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Friday, 22 November 2013

In conversation with Purple Valentino

The band certainly couldn't be described as new kids on the block, so do you want to give us a run down of the prior projects that led to the formation of Purple Valentino, and then how they led to the formation of the band?

(Dougie) Ha ha yeah you could say that.
It’s pretty cool being in a band that is this happy, and where things happen because the people involved all like each other and are all involved in the process of making the music, which we all love.
How did it start? Me and Scott (bass) and Marc (guitars) knew each other from years gone by when we played in a band called The Jades which was a mishmash of all sorts of genres but was never really that serious. Also in that line up was Mo, the original Purps drummer. He left for New Zealand last year, and then we found Glen to replace him.
Many years before that, Marc and I played in a sleazy glammy outfit called Far Gone.
We made a mini album in the early 90s which I’d love to hear again.
It was called Taste for the Bizarre, and I really think it would still sound current.
A lot of our writing, especially Marc’s is drawn from that time.
The studio where we recorded it had a fire and our master tapes which were stored in the basement were all destroyed by the resultant flood. If anyone has it, I want a copy!
(Marc) yeah that was a real shame. Those were great days, although we were really fucking poor! The Purps story was really started by Dougie and Brian, who used to sing in the band before he was deported to South Africa. We tried to find someone to marry him but nobody would, which was strange cos he’s a right good looking boy!
So Dougie now sings.
These past few years, I’ve been making lots of demos on Qbase etc, and playing and singing everything. I’ve never stopped writing.
(Dougie) so we found ourselves at the start of 2013 without a drummer or a singer.
Glen is an accomplished percussionist who had never played in a band. When he came for audition we couldn’t believe what an amazing noise he could make with an electronic kit.
That drum kit is a key part of our sound, and always will be.
Then we decided that we wanted to add another dimension and went looking for a fiddle player.
So we got Danny in for a jam, and his chops quickly added a kind of celtic undertone which again will always be a Purps characteristic. And with that, the line up was born.
We went straight into the studio and recorded Stay, Homesick (which we wrote with our pal Debbie Murray) and a slowie called Life Aint a Disco.
That was back in June, but I still think that those 3 songs define the band as it is today.
I wouldn’t change anything about those recordings, and that's the first time I’ve ever been truly happy with every aspect of our recorded music.
(Danny) Prior to joining the Purps, the biggest gigs Id played had been……ceilidhs! Still great music and a good time but a different scene yknow?
Uni and work got in the way of playing and then Dougie tracked me down on facebook and asked if I wanted in.
An even more interesting way to finish of the weekend where I had seen Rush and Muse within 2 days.

You have been kicking about for a few years now, and the impression I get is that you want to steadily build a solid fan base first and foremost rather than make a big splash. Is that accurate, and if so is the paying your dues aspect of the music business something that you consider is important?

(Dougie) yeah I would say so, but the spread of music is changing so much in that when you make a record these days, you can stick it on the internet and it’ll either be ignored or someone will pick it up and love it, so you need a bit of luck alongside the dues paying.
We love playing live, and we are fortunate enough to have a great manager who picks gigs for us that are likely to be busy so more and more people will hear our music.
But yeah, if you want to be heard, you need to play live and you need to do lots of it.
We’ve been courted by an indie label recently who love our recorded music but they say we don’t play enough shows. So far that reason, right now, we will play anywhere.
(Marc) defo, starting from the bottom and building a fan base is part of the whole experience.
It’s what our heroes did, and we will do the same until we are too old and fucked to continue! Let me be clear : we love this shit.
(Danny) Nothing bugs me more than these X Factor guys who go from being on Tesco’s tills one day to No1 the next. They can usually sing but few can play anything. I certainly would rather have a loyal local fanbase and longevity than instant gratification today and becoming yesterday’s news.

