The Channel 4 documentary Innocent as Hell on 8 July focuses on Scheme, a Glasgow band staying true to their roots. As more and more people look for alternatives to London record companies, Graham Caldwell and Mab meet musicians who prefer community halls to the bright lights.
They‘re quite nice guys really. Scheme. 1 say this because in some quarters they are about as popular as a fart in a spacesuit. In this very magazine can be read the heavily ironic line ‘another Scheme residency — just what Glasgow needs.‘ We have also described them in the past as ‘popular dross‘. It is probably fair to say that Scheme don‘t care particularly what people say about them which came as a great relief to me personally. as I had been led to believe they were little short of thugs — ﬂogging tuneless. political dirges about town followed by a support which could at best be described as loutish. The truth is rather different. To a man they are perfectly ordinary. down to earth guys blessed with an albeit earthy sense of humour but thankfully lacking in the pretension apparent in some other local musicians. Their lyrics may be largely political but this doesn‘t detract from their music which. while it might not be the stuff platinum discs are made of. contains some good songs played well by talented musicians (God. I feltso old and reactionary typing that). Their audience at Zanzibar were well behaved. well dressed and relatively sober.What is there. you may ask. to get excited about in the first place‘.’
Scheme are one of those rare and peculiar things— a genuine
.24 . a; . f
ﬁ'l'he List 27 .lune — 10 July
j Scheme — ‘iustworking class guys trying to be entertaining‘.
phenomenon. With no recording contract. no professional
management and. it must be said. little in the way ofpop star looks.
they are nonetheless truly huge in
Glasgow. lluge enough in fact. to sell out the Apollo. the only unsigned band to do so. They have a devoted following which follows them everywhere and no matter how many gigs they play or residencies they might have. their novelty never seems to wear off in the eyes oftheir fans.
So why are they not more popular? Why haven‘t they been snapped up by a major record company instead of relying on a controversial .6000 grant from Glasgow District (‘ouncil to record their first album. which they are still struggling to bringout. One reason is that Scheme come from the wrong side of the tracks. As their name would suggest. they were brought up in those vast. sprawling desparate post-war housing estates which planners foolishly and mistakenly believed would be the answer to Glasgow‘s slums and overcrowding. But. not only were they brought up there — they are proud of it and their music reflects this. Their songs are about living in those huge. soulless places and reﬂect what life is really like there. They remain part ofthe schemes and that is why their fans will never desert them — they‘re just the same as them. The other reason they haven‘t been signed up by a London Record Company is that they would not
The Ply in Craigillar—setting u co
entertain the idea. From the start they knew what they wanted to do and to be. As one ofthem said: ‘lt‘s much more than the music.‘
Now the rest of Britain is going to hear about the band. They are the subject ofa profile ‘Innocent as Hell‘ to be shown on Channel 4 on Tuesday 8July.
Director Diane Tammes worked in Glasgow at the Citizens‘ and Edinburgh at the
' Traverse before going to the
National Film School and came across the band while working up here. She and Producer Seona Robertson thought the band ‘quite extraordinary‘ and talked Channel 4 into funding a programme on the Scheme phenomena. The result is ‘Innocent as Hell.‘
The band have already seen a sneak preview of the programme and seem pleased with it. ‘It‘s good. very earthy. . . very Glaswegian‘ is the
verdict. ‘lt‘s not a straight
documentary.‘ says guitarist John. ‘and if I‘ve got a complaint then that‘s it. but it looks good.‘ They are cautious about what they expect to happen as a result of the programme.
but are adamant that they will not sell out Glasgow. They wouldn‘t mind being bigger. as one says: ‘We‘re just working class guys trying to earn a living.‘ but are not goingto go to London or play record companies‘ games to get on. John again: ‘We knew exactly what we were doing- writing for working class people.‘
This uncompromising attitude is one that has won them few friends in some parts of the Glasgow music world. It is a well-known fact that many managers of halls and clubs are reluctant to book them. both because oftheir attitude and the reputation of their fans. ‘lt’s because we come from a rough place and so do our fans.‘ said songwriter Denny ()liver. ‘places like this,‘ he said.
| gesturing round their dressing room at Zanzibar. ‘only book us ‘cause we bring the money in.’ Bad reputation or not. Scheme do more than their fair share of charity and fun-raising work. They play anti-drug benefits. community clubs and concerts against racism. The feeling is there that they would have no point in existing unless they performed these kind of shows and they are eager to put something back into the communities.
In point of fact. this is an interesting time in Glasgow as regards communities and music. So much is happening in this direction of late. the most public ofwhich is the Glasgow Action plans to set up an indigenous music industry.
‘We identified a need in Glasgow.‘ said spokesman lwan Williams. ‘We saw all these bands going to London and asked why'." Now Glasgow Action and the SDA are studying the situation carefully with the intention ofopcning professional rehearsal and recording facilities in Scotland. Williams is at pains to point out that. contrary to popular belief. they are not ‘building a studio just for local bands to use.‘ The idea is purely business in nature while saying that the social side of it can‘t be ignored. Williams emphasises that ‘we are talking about a commercial studio.‘
Someone else with the same idea is Future World Recording Studios Ltd. Shortly to open a massive four-floor complex in the city centre. they will be providing five recording studios. video studio. darkrooms and a complete promotional package for Scots bands as well as a focus for ideas and a meeting place. (Full details ofthis in future issues of The List). Also hoping to do something for local musicians is the C Sharp group in Castlemilk who have applied for funding to build a 24-track studio and provide an engineer for the use ofboth local