54'I'he l.ist lb I‘lSeptember 1988
'30 YOU WANT TO BE
; A ROCK STAR
l his is the second ol our annual guides for ambitious. but still undiscoy‘ered. musicians in (‘eiiti’al Scotland. On the next ten pages can be lound a series ol listings ol' tltc l‘acilities ay'ailable to musicians in tlte area. and inl'ormation on
y at'ious aspects ol making music and getting it to tltc attention ol the public.
[is our hope that 'l'he Rock Report ysill give a broad enough picture that a band yyon‘t ll"c‘c'\\;ll ily use a certain company just because their triends used it once and passed on the phone number l'hat's not to say tips passed on from olltet musicians aren‘t uselul -- they’re inyaluable
but presenting a large number ol'options betyyeen tyyo coy ers cart be a uselul yyay ol' bringing pei'speetiy e to bear. and should help riai royy doyy ii choices. the relerence material should spin on the undecided to yyeigh tip what they \\ attt. \y ltat is ay atlable. ltoys much it will cost and yy here it's best to go alter eaclt step.
Belor e deciding lirme on any ol' the Iacilities or sei'y ices listed. tnake personal contact With the ones that seem most suited to your needs arid your price range and discuss your requirements yy ith them. It they cant be bothered to giy'e you tlte little (ll day . litt'gcl ii. the ideal is to lind people yy ho \y ill take the time and ellort to ligiii'e out \y hat you want aitd how to get it. but no one‘s going to yyattl to \yaste any time xx ith you ll you're big-headed and rude.
.»\iiothei intention ol the guide is to encourage the ieader to think about lioyy the rock machine actually \yot'ks. lt \sould take a book tattd there are sey cl'al on the market l to coy er that subject yy ith arty depth. arid any one with genuine ambition should consult them. not least lor the instruction they giye on ltoyy not to be screwed. l’reseiit-day rock stars insist that they hay e the control oy et their careers that their predecessors didn‘t. yy hether they in tact hay e or not. The court diaries at e still booked tip yy itlt pop musicians litigating against their managers and others. so it ysould seem that they hayen’t as clear an idea ol the labyrinth ol the legal aiid business side asthey makeout.
Hands \y ill alys ay s be trapping themselves iii ridiculous deals \y ith unscrupulous managers. agents and recordcompanies. Many will liaise been ll\ mg on the breadlirte l'or y ears. practising hard. lll\ estiiig c\ eiy last penny in their music.
l'hey ‘Il be desperate. and it's too much to expect that they 'll pass oy er a recording or publishing deal that’s \y a\ ed under their noses. ll it’s the ﬁrst llicker ol interest they ’\ e t'eceiy ed al‘ter'years of hard slog. the temptation is probably too much to resist. but independent legal adyiee should be sought belore anything is signed.
l he things that really mattertalter rayy talent) are persey eranee and laith in your my n abilities. ll these \ ital qualities are lacking. those who might be aiming tor the top to start yy ith iust “out last the course.
In closing. although this guide is as complete as \s e could make it. things alyyays slip through. Some people \y e contacted prelerred not to be mentioned. others ys ere simply impossible to get hold ol ()ur \yarmest thanks to eyeryone who helped us put this guide together. attd apologies to those \\ ho tell they should hay e been listed. and it your nartte is missing please let us know as soon as possible and we'll try to set it right.
David Donald is part olthe A&R team at RCA Records. a label which has alair amount at Scottish interest given their signing olThe Silencers. The Painted Word. and the bandthat David is most involved with. Fairground Attraction.
Forthe purposes at this rock guide. we asked him some questions aboutthe best ways in which bands should go about approach the record company people in London.
