Damien Love hunkers down with Stiltskin, the Anglo-Scots unknowns who tasted top-of—the- charts success as if by magic . . .
‘Suddenly it went ridiculous and we turned into Bros! We done this stupid TV thing and, at the end of it. the director said: “Now bend over and show us the badge on yourjeans.“ i mean. piss off!‘
James Finnigan. the Glaswegian whose red-tag was desired for close-up. has probably had to answer more than his fair share of questions about trousers. being the bass player in Stiltskin — you know. their ‘lnside‘ was the soundtrack for the Levis ‘Creek‘ commercial earlier this year. Overnight success was theirs.
Overnight success, however, is invariably a long time coming. For Stiltskin it started in London. 1989. when Finnigan. doing session work for Hue & Cry. met guitarist Peter Lawlor. ‘l was looking to put a band together.‘ recalls Lawlor. ‘and we got on very well together.‘ Finnigan adds: ‘l hate him now. like.‘
After four years spent ‘writing. recording and scrapping‘ the group were still without a steady front man when fate flexed a finger. According to Lawlor: ‘We were on the M8 and a saw a van on fire. and jumped out to help this guy with his guitars.‘ ‘But.‘ says Finnigan. ‘don‘t ask him about that story ‘cos he‘ll start telling you about piston rings and stuff like that . . .‘ The guy they rescued turned out to be Ray Wilson. on his way to playing a Glasgow gig. Lawlor and Finnigan gave him a lift there and subsequently asked him to sing in Stiltskin. So. was it love at first listen?
/. (I ’ I'ch
‘It‘s never a match made in heaven. there‘s always frustrations.‘ says the bass player. ‘lt‘s a lot of bollocks that a band got together and before you know. it‘s like those dodgy (30s films where you're all in a bus going down to Liverpool. It doesn‘t work like that.‘
The guitarist continues: ‘1 think the real unity in a band comes through belief in the material.‘ This belief led the band to fronting up the release of ‘lnside‘ themselves u hen. even after the Levis contract. no one else would. After the ‘classic tracks‘ policy Levis had previously employed. the ad had people guessing at first. ‘lt was hilarious. some people thought it was Hendrix. sortie thought Thin Lizzy. Boston . . .' says Lawlor. Upon its release the single was instantly successful. giving the band a number one with their debut. ‘Then the Daily Star says we‘re earning half a million a week. and people actually believed it.‘ laughs Finnigan. ‘You‘rc mot/1w believes it. that‘s the worst thing.‘
The band put such reporting -- and equally. music
_ press snipes that have them as Johnny-come-latclys
(\A .‘ .t' v -,-_. ____. to the sunny Seattle sound — down to the British disease of kicking anything that‘s successful. They
don't see the success of ‘lnside' being a double-
edged sword. then'.’
‘No.‘ affirms Lawlor. ‘for the first time we‘re doing what we absolutely want to do — we haven‘t got to do the part-time stuff and crappy session work. it‘s just unbelievable luck.‘
The real trial for Stiltskin will be with the release of their second single. ‘Footsteps‘ this month. and. more crucially. The Mind's Eye. their first album. in October. Whatever the verdict, initial hearings prove the album is decidedly not ‘lnside‘ plus filler and. for a band with a five-year back catalogue of songs. shows remarkable restraint in the number of tracks selected for inclusion.
‘That‘s Quality Control.‘ says Finnigan. ‘You‘ve gotta say. “Well. if we‘re gonna get one shot at it. we‘re gonna put out the things that we believe in.“
And if it all falls through. well. that‘s what we did. . and we‘re proud of it.‘ l .S'n'l/ski/t play The Venue. lirlin/mrg/r on Thurs 22.
Flamenco properly refers to the songs and dances of the Andalusian region, but has come to be applied more generally to the gypsy-derived guitar music and associated dances of Spain in general, both in their original pure folk and subsequent more commercial forms. Paco Pena, who was born in Cordoba in Andalusia, is widely regarded as its greatest contemporary , , performer. f '- La The guitarist began his professional career at the age of twelve. He appeared on the same bill as Jimi Hendrix in his UK debut, and has performed in lazz clubs as well as formal concert venues. ills duo concerts with guitarist John Williams
is! '~ "
have been highly popular, but much of ; Pena in Cordoba in 1981. his creative energy over the past couple of decades has gone into his flamenco projects, including the formation of a Flamenco Company in 1970, and his Centro Flamenco Paco
| apart from its well-known
Guitar, as Pena points out, ‘is the only musical instrument used in flamenco, and rightly so, because
qualities, the guitar can produce
highly percussive sounds which are essential in the performance of this music. More importantly, though, it has the ability to adapt itself to the unusual nuances of the flamenco song, and bond itself with the voice to produce a true mixture of Western and Eastern characteristics.’
Pena's ‘Misa Flamenca’, which will form the second half of the concert
guitar solos and Spanish choral works), makes that East-West fusion even more explicit. A work of great
it dates from 1991, and brings together the classic flamenco tradition with Stephen Dodgson’s choral settings of the Mass, sung by the Chorus of the Academy of St Martin’s in the Fields, in a unique and surprisingly successful fusion. (Kenny Mathieson)
Paco Pena’s ‘Mlsa Flamenca’ is at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre on Sun 18.
’f’ﬁ. v Paco Pena
Tennents Live! Making Music Happen
(the first will be split between Pena’s
personal significance to the guitarist,
The List 9-22 September 1094 29