Interview with Greg, Mark, Ross and Chris of Fatherson
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting these great people from Fatherson, a very up and coming Scottish band. On arriving at the venue, It transpired that the headline band’s singer had been struck by evilness. No gig going ahead isn’t great, but it did give me more time to talk to fine people. The album is out on 7th April. Some videos and the website link are at the end of the interview. Many thanks to Rhea and Rebecca!
It’s not got off to a great start tonight, has it lads?
It’s not ideal, the sound check was fun but unfortunately it looks like Lonely the Brave’s singer is really ill at the moment and we’ve had to cancel the show sadly – which isn’t the best thing but it happens to everyone. It’s better than doing any more damage.
So when is your next one?
We’ve been on tour with Lonely the Brave for the last week and a half so tomorrow’s the last show and it’s in Cambridge so it’s not too far which should be good. That show’s sold out.
Is he going to be okay for that one?
Here’s hoping! I think it’s going to be one of the reasons why tonight’s not going on – to make sure he’s fit and healthy. You got to be really putting on a show – when you’re ill you can end up doing pretty serious damage which isn’t good. If he’s really bad today and does some irreparable damage then it’s the end of this whole career they’re building for themselves.
It’s not happened to us but it’s happened to a lot of our friends’ bands. They’ve had to take the call and I think that everyone feels really horrible. Yeah they’re all really cut up about it
Well it’s happened in a nice place, and you’re in a nice place tomorrow. You could’ve been stuck in erm….I can’t really say where can I?
Somewhere… a not so nice place…
Let’s get back to where we were going to start – I got an email from a friend of mine asking if I wanted to come and see you. Mike said he’d been working with you for a couple of years, which is a long time. We’ve never heard of you down here, so what have you been doing for two years? And how long has it been going on before that?
We’ve actually we’ve been a band for – me, Greg and Ross – have been a band since we were like kids for years and years. We actually noticed it was 8 years ago a couple of days ago that we put our first live video on You Tube of us playing this song. We’ve been Fatherson for a couple of years now but we started working with Mike around about the time we became this band. We spent a long time in Scotland just building up a fan base there because the UK. Its difficult when you’re – cos we’re not signed or anything like that – to go and take on too much at once so we just wanted to be able to play good big shows across Scotland. So we toured there a lot and did a lot of festivals and last year we recorded an album and this year we’ve just been playing a lot more down south and kind of spreading out throughout the whole UK. So, it’s been like a kind of conscious thing, cos there’s no point going down and playing shows all about England that are rubbish shows where there’s no one there or anything like that.
Win the battle in your front garden. If you can win the battle in your front garden then it’s much easier for going anywhere else. If you say ‘Well back in Scotland we do this many tickets here, this many tickets here, this is where we’re getting played’ and then they’ll go ‘oh right, okay’
So it’s definitely a conscious decision to win over the whole of Scotland.
To an extent yeah but we’re nowhere near the biggest bands, but for an unsigned band in Scotland we’ve been doing pretty well. That I’m pretty happy with and it allows us to come down and do this tour so it’s been nice. We’ve been wanting to come down and play more shows for a long time. You can’t play about Scotland forever cos it’s not the biggest place in the world so it’s nice to stretch your legs and get the word out to more people.
What is the scene like in Scotland at the moment?
I’m kind of getting that vibe, but you know better than anyone else.
It’s really one of those things…there’s just a lot of great bands in Scotland and there’s a community aspect. So everyone kind of helps everyone out and does shows together and stuff like that and it’s nice to see bands take that step that we’re trying to take just now. So they’ve won the battle in their front garden and they’re trying to go down south, or they’re going to America or they’re going Australia and they’re going to do all that so it’s just flourishing – there’s hundreds and hundreds of good bands in Scotland.
It’s a good mix
It’s several layers of how popular or big the bands are but all the bands are aware of each other, like the big bands know who the unsigned bands are and the unsigned bands know who the big bands are and you see the bigger bands helping the smaller bands out. There’s a nice community spirit going about especially round about Glasgow and stuff – it’s really helped us for the entire time that we’ve been a band and it just it’s really a nice place to BE in a band.
That’s a really big advantage to Scotland not being a huge place?
What about those disadvantages, are there any particularly?
I guess you’re just further away from London.
That’s not always such a bad thing apparently..
