ROCK/POP THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS Garage, Glasgow, Sun 25 Nov.
Lots of interviewees say they’re pretty excited about coming to Scotland. Most of them are lying. But John Flansburgh, vocalist/guitarist with They Might Be Giants, seems genuinely thrilled by the prospect. ‘l’m really looking forward to coming,’ he says. ‘My wife’s a total Scotophile, if that’s the word, and John Linnell [vocals and keyboardsl’s wife is from Dundee. But the fate of the touring musician is that you only ever get a taste. People put down tourists as being superficial, but compared to being a working musician being a tourist is
like heavy cultural research.’ The two Johns make up the
songwriting core of the band they formed back in 1983. But if you think having two people with the same name in a band might get confusing,
spare a thought for their rhythm
section, the Band of Dans: Miller (guitar), Wenkauf (bass) and Hickey
Jocks rock for John and John
(drums). ‘The great thing about that,’ says Flansburgh, ‘is that having two Johns kind of fades into insignificance at the unexpected reality of so many Dans.’ The New Yorkers hit the Top Ten in 1990 with the impossibly catchy ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’ but since then have rarely bothered the charts’ upper reaches. They’ve kept busy, though, recording ‘Doctor Evil’ for The Spy Who Shagged Me (the track both opened and closed the movie) and ‘Boss Of Me’ for Malcolm In The Middle. They are currently working on an album for David Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Eggars’ literary magazine McSweeney’s. Given such eclecticism, it’s no surprise that Flansburgh has no time for nitpicking musical purists. ‘Growing up with the Beatles and the popular song at its greatest moments,’ he explains, ‘I feel like there is something really wonderful about trying to be versatile. I see a lot of really inauthentic people worrying about authenticity and it shouldn’t be something you worry about. Just get real and if you feel
a song should go in a certain direction, then take it in that direction.’
As you might expect, the band’s sixth studio album, Mink Car goes off in all kinds of directions. There’s stomping Pixies-flavoured rockers, a drinking song that sounds like (who else?) The Pogues, bittersweet laments and the disco-rock fusion of current single ‘Man, It’s So Loud In Here.’ And given the nature of the band’s live performance, you’ve got a good chance of hearing them all. ‘We do almost a two-hour show so we do about 30 songs, and it spans our whole career. But there’s definitely a lot of
new songs.’ (James Smart)
Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, Mon 19 Nov; Barrowland, Glasgow, Wed 21 Nov.
The novelty single is a fine way of bringing yourself to the public's attention. It's a still better way of ensuring that any fame which does come y0ur way will be shortlived. because there's nothing worse than an old joke. especially when even your dad knows the punchline.
By all rights then, with not one but two Top Three novelty Singles (the cheesy pop-punk epic that was ‘Teenage Dirtbag' and the chillingly catchy Eraswe cover “A Little Respect‘). Wheatus have surely passed the realm of the piss-take to discover a new land of parody-laden junk rock. But while some people undoubtedly loathe the Long Island trio. you can't write them off too easily.
Indeed. aside from the hysteria- swathed appearance of The Strokes and the ever-entertaining Beck. they were arguably the high point of this year's damp T in the Park. putting in a riotous performance that (if you believe The Sun) was inspired by William Wallace.
And lead singer Brendan 'B' Brown has rejected claims that his band are following a generic sports rock line. ‘lt's only music industry people that I get that from,’ he says. ‘l've never seen or heard from any of our fans that we seem or s0und like any other punk pop band or that we're like Blink 182 or anything like that. And I think the reason is that we simply don't. We've got a lot of different types of songs on our records and it's not as easy to tag and put on the shell as you'd think. The kids know that and as long as they do then that's OK.“
Braveheart-inspired bag of fun
Brown is jOined in the Wheatus camp by Mike McCabe (bass). Peter Brown (drums) plus semi- official fourth member Phil A Jimenez (percussion. keys). The band release another single from their debut Wheatus in January. The double A-side features 'Leroy' and 'Wannabe Gangstar', something Brown allegedly spent a few years as. ‘He spent a few years dressing like a hip hop dude.‘ reveals Jimenez. ‘He had a shaved head. and were all the Fubu gear.‘
Just as long as they don't start covering Public Enemy . . .
CLASSICAL NEW ZEALAND, NEW MUSIC
Various venues, Edinburgh and Glasgow, Thu 29 Nov-Sun 9 Dec.
New Zealanders might live in beautiful isolation on the edge of the world ('the leading edge' according to prime minister Jenny Shipley in 1999). but the contemporary music of the country is a distinctive and lively part of a global picture. Some of New Zealand's composers were heard in Edinburgh and Glasgow three years ago, when ECAT (Edinburgh Contemporary Arts Trust) mounted a mini-festival of their music. This year sees an enlarged repeat of the venture. ‘There was a son of excuse in 1998'. says the event's artistic director. the New Zealand-born but Edinburgh domiciled composer Lyell Cresswell. ‘It celebrated the 150th anniversary of the settling of Dunedin — Gaelic for Edinburgh — by Scottish Presbyterians. Now we're building on the success achieved last time. putting a bit more light on the composers heard then plus introducing some new ones.’
The festival embraces vocal. chamber. electro-acoustic and orchestral music. and includes three world premieres. all specially commissioned by ECAT. The orchestral commission. River Of Ocean. is by New Zealand composer Helen Bowater and compatriot Ross Harris has written the vocal piece
Music from the edge from NZSQ
Sleep. O Beloved for Scottish Voices. But there is also a hint of the reciprocity that might just be a future feature of the initiative. with the first performance of Scottish composer Iain Matheson's new string quartet. How Long Things Last. 'Funding is more and more difficult to obtain,‘ says Cresswell. ‘and it has mainly been given to promote New Zealand music. At the moment. the festival is not really reciprocal. Although there is a big New Zealand arts festival every two years. we need someone to be the moving force for promoting Scottish music and musicians there.‘
Performers include the renowned New Zealand String Quartet. whose presence makes a substantial contribution to the festival, including in Cresswell's own Concerto For Orchestra And String Quartet. ‘They are the star visitors.' says Cresswell. ‘and we also have non-New Zealand musicians. such as Scottish Voices. It's wonderful too that the Scottish Chamber Orchestra has worked the festival into its winter programme. as have St Mary's Music School. Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities.‘ (Carol Main)
15-29 Nov 2001 THE LIST 47