If you were to cast a critical eye over the music scene in Glasgow what would immediately jump up as the main issues in your experience?
(Dougie) that’s easy. Pay to play is a bit of a problem, and it’s always been there. Some venues we will never play because of that policy.
It’s ok for bands like ours but if you’re a bunch of guys who have just left school and you need to punt 50 tickets to your mates who are equally skint, then pretty soon that’s going to become a pain in the arse.
We love Glasgow though, it’s the beating heart of music in Scotland.
(Danny) I have to second pay to play. It’s just not fair on the kids. (Marc) Um, dunno. Experience......not sure on this one.
We’ve not played the Barrowland yet. That’s the best rock n roll venue in the world so it’s hard to be critical of a city which is host to such a revered gig.
Having said that, someone stole my gear when we were unloading for a gig in Glasgow. I only turned my back for a second and the flight case with all my bits was gone. Me and Glasgow fell out of love that day. It was a short tiff though.

The band have steered clear of being stuck with a genre tag, and instead you state that you just want to make quality music. I can see the benefits of that, but also the downside as some people really are only looking to be signposted towards a genre. So if push came to shove would you be comfortable with embracing a reputation for being a melodic rock act as a gateway term?

(Dougie) I would say that we are a melodic rock band for sure. And if I was asked to state any one strength of this band, it’s that we know how to write an infectious killer chorus, in fact at one point I did consider doing some ghost writing for a song agency. So yeah, melodic rock. With the addition of Danny’s fiddle though it almost takes us into celtic territory. Let’s call it Melodic Cock!
(Danny) As much as I cant stand genre tags (apart from good music and crap music), I would have to agree on melodic rock. That is to say that what we have done so far is melodic rock, who knows where things will go.
To be fair though, I reckon the best genre tag would be Epic Rock, cos that’s how we feel right after we play!
(Marc) I dont care what people want to call us, if they like us. There’s too many bands about that take themselves far too seriously and are precious about what genre they fit into. I don’t care.
The main thing is that our music is enjoyed by some people.
If that continues to happen, as it has been this year then I’m really happy.
We all understand the importance of remaining humble.

Now that I have mentioned melodic rock it would do you all a disservice not to mention that there are some glam rock undertones to the material to. Now of course some will cringe at the term glam, but it's more the street level punky vibe that's going on. Sort of a mix of the Dogs D'Amour and maybe a poppier take on Andy McCoy and Nasty Suicides adventures as the Suicide Twins. Is that fair enough?

(Dougie) Christ is it that obvious!!? I adore every aspect of McCoy and Suicides writing, particularly in their projects away from Hanoi Rocks. I’m pretty sure that comes across loud and clear in my writing too.
There’s a song on our last album called This Alchemy that echoes Hanoi’s “Tragedy” shamelessly. Sorry guys, just couldn’t help it!
(Danny) Is it wrong if I admit I have no idea who they are?! I’d agree with the glam undertones though. For me true glam is Ziggy era Bowie, Sweet, Slade, etc. While maybe considered poppy in the 70s, relistening to some of Sweet’s stuff, theres some heavy stuff there and like us, catchy tunes and lyrics.
Slade always had that street punk vibe too to me, even after abandoning their skinhead look. Plus they also had a fiddle so I would be bias wouldn’t I?!
(Marc).....sure is, those guys played a huge part in my musical upbringing. I once shared a drink and a cigarette with Nasty Suicide in the Cathouse one night. He was subsequently ejected from the premises. I’ll tell you about that another time!

Do you think that sometimes people are missing that element in the music?

(Dougie) D’you know, I’m ok with that. I think we all acknowledge that our music is attracting a mainstream audience, for example we have had lots of radio airplay in Brazil recently and when I look at our facebook page, I can’t imagine that most of these new Brazilian fans have even heard of Hanoi and all those other bands that I love.
If I owned a flux capacitor, my first destination would be Sunset Strip 1989!
That must’ve been a fucking naughty time to be living in LA.
(Danny) the glam element or the street punk element? I don’t think the glam element is missing, look at everyone from The Darkness to Lady Gaga.
She’s as glam as they come at the moment. Street Punk? I know it’s still there.
Perhaps not too many bands have hints of both elements. I think that we do.

