Mainy - I've been following the progress of Mechanical Smile for a while now, and it has to be said that all the hard work seems to be reaping some rewards with recent mentions in the nationals and a solid buzz settling around you as a band to watch out for.
You must be quite pleased with the current state of affairs?
Garry – We are. Last year was a massive year for us and we feel we've achieved a lot and that's set the standard for 2012.
While we had a couple of years of playing the odd gig it was around January in 2011 when Mechanical Smile really started.
With Nic joining us we saw that as a fresh start and we seemed to take off from there.
We all became more focused on our goals and the passion for the band solidified.
One of the main things that has made us all very happy is how we have garnered loyal fans.
Our fans have been great over the last year and our online presence has soared. You have no idea how much it means to us to have fans as genuine as we have.
It's maybe a cliché to say it but we genuinely appreciate their support.
We try and get them involved as much as we can with giveaways and competitions as we feel it is the least we can do for the that support they give us.
Being featured in national papers and radio leaves us feeling good though.
It shows us that we are making progress and it’s great to know our work is being regarded highly by industry professionals.
We were delighted to get such positive reviews from the likes of Jim Gellatly.
You would think we would sit back and lap up the plaudits but in fact it just gives us more inspiration to push ourselves harder.
This year we hope to achieve even more than last year.
We would love a shot at playing some of the major festivals, and that’s the main reason we are pushing for the red bull bedroom jam competition. We seem to be doing well in that and hopefully we can top the buzz chart one week to be in with the chance of playing the festivals.
We are really happy the way things are going just now and have big ambitions and hope we can realize some of them this year.
Mainy - Did you ever have much of a game plan, or has it always been just a case of keep playing and keep pushing and lets see where this takes us?
Nic - A bit of both really. Llast year we had a rough game plan, gigging as much as possible, and doing a couple of single releases.
We spent the entire year really pushing ourselves, taking every opportunity we were offered, big or small, to try and get our name recognised.
It seems to have paid off and now we're getting some recognition both locally and nationally.
It's great to see that we're starting to get somewhere, and this year we do have a much more specific game plan, starting with this week when we head into the studio and then the launch of our new EP on March 30th at Bakers in Kilmarnock.
We are really excited to hear the results and we hope othrs will be to.!
Mainy - You seem to have managed to keep your feet firmly on the ground. Even at this early stage of picking up some wider recognition.
Is it important for the band not to be seduced by the music business and rock star attitudes?
Dawn - I think keeping our feet firmly on the ground is a very important aspect of what makes us Mechanical Smile.
We have all worked extremely hard at getting to where we are. We take nothing for granted because all that we have, we have worked for and strived for by ourselves and it means so much to us of what we have achieved so far.
Both the highs and the lows are equally important to us, because it's a learning process.
That whole rock star attitude that seems to be associated with playing in bands, well I feel that it isn't really something that applies to us.
We couldn’t be less rock and roll if we tried. Saying please and thank you comes naturally to us and we are extremely grateful for everything that has came our way and all the free beer, money and parties in the world has never and will never seduce the music that we play.
We pride ourselves on being as professional as we can when performing to our fans and people who take the time to come and see us perform.
I would rather give all the free things to my fans to thank them for coming to see us at a gig.
If we ever made it huge in the music business would we be seduced at that point by everything that comes along with the fame?
Then my answer would be a firm and honest no.
It always has been, and always will be, about the music that we play and the people who enjoy it.
I get my happiness from people and from the music I play, not from anything that comes with being a famous rock star.
Mainy - The world is moving fast. Vinyl gave way to CDs, and then they have gave way to downloads and while that happened the business side of things has remained quite static
As a young band do you have an awareness of the changes and have maybe relinquished the dream of grabbing a record deal and instead are looking to maintaining a sense of independence and control over your own career?
Nic - We've all studied music, and some of us are still finishing our degrees, so we're kept constantly updated with the way the industry is changing. I think fans of music in general still really appreciate a physical CD, especially with local bands where if people like what they hear live, they'll tend to look for EP's/albums to buy.
We sell a lot of EP's at live shows, and will definitely be offering physical copies of our new EP
A record deal is a bit of a pipe dream, and sometimes can put you in a worse situation, with much less creative control, and delays in releasing material.
At the moment we're doing pretty well with our self release plans, and have a good idea of where we'd like to be.
Obviously we don't have the promotional budget that a record label would offer, but if we continue to work as hard as we have been for the last year we're confident that we can grow our fan base across the country.
Saying that, we'd always be happy to consider any deal we might be offered in the future, but we wouldn't rush to sign a deal just for the sake of being signed.
Mainy - Some people were rather bemused at your attempt to get a support slot with McFly, but when you consider that it would have given you the opportunity to play in front of a few thousand people, garner some new fans, and showcase your talents in front of some media people that could have aided your career then are you surprised that some people just couldn't seem to wrap their head around it?
Murray - We weren’t surprised at people’s reactions as we expected people to raise an eye brow at our attempt to land the support with Mcfly.
As you say regardless of who the main band was, the chance to put yourself forward to play in front of a massive audience and potential industry personnel was the main reason behind why we pushed it so much.
