Kays Live Shows Announced

So we’ve had a pretty amazing week so far Kays wise.  The early write ups of ‘the hours’ have been amazing and have left us all a little bit stunned.  Not that we don’t believe in ourselves, just that you never know how people are going to react to your music.  It’s a nice feeling to read such kind words.  Now need to make sure we follow up the single with an album that people will enjoy.

In the meantime, we’re back on the gig trail at the end of February and March.  On 26th February we are playing the Queen Charlotte Rooms in Leith with White Heath for Leith FM.  It’s going to be a really good night of music and it’s all in aid of raising money for the Leith Festival, which can’t be a bad thing.  Do come along.  If you don’t know where the Queen Charlotte Rooms are, well they are between Compass and Leith Links on Queen Charlotte Street.

On 26th March, we’re going to be playing the Roxy Art House in Edinburgh.  It’s a very exciting show for us.  It’s being run by our label Wiseblood Industries and as well as ourselves will feature other Wiseblood artists Burnt Island and Jamie Sturrock as well as a very special spoken word performance by Alan Bisset of his wonderful film ‘The Shutdown’.  Adam Stafford, of Y’all Is Fantasy Island, who directed the film will provide musical accompaniment to the film and Alan’s words.  It should be a really special night of music and it’s one I’d encourage you not to miss.   If you have never read any of Alan’s work I’d also you encourage you to do so now.  His latest novel ‘Death of a Ladies Man’ is an excellent book and in it he supports and namechecks a number of local Scottish musicians.  Check him out.  And do come along on 26th March.


Interview #13: Sparrow and the Workshop


Sparrow and the Workshop are fabulous.  They really are.  I think I saw them for the first time playing with eagleowl and Broken Records at the Bongo Club in Edinburgh.  I really should remember where my first time with Sparrow occurred.  But I don’t.  But what I do remember is how good they were, how much they grabbed me and how much I have loved watching them develop from a band with “potential” into one of the hottest bands in Scotland at the moment.  2010 is looking like a big year for the guys and good things could not happen to a nicer bunch of people.  Jill O’Sullivan, the groups dynamic frontwoman is a really good egg.  We became good internet friends and she has very kindly agreed to take some time out to answer some questions for this the 13th TSP interview.  Apologies for the red font.  That’s how she sent the answers to me and for some reason WordPress won’t let me sort that out.  But you know what, she’s a lady and it’s just past Valentine day so lets just run with her choice of font colour.  Also I really can’t be bothered spending any more time trying to sort it out and it actually looks quite good on reflection!  Lovely people, lovely band.  Enjoy. 

TSP:  2010 is shaping up to be a big year with a UK tour supporting Idlewild and a European tour supporting the Brian Jonestown Massacre recently announced.  How has the last year changed your lives and what are you most looking forward to in 2o10?

JOS:  We were pretty lucky in 2009.  We signed a contract with our label and put out both our EP’s. We also did two full UK tours (with Edinburgh’s Broken Records and Bath’s Kill it Kid) and a few mini-tours with British Sea Power and Idlewild. I guess that all this changed our lives because the band became everyone’s number one priority. In some ways it felt like a natural progression, but in other ways if was getting really difficult to balance work with music. We realized that we just couldn’t do music and full-time jobs anymore.  So I quit my job and got a flexible waitressing job, and Gregor and Nick drastically cut their hours at work. We also decided to all move into Gregor’s flat. It’s really cheap this way and if we’re out on the road it’s one rent between 3 people rather than 3 separate rents for empty flats. This seems like a mundane thing to talk about, but the decision to share a flat is the main reason we have the flexibility to do what we’re doing.  In the end we’re taking risks but the excitement outweighs any other worries. On that note, we are really looking forward to touring the UK with Idlewild and Europe with the Brian Jonestown Massacre in 2010. We’re also looking forward to the release of the album in April and hope people enjoy it.

TSP:  You have already supported a whole host of big names in 2009 including Idlewild.  How have those experiences prepared you for the coming year?

JOS:  One of the greatest perks of supporting big bands is learning how to overcome the challenge of playing on a variety of big, bigger and ginormous stages.  Sometimes we feel miles away from each other so we have to get comfortable with that (and facing the audience, in my case). Also, the nerves can be a problem so we’re getting better at controlling our nerves and getting comfortable with the idea that we have no idea how the crowd will react. They’re all there to see their favorite band play so we try and bear that in mind and if the crowd like us then it’s a perk! Saying all this, we have never been to Europe so we don’t know what to expect. Nonetheless, we’re probably less nervous about the prospect now that we have played together so much on so many different types of stages.

