Scotland’s best kept musical secret is now being uncovered. Get to Fife and say hello to the mild, the riled and the occasionally wild FENCE COLLECTIVE. Words: Mark Robertson
Is not hard to find. Just take the A92 Kirkaldy bypass and follow the Fife coastal trail until you see the signs. If the sea is on your right then you know you‘re on the road to Anstmther. (iood music isn‘t hard to find either. Follow Shore Road. just past the Anstruther Fish Bar and a couple of doors down on the left is the Ship Tavern: the spiritual home of the Fence (‘ollectivc and Fence Records. the label which releases their output.
To call Anstruthcr a sleepy fishing village suggests a lack of activity. While it boasts the aforementioned chippy. one of the best in the country (yes. we checked) the Fence (‘oIIcctive have put Anstruther on the map for something other than its full-fat cuisine.
The internet may have liberated music fans who can now beg. borrow and steal before they buy like never before. but making it in a band can be a slog. Kenny Anderson knows this only too well. He spent a fair part of his formative years trudging the [K toilet circuit (that‘s those venues so crappy you may as well be playing next to the porcelain) with bands few would care to remember. Now. at a world weary 36. he is the mouth and furry hat of Fence Records. He is also the label‘s most prolific artist. having released over 20 albums under his King (‘reosote moniker. He is. for all intents and purposes. the hub around which the Fence (‘ollective revolves.
'The reason Fence came about was because I didn‘t really want to be foisting my music on labels.‘ says Anderson. 'I‘d had enough of that. It was getting nowhere. You had live bands that were pulling in lots of people but because they weren‘t pulling in the rig/II sort of people we were never
" getting press. I wouldn't say I was in the best bands ever. but I we weren‘t half as bad as some of the bands that were getting
talked about and I knew for a fact their shows were more poorly attended than ours.‘
Frustrated but unabashed. Anderson learned from his
efforts and when the ceildh band he ran finally dissolved.
14 THE LIST 1‘.) ITOI)’ "1 Mar 2004
King (‘reosote reared his hairy head and Fence was born — a loose collective of musicians sharing ideas. instruments and frequently. a pint.
Musically. however. Fence is all over the place. Listening to their recorded output testifies to this: as soon as one thread appears to be forming — folksy acoustic jangIes or meandering. plaintive ballads perhaps — it‘s upturned by some curious beatboxing. walls of fuzzy guitar or cheeky sampling. The only thread appears to be an ability to make music with a sense of humour and a lack of seIf—consciousness. even at their most contemplative of moments. In this group. some people have to make music and some are just clearly delighted that they can. Anderson tries to shed some light on the commonality among Fence contributors.
‘I.ow sales figures.. he laughs. ‘To be honest. I think it‘s attitude. It‘s all down to a bit of a sense of humour and the fact that there are no stars in the camp. If you‘ve sat down with James Yorkson. Pip Dylan or any of them you realise straight away that they aren‘t in this to grab headlines.‘
Fence is far from a one—man army. Johnny Lynch and Alan Stewart. aka the I’ictish Trail and (iummi Bako respectively. make up the trio of full-time Fencers. Lynch. the youngest of the three. has an infectious enthusiasm. ‘I‘m the one who does all the running about. I‘m also the tea boy. the rent boy . . . and
just the boy.‘ The I’ictish Trail shows up Johnny Lynch like
many of his compadres to be a considered songwriter of note.
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‘IT'S ALL DOWN TO A BIT OF SENSE OF HUMOUR AND THE FACT THAT THERE ARE NO STARS IN THE CAMP'