlist for that and that had a big impact on us. You can monitor Soundcloud plays and YouTube views and Facebook likes and around that time we noticed a total spike.
“BBC Radio 6 did a rundown of the HypeM chart, the top most talked about bands in the UK, and we were in that. And that led to radio play, it led to more people hearing us so it has a huge impact. And if it’s leading to things like national radio, it’s a really crucial part of the chain.”
The band also recently did a BBC Radio 6 session for Marc Riley. Adam explains that another connection played a big part in that break.
“The Marc Riley thing came about because Gareth, our keyboard player, also plays keyboards with BMX Bandits and he was down doing a session with them and he passed on the CD to Marc Riley. He got in touch and asked us along.
“Duglas from the BMX Bandits is another who’s fought our corner and spread the word and recommended us to people. He’s a really good guy, he’s a hero. For someone who’s been in music as long aS him, people sometimes turn their back on new music or really follow it , but Duglas really supports up and coming bands.”
As well as their Dundee debut on the 16th the Leap have big plans for live shows this summer.
“We’ve got a few festivals , Brew at the Bog in May and a festival in Aberdeen in May. We’re also doing a big Fence gig in Glasgow at the West End Festival in June.
“We’re looking to bring out an EP before the album but our priority for the next few weeks is to finish the album.”
Here’s the video for recent mug single ‘News’
Randolph’s Leap are supporting Kid Canaveral at the Cool Cat Club at Beat Generator Live in Dundee on Saturday 16th March. Also on the bill are Man Without Machines and Luna Webster. Advance tickets at £6 each are on sale online here (stbf) and from Groucho’s whilst the show is on Facebook here.