You recently opened for The Bermondsey Joyriders, and are about to debut at the legendary King Tuts Wah Wah Hut in support to the equally legendary queens of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that are Girlschool. Are supports like this useful in getting the bands name into the view of the people who you think the music would appeal to?

(Dougie) OMG The Joyriders were such lovely people. I’ve got some cool snaps of Gary Lammin playing my old telecaster. That was a great night, and Martin Stacey told me that our songs were “soooo fahkin tuneful” which was a cool thing to say. He didn’t have to do that.
Support slots like those are essential.
Again, our manager James really knows what he’s doing in that respect. Girlschool I can’t wait for. I still have the tour shirt I bought at the same venue in 1992, but this time around we will hopefully meet them so I’m gonna bring all my vinyl for them to sign.
We’ve got 35 mins to convince people, so it’s going to have to be a hard and fast delivery, with no fucking around, no ballads and no stories.
(Danny) That’s how it’s supposed to roll isn’t it? Back in the day Mott the Hoople supported Bowie, Queen supported Mott, Thin Lizzy supported Queen and so on.
By doing support slots for whoever we can, we get our name out there.
I think we are intuitive enough as a band to adjust it slightly to suit the audience. So for the Girlschool gig we’ll be taking it heavier but we are equally happy to tone it down.
(Marc) you bet, but aside from that its a huge buzz for me getting to play on the same bill as bands I was listening to when I was younger.
They say that you should never meet your heroes but it’s been pretty cool so far!

As is normally people will always bemoan the state of the music business, but it is true that it is changing rapidly and mainstream success is at the moment stretching away from rock acts. What do you think will be the reaction to this? Will there be another golden age of rock? Is it even possible to comprehend that happening? Would you advocate the 'going it on your own' angle that the Kickstarter campaigns allow artists to participate in as an alternative to the age old attract a label template?
(Dougie) Good question. Society is rapidly changing. But a good social media agency can get you on the radio quickly.
Ant Collins from Real XS is a big fan of ours, and we ended up on his playlist cos we were so tenacious about it.
As a genre, rock n roll is completely safe and well in my view.
I think that our music is enjoying a renaissance in that there are loads of bands touring who have been on hiatus forever. I’m really looking forward to seeing Nick Royale and Dregen at the Cathouse in December.
Between them, they have made my absolute favourite records of the last decade.
Whats Kickstarter? * Fan funded project
(Danny) Ian Hunter said that, ‘the golden age of rock and roll will never die, as long as children feel the need to laugh and cry’..
I think there will be another golden age. Things go in cycles.
The current Simon Cowell produced stuff is this generations
Tin Pan Alley. Blues/rockabilly acts such as Imelda May, The Jim Jones Revue, Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa are all amongst the new trend coming through.
Prog is also going through a similar revival.
The trouble is no matter how good something is, once an act is too popular, a new underground rock movement forms to push out the establishment!

2013 is rapidly moving forward towards making way for 2014. So can you tell us if you have the new year mapped out and what do you have planned for it?

(Dougie) Yeah there are plans for a tour, or probably 2 short tours. We are playing the ABC in Glasgow on 4th Jan and already have work confirmed with Dan Reed, who’s new album I’ve been playing on repeat all year. We’ve just finished filming a video for our single “Stay” which we persuaded the film school at Cardonald College to produce for us. We even got Dave Beaton (drummer from Yashin) to act in it with his wife who is a glamour model. It’s all done in the best possible taste of course! So we will get that out there as soon as we can.
This coming year though its all about hard travelling, getting in front of audiences, as our new pal Dave Sharp (from the Alarm) told us we had to do.
I felt like saying “mate, your poster was on my bedroom wall when I was 16!!”
Thought better of it. But he’s right, it’s all about taking this message to the masses.
(Danny) The same thing we try and do every year, try to do what we do, but better than we did it yesterday!

(Marc) I wanna be sedated!  

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