Plus in all fairness, out of all the similar pop bands etc to Mcfly, they are actually decent musicians. But another reason for pushing it and promoting it so much was the fact it put our name out there.
Any publicity is good publicity and if people are sharing our page, tagging us or bitching about us wanting to support Mcfly, our name is getting out there which is what we want. But we got our tactics wrong with the promotion and learned from it. Hopefully there will be other opportunities.
Mainy - So with a few EPs under your belt are you looking to record a full length album next?
Murray - In December we were seriously considering going for a full album, but after some careful though we decided we weren’t quite ready for that and we believe we made the right decision.
We put some money into the recording of our single ‘Close Your Eyes’ and the rest of the money we had was spent on stocking up on merchandise, which has been a real asset to our income.
We see the band not only as our passion and our love, but as a business and every decision we make is one that we feel will benefit us and at the time (December) we felt a single was the right step.
So far we have released 2 EP’s and 2 singles and are currently recording a brand new EP which will be released on 30th March.
3 of the 4 songs are completely brand new, no one has heard them and they won’t until the release.
This is different than previous recordings as normally we write a new song then are buzzing to play it asap to let people hear it and by the time the recording has come out people have heard you play it live a few times.
We feel that might take away some of the excitement, so this time we don’t want to give anything away until the release.
I think this time next year you will see our debut full length album. At the stage we are at, EP’s are the best option as they are affordable for people to buy, cheap and easy to download, and we want to keep people interested and wanting to hear more from us.
Mainy - And on the live front what do you have coming up?
Dawn - After a quiet start to 2012 on the live front we have a busy few months ahead of us again this year.
Fresh of the back of our gig supporting Kassidy at the Grand Hall we are in the studio recording our new EP which will be released on 30th March. As mentioned we've just released details of the launch night at Bakers in Kilmarnock which we are really happy with.
We also have some great bands travelling to Kilmarnock to play with us.
There is a few gigs lined up before that though - Pivo, Glasgow 19th Feb, The Flask, Salcoats 24th Feb, PJ Molloy’s, Dunfermline 28th Feb and The Eagle, Prestwick 9th March.
We are getting a lot of gig offers from all over just now, it’s just a matter of picking the most suitable dates etc and we have a few big potential gigs up our sleeve which will hopefully be confirmed soon.
Mainy - The current loose scene in Ayrshire is very strong and probably one of its strengths is that it isn't genre specific.
What do you all think the pros and cons are of being associated with it?
Murray - First and foremost I believe the Ayrshire music scene is the best it has been for a long time, certainly in my generation.
There are so many great bands emerging and as you described in your question there is nobody really following a trend as each act is different in their own right.
I also love the community aspect of Ayrshire, the way the scene has been working together with My First Music, KA Radio, Little Fire etc all working hard promoting Ayrshire bands and artists.
There are definitely pros and cons though. Everyone wants to be in Glasgow, it’s just the way it is, that’s where it all happens, and it’s sad but it’s just the truth.
There aren’t enough venues in Ayrshire to attract punters and bands from outside Ayrshire to use it as a touring town, bar the odd few, and I’m afraid I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Also for people looking at you from outside Ayrshire, they seem to compare you to bands from the Ayrshire.
It’s rare you see or hear someone talking about a band for what they have done, or what they have achieved, without bringing another band into the equation and whether they are achieving more or less.
There is less of a community in Glasgow or Edinburgh and far more gig’s happening and obviously far more bands.
Due to that you get less of these comparisons being made and if a bands doing well it’s because they are simply doing well
The community, scene angle on it doesn't come into it as much if you get what I’m saying?
On the plus side it’s great to be part of a community and it makes us happy to know that people from Ayrshire, our friends and fans are proud of us because of who we are and where we are from.
Mainy - Who would you all mention as bands or acts to watch out for this year and why?
Garry - This type of question is always a difficult one as there are so many acts and artists out there which make the current scene so exciting to be a part of.
Matt Scott has really impressed me with his unique voice which really compliments his songs. He brings the modern swagger into his bluesy music which is really doing it for me just now.
Tragic O’Hara, like most people, we have been massive fans of his for a few years. It is always a joy to see him perform and he just seems to get better.
We are over the moon to have Tragic opening our EP launch.
Aside from Ayrshire, I feel I should also mention alternative pop rockers Make Sparks from Dundee, who to me are the best band in Scotland. They have just signed to a small indie label, but it won’t be long before they are snapped up by a bigger one.
They're outstanding live and write the catchiest tunes you will ever hear.
Another act to look out for are Paisley based band Carnivores who are also making their name known with their unique sound inspired by various styles of rock music, which is something that we can relate to.
They have had a massive 2011 playing festivals, radio 1 session etc and are main support for our EP launch.
Scotland has so much to offer in terms of music there always seems to be so many good things happening it really is a great time for Scottish music.
Now I feel I should have mentioned more. I'm aware that by mentioning a few and not others could be misconstrued.
I could have been here for hours answering that as there really is so many bands and solo acts that are worth mentioning.