Alastair Mabbott scours the countryside to locate Teenage Fanclub, just putting the finishing touches to their next album. But, good heavens. professor, they’ve started to reproduce!
Di the new breed
When Teenage Fanclub take to the T in the Park stage. they‘ll have had just over a week lo prepare a new live set after finishing the mixing of their forthcoming albtun. ‘I imagine we‘ll he playing quite a lot of the new songs.‘ says Norman Blake, who clearly hasn‘t given the matter a solitary thought until this moment. ‘but I suppose at a festival people normally want to hear things that they know. We‘ll try to get a good balance.‘
Norman is sounding very relaxed and content.
ensconced as he is in a cottage in the grounds of
Ridge Farm Studios in Sussex with his wife and their eight-month old daughter. Rowan. named after ‘the girl who goes missing‘ in that great cult film The il’it-ker Man. Drummer Paul Quinn. too. has a little girl to look after now. Norman‘s especially glad to be spending some quality time with them at this stage as the Fanclub left for a two-month tour of Australia and the Far East the week after Rowan was born. ‘lt‘s almost like working on an oil rig. being in a group. sometimes.‘ he muses. ‘You‘re away for a month. you come back for a week . . .‘
The band‘s most recent appearance on record has been a self-confessed stab at Esquivel-style exotica on the Euro96 compilation. The Beautiful Game: a two-second sample from Tommy Roe‘s ‘Everybody‘ strung over Hammond organ and woodblock percussion to
most un-Fanclublike effect. W'll. relax. the album's not going to be like that. Nor. rather more sadly. will it greatly resemble the Joe Meek-meets-Bo Diddley set-list arrived at when the Fannies performed as Alex Chilton‘s backing group a little while back. Though. having read that. someone will no doubt start a band with that very agenda.
In fact. says Norman, the tracks they‘ve been laying down are not in an entirely dissimilar vein to those on their last long-player. Grand Prix. at
‘I think we’re still okay with the younger groups because we’ve never had a hit.’
record that came at a time when Teenage Fanclub were thought to have run out of ideas and which turned out to be. in many ways, their best.
‘I think that‘s the album that‘s most us,‘ Norman agrees. ‘lt‘s definitely our best. ‘cause it‘s the album we were happiest with. it‘s difficult to say what it is. but we just feel more conﬁdent than we did in the past aboutjust doing what we feel like. what we want. We don‘t feel constrained in any way. And l suppose if you‘re enjoying yourself you tend to make good music.‘
Teenage Fanclub: doting dads and dreamy dittles
Once again. the writing credits are divided equally. with Norman. Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley each contributing four songs. 'It means there‘s no pressure on one person to write an album‘s worth of material.‘ he explains. ‘Especially nowadays. With (h-uml l’ri.r. there were three singles and we had to write something like 21 B-sides. which is outrageous. because of all the different formats. Most people put live tracks on. but they‘re usually dodgy. so we ended up recording an album‘s worth of songs in the end. But this one‘s iine.‘
Since Teenage Fanclub last had an album to promote. the Glasgow scene has had one of its periodic surges. throwing Bis to the heady heights of Top ()j' The Pops and bringing attention to the hordes of other bands. ‘I like where all those groups are coming from.‘ Norman says. ‘I was really pleased to see them becoming successful.‘ The Bellshill posse haven‘t been the new kids on the block for a good few years now (doting dad Norman is 30) but at least their contribution is appreciated by the up-and-comers.
‘I think we're still okay with the younger groups.’ he reasons. ‘because we‘ve never had a hit.‘ From nearby. little Rowan gurgles her assent.
Teenage Fanclub play the NMIL' Stage on Sun 14.
Keanu Reeves has just turned down millions, the Hollywood rumour mill says, to do a sequel to Speed, preferring instead to develop his music career with Bogstar. The band began back in 1991 when bass player Beeves spotted fellow hockey fan and drummer Bobert Mailhouse in an LA supermarket. First called Small Fecal Matter, then the equally fragrant Big Fucking Shit, they’ve supported Bon Jovi in America and Australia, David Bowie at the fiollywood Palladium and played a couple oi low key gigs at their own. A European and Japanese summer tour precedes their first album in September. Before then on 15 July comes a four- track EP entitled auaftro Fermaggl. ‘I’he actor Is as trenchant as ever about his new line of work: ‘I admit that my acting career has given us some opportunities to be heard,’ he says, ‘and we’re grateful for that, but in the end it comes down to the music. I’m getting to see a lot of America and drink free beer. It’s Ia delce vita.’
Dogsfar play the NME Stage on Sun 14.
10 The List 28 Jun- ll Jul 1996
Booster: Bob Mallhouse. Bret Bomrose and Keanu Reeves paws for thought