TSP:  Having seen you live on numerous occasions in the past year it feels like the songs have developed and the band has just got tighter and tighter.  Do you think constantly touring has helped you understand not only how to play the songs live but also how you feel the band should sound?

JOS:  Wow, thanks Euan. I’m glad it sounds like we’re sounding better. We have no way of gauging this because, well, you know, we can’t split ourselves and critique our performance from the crowd. Damn, I wish we could though. We’re very critical. Guaranteed that at least two of us will come off stage after a gig and remember all our mistakes and talk about them. I guess that means we’re improving because we’ll probably try and fix those errors the next gig. Mostly, though, we’re just getting more and more comfortable playing together. I barely need to look at Gregor for cues anymore, and Nick and I follow each other without having to stare at each others hands all the time. The three of us don’t really discuss how we feel we should sound, though. I mean, apart from things like, I think we should pause for a second before this part because otherwise we’ll all get lost or it’ll sound muddy. Or lets crescendo here because it sounds like it should get louder. Boring technical stuff. 

TSP:  The debut album comes off the back of 2 very successful and highly rated EPs.  Will we be seeing some of the tracks from these EPs on the album or will it consist mainly of new tracks?

JOS:  The album consists of both old and new stuff. As I mentioned earlier,  both EP’s came out in 2009 (one just before Christmas), and most of those songs were written that year, so we’d have to be really fast to have an album of entirely new stuff. The deal we struck with our label was that we’d do 2 ep’s and then combine them to make our album, but after we recorded the second EP we wrote three or four new songs so those went on the album too. I see the EP’s more as an introduction to our band and a sample of the album to come. I’m shocked they’ve both gotten such good press.

TSP:  Withered Hand adopted the approach or re-recording and re-arranging some his previously released material for his debut record ‘Good News’.  Are the tracks off the EPs on the album re-recorded/re-arranged or left the way they appeared on the EPs?

JOS:  We’ve also re-recorded some songs and re-mixed everything.  We recorded the first EP ourselves and, while we were happy with the outcome, we weren’t entirely convinced that we captured the emotion of certain songs. The same goes for the second EP. We recorded that with the awesome Marcus Mackay of Diving Bell Lounge, and while we were really happy with “Into the Wild” we had just written some of those songs and then felt we played them better a few months down the line.  We were beginning to work with Paul Savage on some material (which will be on the album), so we asked him if he’s help us re-record some of the older songs and then for the sake of continuity we had everything re-mixed. We’re really really chuffed with the outcome. I noticed on SongbyToad blog that Matthew was saying that the recordings didn’t have the gusto of the live songs. I completely agree with him, we always felt the recordings could go a bit further,  so we tried to get some of that energy on the recordings for the album, which is called “Crystals Fall”, by the way. Hopefully that will come across.

TSP:  Talking of Scottish artists, can you name some of your favourite underground acts doing the rounds at the moment?

JOS:  I don’t have the time to see live music as much as I’d like to lately, but Gregor came back from the Low Miffs the other night and said they were incredible, and Nick is a big fan of the Trembling Bells, both Glasgow Bands. I’ve yet to see the Stormy Seas live but I hear they are tremendous (and I like their recordings) and a quirky band called Foxgang are doing some interesting stuff. Also, I keep banging on about Mitchell Museum because I think they’re awesome. And the Ballad of Mable Wong are personal faves. As well as the John Knox Sex Club! Their singer is totally captivating live….There are so many good bands in Scotland, it’s crazy. And they all have such different sounds. The Kays Lavelle sound nothing like Woodenbox and a Fistful of Fivers sound nothing like the Vars of Litchi and yet they’re all awesome. Washington Irving and Invisible Republic are two bands we’ve done gigs with who are also excellent. And Mike and Solveig…see, now I can’t stop!!!

TSP:  I’ve always found that after listening to certain artists I’ve had to sit down and write music.  What artists, if any, have this impact on you? 

JOS:  Lou Barlow, Deerhoof, Johnny Cash, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Jason Molina…Catpower, Feist, AC Newman, Etta James and Jim Jarmusch’s film soundtracks. These are the first that come to mind but there are many more. So many artists are inspiring.

TSP:  I’m not sure if this is a weird statement or not but I find your music to be heavily influenced by the USA (obviously) yet it remains unquestionably Scottish in tone.  How does the writing process work with you guys?  Do you write the songs individually then develop them together or is there more of a group approach to songwriting?