0: When tapes are sentto the ottice by bands. dothey get listened to? A: In reality. the tapes should be listened to. butat some times there arejust millions ol tapes about. and many olthem don'tget listened to. It bands want to send tapes to record companiesthey should know who they are sending them to and whythey want that person to heartheir band. One thing that is important is that you puta contact on the actual tape. because olten tapes become detached trom boxes. and you play something that‘s quite good and don‘t know who it‘s by. 0:50. is sending a tapethe best way at getting yoursell known to record companies? A: ltlwas in a band.l wouldn'tsend atape. Neitherthe Primitives or Fairground Attraction got signedto RCA by sending tapes. The Primitives became known through their independentsingles and with Fairground Attraction. Mark justcame into the oltice and insisted thatthe tape was worth hearing. They didn‘t have a manager orany contacts. My advice to bands would be just to work hard in your own area. ltyou are successlul in your own area. by getting press coverage orpeople involved in other aspects ol the music business locally interested in you. then you get noticed in London. Most things that come lrom Scotland are discovered in Scotland by managers or promoters orwhatever. betorethey come tothe attention at record companies. 0: How important is live perlormance. and whatare the most common mistakes made by unsigned bands? A: Personally. I like people who can play. A band like the Pet Shop Boys leave me cold- but it something is special. even it it is justa piano and a voice. you are drawn in by the live pertormance at it.
As torthe mistakes.l would say thatthe most common problem isthat bandstry and maketapes that compete with thetop twenty. There are nolresh ideas. and I would saythat most bandsjust don'tknow whatthey wantto do.l would always lavour a band that could make a good album. ratherthan have one hitsingle.
0: How much olan advantage or disadvantage is it to a Scottish band being based in Glasgow— and why isthere so much AGR interest in Scotland?
A: I suppose it is an advantage to be in Glasgow because it someone I know there tells me a band are really good and sends me a tape. Iwill probably come and see them. On the other hand. it a guylrom Dunoon phones without a tape telling you his band are brilliant. you are less likely to go and see them. lthink that it is easier lor Scottish bands to come up with something well thought out —there‘s just more roomlor them to get on with it.
0: lsthe A&R persons' reputation (see The Man Who Nearly Signed The Beatles) deserved?
A: I think in certain instances it is. Yet in others it delinitely isn‘t. People like Mutt Winwood and Chris Blackwell know lots about music—they are huge tans. lsuppose one olthe reasons A&R people are disliked is because they have to say ‘no‘ to hands a lot. as part oltheirjob. There are some people though who are more in love with being an AM! person than they are with music... (John Williamson)
As head at the Precious Organisation. Elliot Davis has established himselt as one ol the lew people in the Scottish music industry who inspires a respect. and even tear. among record company executives.
This has come about as a result mainly olthe success olWet Wet Wet-a success which was only achieved alter two years at contlict with AM? people. The success olWetWet Wethas also been achieved without a wholesale moveto London.
‘People tell me it is made dilticult bythe lact thatwe are in Glasgow.‘ he claims. ‘lwould argue it is made easierbythe lactthatwe are in Glasgow. ltmeans that we don‘t getthe aimless. constantverbiage of record companies. The band are kept awaylrom nightclubbing and certain
bands downthere are. unlortunately. lartoo open to.‘ l
excesses which a lot at the I
‘There is a delinite sense at something uniqueto t people in Glasgow. It‘s not ‘ desperation- it's something more romantic than that. It's not the work ethic. either. it's a naively. ‘ a nice naivety. The turther away you are lromthe centre olthe music business world. the less tainted you are. Four hundred miles is larenough awaytormost people in Glasgow to be aware ol whatthe perils olthis game are and not be sucked in.‘
However. he would argue that despite the distance. there are people in Glasgow/Scotland. who are still unable to detach lhemselveslrom the pitlalls at London: ‘There are people about who teel that there is a modus operandum. a wayto proceed. or a way to appear to proceed. It is bravado. more than substance. They think that it they act like that they will be given this cloak olsuccess. But it isjust a cloak of success. theydon't have success. As soon as you get embroiled inthat second rate. London music biz attitude. lleel thatyou have lost the naivetythat Glasgow and points north has managed to hold back loryou.
‘llpeople want to be second dimension Londoners and second dimension New Yorkers then they mightgain something in outwardness. in pure bravado. butthey lose a lot in naivety and pure hard working determination. lthinkthat is why certain local bands who patently have the talent have just notsucceeded.‘
Given the current musical situation. and the success ol Precious and other Scottish based music industry companies. is a decentralization olthe music business lrom London likely or desirable?
‘It is in my interest to keep itthe way it is.‘ he says. ‘They don‘t have the time. they don‘t have the ability. they don‘t have the talentto succeed where we are succeeding. They couldn‘t have worked with Wet Wet Wetlortwo years belore they came through. It's in my interest that they stay in London—and I am more than happy to stay here. There's so much talentin Scotland. it's not true. but it needs nurturing and developing.‘ (John Williamson)