Interview #15: Tucker And The Scattered Family

Andy Tucker is one of my oldest friends in Edinburgh.  Not just Edinburgh music.  I met him when The Kays and The Dead Beat Club played a show together at the Backpackers Hostel for Baby Tiger.  We bonded over our love of each others music and since then I’d say he’s been one of the biggest supports to me in the world of music.  Making sure I didnt’ get too down when things got on top of me.  Always encouraging me about the songs I’d let him here and genuinely keeping me going at times when I didn’t think I could keep going.  I owe him so much.  He’s a really wonderful person and a  really wonderful musician too.  The music speaks for itself.  You just need to listen to it after you’ve read this interview.  Make sure you do!  Anyways, he’s kindly taken time to answer these questions and get me back on track with my first interview after a 2 week absence.  Enjoy.

TSP:  Tucker and the Scattered Family’s new album Twelve Tall Tales is officially released in April. Tell us a bit about the album.  What can people expect from this record?

AT:  The plan at the start was to have lots of my musician pals play on it, rather than a set band, but not to make it sound like 12 different bands. If that makes sense, And I think I have just about achieved what I wanted with it. I’m pretty chuffed overall and think some of the tunes are the best I have written. I have been lucky enough to get people who are immensely talented to help me out.

TSP:  How would you say it differs in relation to the Dead Beat Club album ‘Random Heartfelt Trinkets’?

AT:  Hopefully the songs are better! I think the lyrics are much better and I’ve put more time and thought into writing them. And I think the melodies are stronger, but that’s just my opinion! It’s maybe more serious in tone with less throwaway tracks. It’s a similar mix of country/folk/pop but just done better all round. Hopefully. If you liked the last one you’ll like this one. If you didn’t, you won’t.

TSP:  Are there plans to get out and tour the record?

AT:  I’ve got about 10 dates and counting in May and June around Scotland. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth, Aberdeen, Syke, Oban, the Knoydart Peninsula, which you can only get to by boat… and 2 nights at the Leith Festival.

TSP:  It’s your first release since the Dead Beat Club broke up.  Although you have a band around you live it seems that you are very much a solo artist when it comes to the song writing.  How have things changed in terms of song writing and how the songs are developed since the band split?

AT:  I still find it easier to write on my own, though I hate ever playing on my own. Me and a guitar is a very dull prospect. It takes a special talent to hold an audience’s attention with just a voice and guitar. Maybe Dylan, Springsteen and Neil Young can do it but not many others. And I’ll be the first to admit that my childish busking style doesn’t fare well over 40 minutes. I’ve learned that the trick is to write alone but then get insanely talented people to come along and make my songs sound so much better. I wrote a very basic song for the new album called Look Me Up, then got Kim Edgar to duet on it and play some piano. She transformed it and it now sounds beautiful.

TSP:  A lot of familiar faces crop up on the new record in one way or another hence the name I guess?  Do you think this flexibility in members of your backing band has benefited your live shows in terms of being able to keep the shows fresh and interesting?  Is this important to you?

AT:  It is, yes. I like not knowing if the next gig will just be me and Derrick on mandolin, or 7 of us in the full band lineup. Keeps it fresh for everyone, and no 2 gigs are ever the same. And it means I’m not relying on the same 4 or 5 people which can be a bit problematic when jobs, families, other stuff gets in the way. As anyone in a band knows all too well. Plus I’m a chaotic pain in the arse and this way I don’t piss the same people off week in week out…

TSP:  Talking of familiar faces are there any Scottish artists you’d like to mention that you feel people should take a moment to check out?

AT:  Yvonne Lyon and Kim Edgar are absolutely amazing songwriters. Alex Cornish deserves to be playing stadiums, and I’m sure he will one day. The Scuffers and The Dirt are 2 great Glasgow country bands. My pals in Dropkick have just released a brilliant album. Roddy Hart and Dean Owens are consistently great. The list goes on and on.

TSP:  Last year you were one of the winners of the Burnsong, a pretty prestigious award for any Scottish songwriter.  Firstly, congratulations, it’s well deserved.  How was that experience and what have you learned from it?

AT:  Thanks very much. It  was the hardest thing I have ever done, musically, but also the most rewarding. I usually write a dozen songs a year and during the week I wrote 5 in 5 days so I suppose I could now force myself to work harder and be more prolific! But the main thing was the opportunity to write and play all day and night for a week, with no other distractions, and to hear amazing musicians play you new songs every day. What a total treat that was. So many highlights. From the drunken nights playing in the farmhouse, to the Scottish Parliament gig, to jamming with Norman Blake in the boozer. Every week should be like that.

TSP:  Turning to your own personal tastes, what’s on the stereo at the moment?

AT:  Genuine Negro Jig by Carolina Chocolate Drops. Timeless country/bluegrass, rousing fiddle and banjos. If you don’t love this with all your soul, you have no soul. Fact. The Unthanks last album is very special. And the new Fannies album out in April is bound to be AWESOME. It just will be.

TSP:  What are your plans for 2010 once the record is released?

AT:  Do another one! It has been 3 years since the last album and I’m keen to do an EP or something in the summer. I’ve met lots of musicians since the recording of this one and want to rope them into the Family as soon as possible.

TSP:  Finally, if you had to choose one song to soundtrack your life what would it be and why?

AT:  Feel Like Going Home by Charlie Rich. The most moving song EVER. I could cry just saying the title out loud. You need to get the demo version (available on itunes) not the polished version, and I challenge you not to end up weeping and wailing.  When that key change kicks in, oh boy…

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