JOS:  I usually write the basic parts and lyrics and then we flesh them out and put meat on them afterwards. Its easier that way and the songs sound more coherent that way. Having said that, there are songs that began from a guitar riff that Nick was playing incessantly (usually in my ear through his clip-on Marshall Amp while I’m trying to read or do something important) and it’ll stick and I’ll get a melody outta it, or Gregor will be wandering around whistling a nice melody that would make a good vocal melody that I’ll put over a guitar riff. Once the basics are down, however, we all get together and have fun trying to make the songs sound good. As for the Scottish thing, we have no idea where that comes from…Maybe we drink too much Irn Bru.

TSP:  What are your hopes for 2010?

JOS:  In general, I hope the science community comes one step closer to making x-ray vision possible and masters invisibility cloaks once and for all. For the band, I hope we continue to make songs and I really hope that people like them and that we can keep touring as much as possible. Fingers crossed.

TSP:  Finally, you are originally from Chicago.  How does Glasgow compare to Chicago in terms of music, venues and atmosphere?

JOS:  I haven’t lived in Chicago for 4 years, but when I did I was in a band and it was nice but I definitely didn’t feel as though Chicago fostered the same kind of support networks for bands that Glasgow does. Glasgow’s musical atmosphere is amazing. Also, there are a lot of people here who keep the scene alive by organizing gigs all the time for all the new bands. The promoters should be commended for that, really. Last time I went back home I was shocked to find that my friend’s bands (who are excellent) hardly ever played live. And they were shocked to find that there are so many venues and gigs and bands playing live every day over here. I feel really lucky for that and for having two dudes to play with who are so incredibly talented. There’s the cheese. Thanks for the interview, Euan.

A Glass Of Scotch

The Hours has been included in a lovely little collection of tunes by Scottish artists over at Have Fun At Dinner blogspot.  A massive thank you to Ian for including us in this compilation along with some magic artists.  I don’t think you can argue about being able to download this little gem of a mix for nothing now can you?  Go and do it now and check out some of Scotland’s hottest artists.  Totally honoured to be a part of this.  The full track listing is:

Spaghetti Adventure- Super Special

Meursault – The Furnace

The Last Battle- Oh Best Beloved

Mitchell Museum- Tiger Heartbeat

How To Swim- Diego

The Kays Lavelle – The Hours

Copy Haho- Pulling Push Ups

Julia and the Doogans – New York City

The French Wives- Your Friends and Mine

Randolph’s Leap  – Cassie O’Tone

eagleowl- Laughter

Debutant- Thirst

Ambulances  – Cease To Exist (Steven Mason Remix)

King Post Kitsch- Fante’s Last Stand

Incrediboy and The Forget Me Nots- Cinderella

Miniature Dinosaurs  – (I Want To Watch) Top Gear

The French Quarter – Time To Leave

You can download the whole thing here.  Enjoy.

Some More Nice Words

More nice things have been written about ‘the hours’ over on some lovely blogs.  Well I say lovely but one of the blogs is German and I don’t speak German so I don’t know how lovely that particular blog is being about ‘the hours’ if I’m honest.  So, if you do speak German and you feel like letting me know what the blog says you can find the post here.   The other blogs are Portis Wasp who has been very kind about the song – though I’m no sure about the Rhianna comments, unless of course he means we’re as sexy as she is in which case that’s a rather nice compliment though well off the mark!  Then there’s Milo over at Product of a Gaseous Brain who has said the track is getting the kind of positive buzz not witnessed since eagleowl’s last release.  Big, big compliment given how big a fan I am of eagleowl.   And finally, thanks to Jim at Ayetunes for also promoting the track with some very positive words indeed. 

A big thank you to all the blogs who have featured the tune on their site so far and for writing such nice things about it.  Means a lot to all of us.

Fionn Regan, King Tuts, Glasgow – Saturday 13th February 2010

It’s been 4 years since I last properly saw Fionn Regan live (I did see him support Damien Rice at the Usher Hall, but 4 songs really does not constitute a proper show).  I saw him in the very venue we were at on Saturday night, supporing Midlake.  It’s still, to this day, one of my favourite ever gigs.  That night Fionn Regan was absolutely sublime.  I mean truly spell bindingly beautiful.  Despite this fact and the fact that I love his work on record, my feelings before this gig were definitely mixed.  I was keen to hear how the new direction, evident on the brand new record, would translate into a live venue.  At the same time I was longing for him to play many of the tunes from his stunning debut ‘The End of History’.  Like I said in my review of his new record ‘The Shadow Of An Empire’, the new tunes are sounding much more full on.  A lot more electric in tone.  Tunes I feel I need to let breathe before I can know whether I truly love the record or not.  It came as no surprise that Fraser from Woodenbox, who works at Tuts and heard the soundcheck, said to me that the soundcheck was reminiscent of Bob Dylan when he went full electric.   Deep down I knew the set was going to be packed with new numbers and only a sprinkling of the old.  And so it proved to be.

