Stoor is a great, old fashioned Scottish word (writes Andy Wood) but a quick look at the Dictionary highlights a different etymology entirely for the word from Middle English suggesting something strong, powerful, hardy, bold and audacious. STOOR, the band are not dusty or particularly grimy though they appear to rise like a Phoenix every so often unannounced after periods of apparent slumber to grace stages before vanishing again. Other than making fine music there appears to be no game plan, no attempts to ingratiate or do anything other than follow their own trajectory.
They are a difficult band to describe which may be down to their awkward but rewarding sound or might be down to the fact that I am useless as a descriptive writer. They mix up a spiky post-punk sound with a whole range of other influences to provide a rather satisfying whole. I remember them being predominantly an instrumental band in previous encounters though admittedly the memories may be a bit faded. Covered in stoor if you like. There was one 7” E.P. released on Chute Records (home of Spare Snare). I’m sure there was a second single which I’m sure I owned, but have been told was pressed but not released. I can’t find copies of either record now so maybe I imagined the entire thing. Possibly STOOR are a figment of my imagination?
Which would kind of be apt as the music is such a great mix of diverse influences which pretty much float my boat. ‘The Devil Rides Out’ has a furious rhythm, a scratchy nagging riff and some wonderful Wah Wah guitar with an insane vocal and a punk-prog chorus, both infectious and ludicrous. It shouldn’t work but it does. Wonderful stuff. ‘Sure Beats Me’ is a fantastic, twangy instrumental, both respectful of the genre and tearing it up to resemble something slightly unhinged but totally enervating. ‘Aye No’ is probably my favourite song of the three lurking on Soundcloud with its looping rhythm, call and response vocal and general catchiness.
Who knows what will happen next. After playing their first show in four years at the end of February they play their second show in six weeks and I’m incredibly happy to be putting this on. Then after that, who knows? That said, they never really go away but I hope they stick around for a while longer unlike that damn stoor that always lurks around my stereo. Hardy, bold and audacious. Yeah, that sounds like STOOR.
Ahead of their debut at The Cool Cat Club Scott McKinlay answered a few questions on behalf of STOOR.
Could you please introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about how you came about being in STOOR?
STOOR have existed in one form or another since just before the outbreak of WW1, when our (great?) grandparents started the band. They used to play in bomb shelters to keep people entertained. It’s been passed from generation to generation, at one point it was a swing band, and now its me, Stef, Ross and Davie continuing the legacy.
STOOR pretty much stopped as a band quite some time ago. Did you actually consciously split up or was it more of an accident?
STOOR have never split up and probably never will. Our kids will be handed the baton when they’re old enough and it’ll continue.
What factors made you decide to start playing again?
As I said STOOR never actually stopped, but if you want to hear us you have to find us, which isn’t always going to be easy. We will only do gigs and release recordings, when we feel the time is right. We released a single on vinyl some years ago, which sold out. We pressed a second, again on vinyl, but to date have decided not to release it. We have something like 50 songs, an awful lot of which are recorded, which may or may not see the light of day. We planned to release an album but haven’t got round to it yet. We’ll just have to wait and see. We’re playing a couple of gigs again, because we like the people who asked us to play them. We have nothing planned after the April gig at the Cool Cat Club, so who knows, we might go back into hibernation.
Why did you choose the name STOOR?
As I said we didn’t, our grandparents did. As far as we are led to believe, it was chosen because STOOR, as you probably know, is an old Scottish word for dust, and it was to do with the dust coming down from the bomb shelter ceilings when the bombs exploded. Also, you can’t get rid of STOOR, no matter how hard you try.
What are your influences, musical or otherwise?
Different things influence us all. Film, music, tv and books obviously. Everything from Stan Kenton to John Barry, Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, The Kinks, Captain Beefheart, Ennio Morricone, Focus, Bowie, New York Dolls, Kraftwerk, Sex Pistols, LCD Soundsystem, The Fall, The Monks, Chic, Sparks, Television, B52’s, Pixies, Magazine, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, 50ft Wave, Man or Astroman, Wire. There are too many great films and books to mention, but if you listen to us you’ll get an idea.
How would you describe STOOR to someone who has yet to hear you?
A subconscious mix of all of the above but with our own sound. No one else that we can think of sounds like STOOR.
What motivates you all to be in a band? Isn’t it just lots of grief and hard work for little reward?
Being in STOOR is easy. 4 friends writing great music together, what’s hard about that? We have no expectations, so therefore there is no grief. We don’t expect to make money from the band, if we do it’s a bonus, but it just goes to the next recording cost. If we get offered things that sound like a load of hassle, we don’t do them. Playing music is a fantastic thing to do; my advice to anyone who finds it a hassle would be to stop doing it. You can’t buy being in a band; it is the most unique thing ever. We’ve done this for a long time, and we probably enjoy it more now than ever, and the band is getting better all the time. That’s the reward for us.
What would you like to achieve as a band?
Nothing particularly, we’ve achieved pretty much everything we wanted. Anything that happens from here on in is a bonus.
Some of you I know have played or play in other bands currently and in the past. Can you tell us a little bit about those?
As I said STOOR have always existed, whether people have realised it or not, but we have all had other projects periodically, while we were waiting for the STOOR batten to be handed down, Stef and I played in Waiter Waiter and a few other bands a long time ago, Ross played in Spare Snare for a time, and I currently play with Diddums, which is a bubblegum pop rock band. This is Davie’s first band.
How do you feel the music scene has changed since STOOR last graced stages?
The bad; It seems that money and fame are more important than innovation. Shows like The Voice and XFactor are never going to produce bands or solo artists that people will remember. These people are playing music for all the wrong reasons. The good; In a lot of ways things like Spotify are good for music; people can access different genres of music, and listen to old and new music at the click of a button. The live scene seems to be better than ever (particularly locally), and there are an awful lot of people playing music for all the right reasons.
If you could organise and play your ideal gig who would play and where would it be held?
What a question! We would all be different, we all like different things. Great gigs are always a surprise to us. The Clarks gig we did recently was fantastic; a lot of people came to see us, we played well, and we got a great reaction. I don’t know that you can organise or plan something like that. On a complete fantasy level, none of us would mind if Television asked us to support them on their forthcoming (world) tour. We might make an effort for that!
What are your plans for the coming months?
We don’t really plan anything, what comes next is really down to other people. If people enjoy what we do, they might invite us to do things, if they don’t, we’ll continue to write, record and play when we see fit.
Anything else that you would like to add?
Just a quick thanks to the people who like what we do, and to the people who have invited us to do things-they know who they are. If you are one of those people, spread the word, but not too far! We’ve also now got a Facebook site and a website, http://www.nimbletrout.co.uk, but again don’t tell everyone!
STOOR play with the Cool Cat Club at Beat Generator Live in Dundee on Friday 11th April with The Edsel Furys, The Fnords, The Bucky Rage and Bobby Stickah.
Here’s the aforemention ‘Aye No’:
And a video …
Check out more recordings here.
STOOR Photographs by Brian Hutton.