1 ‘ , l -~ s h . .s' . tel Never let it be said that the job of underground agent provocateur is a round-the-clock calling. Glasgow‘s Dawson have pursued their idiosyncratic ends shiftwork-style. In the live years they‘ve been hawking their barking mad and bug-eyed jazzy punk-type wares round the country and over on the continent. their pattern of activity has been fairly spasmodic.
Even so. over the course of the last three years and on money that wouldn‘t ﬁnance a Stone Roses‘ snare beat. they‘ve produced three‘albums and helped fellow upstarts Badgewearer and Whirling Pig Dervish produce obstreperous vinyl fruit on their own Gruff Wit label. created to avoid dialogue with the music industry.
‘I didn't think I was running a label.‘ admits vocalist Jcr. from the heart of Gruff Wit Central (his West End bedsit). ‘even though I had lots of 3 reasons for starting it at the time — everything from counteracting myths of 5 how hard it was to put out a record to challenging how you had to promote |
Dawson‘s favoured promotional f strategy is the invisible one. Their new album Terminal Island materialised in a non-flurry of publicity. Like other ' fringe operators. they shy away from anything that smells corporate. lnherently political but not evangelistic. their apparent lack of ambition has ; meant little change in audience l forecast. in this country at least. 9
‘Here. you‘ve got two choices.‘ says .ler. ‘Play to the same people or embrace the publicity machine and get judged by how many records you sell. The idea's not to sell as many records as possible.
‘Ambition‘s a funny word. The ambition for me is to avoid all the bullshit and all the business but still get to as many people.‘
Edinburgh‘s Dog Faced Hermans and Holland‘s The Ex are cited as musical antecedents who have stuck to their agenda and gradually increased their proﬁle without succumbing to the live graft.
‘lt‘s far more impassioned than a labour of love. You‘re under a lot of pressure from all sides and the possibility of actually getting up and shouting about it is totally cathartic.‘ (Fiona Shepherd)
Terminal Island is available for £5 from: Gruff Wit. (/0 Jer‘s mum. 4/ K illermant Road. Bearsden. G6] 2J8.
snapped up from a record
; Fiona Shepherd gets her . head around the stranger
Spanish. for release in October. Richie
: guitar effects pedals stomped like
slightly clever, isn’t it?’
:— Iln- pretentious
Three Glasgow bands, with nothing more in common than their home town and a liking for loud guitars, all have a new product just waiting to be
shop near you. On the left,
strange Dawson, below, Craig McLean plugs into 3 A. C. Acoustics and Gavin Inglis rises to the heady heights occupied by the stratospheric Fenn.
Ferm‘s drummer Richie Dempsey is the kind of guy you just can‘t help but enjoy talking to. Cheerful. and with a healthy disregard for pretence. his attitude seems typical of the band‘s whole approach to this ‘rock' business. Not that Fenn have had an easy ride. Just when they were attracting record company interest. their singer Luke decided to bow out. However. they survived with a new line-up and managed to complete an album.
explains why they included a lot of songs people associate with Luke‘s era. ‘Me and Ian (bass) thought we should
i really get these songs out. The album is j
all these bloody songs that I‘ve heard
I for ages. I couldn‘t get the mix just
‘ right. really really going for the
§ dynamics. I‘m dead fussy at times. I
j was doing the engineering and most of the production on it. so I was the one
5 who had to go into the studio. and I had to sit and listen to these songs. and l
g to the point where I hated it. I really Ira/ml the LP. I hated us. I hated ; everything. It was just a case of. right.
j a good breather from it.‘
more of a document of what went on. I liven just for personal reasons. even if nobody buys this LP. or nobody likes it. then I can just say. “Well. here‘s the songs. they‘re here and I thought it was worthwhile to do.“ If nothing else happens after this. then so what? We got onto vinyl.‘
Does he feel the finished product did the band justice‘.’
‘l‘m pretty happy with it. It was an interesting LP to make. ‘cos it was like
had to get the sound right. So I was doing this for ages and ages. Then I got
bugger it. l‘mjust going to leave this
alone and not listen to it. When it came out. I listened to it and thought. that‘s 1 alright. I quite like it now ‘cos I've had
. , . Now it s in the shops. Does he reckon 3
l’enn have really hit the big time'.’
‘We‘ve certainly not "made it“. We always thought. that‘ll be the big thing. You can‘t do any better than bringing out a record. But when you‘ve brought the record out. and you‘ve got it in your hand. you‘re like. right. what now? It‘s a case of . we went that far. how much further can we go'."
()ne thing they might do is play more
gigs. Fenn have a reputation for only
' rarely appearing live (one of those
i precious appearances was a very early ‘ slot at the Reading Festival). Richie
seems vague about why this is so. ‘lt‘s actually quite a strange one. that.
E I think the record label are into the idea ; of, like. “They don‘t play gigs‘.’
Brilliant! We can use that as a pure seam! Aw. great!“ But then it kind of
g backlires and everybody goes. “Ah. i they're just a bunch ofScottish lazy
bastards.‘ It‘s not really like that. We really like playing. It‘s loads better than
ijust sitting in your house doing nothing. ; You can be out doing a gig and it‘s : great fun. ‘(‘os all the gigs that we‘ve
done. we‘ve really enjoyed.‘
Spanish is an Mean Reuntlings. Fenn . are r'm'ranllv lining up (later/hr
This is the sound of disputes between ﬂatmates in Glasgow, of Marilyn Monroe’s martyrdom in a pine-built whisky shed, of scaling the Mount 0f Venus: an ambient rock that is frazzled round the edges, tried at the core; a mesmerising cacaphony of
drum pedals. This is the sound of AC Acoustics. ‘lt’s kind of nice to be
Singer Paul Campion is the forward phalanx of AC Acoustics’ messed-up garage-daze. He wrote ‘Sweatlodge’, the lead track on the band’s debut single, about domestic spats in a flat he and bass player Caz used to live in. flow a subject this humdrum became a ! song this unhinged is anyone’s guess. j ‘MV’, its flipside, is more subtle than i llirvana’s current B-side of the same i name (‘Mons Veneris’ and ‘Moist ‘ Vagina’ are the respective titles), ; contriving to mix Latin anatomical ?
: terms with a strung-out prog-rock that |
lasts for approximately three days. ‘Cregon Pine Washback’ is the I Acoustics’ typically idiosyncratic l
44 The List I7 December l993—l3 January I994
' Spacemen 3.
certainly a large part of what we do,’
homage to Norma Jean. All are free- roaming and unpredictable, in a localised-hurricane kind of way. The term ‘sonic maelstrom’ springs to fevered minds. Paul likes Loop and
‘The noise-out vibe thing that people seem to be picking up on most is
Paul concedes, ‘but there is a wee bit more going on. But until people are familiar with your material, live you really have to have as much as rock- out entertainment value in the space of five minutes as possible.
Hence the Acoustics - veterans of support slots with assorted racket- merchants like PJ Harvey, Cement, The Jesus Lizard and Jacob’s Mouse - are concentrating on cranking up (and refining) their predilection for ‘sounds, textures and physical effects. We don’t come from a songwriting background.’
There is, by the way, a ‘pop sensibility’ buried in there. Somewhere. Happy hunting. (Craig McLean)
‘Sweatlodge’l‘MV’ is on Elemental Records.