I don’t necessarily see there being any disadvantage with us being a band based in Glasgow. I know there are bands that will kind of base themselves elsewhere that have moved from Scotland or whatever but I just find it to be really good. I think we’ve been lucky with some of the people that we’ve met and some of the stuff that we’ve done up there – but I haven’t really seen that there’s too many disadvantages with being a band that’s based up in Glasgow as opposed to anywhere else in the UK.
I guess the only thing is that like how far apart things are so obviously if you’re driving to do a show in London we’d go further than if we were a band in the Midlands if we were driving to London and also wanting to go to Glasgow. It would be great if we were in the centre of the UK.
Living in Norwich I think we’ve kind of got that because the road links aren’t great really – we’ve got two roads out and you have to go a hell of a way to get anywhere out of here.
The genres in Scotland is there a really good mix of that or do you tend to find that everybody…
Yeah well you can see like if you look at the big bands in Scotland just now you’ve got like Framed Rabbit, Total Antic. Framed Rabbit are a bit more folky, Total Antic who are a bit more rocky and Churches who are electro. It ranges from really traditional to off the wall and it’s quite creative all over there’s lots of different bands doing lots of different things so no one’s really – I don’t know, it seems that weird way where you can always colour it with Scotland you kind of know it’s Scottish but it doesn’t have to sound like every other Scottish band if that makes sense.
It sounds Scottish but it’s not The Proclaimers it’s not like that. It’s you just hear it, there’s an influence, you hear that sounds like.
It’s funny, we went over and played a couple of shows in America and people went what kind of band are you, everyone kind of asks that and we say we’re kind of Scottish band and everyone just went ‘oh, stuff like bagpipes and fiddles and stuff like that.’
There is a guy that quite often on a Saturday plays bagpipes in town, in full regalia… we try and walk away. It’s quite loud if you walk right past. Offensive is the term I think we meant.
It’s the drone…
If you walk past it (it’s normally on street corners ) when the drone’s going it’s not so bad but when it starts again right in your ear that is kind of distressing.
Anyone who comes to see Fatherson will not hear bagpipes…. yet!
That’s always a blessing. So there’s not a national identity to Scottish music apart from that little lilt?
He sings with a Scottish accent.
Most people do now sing with an accent and it’s become a lot more at the forefront of Scottish music because English bands always sing with an English accent or American. Just sing in your own accent I think – just when it became more popular and Scottish bands in the charts it became a thing you could do, to sing in your own accent, which I think, is a huge benefit to Scottish music.
It made everything a bit more honest I think maybe the one thing I’d say to the sum of Scottish music is there isn’t much fake Scottish music going on everyone sticking to their guns. People are singing about what they want to sing about and the way they want to sing it.
They’ve gone away from that ‘we must sound like this and this to get anywhere.’
Absolutely I think it’s a nice idea.
It’s working now though – 20 years ago you did that and that worked and you got accepted in America or whatever. Although I was listening to something on the radio this morning about Cliff never getting accepted in America and I thought that was hilarious… and nobody can work out why!
The album is coming out soon and that’s self-financed.
With help from Creative Scotland
That’s cool. I was going to ask you why you didn’t go through pledging or crowd sourcing or something like that.
It kind of goes back to what we were talking about earlier with the way that we’ve kind of done it by playing a lot of shows in Scotland and stuff has managed to get us to the way where it kind of actually is fan funded because we are able to play bigger shows in Scotland. So therefore, we get some more money in which we’ve just put straight into this album. Basically we’re all still struggling away even though the band gets some money from bigger shows and we’ve just put it all straight into doing this. It’s been like the big focus all last year – we went in and recorded the record and then played about with it, went down to London, met a whole bunch of people and got a really great team around us to help do it and put the album out. It’s meant we’ve kind of been able to do it on our own terms and our own way and stuff like that. I like the way we’ve done it and it’s given us lots of control and allowed us to take time on stuff. Cos if you put something up and you go on to pledge music for an album and people are putting all the money in and it’s like people are expecting it at a certain time. And we’ve managed to get this finished article that we’ve taken our time on that we’re really happy with and really proud of and we’ve kind of done it ourselves but with the help of everyone that come to any show.
Anyone that’s bought our t-shirts effectively put money in to make this album which is quite a nice sentiment it’s nice it’s been made by everyone and by us and everyone who likes the band.
Did you have to apply for the grant?
Applied for it and that paid for a certain percentage of recording and then e just got the money to do everything else.
No strings attached?
No strings attached.
That sounds good.
It really is – it’s quite amazing cos they help quite a lot of Scottish bands it’s not like an impossible thing like let’s get this grant they give out different amounts of money to different projects.
Is that a necessary thing?
I don’t know…you obviously get ‘we’ll give you this amount of money this year and you spend it” sort of thing with government stuff. It’s not means tested but there’s a limit to the amount of money that can be given out and I dunno how they work it out I dunno if it’s how good your application was or whatever but say it’s like they’ve got 20 grand max they can give out they’ll give out anything between…
So it doesn’t just go to a couple of bands, they just say right okay we like you, and you…
So you can get £500. So that’s the deal really.
They’ve been really, really helpful. We’ve played a creative Scotland showcase at the Great Escape last year and stuff like that. So it’s been very kind of working with their help bit bits and bobs which is the kind of thing you need when you are doing something yourself you need a little bit of cash injected in so you can get the ball rolling which has been great and it’s all worked out really well so far.
So now you’ve done that and it’s all going very well and you’re starting to filter down here. I’ve met some bands that have got a 5 year plan and that’s that , and I’ve met bands that are going with the flow with a little kind of idea of where they’re going – what’s your balance of stuff?
We’ve got a 5 month plan – a 5 minute plan!
Some are like we are going to do this next month and in 2 months time we’re gonna do this and in 2 years time we‘ve got to be here… I think they might be setting themselves up for…
There’s a kind of unspoken plan. I’m quite happy to get this album out and see what happens and then do another album. I’m quite happy to just go “I wanna write music and make albums” and as long as people are coming to the shows and buying the albums.
We’ve got like as much as we know we’re putting the album out, we’ve got tours planned. We’ve got the rest of this year all sorted out and then we just start off as pessimistic as we can possibly get everything’s planned and the worst possible scenario and then it’s nice. It’s exciting its kind of how we’ve always done it cos things do take longer especially if you’re doing a lot of stuff yourself for it so we just take it as things come but with a general plan. We know what we’re doing for the rest of this year.
It’s nice when you can go in with certain expectations and then it’s nice when you get the wee surprises like one or two come up in the year or whatever something you didn’t expect to happen and that just makes it even better.
You don’t mind having plans blown out of the water for that, do you? So a year is kind of long enough?
It’s all you can really realistically plan for, I mean you can’t plan for outcomes you don’t know are going to happen yet.
No but I’ve met people like that – they’re really driven and they know where they want to go and they really do have – and I wonder ‘what are you gonna do if….’ it must be so stressful.
I would personally find it so self-destructive because i couldn’t handle that. I tried to – like cos I’m quite – I like to do a lot of things are going to happen. But we’ve been in a band for a long time so we’ve kind of had ups and downs and stuff like that even in just doing what we’ve been doing for the past few years and you never know what’s going to happen in music and it’s stupid. It took me a long time to realise that, that you can’t plan and work out what you’re going to do cos you have no idea.
At the end of the day it’s about how people react when they click on you and your Soundcloud link and whether they enjoy it. At the end of the day the most exciting thing I think we’re ever going to do to date in this band is release this album and see what people think of it – what our fans think of it what new people think of it – cos its awesome!
We’ve made our favourite album – we’ve done everything we can to make it as good as we can so it’s just a case of…
Are there gonna be any surprises in there for your hardcore?
I think so.
We’ve kept some songs – it’s difficult when you’ve been working on an album for so long and playing about and we’ve only released a couple of songs and you just have to play songs that you’ve got on the album because you just have to. You’ve got hour and a bit long sets and we’ve gone to headline tours we’ve made sure consciously to keep a good wee handful of tracks from the record pretty much secret. There’s one that’s never been played live to anyone and another one that’s been played once and that’s it.
It keeps it interesting… we release this album on 7 April we’ve been playing all the songs on it for the last year and a half you’d be like oh it’s great the albums out and you’re doing this exact same set.
We’re all itching to play these new tracks as well.
We’ve done them in sound check a couple of times and gone will we put it in the set and we’re like no, we’re just gonna wait. The 7th April’s the day and after that they can be played every single show from then on.
You’ll self combust on the day.
That’s it. It’s going to be the best day ever.
And you pick things up to play out the first time you go ‘oooh.’ (scared voice)
I think it’s important we made the album we wanted for us to enjoy I remember like when we were younger and thinking about making albums and I was listening to albums, “I wanna do that!” And we’ve managed to translate some of that onto our album, which is really nice and I hope people have that reaction when they listen to it.
Do you take into account what you know the fans like? Cos there’s a balance with every band. They know what fans like and some of them don’t go away from that.
I think it’s definitely stupid..
Well, you can’t pander to…
We’re quite a spontaneous band. What happened with this album was we got to record it over March and April last year and we demoed everything in December and got to March and went, “It’s not good enough” and finished it with new songs.
We were like “this is what we could do, it’s acceptable, people will like it, they’ll be listening to it, but let’s just take a chance and add a couple things.” And the one they actually released as a single is the first one that got a good response. And that was not finished until 12 days into the studio. So it’s like ‘pandering’ is a really hard concept to have when you don’t have an album out yet.
Having said that, I do know a band have been going thirty years and only just released their first one. I think they kind of got the gist of what their fans like.
You get a sense of playing live, and we played a lot of the songs live, but the songs we’ve had about that we know people like that would be out on the album, cuz we’ve not done a track listing yet. It’s still a secret.
I think it’s unfair to put songs on that have been around for a couple of years but not released that people know onto an album, because they’ll go “I’m not getting anything new here.” (pauses to tie his shoe…hee!) You gotta keep it interesting if people are gonna pay money which, you know, they might not…
I’ve been quite heavily involved in fandom with two or three bands, and I know what it’s like on the expectation and the general excitement side from this end, from the other end to you. I know that perhaps if a band release an album, there would be a couple of songs that fans would really, really want on there because they haven’t been on an album before, no matter when the next one came out. They would really want it to be there, you know. There as many different opinions of a band as there are fans. (Note, dear readers, this isn’t necessarily TD related)
It’s about like meeting expectations but also surprising people as well. I think it’s a very fine line to stand on.
We spent a long time working on the track listings. There’s been quite a lot of people that have heard it that are friends or family that are people that we know like the band and have liked the band for a while and kind of got feedback with that. And on board as well, in terms of what was on the record. I’m pretty confident that we’ve got the right mix on it. I think when people hear it, they’re gonna enjoy it, hopefully.
There’s no songs there I’m sad aren’t on it, if that makes any sense. It was quite, not brutal, but the way the album turned out is the way that it turned out – I’m happy the songs went on it.
Is it sounding to me like it was a smoother ride than it was?
I remember we were dreading it for so long cos we were in an argument and we sat down, I made some…
Yeah, it was just one of those days, I was just like “are we gonna have a massive argument? I don’t have an argument.”
Yeah, but I made homemade chips that day.
They were pretty good. These chips can make…
Chips always make things better.
They do! We just wrote a list of every song that could possibly go on our album and then we all numbered them.
You just kept putting the number of chips it was worth.
That one didn’t have any chips next to it. And the one with the most chips…
Actually it took about half an hour at the end of the day, and we made a couple of changes which is, I think, a good sign, hopefully.
Unprecedented. That’s quite a feat.
We’re all on the same wavelength when it comes to like…
Well, I think perhaps maybe you put it off so long and feared it for so long, it wasn’t quite as bad as you thought.
Yeah, maybe it was. Maybe it was so passive, we didn’t realize.
Or maybe we’ve made a horrible mistake and now the track listing’s terrible.
That’s 7th of April, it’s out.
The album is called “I am an island.”
That’s it!, I clicked on it earlier. I was looking at all your stuff. I’ve got written down here about genre and whether you have genred yourself in your heads or whether you just don’t care or whether it just evolves through things.
I don’t really care. The way I see it is: listen to it and take what you want from it. That’s it. If you think it’s death metal…
(laughs) it’s definitely not…
If you listen to the songs and you think it sounds folky, that’s cool, that’s absolutely fine.
Well, some love the music that they listen to and they want to play it so much, it’s “right, that is what we are.”
I think there’s a lot, and it’s great. There’s not two tracks the same on the album, but it’s all the same band.
We didn’t start this band with an idea of how we wanted to sound. We started a band with the songs; we didn’t know we wanted to be a rock band. The songs just kind of turned out like that.
When I explain to relatives, like aunties and uncles, I just say we’re a rock band, a guitar band.
I’d say there’s not really a point trying to explain it to aunties.
We always just say we started off playing Stereophonics covers when we started as a band and it doesn’t matter. It’s kind of weird.
It’s just…Scottish. Scottish, honest music. Honest, that’s a good genre.
But which Scottish bands would you like to be considered alongside? Not that you are ‘the next one of…’ But what would be on your roll of honour? Who would be on that with you?
Idlewild would be in that. Framed Rabbit, for me.
Needs to be up there with Biffy (Clyro) as well.
I saw Deacon Blue in Glastonbury. By accident. They weren’t the headline. They did the Sunday headline. We were all wet.
I’d love to be as big as Calvin Harris. That’d be good, wouldn’t it?
That’d be awesome.
I always think that you always get ‘you’ll be the next big band’ ‘you’ll be the next [that] band.’ I’d just like to be the first Fatherson.
Yeah, but you know, it’s not like comparing yourself to them, it’s just who would you want to be up there with?
I think, like, I mean Idlewild.
I’ve seen them, they’ve been here!
I think people will appreciate those bands for what they do. I think that’s basically all you really want for being in a band. They’ll do it for a living and know that people like it. Even if one person likes it and ten people hate it, if that is the ratio I’d be happy with that, cos like one person likes it.
Or at least they’re paying you attention. It’s the middle bit you want to avoid. They don’t care.
No such thing as bad publicity.
I’ve been listening to the news today. David Cameron’s put his foot in it again with Scotland. He made a speech in London. He’s telling people to ring and text and talk to their Scottish friends and tell them to vote ‘no’ and say ‘we want you to stay.’ It’s like, please don’t interfere with other people’s political processes. How do you feel about the Independence thing? Would it be a good thing for the Scottish music industry or are you pretty independent up there anyway?
We’re a Scottish band, we live in Scotland, that’s something that we have spoke about quite a bit. I don’t necessarily think it would make that much of a difference in Scotland in terms of the music. It might do, but it’s one of these things it’s all speculation at the moment.
You never know, if it goes independent more of the music industry would move to Scotland, if that makes any sense. So that London wasn’t a powerhouse.
If. Nobody really knows cos it’s not happened yet.
What would you like to happen?
I would like people to read more about it and come up with their own opinions.
Both sides are obviously very biased.
And very passionate.
There doesn’t seem to be a good overview of any of that yet. So you’ll get people who’ve read the White Paper and they’re like ‘yeah!’ And you get people, you know, have an argument about that, but not enough…
The one thing I have heard on Radio 5, which is very English, they’ve talked to a lot of young people and they seem to know what they’re talking about whatever side they’re on. And that is impressive, really, and kind of heartening.
I think that like it or lump it, it’s the most important political thing that’s happenning to Scotland for the past three hundred years.
I think people not voting would be the worst thing. You can vote either way, however you feel about what’s going on, but at the end of the day, I think it’s important that people vote.
It’s always an interesting thing with music and politics. We’re just not having too much to do with that. We’ve always spent a lot of time just getting to know both sides of what’s going on and making up our minds. I think that we should vote and make our own mind up and have an idea.
And deal with what happens after that.
Yeah, either way. It’s not the end of the world. Something will happen.
We’re still joined together. Sorry about that, it wasn’t my fault. I don’t think people hate the Scots nearly as much as they think we do.
To me, it comes down to nothing to do with liking or loving or hating or anything to do with that, which is stuff I’ve always read. I think it just comes down to people doing what they think is the most sensible thing to do.
Let’s hope they do that. You need to vote with your heads.
That’s why I think everyone should just read more about it, even if you have made your mind up, find the facts out. Just learn about what it actually means. There’s manipulation on both sides and I think it’s important that you learn what’s going on.
And be very wary of both sides as well. Yeah, you don’t get to be this old without being cynical about both sides. Even the one you support, really.
Well that’s all I’ve got. Is there anything you’d like to add, say, promote, divulge to anybody? Say to your aunt?
We’d like to thank Scott, who’s packed away all our stuff.
(To Jo) Thank you very much.
We’ll come back down as soon as we possibly can. We’re in Cambridge tomorrow, then we’ve got a couple of months, just doing a lot of stuff for the album, and we’re going to be going on tour when the album comes out, and then festivals and stuff like that. We’ve got some announcements coming up. Watch this space.
Beer and curry?
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