Louder Than War’s Katie Clare recently caught up with Glasvegas’ guitarist Paul Donoghue for a chat about the band’s return to touring, the Glasvegas recording process and what to expect from the new album.
The uniqueness of Manchester’s Deaf Institute adds to the theatrical feel of tonight’s intimate Glasvegas gig, it electrifies the musical offerings and intensifies the band’s beautiful movements in front of their projected visual show. The night is filled with a huge amount of warmth and humour: old tracks are played alongside new offerings (from the bands third album `Later …When the TV Turns to Static` which is due for release in September) while the band’s singer and songwriter James Allan and the audience share banter.
Earlier in the afternoon I got a chance to chat with the band’s guitarist & started off asking about the current tour…
Paul: The tour really only started last night in Newcastle, over the weekend we were in Finland for a festival, but last night was the start and it was great. It has been a while since we played such intimate shows, there is something that happens when you play smaller venues. There is always something special about all shows, but in smaller venues there is an atmosphere that you just don’t get at bigger shows. This venue I really like, just the set up alone, tonight we’ll really get it rocking. First gig that sold out was Glasgow and the second, Manchester. We’ve always had great support from Manchester.
Louder Than War: There is a new single due soon, is it a good indicator of what we can expect from the rest of the new album?
Paul: The biggest problem we’ve had in the band and management is that everyone wants a different single from the album released. We decided ‘I’d Rather Be Dead’ would be first, that got changed three times, so now if we released all ten tracks from the album I’d be quite happy, then everyone gets their choice. The last decision I remember was that the next single would be the title track but that’ll change – in fact there is a track on the album called ‘Change’ so it is all very apt. The hardest thing about this album has been the track titles, you could be in the studio and say ‘Later on if this changes …’ and you’ve just use the titles of three of the songs in one sentence, so we’ll be always wondering which track we’re talking about. I would say this album is a return in some ways to our first album, there are certain things that have changed: you get a little bit more experienced in getting what you want and how best to achieve it. But recording in Glasgow has helped it sound in some ways like the first album. I hope people like it, we do what we do because we love it and hope people listening do too.
Louder Than War : What is the Glasvegas approach to writing and recording?
Paul: James still writes all of the songs and James produced too, we are so lucky to have Joanna in the band she has really had an input this time. We have really worked hard to sound good live and James really wanted that on a record – he wanted us in a room with just microphones on the instrument to get that real live sound. We were very lucky that we had the tools to actually do this in Scotland, there is obviously some technical stuff in the background but most of the time, it really was just putting a mic on the amplifier or on the bass and not having to filter anything through a computer.
Louder Than War: This is a very short tour, do you have plans for a longer UK tour and what memories do you have of tours past?
Paul: We don’t have many plans for the summer – a festival in Spain and another in Korea. However we are planning to do a tour probably in October, this will be the whole of the UK, we’ll get round to everyone this time. When I first started touring I was never a fan of travel, but I remember to this day landing in Tokyo and driving from the airport into the city and thinking ‘This is one of the most amazing jobs in the world I’ve got, a lot of people don’t get a chance to see the world, I am so lucky’. The gig I remember the most for being most unexpected was in Vancouver, walking into this huge venue and realising that we’d sold out, seemed like half of Canada came out that night. China really surprised me, driving into Shanghai and realising how big a city can be, you get used to seeing skyscrapers in the city but we drove over an hour through skyscrapers before even getting to the city – it was one of the biggest places I’d seen, also none of us knew what to expect, we found China to be one of the best places we’d ever been the people and the surroundings, we love visiting everywhere in Asia. The one place I would really like to go is Russia, especially Moscow. I love architecture and would love to see St. Peter’s Square. We are good friends with the Ravenheads and they recently played over there.
Louder Than War: Reverend and the Makers too have just been over, playing to hundreds of thousands on national TV there.
Paul: If there is one amazing ambassador you can send it is Jon McClure – don’t think there is anyone that doesn’t love him. Although the situation with Pussy Riot was unsettling, being in a band – being a musician is all about freedom of speech.
Louder Than War: And your songs do not shy away from addressing social issues.
Paul: Yes that’s right, James is all the writing and the thing I have noticed with James from the very day I met him is that he has a lot of empathy. He really feels – if something affects someone it affects him. James’ sister was a social worker she’d come home and tell him about the problems she’d have to deal with and it really got to him, so as he writes he puts himself right in the difficult positions he hears about and it is not contrite, he’s written songs about sexuality different to his own and those songs are about love and truth a lot of people have come up to him and thanked him for writing those songs.
Louder Than War: What types of topics are touched on within the new album?
Paul: The title track ‘Later…When The TV Turns To Static’ James was thinking about those times when the TV’s just rolling static, there is something wrong and no one is there to say turn that off. It is also a continuation to ‘Polmont On My Mind’ about a lad being released from a young offenders institute and how he’s trying to fit back into the world. ‘If’ we need to thank Alan McGee for that one, it came from a chat James had with him about how if it was not for the bad we’d not know the good. I really am proud of James with this album the way the lyrics have come together, there is stuff there that must have been hard to write about and it has been done really well.
Louder Than War: It must be a good feeling that you’re so happy with what you’ve created together.
Paul: Yes because success is not necessarily selling a million albums although it is flattering when we do, but success for us is, for example, leaving the studio at night knowing that we did everything physically possible to make the songs sound as good as they could. James really has a full idea how this album should be, he even co-directed the first video, it was his vision from start to finish, he worked really hard and it gave everything a real continuity. Even the artwork was planned and the deluxe edition will come with a 40 page booklet that was all part of the idea.
Louder Than War: Coloured vinyl too…
Paul: That’s right, actually someone asked the other day would it come with a download code saying, we’re a purist but we still want a code for the ipod.
A new track from their forthcoming album ‘If’ (Go Wow Records/BMG Chrysalis) will be released as a single on July 8th 2013, it is the second single from the album released to date.
Glasvegas’ third album ‘Later…When The TV Turns To Static’ (BMG / Chrysalis) is due for release on 2nd September 2013 and is available for pre-order now via the band’s official web store and the usual retailers. Formats include a special edition CD/DVD, heavyweight white vinyl, standard CD and deluxe or standard digital download.
All words by Katie Clare. More writing by Katie on Louder Than War can be found in her author’s archive.