Houston Calling

SXSW preview: Glasvegas

March 9th, 2009 · No Comments

Scottish rockers Glasvegas are generating quite a bit of buzz in the U.S. right now. The foursome’s songs “Daddy’s Gone,” “Geraldine,” and “Flowers and Football Tops” have earned the band — singer/guitarist James Allan, guitarist Rab Allan, bassist Paul Donoghue, and drummer Caroline McKay — a ton of fans, press, and the inevitable backlash. Comparisons to The Clash and My Bloody Valentine are tossed about, but Glasvegas’ debut is stronger than a mere throwback, and is full of polished, catchy songs that refuse to leave the listener’s head.

On the cusp of the band’s trip to the States for South By Southwest, Coachella, and a tour in between, Glasvegas bassist Paul Donoghue recently answered some questions for Houston Calling.

Houston Calling: How did Glasvegas get started as a band?

Paul: We all hung around as friends, mostly at Caroline’s house drinking and listening to music. James and Rab are cousins so they met when Rab was born, I suppose. I went to school with Rab too, where we were both in the idiots’ class for German. In between shouting “big bird!” at the humongous teacher we found out we were both into the same music. James met Caroline in a vintage clothes shop and even then she looked like a movie star.

HC: The band is definitely getting load of hype in the States right now, and you guys have some touring and Coachella scheduled this spring. Are you looking forward to the tour? What do you enjoy best about it?

Paul: We always look forward to touring in America. It seems to renew us as friends when we go over and experience new places together. The only thing we’re worried about is the heat at Coachella. I only weigh ten stone so I’m worried that if I sweat too much on stage I’ll disappear.

HC: Are you looking forward to South By Southwest?

Paul: This will be the first time we have played South by Southwest and we’re all looking forward to it. We’ve heard it’s barbecue, beer, and music all day which sounds right up our street.

HC: What are you hoping to get out of this year’s SXSW?

Paul: I don’t think we’re looking for anything other than a good time. We like to make sure we enjoy ourselves whenever we play. Ideally I’ll be face down in a gutter as soon as we’re offstage.

HC: How do you see a difference in audiences in the U.K. as opposed to the States? Why do you think that is? Are you pleased with the response your album is getting in the U.S. so far?

Paul: We’re all very happy that the album has gone down so well. So much of the music we love is from America so it means a lot that we succeed over there. The main difference in the audiences is that we’re still a somewhat unknown quantity so a lot more people are checking us out for the first time. In the U.K. most people know us and let themselves go and go nuts.

HC: A lot has been made of Glasvegas’ sound…What do YOU consider to be your primary musical influences and how do you think they play into your songs?

Paul: Influences are a hard thing to put into words. You can be influenced by conversations, food, a walk down the street, anything. Sometimes you find inspiration from the most unlikely places.

HC: One of my best friends is Glaswegian and I have heard a lot of stories from his time there. How do you think your upbringing and your surroundings played into your music?

Paul: Most of our experiences in life have came from Glasgow but they can be related anywhere. We all have a great sense of pride at being Glaswegian and love our city. It’s electric, gothic, caring, hard, and beautiful. There’s no other place like it.

HC: How does the band approach the songwriting process? Obviously, the lyrics comes from personal experiences — but do you develop the music in a collaborative fashion or does one person bring an idea to the band and it goes from there?

Paul: Everything we do comes from James’ imagination. He records demos of all the songs with all the parts and lets us hear them. Rab, Caroline, and I are lucky in the way that we’re almost allowed to be fans rather than members of the band.

HC: Are there any bands you’re looking forward to seeing at this year’s SXSW? Echo & The Bunnymen perhaps?

Paul: I didn’t know the Bunnymen were playing. We’re friends with them so it would be amazing to meet up with them. Any time we’re with them is chaos so doing that in Texas would be amazing…

Glasvegas plays its official South By Southwest showcase at La Zona Rosa on Friday, 3.20.09, at 11:30pm. The band also plays the Rhapsody day party on Thursday, 3.19.09, with Waaves, Vivian Girls, School of Seven Bells, and …And You Will Know By By The Trail Of Dead. The shows starts at noon.

Here’s a video of Glasvegas performing “Geraldine” on Jools Holland:

Visit Glasvegas online at www.glasvegas.net.

Tags: Interviews · Music · Show listings · SXSW

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