Deathcats make a welcome return to the Cool Cat Club on Saturday 8th March when they open the Kid Canaveral show at Beat Generator Live!
Since their debut CCC performance in August last year, they’ve been busy little Deathkitties gigging incessantly and winning friends all over the country. They’ve also released a cassette only E.P. ‘The Raddest’ on Fuzzkill Records and have another cassette release due imminently – this time a split E.P. with Fruit Tones from Manchester also coming out on Fuzzkill.
Ahead of the Dundee show singer/guitarist James McGarragle spoke to MPT about the joys of cassette, why he loves Dundee and their last single being responsible for the horrible weather.
First up we talked of the upcoming split release with Fruit Tones and how that came about.
“We knew we were going to do another tape released on Fuzzkill before the album and I was in the process of booking some English shows. I came across Fruit Tones who are from Manchester and approached them regarding a gig swap. After we got talking for a bit I put forward the idea of doing a split and the shows could promote it. The rest is history.
“Our recent single, ‘DREAMZ’ is going on the split with Fruit Tones and we’re going to play a bunch of shows including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Dundee, Leeds and London.
“There is just over a week till the release and the four launch shows. I’m super excited about it as it’s our first time playing in England and I’m looking forward to getting to know the guys from Fruit Tones and seeing them play live for four nights on the trot.
“We’ve also got a new video for ‘DREAMZ’ coming out which is about as stupid as our last one. Hopefully people will find the video funny and want to show all their friends, relatives and pets, therefore promoting the single!
“Then, after the Dundee show, we feature on a compilation being put out by Electric Company which is a label ran by Jon Anderson who runs the studio we practice at, Dixon Street. It features ourselves and three other bands who use the studio, Future Glue, Secret Motorbikes and Twin Mirrors. We dig all of those bands and Jon is really good to us so we’re psyched to be working with him. It’s out around April 12th.”
The cassette seems to be very much back in vogue these days. As someone who remembers them from their heyday as very much being inferior to vinyl, it’s a revival that has me perplexed. But James was prepared to argue the case for the defence.
“I was never originally into cassettes but I like CDs even less as a CD is just going to get uploaded to your computer and then get chucked.
“We were originally going to do a 7″ with Fuzzkill but it was going to cost a bomb. Tapes are cheap, they look great and I think our sound suits the grainy nature of tapes. If you are going to own music in a physical form then I think tape is a nicer form than CD. Vinyl is the best in my opinion as it looks and sounds great but tape comes second as it’s fun and a wee bit of a novelty. It’s almost a pointless exercise with the internet and all that but so is music, you don’t really need music to function in life but it makes it a lot more enjoyable and I think the same goes for tapes, they just add to the fun.”
James clearly thinks that physical product still has its place.
“I have started buying vinyl a lot more over the last year but I also recently just signed up for Spotify premium. They both have their merits. If I really like an album then I want to own it on vinyl as it’s something that I will always physically own.
“Music is art at the end of the day and art is all about how it makes the individual feel. Essentially music is all about what’s going in your ears but the record is a physical extension of the art, it’s a nice wee add on.
“If your favourite album also happens to be pressed on a lovely coloured vinyl and has beautiful artwork then it’s going to mean that little bit more to you. It’s like seeing your ideal partner in a really nice pair of trainers, ha! It’s already perfection but with that little bit extra.
“Plus, selling physical products means we get more money for petrol!”
I was curious as to how close James thinks that Deathcats have come to catching the vibe of their live shows in the studio or even if that was something they were aiming for.
“Our last release, ‘The Raddest’ was pretty clean cut in regards to the production, which is quite different from our live shows. We’re a bit heavier live and definitely get into it more these days.
“I think it’s important to have a clear representation of the song on record but you also want retain a human feel. There is nothing worse than seeing a song that sounds great on record played terribly live.
“We’re going in to record our album next week and we’re going to try and do as much of it as possible live, in the same room as one another. Maybe the odd guitar over dub and I’ll do vocals separately. But we definitely want to retain a live feel.
“I’ve become really fond of Steve Albini’s outlook on recording recently. He tries his best to capture the sound of the band as it is in the room. We want to go for that with our debut album, no Sgt Pepper shit.”
Anyone who read the first MPT interview that Andy did with Deathcats last year will remember that James was raving at the time about a band trip to play in Shetland. But that trip also led to more than just a gig as James explains.
“Marshall and Keppie from Fuzzkill are originally from Shetland and asked us up to play there last summer. We hit it off straight away and they had just started Fuzzkill and they offered to release something with us. We said yes straight away as it just made sense – if you can party with someone then you can definitely work with them!
“When they moved down to Glasgow a few months later we became really close friends. They helped us out a massive amount with ‘The Raddest’ especially in regards to press so we knew that we wanted to do the album with them as it was going to be a first for us and them, we’d both learn from it. I consider them more as my good friends than the ‘guys from the label’. Keppie likes to keep telling himself he’s our manager but that’s never going to happen!”
Turning back to the CCC show, I suggested to James that Dundee seems to almost be a home from home for Deathcats these days. He agrees and explains why.
“We love Dundee. We played our first show in the Dee last year and quite a few heads turned up which was a big surprise as we knew no-one from Dundee. We played with The Shithawks and hit it off straight away.
“For such a small city it has a lot going on in terms of music and art. The same folk always turn up to shows which I think is really rad. The last show we played there was at The Tin Roof with The Shithawks. It was a BYOB affair and it was freezing as it was in January. Despite this loads of folk turned up and went pretty wild when we played.
“My best friend was also on leave from the army, he has been over in Afghan, so he came up and partied with us. But yeah, it was like the ideal night and one of the best shows I have played.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to The Shithawks, Andy Wood, Daisy Dundee, Vladimir, Blood Indians and all the other folk who we’ve partied with.”
As James has hinted at, the band’s debut album will follow later in 2014 and unsurprisingly, you’ll be getting the chance to see plenty of Deathcats live in coming months.
“We want to gig as much as possible on the lead up to the album release. After this split release we have one more split coming out on Fuzzkill with The Shithawks at the start of May.
“It looks as though the album is going to be released at the start of June and we’ll do a few Scottish launch shows then a UK tour. We’ve got a few festivals confirmed as well as a trip back up to Shetland. Then I think we’ll be taking a break as I plan on moving abroad for a while. We’ll see though.”
The lead track on ‘The Raddest’ E.P. was, of course, ‘I Wish It Was Summer’ – a not unreasonable sentiment in mid December. However since the E.P. came out the weather has been, to put it mildly, shite. I asked James how far can Deathcats be held responsible for that.
“Hahaha! As Billy Connolly once said ‘There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing’. So aye, put on your warmest jacket, get the Beach Boys on your iPod and go out for a dance in the street.”
Deathcats play the Cool Cat Club on Saturday 8th March 2013 with Kid Canaveral and Randolph’s Leap. Tickets for the show are available from Groucho’s in Dundee and online here. More info on the show here.
The split single with Fruit Tones, featuring ‘DREAMZ’ and ‘Alligator’ and 3 tracks from the Fruit Tones is released on Fuzzkill Records on Monday (24th February) on download and cassette. More info here.
Here’s a look at the aforementioned video for ‘DREAMZ’: