Be prepared to be bowled over in the Bowlers Bar…

Firstly, sorry for the bowled over pun, that won’t happen again. Secondly, you now have plans for Sunday afternoon and evening because there are some wonderful bands playing at The Bowlers Bar and it is all part of the East End Social.

If you have checked out the site at any point in the past, you’ll know we are massive fans of The State Broadcasters, frankly, they’re great. If you haven’t checked out the site in the past, fair enough, there’s plenty of sites out there. This time though, we’ve got a fantastic interview with Lloyd from Olive Grove Records where we talk about The Broadies, the bands playing on Sunday and the record label. We actually spent that much time talking that we’ve left off a great deal, so if you were wanting to hear our thoughts on The Phantom Band, old Scottish festivals and the sort of folk that go to see Take That, you’ll need to tap into my phone and listen to the recording.

Please don’t tap into my phone.

Anyways, here is the interview and if you are free on Sunday, the gig is going to be a great one.

One of your acts, The State Broadcasters, are playing at The Bowlers Bar as part of the East End Social. First of all, are you excited about the event?

Yes, very much so. This has been planned for quite a few months; essentially it came about because I manage Randolph’s Leap and we’ve been looking to put on our own event for quite a while. We’ve wanted to do something a bit different from what else is taking place, not just a normal gig, so we’ve been working with Johnny from Lost Map to see what we could come up with.

We compiled a wish list of bands that we wanted to play at this event, and given that The State Broadcasters and Randolph’s Leap are pretty much intertwined these days, they were one of the first bands we thought to ask. Yeah, I’m really excited for the weekend; it should be a lot of fun.

State Broadcasters at Mono - © Get Around Glasgow Photography

State Broadcasters at Mono – © Get Around Glasgow Photography

Of course, it’s not just about The State Broadcasters and Randolph’s Leap, it’s a fantastic line-up spread out over the course of the day.

Yes, we have our new addition to the Olive Grove family, Skinny Dipper and they are a 9 piece band. 8 of them are girls and God only knows how we are going to squeeze everyone in because the venue only holds about 80 folk. The stage probably has space for 4 people and we’re looking to squeeze 9 folk on stage at one point! I don’t know it is going to work, but it will.

We’ve also got Duglas from BMX Bandits who is coming along to do a set, we have Neil from Meursault coming along from Edinburgh as well as David and Scott from Kid Canaveral playing a stripped back set. On top of all that, we have Uncle Vic Galloway spinning some tunes and compering so hopefully there’s something for everyone.

Given that there are plenty of people involved with Randolph’s Leap anyway, are you just drawn to the biggest bands that you can find?

When we first started with working with Randolph’s Leap, there were 6 of them…now they’re up to 8. I love the noise and I think its brilliant watching a band with so much going on. However, in practical terms, it’s a pain in the backside because trying to get an 8 piece band to tour is pretty damned hard. Of course, now we’ve got a 9 piece band, but we’ll try to get them on the road. We try to get our bands playing as much as we can, including outside of Glasgow as much as we can but you can probably imagine the practicalities are quite difficult at times.

Is there any scope for buying an Olive Grove minibus?

I’ve thought about this! Looking at the finances for the band I occasionally think we can buy a van, and then I think bands can rent it off us, and then I think we can get a coach. Eventually I catch on to myself and say Lloyd this is stupid…but yeah, it has been thought about!

You do realise you are two or three steps away from having your very own Olive Grove commune?

Ha, I think my wife would leave me if I did that but my daughter would be quite happy, she likes our bands.

Swings and roundabouts…no, let’s not promote divorce, don’t go down that route.

No, that’s not going to happen.

As said, you manage Randolph’s Leap, and they’ve developed in size and in stature in recent years. How do you feel about the progress made by the band?

For the past 4 years, my life has been pretty much intertwined with Randolph’s Leap. My daughter was born 4 months ago and two months after that, we released Randolph’s Leap EP and since then, they’ve intertwined.

When will your daughter become a full blown member of the band?

We’ll train her up, see what she can do and then see who we can sack (Lloyd laughed throughout this entire answer).

Randolphs Leap

No, it’s been amazing because I’ve always wanted to be involved with the music industry in some way or another. I originally started with the Peenko blog and then progressed onto the label with Halina, who does the Glasgow PodcART, so it is something that I’ve always wanted to be involved with. Therefore, to see the rise and development of the band is just amazing. It’s down to a lot of hard work from so many people. For me, Adam is one of the best songwriters in Scotland, he makes me laugh and he can bring a tear to my eye, he’s fantastic.

It’s been great seeing them win people over and get bigger. When they started off, they were being written off as being a bit twee but through constant work and great songs, we’ve overcome that to a certain degree. We’re getting more people involved and interested now. We have Johnny from Lost Maps who has provided great support, Duglas from BMX Bandits has always been there as well. I’ve noticed we’re starting to get more and more radio folk involved as well now.

We’ve always had Vic Galloway, who is brilliant, but now we’re getting Marc Riley, we’re getting Huw Stephens playing them on Radio 1 and it is all the little things that are coming together to make things seem as though its getting bigger.

I feel, and it’s something I’ve been guilty of in the past, that twee is used in a lazy and not always correct manner to describe Glasgow bands.

I agree.

The thing is, we’re recording this on the opening day of the Commonwealth Games and at Kelvingrove you’ve got Belle & Sebastian playing. They’re probably the band that defines twee for many people but a more robust and entertaining live act you couldn’t wish to see these days.