First though, there was the small matter of the support acts.  The Boy Who Trapped The Sun was first up.  I had heard the name doing the rounds of late but was unfamiliar with his music.  I am delighted to say that I came away with a very positive first impression of this young guy from the Isle of Lewis.  He’s clearly got a fine collection of tunes by the sound of Saturdays performance and his myspace page.  His style was very much in the mould of the man he was supporting but with lovely use of cello as a compliment to his excellent vocal there was enough to make him his own performer.   It was a highly enjoyable set and I will be definitely be doing a bit more research, just as soon as I get a minute.

Danny and the Champions of the World should have been great.  They really should have been, but unfortunately they were not.  Well actually, that’s not fair, they were very tight as a band, they just disappointed me greatly.  And the reason they disappointed me so greatly was that front man Danny Wilson used to be the driving force in the wonderful Grand Drive, who produced a stunning record, one of my favourites, in the form of ‘True Love and High Adventure’.  So I was hoping for good things. Sadly, without the subtle harmonies of his brother Julian and lacking the simple beauty of the songs Grand Drive produced, this was a very disappointing performance.  I won’t go any further because I do not like criticising artists.  Lots of people would have been well into the upbeat Americana that was on offer.  I was just left very disappointed because these songs were nowhere near the quality of Grand Drive.  I guess I just expected more.  So it’s not so much that they were bad, just that they were not as good as I was expecting or hoping for given the frontman’s pedigree.

And so to Fionn Regan.  Danny and his Champions were back on stage as his backing band, so I knew that the electric vibe was well and truly on the cards.  However, he chose to start with a stunning rendition of ‘Hey Rabbit’ that started quietly and built beautifully.  This really set me in the right mind frame for the rest of the set.  There on after the volume was cranked up regularly as he rattled through a number of more raucous numbers from the new album before settling down into versions of ‘Underwood Typewriter’ and ‘Put A Penny In The Slot’ from his debut album.  Despite the stunning beauty of these numbers, newer tunes did shine through also such as ‘Violent Demeanour’ and ‘Lord Help My Poor Soul’.  The latter a 1st encore finisher on which the band just went for it with Regan also adopting an electric guitar rather than his trusty acoustic and rocking out.  However, it was night closer ‘Be Good Or Be Gone’ which will remain in my memory.  Being my favourite Fionn Regan track, it was the perfect end to the night.  There’s no doubt from this performance that when it comes to more energetic stuff Regan and his band are still finding their feet, it’s the first night of the tour after all and there are definitely creases to be ironed out.  However whilst, for me, the stand out moments come when he reverts to debut album tracks, with time I’m sure the diversity which the more raucous numbers afford will make Fionn Regan performances even more special in the future.  I think the new songs need time to develop in the live setting but the signs are good and when he can call upon the beauty of his quieter numbers to compliment the louder ones you truly have a set of great diversity and interest.  Something any good gig should have.

More Blogs Saying Nice Things

Well there have been a couple more nice things written about ‘the hours’ in the past few days.  Firstly, Ed at 17seconds described the track as one of his favourite of the year so far.  Hopefully he’ll still feel this way come December!  You can read his article here.  And then Tarty Tart over at Love Shack has posted about ‘the hours’ today.  You can see her post here.  A big thank you to both of them for their support and kind words.

The Hours by The Kays Lavelle

The debut single ‘The Hours’ by The Kays Lavelle will be available to download for FREE!!!! Yes, FREE!!!!!!!  From Wiseblood’s website as of Monday 15th February.  It will also be on the Kays myspace as a download as well.  We’re giving this track away.  Hope people like it.  The debut album ‘Be Still This Gentle Morning’, featuring this track, will be available from 17th May.

Massive thank you to Richard Knox of Glissando for the wonderful artwork for the track.

More Kays News

Ok so some more information for people about the Kays.  We have been confirmed to play the Hinterland Festival in Glasgow on April 3rd.  The line up is looking pretty sweet.  No final details as yet, but we will be playing at some point on 3rd.  So do put it in your diaries and come along.  I was going to put up the poster but it’s being a dick.  So you can check out the full line up here.