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Thursday, 9 April 2015

In conversation with Rank Berry - Guest interviewer Why Von Rusty

So are you guys the real deal?

Brian - Ha, well that depends on what the real deal is.

Born on the wrong side of the tracks, hard living, working class rock and rollers?

Grant - Well we're certainly not hanging off the teat of inherited money and no one would argue if we said where we come from is most definitely economically deprived with people aspiring to be working never mind working class.
Jamie - And I suppose we do like a party if that's what you mean by hard living?
So yeah if that means we’re ‘the real deal’ then I suppose we might be the unreconstructed romantic notions of what a dirty ol' rock and roll band should be.

Is that sort of redundant and semi cartoon-ish now though?

Jamie - It probably is if it's a selling point, a label or management created pretence, but we're just four guys doing pretty much what everyone we know does in their spare time. Maybe this is the era of everyone living like a debauched rock star on the weekend and just coincidently we are in a band rather than working in a garage so I suppose we fit into the perception better than say that mechanic.
Marc - I think people can tell the difference between faux debauchery and just people partying anyway.

How so?

Grant - It's like the difference between an a-lister falling out of a club at 3am with the paparazzi waiting and Marc slumped naked in an empty car park communing with the spirits you find in a bottle.

And you are the latter?

Brian - Well that's true about Marc so yeah. No one will say it's big or clever but we are what we are. We do like a drink.
Jamie - Unapologetic arseholes is probably a better description of us than the real deal.
Brian - That was the original name of the band. Maybe it will be a side project in the future.

How does it feel like to be mentioned in the same breath as iconic rockers from the Rolling Stones to Guns and Roses?

Jamie - That's a strange one. We are obviously influenced by those acts and would be comfortable with people pointing out that they hear them in what we do, but to be compared to them, and others, as if they are peers makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. We only have the one ep out and another about to be released so it all seems a bit presumptuous to throw us in the ring with the greats.
Marc - It's certainly not something we feel deserving of.
In general we get our heads down and write and practice and then go out and play live and that's it.
Then we lift our heads up and take stock and find that people are saying very nice things about us.
Brian - I like it. Not as an ego massage, but in how it makes me strive to push things harder If someone says you are as good as Creedence then while I don't necessarily agree it makes me want to live up to the praise. It's good in that sense.

So your feet are on the ground then?

Grant - They have to be. Our reality wouldn't allow for anything else. Financially we scrape by from one week to the next like everyone else.
Marc - That's the perception thing kicking in. People see you on a stage, see a release, read an interview and think there's something more going on. That your life is better than theirs in some way, but we work jobs and do what we need to keep this going. The only difference between me and the next guy is that at night and the weekends I play in a band and maybe he plays darts.
It's relative. We are both skint.
Jamie - The greats you mention are from another time and place anyway.
Even if we did go on to write and record a classic rock album, and that's a solid if, then we still wouldn't be jetting about like the Stones in the seventies. Those days are gone. The very loose plan is to make shit hot music, have a laugh and be able to support ourselves doing that. There's no pot of gold waiting so not having your feet on the ground and thinking you were better than anyone else would be delusional to the extreme.

So fame and fortune aren't the driving forces for you?

Marc – Ha. No. If anyone forms a band to chase either then they are missing the point about making music.
Jamie- The music has to come first. Anything else is a welcome bonus.

As we are speaking about the music what is it you want from it?

Brian - For it to matter. From love songs to party songs it all has to matter to someone. They all need to connect with people or what is the point?
Grant - It's like if someone uses a song you wrote to soundtrack a moment in their life. Now that's as cool as fuck. That they link what we have done to a moment and it is always connected to it for them.

You don't sound like debauched rockers when you say that.

Grant - Why? Not that I think of myself as a debauched rocker, but I don't think that caring about the music and liking a party are mutually exclusive either.
Jamie - Yeah, when you consider some of the people touted as the greats then they may be known for their lives as legendary party animals but they delivered the goods and that's why they are the greats. It's not because their livers and septum were made by the gods to be indestructible.
Marc- Not that they were truly indestructible either.
Brian - True. Too many casualties and it's not something I'm attracted to. The live fast and leave a good looking corpse attitude is just bullshit. Our lifestyles and fondness for a tipple isn't something we want people to focus on either. While we don't mind admitting to walking on the wild side at times it's our songs and performances that should be what comes first. For us and those who like us.
Jamie - It’s something I don't want overshadowing what we do. I can start recounting dodgy stories of nights on the lash, but what people remember about good bands is their songs and while the stories are entertaining they should never be the primary attraction.
One good song is worth a million nights out that end in the gutter.
Grant - That lying in the gutter looking at the stars nonsense doesn't resonate with me either. The gutters in Scotland are not as attractive as some would have you believe. Maybe LA has better gutters, and never mind that, when the fuck do we see the stars? It's always raining here.

Is there a classic rock album sitting waiting in the wings then?

Jamie- It's away off. Even if it was something we could do it’s not on the horizon just now. Right now we have the new ep to keep our eye on. One thing at a time.
Once that's bedded in we have some ideas for an acoustic release. Then there are the ballads we have written.
Marc - We had a whole ep ready to go and then a burst of song writing flooded out and we went with some of them for the new release and will go back to the ballads at some point. We want to show people the shading in what we can do. So something softer could be the next move.
Jamie - Is the world looking for a classic rock album anymore? Financially it's restrictive and a great deal of time and effort would go into one and then what if it falls between the cracks? We wonder about the relevance. The idea is attractive. Who wouldn't want to do the next great rock and roll album, but maybe we are out of time and place to be that band.
Brian - Bite size ep's seem to be what is wanted currently. All killer and no filler releases. Maybe limited runs and then a compilation release bringing them all together is something we have kicked about as a direction to go in, but who knows.

