Andy Wood meets the Wellgreen
The Wellgreen are a band that have managed to remain below the radar, or at least my radar, despite releasing two albums of delicious, hook-laden songs that remind me of some of my favourite bands – think Big Star’s first two albums or Teenage Fanclub at their most beautiful and you are somewhere in the ballpark.
Debut album ‘Wellgreens’ was released in late 2010 and features 19 songs, self-produced and recorded, and sounding both like a long lost classic and a breath of fresh air. Timeless is a word often bandied about when describing guitar bands but there is something very timeless about The Wellgreen. Refreshing as well. They can mix up big guitar pop with psychedelia and even a bit of bossa nova if the mood takes them and it sounds so sweet and effortless, full of longing and yearning but life-affirming and beautiful as well.
Now they have released their second album, again self-produced on The Barne Society label, and, if anything, on initial plays, it sounds even better than the debut. They are currently on tour with Euros Childs, both in their own right and as members of Euros’s live band.
Stuart Kidd from the band took the time to answer the questions for us ahead of their visit to The Cool Cat Club on Wednesday 20th November.
First off, please introduce yourselves and what you do and give us a bit of background on how The Wellgreen came to be.
“The Wellgreen consist of two members. Marco Rea and Stuart Kidd. Collectively we play everything on our records and record them at The Barne which is Marco’s home studio up in Clydebank. We decided to start writing together when someone asked me to write a Christmas song for a compilation and I asked Marco to join in. All the songs on the first album were attempts at writing that Christmas song that went off on crazy tangents….”
Where did the name The Wellgreen come from?
“The name comes form a patch of land opposite the Spar in Killearn which is where groups of kids would meet and underage drink at the weekends. It is where we met. Probably about 1996. It is also where I discovered I wasn’t the only kid to wear flared trousers with enthusiasm.”
What are your influences, musical or otherwise?
“Musically we both sing from the same hymn sheet most of the time. Beatles, Beach Boys, Bacharach, Wings, Neil Young, CSN, Gary Moore… outwith music I would say tea, wine, and cheap B movies.”
You have just released your second album. Can you please tell us a little bit about that?
“It was decided to do things a little differently this time. Strip back the arrangements and take a few lead vocals on some songs. It’s also the first time we have included some songs we wrote on our own. It was a real joy to make as always and we decided to buck trends and include 9 songs on it as opposed to 10. For that reason it’s about as close to Led Zeppelin as we’ll get. Unless Marco decides to sell his soul to Santa. Or Santana.”
What is the significance of the title ‘Grin and Bear It’?
“It’s a title of one of my compositions that Marco became so enthusiastic about he decided it should be the album title as well. Maybe because on the cover we’re not even close to grinning. Or maybe because he enjoyed doing the slosh in the studio when we were playing it back.”
How was the response to your debut album, 2010’s ‘Wellgreens’?
“I guess it’s one of those albums where the people that buy it and invest time to listen to it really love it. But with today’s climate, as with most great music, it disappears into obscurity very quickly because we have no money to saturate people’s ears with it. Is that cynical? Probably. But like the Murphy’s we’re not bitter. We love doing what we do and as long as we can sell enough records to afford to make the next one we’re happy. Some gigs we come away having sold 18 albums. Some we come away having sold 2. It’s all good!”
You’re currently on tour with Euros Childs, both as a support band and as part of Euros’s band. How did that come about?
“I met Euros a few years ago through Norman (Blake) when I was asked to play drums on the Jonny record. I was lucky enough to be asked to then drum on his last record ‘Summer Special’. When it came to touring it he asked us to go on the road with him as his backing band with the added incentive of doing the support. Adam Stearns also joined us on the same basis. He also makes some pretty incredible music. ”
How have the dates been so far? Any tales of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle to relate?
“The dates have been very well received. Euros has a very appreciative audience who are polite enough not to stand at the front of the crowd and talk over everything so its been a real pleasure so far. Again we are doing the support and also Laura J Martin is joining us this time who is also doing the support. It feels a bit like Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder review. When we got to Oxford I had a pulled Pork Burrito. Does it get more rock’n’roll than that?”
What has been the best part of being a member of The Wellgreen to date?
“The best part about being in The Wellgreen is being able to make music with someone who wants to make exactly the same music as you do. And also to be able to laugh at things probably nobody else finds funny.”
And the worst / most awkward?
“We fell out once over a badge. But it didn’t last any longer than about 5 minutes.”
If you could put together your ideal gig, with time, location and mortality not an issue, what would it consist of?
“I’d have loved to be in the first incarnation of Wings. Tankin’ about in a beat up Landrover playing for 50p on the door at Nottingham University. That sounds amazing. I’d guess Marco would want to be in Pink Floyd. Around about the Meddle/Dark Side of the Moon period. He would have undoubtedly blown minds at Pompeii.”
What does the future hold for The Wellgreen?
“Who knows? ….We’re all victims of the future……”
Anything else that you’d like to add?
“A pinch of salt and a generous sprinkling of cracked black pepper.”
The Wellgreen support Euros Childs at the Cool Cat Club, Beat Generator Live in Dundee on Wednesday 20th November. Tickets for the show are available in advance from Grouchos in Dundee and from We Got Tickets.
And here’s the video for ‘Going Home’: