Third time lucky. Three interviews in one day. I ask you? Whose the daddy?
This time we have Scotland's latest roots punk band on the scene and they have all the right ingredients to be the best.
I give you........The Stay Gones
The Stay Gones.
El Diablo - So what’s the story with The Stay Gones? A serendipitous mutual meeting of minds over a pint, or was the idea already in the head of one of the band and it was just a matter of finding some like minded people to flesh it out?
Michael -Well Raph and me were in The Terrors and share pretty similar tastes in music, so when it looked like The Terrors were coming to an end we decided we'd like to carry on together, but do something different. So it all came from that really. Raph already knew Stu and Stu knew Jas and by chance it turned out that we had a full band out of nowhere really.
Raph - Yeah. I met Stu a while back at an “off with their heads” show in Edinburgh and just because I thought he looked like a nice guy and there weren't many people in the room besides me and Michael I introduced myself and got talking to him. From that chance meeting I took his number and we organised a jam, which went horrendously. I’d had to argue my way out of hospital after having an epileptic fit to get to the practice studios and wasn't on top form but the connection was made.
Then, like Michael says, The Terrors were looking to take a break and I was at the Propagandhi gig in Edinburgh, and spotted Stu at the merch table. We talked about a bunch of stuff and I said that Michael and me wanted to do a gruff/org type project. It was then that he mentioned that he'd been playing with a drummer called Jas and we realised that potentially a full band was in place made up of friends and friends of friends. So we met up on a cold January evening and, attempted a “none more black” cover, and failed miserably. Then I showed them a couple of songs that I'd written and we worked on them together and it sounded okay. So we started fresh with them, went into the studio, recorded them, booked some shows and here we are.
ElD - It’s a real departure in sound from what you were doing in The Terrors isn‘t it? There’s a roots attitude to it. Basic working class rock music that falls between The Briggs and The Gaslight Anthem. What was it that influenced you to make this move from what you were doing then to what you are doing now?
Michael - Well this kind of music is our really our main passion and our common ground. We like all kinds of punk rock, but when it comes down to it this is a lot more natural for us to play. I guess we didn't really have a specific plan of what to sound like though.
It’s like Raph said, he had these acoustic songs and when we played them together this is what we got, and we're pretty happy with that.
Raph - Yeah, it was when I was playing drums with The Terrors that Michael heard me play my acoustic songs a couple of times. Most I’d started writing last year, and from that we had talked about doing something more in the vein of Gaslight Anthem/Hot Water Music/Leatherface. There’s something about the songs of melodic punk rock bands such as The Gaslight Anthem that seems so real to me. Of course, it's the lyrics too, but the music is passionate. You can really feel something special when a band means every word that they sing and every note that they play, and I suppose that's what we wanted to do as well. No pretence, just honest, punk rock music.
ElD - The songs do have an American feel to them. Would that be a fair comment? Did you ever consider trying to do the same thing, but with a more localized approach. Like blatantly keeping the Scottish accents to the fore instead of softening them?
Michael - I think that's a fair comment, we listen to a lot of American music but if it sounds American then it's not on purpose, as I said we're just playing what comes naturally. Vocals wise, we're not all from Central Scotland. Raph's from Cambridge originally and Stu's from up north, so we're not even going to go there with all the accents.
Raph - Hah! I have 5 mansions with many servants and a Porsche. Only joking! Although I do come from Cambridge, but on a serious note, we are definitely influenced heavily by a lot of American bands so it is a fair comment. Mostly I find that a singer's voice differs to their talking voice, and I don't think that's putting on an accent or pretending to be American. It‘s just singing in the way you feel comfortable singing. There are melodic punk bands in the UK who use that localized approach though. The cutups, 7 day conspiracy, for example, who are both great bands and the accent-on-sleeve thing works really well for them. It wasn't something we really thought about and in the end I guess accents don't really matter. Though it really shows (in a negative way) when a vocalist is trying to be something that he/she is not.
ElD - As you are all residing in different places how difficult is it writing material, practicing and getting out to do gigs? What’s the reality of being in The Stay Gones like in comparison to other bands you have been in?
Raph - Well actually we all live in Edinburgh apart from Michael who lives in Glasgow and we mostly practice once a week, Michaels super dedicated and travels through on the train. Myself and Stu tend to bring songs/ideas to practice then we all learn and develop them at banana row which is our regular rehearsal space. So in short, no, I wouldn't say it's difficult. I think it keeps me sane if anything, and gives going to work a purpose (the purpose being so we can afford to practice/record/gig etc). I think the main difference between the Stay Gones compared to say The Terrors, is that this is a more organic process. Bands I've been in before have maybe pushed too hard for a specific sound, and that can be quite restricting, especially when people have differing tastes. With the Stay Gones we just kind of walked into a room together with 2 or 3 songs and didn’t try and create an image or a genre, just music. We had some influences in mind but it just fell into place and that's my favourite thing about this band, musically there's room for so much. It's exciting to say the least.
Michael - I enjoy going through to Edinburgh, it's a nice city.
We're still at the stage where going to practice is something to look forward to as all the songs are still new to us and we're always working on new stuff. Hopefully it'll stay like that.
Gig wise, it seems to be working in our favour as well. So far as we've got a few gigs lined up in both Glasgow and Edinburgh
ElD - So how many songs have you got recorded at the moment and how close are you to releasing an album?
Michael - So far we've only recorded the 3 songs that are on the MySpace page, but we plan on recording more soon. We don't have a specific date in mind for an album, just kind of doing things as they happen.
I've been in bands in the past where we have tried to do too much in too short a space of time, and the songs end up not sounding as good as they could do. So we're trying not to rush this too much.
At the same time though, we are wanting to push forward as much as possible, just at a natural pace. So yeah, hopefully be recording more in the next few months.
Rap - Yeah, We definitely don't want to rush things too much. Firstly for the reasons that Michael said, and also because it'd be cool to not have any "filler" tracks on the album and only choose the songs we feel completely happy with. Those are how the best albums get done. The kind of album when you get to the final track and just want to listen to the whole damn thing again! Our set is only about 7-8 songs at the minute but we're hopefully gonna get some new stuff done at the next practice.
ElD - It sounds as if you guys are all on the same page about the band. I don’t get the sense that you are all pulling in different directions. Is everything just strangely falling in place without any real hassles?
Raph - Yeah you pretty much hit the nail on the head there man. A couple of times I brought songs in and we tried them but they didn't really work. They just sounded like acoustic songs and didn't really convert very well. "Falling into place" is maybe an exaggeration though. We are definitely all on the same page, but writing and arranging good songs always takes hard work. There's been plenty of songs that I've written and then scrapped because I didn't think they were good enough for the band to play. We're proud of the stuff we've written and recorded so far and I'd like it to stay that way. I've recorded with other bands and every recording/song has had a cringe moment or two. I think it's different this time though.
Michael - Yeah, so far no problems, as I think I said earlier we're all just kind of playing what we want to play without any real thought on how we think it should sound, which seems to be working so far.
ElD - What’s the song writing process for the band. Is it Raph writes a song, plays it to the band and then you break it down and build it up again with everyone throwing in their take on it.
Michael - Yeah that's pretty much what's happening right now. Most of the songs (Including the 3 online) are songs that Raph did acoustic. We've just kind of added to them and worked around that basic structure.
We do have one song that Stu wrote and he does the main vocals on to and hopefully we will continue to do more.
Raph - Well mostly so far I've been writing songs with a basic structure, then we've expanded on them together, and Stu does main vocals on one song and a verse on another. I never try and tell the others how exactly to play the song and that's how the best ideas come out and everyone adds cool bits of detail which give the songs a great deal more depth. Gang vocals and harmonies are always fun and I feel are an important part of our sound.
ElD - How have you been going down live. Are you still at the stage where you know everyone coming to see you, or are you starting to notice faces turning up that you don’t know?
Michael - Well we've only played a few shows so far. Seems to be going down pretty well I guess. I've definitely played worse gigs that's for sure. Whether anyone comes back to see us again, we'll need to wait and see.
Raph - Well it's true that some of our friends have come to watch us play and show some support for the first few shows. We played our first show with The Rabble in Edinburgh, so there were plenty of people there who wouldn't normally see us play, and we also played with The Bomb just recently. People seemed to enjoy our music, despite the fact that we are still not as tight as we would like live so that's really encouraging. It's early days for us to be developing our own dedicated fanbase as such but only time will tell!
ElD - If everything went exactly they way you all wanted it to go then what would the future hold?
Michael - From the rest of the interview you can probably gather we don't have a great plan, we're happy to see what happens. Hopefully get some more songs recorded and get a proper UK tour organized. I'd really like to get to Europe at some point, and if we could play The Fest in Florida sometime I could die happy.
Raph- I think I'd just like to keep this band going for many years to come. Get a few albums out, maybe a couple of splits, a vinyl or 2. Who knows what's possible? Touring wise I'd love to get out to Europe or even the states but that's a long way off. I'm with Michael on the subject of the Gainesville Fest too. That would be a dream come true. Though we've just been confirmed as support for Leatherface in June and that is kind of a dream come true in itself for us. Playing with a band who has influenced us so much as musicians and as people will be an amazing experience.
ElD - and how are you going to achieve that?
Raph - Just gonna keep on keepin on!
Michael - ....and by rocking out, haha
Three tracks here from the band for your listening pleasure, but do me a favour. If you grab them then jump over to their myspace and show some appreciation.