How has the recording of the new material been?

Jamie - Very good. Our manager wanted to go for something different and hooked us up with Andy Miller at Gargleblast Studio who has previously worked with Mogwai, Delgados, Sons and Daughters and the like and it's been a positive experience. We learnt a lot from him. He went way past just engineering the material. A very real Godsend for us in the studio.

It's an impressive cv of bands he has worked with, but light in traditional rock bands. Was that a concern?

Marc - Not at all. When Mainy, our manager, first spoke about it he drew our attention to the Chris Devotion and the Expectations 'Amalgamation and Capital' album and we all thought it was the dogs bollocks. So we had no concerns at all.
Grant - Andy exceeded expectations. We didn't go into it worried that he couldn't capture the essence of who we were, but equally we didn't really take on board how much he would bring to the table. I think we have found our engineer.
Jamie - It's now a case of not fixing something that isn't broken.
Brian - Our only problem was time. Four tracks in two days were what we budgeted for and that doesn't give any wiggle room.
We finished the recording of the tracks on the line, but there will have to be another day for mixing, but that’s okay.
Grant – If we didn't go in for one more day to let Andy pull it all together then we would be selling ourselves short.

Is that something that needs to be taken into consideration for future recordings?

Marc – It is, but it's a luxury we don't have just now. It's all swings and roundabouts though. We could scratch up the cash and go for another day, or we could do three tracks instead of four. It's something we have to look at.
Jamie- Money is the root of all evil. In an ideal world we would look to do a track a day and deliver on it, but that's the ideal world that we don't live in.
Brian – We know the score now though. The next four track release will be done in three days. Two for recording and one set aside for the mixing.

What is the ep called?

Grant – We have no idea just now. Seriously!
Up until the day before recording one tracks was called ‘the new song’.
Brian - Song titles and names for an ep isn't something we are strong on.
Marc – We leave that to Jamie.

When will it see the light of day?

Grant - We were looking to have it ready for May when we are playing Glasgow with Eureka Machines, but if not then it will be literally days or a week after that. May the second is the date.

You have played with them before haven't you?

Jamie - We have. Firm fans of them, good guys and they are so good they make us up our game just to save ourselves from any embarrassment.
Brian - Eureka Machines are the band no one wants to follow. They deserve to be playing stadiums.
Marc - When I grow up I want to be a Eureka Machine.
Jamie- That takes us back to the success thing. In every respect artistically Eureka Machines are a success a long as success isn't measured in financial gain.

Scaramanga Six and Crooked Little Sons are on the bill to.

Marc - Best line up in the city that night. Take us out of it and I would still say the same.
Brian - I've been looking forward to it for months. If we can get the ep out for it then that's the icing on the cake.

What's after that on the live front?
Grant - Joe Bone and the Dark Vibes, Wildfire festival, a gig with Rob Duncan (previously of Eddie and the T-Bolts) and then we have two quality support slots we can't mention just yet.

Are they unconfirmed?

Jamie - No. All confirmed. The tours have still to be announced officially and until then we can't say more than that.

So you are pretty busy then?

Jamie - They can't hit you if you keep moving. It's good just now though. It feels like something is happening. We are being offered gigs rather than our manager chasing them, interest is building at a grassroots level, we sold ep's to people in the States and mainland Europe. All positives.
Brian – I don’t think we have ever been as focussed as we are just now. There was a time when all the ideas were there and we just needed to get them in some sort of order. Outside the actual making of music we were punching in the dark on some levels. Now we have a plan.
Grant – I would agree with that. We are very proud of the last release.
It drew attention to us and gave us a nudge forward and now it’s down to us to keep raising the bar and I think we have done that.
Brian – There’s a bit of me that is starting to think I am in a real band. It’s difficult to really express what I mean. I don’t mean that anything I had done before wasn't a real band, but now I see that we are selling t-shirts and CDs abroad and…..right I've got it. I looked at other bands that had the whole package going. Releases and merch, quality gigs, their names in magazines, and I thought that one day I wanted that and now that is us. We are that band.
Jamie – I get that. In some ways we are just starting out, but in other ways it has been a long journey. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for past members to. Any time anyone left the band it was never acrimoniously. People moved away, people didn't have the time to commit. All solid reasons and genuinely no excuses. 
If I was wearing a hat I’d tip it in their direction.

How is the line up now?

Marc – Everyone has known each other for years outside the band so we are mates first and band members second. That gives us an edge in some ways. We rip each other apart, but we can because it’s family. It’s allowed.
Grant – I get what Brian was saying because we have all been moving towards this for a long time and it feels right.
Brian – Tight. It’s not just us either. Rank Berry is becoming more than just the four of us. We went for a drink last night. Our manager and the four of us. Everyone ended up emptying their pockets of change to get a round in. In some way that’s showing how we are all in this together.
Jamie – Then there are the people at the New Hellfire Club in Glasgow who have been supportive. The record shop is our home from home.
Marc – The Soul Remover guys. They have the same angle on things as us. Like a brother band.
Brian – Then there’s our partners. Like Marc said it’s like family. Everyone is pulling together in the same direction.

Is it you against the world then?

Jamie –When you look at the mainstream charts it can maybe feel like that, but we are dipping our toes into a different pool. Instead of fighting to get noticed we will probably just keep enjoying ourselves and maybe some people will want to come to our party.

Rank Berry 

Physical copies of the d├ębut CD are now sold out. Downloads only. 

Why Von Rusty. 

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