ROCK PREVIEW astrid Glasgow: King Tut's, Sat 14 Aug.
lnvoke the words Teenage and Fanclub with some musicians and you would be surprised by the reaction. It‘s the Macbeth factor; careless whisper of The Scottish Band is likely to result in all manner of curious and superstitious behaviour. But astrid's Willie Campbell is unruffled. Maybe he's all hexed-out.
'There could be worse references,’ says the guitarist/vocalist philosophically. 'It does get a little tedious, though. I think our songs definitely move faster than theirs, but because there's a strong melody, people find it easy to stick a label on you.’
'We’ve had a couple of bum reviews . . . but we can't complain. There's lots of bands at our level been getting pastings so I think we're getting away with it quite nicely.’
All moptops, Speedway rider chic and lockjaw smiles, astrid are affable, unpretentious and enthusiastic to the point of Fast Show caricature. A band you could take home to meet mother.
Or are they? Asked if he's seen that recent Belle And
Moptop of the pops: astrid
Sebastian documentary on the Beeb (one of astrid's big breaks was to support Stuart Murdoch et al a few years back), Willie laughs. 'l'd better hold my tongue! It was quite funny but I‘m not into all that tweeness.’ Would you enjoy the Mr Ben treatment? ‘Oh dear. It'd be too much of a sordid tale.’ He declines to elaborate. Pity. astrid take their name from fifth Beatle Stu Sutcliffe‘s German girlfriend - recalling a Hamburg era- Fab Four not unfamiliar with rock 'n' roll mischief. Draw your own scurrilous conclusions. And perhaps surprisingly for a Glasgow-based group (though three quarters of them actually hail from the Isle Of Lewis), the Belle And Sebastian connection is about as 'sceney‘ as astrid get.
’We do feel a wee but outside the whole thing,’ says Willie. ‘People in Glasgow have got a weird view of bands if they have a commercial sound, and I think we're poppier than most. It's almost as if you get success by accident, that's acceptable, but if you're looking for it you're a bad man.’
astrid: outsiders getting away with it quite nicely, thank you. (Rodger Evans)
I astrid’s debut LP ’Strange Weather Late/y’, produced by Edwyn Collins, is out now on Fantastic Plastic.
Non-genre-specific populist inventors . . 7: The High Fidelity
digital side, because when I started, I wanted to form two bands; one making old analogue material - which is organic - and one making new digital material — which is more electronic, more mutated.’
This man thinks about this kind of thing a lot. He also spends a lot of time in his home studio, ‘Mission Control’. ‘I think of music not as a career, but as a hobby; you do it out of love,’ he says. Some might mutter ‘geek'; not his preferred term. ’Someone called us "non-genre-specific populist inven- tors”. I think that sums it up.‘
Having extricated themselves from record company wrangles that delayed the release of their debut album by a year, The High Fidelity have a single called ‘2 Up 2 Down' out in September. In the meantime, Dickson’s
The High Fidelity
Sean Dickson sighs deeply when the inevitable Soup Dragons issue arises. ‘l'm tired of having to justify that,‘ he says of his days as a roomy-trousered baggy muppet. ‘The past teaches you
things; over the years, I’ve collected loads of crap equipment, and made masses of music.’ Crap equipment is important to Dickson, now fronting experimental gadgeteers and self- styled sonic terrorist types, The High Fidelity. He elaborates: 'On each of our records there's an analogue side and a
getting ready for their live shows. 'I have a huge collection of old disco lights that we use when we play; roadies hate us. My house is full of things that go round and flash on and off.’ (Hannah McGiII)
I The High Fidelity play Glasgow: King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Fri 13 Aug.
Glasgow: Nice 'n' Sleazy, Wed 4 Aug *‘k‘k‘k
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your entertainment for the evening. It’s Aaaaaarab Straaaaap!
No fanfare necessary. Onstage stumbles Aidan Moffat, looking for all the world like an end-of-the-season, end-of-the-pier magician. He settles behind his keyboard, fiddles with his unkempt, receding mop and inspects his perspiration. He may have a job to do, but he doesn’t seem too excited by the prospect. The rest of the ’Strap seem similarly underawed. Even the arrival of Moffat’s Debbie McGee (Adele Bethel) hardly gets pulses racing.
Fortunately, this isn't some tragic night out on the Blackpool seafront. Rather than performing for two old couples and a dog, Arab Strap are playing to a rammed (and hence disgustingly sweaty) Nice ’n' Sleazy. Their apparent disinterest is an essential part of the band’s appeal: the belligerent fighting talk of a Falkirk drunk backed by sublime accompaniment, no less powerful for the pace at which it crawls out of the speakers.
The magic that Aidan and Malcolm (Middleton) conjure up doesn‘t involve rabbits and top hats. It’s much more spectacular than that, with the band taking the energy of a three-minute rant and extending it into an hour of broken down, beautifully half-cut smalltown sleaze and depression. Every song seems like an afterthought, unplanned until it slurs out along with Aidan's lager breath.
Where his lyrics are audible, they are painfully bitter, the sound of someone who feels truly shafted by everyone in his life. The band may not be an all- singing, all-dancing, Iet-me-entertain- you celebration of the good life; but tonight, that doesn’t mean that they fall anywhere short of inspirational.
Lady and gentlemen, you’ve been wonderful. Please come again soon. Thank you, and good night . . . (Alasdair Reisner)
Abracadabra: Arab Strap
STAR RATINGS *ir‘k ** enmissaolge “a * ery o *‘k* Wo a shot i at Below average * You've been warned
12-19 Aug 1999 rue usr 122