It’s laziness. If you’ve come across the Randolph Leap song Indie King, that is Adam’s way of trying to address that twee identity people place on the band or other acts. You can’t pigeonhole acts as easily as you would like at times.

So what are you general feelings about the Commonwealth Games and all of the music events that are coming to the city in the next few weeks?

I’m really excited and I think it’s fantastic for the city. It was a few months back that Stuart from Chemikal and East End Social and asked us if the label wanted us to do something. At the point we were thinking of doing something similar to what we did at Celtic Connections and Randolph’s Leap were looking to do a quirky gig so that has all come together.

I mean c’mon, tonight I’m off to see Belle & Sebastian at the Kelvingrove Bandstand and that’s a venue I’ve wanted to see used properly for years and then it’s the band I’ve always wanted to see there.

There are also so many free gigs that it has hard to keep up with, and there’s stuff at Glasgow Green and at the BBC.

One of your acts, Call To Mind, performed at T in the Park. How did they find that occasion?

Oh it was great fun, I was up with them and we all had a great time.

I take it this is one of the big perks and reasons why you run the label?

Absolutely, you’ve got to have some reasons for doing it! We were up on the Sunday and it was the first T I’ve been to in 2 or 3 years. That time, I was up with Randolph’s Leap, and I drove the van, so I was sober and it rained and it was one of the most miserable days of my life! Going up this time was fantastic as I didn’t have to drive, it was sunny and the whole vibe was amazing. It wasn’t overly busy for them but the people that were in the tent really seemed to like it and the sound was probably the best that they ever had. They got some amazing videos out of it as well and I think it has done a lot of good for the band, which will probably come to light in the next few weeks. (Off the record, indeed it will, so remember to keep in touch with Call To Mind and Olive Grove for more information on what’s coming next).

T was great and this weekend it’s Wickerman so that’s something else to look forward to. The album has done really well too. We’ve been talking to the band for a few years about doing an album and it was only when Creative Scotland funding became available that it was possible to press on with the album.

The album was recorded out at The Old Mill in Strathaven and that went well. It just took time to get it mixed and mastered but it sounds great and we’re all very happy with it. It’s probably one of the best albums we’ve ever released.

Mind you, I probably say that about every album we’ve released. It’s been more of a slow burner that some people take time to get into it but when they do, they really get into it, maybe in the same way that people take to The State Broadcasters. Not everyone is into it or loves it but when they do get into it, they really love it and fall for the band and the music in a big way.

After Wickerman, there will be Belladrum, so that will be a hometown show for them and that is on the Saturday. On the Friday, Randolph’s Leap are performing and that is the equivalent slot that Woodenbox played three years ago. That was the most amazing gig I have ever seen Woodenbox do and a year later we had their album out. They packed the tent out and people were going crazy for it. So now, with two of our acts going up there to perform, I can only hope they’ll receive a similar response but again, I’m really looking forward to it and it should be amazing.

Following that, we are doing a headline show in Eden Court in Inverness in October. We’ll have the Cairn String Quartet playing with them and it’s a really big theatre so that should be great. There are not too many indie-pop shows in that neck of the woods so I’m hoping that a lot of people are excited for it, it should be special.

Call To Mind will also be playing at the Wickerman Festival, (the same weekend as the East End Social gig.) How important is the summer festival circuit for up and coming bands?

For us it is vital and it is the best way to go out and get exposure for our bands. Not everyone wants to come and see bands in a dingy pub and at these festivals; we get families coming along with kids, who wouldn’t have the chance to see us. It’s the exposure of playing in front of so many other people that is the important thing.

The fees that you get for playing these festivals isn’t the biggest thing about them but the bands can get a decent amount of PRS for playing. For instance, for the Randolph’s Leap slot at T in the Park, that helped to fund the album they released. It was the financial starting point to build upon, so PRS and exposure to a bigger market make these festivals essential for us as a label and our bands.

What are your favourite Scottish festivals?

I love the smaller festivals. I feel too old to go to T in the Park these days. I enjoyed the recent one but I felt about 100 years old as it was just wee kids that were there. It was also too big for my liking. For me, Wickerman and Belladrum are two that I really like. There is also Insider, and we had our own showcase up there, with Jo Mango, Woodenbox, The State Broadcasters and Randolph’s Leap, so that was great.

The State Broadcasters really speak highly of the Insider festival.

Yes, probably because I was driving and took my wife and daughter and I spent my time running about daft organising everything! If I was there as a punter, it would have been outstanding. I’d also really like to go to Brew At The Bog but I haven’t been yet. It looks amazing but I can’t vouch for it yet because I haven’t been.

When it comes to fun, a trip to Wickerman a few years’ back with Randolph’s Leap was brilliant because it was just carnage, okay, mostly on my part. However, Belladrum is equally as much fun because it’s a nice vibe and people get into it, really liking the bands and just jumping about to whatever is on.

People might say the same about T in the Park but it’s just channelled in a different way?

Exactly…but they’re more likely to come and see an unsigned band in a tent at one of the smaller festivals than they are at T. As a comparison, I think around 2-4,000 people came to see Woodenbox at Belladrum and yet at T, there were probably the same, if not less, people watching Twilight Sad in their tent. You’d never get that for small bands at a big festival because there is so much going on.

SkinnyDipper

Any thoughts on the fact that most Scottish music festivals are occurring away from the central belt?

I think it is getting away from the culture of the promoters running everything. There is a sense of free reign to promote these things when you move away from the central belt. There is clearly a great deal of control in the central region but when you move away, that isn’t there. There’s also a sense of adventure about setting off somewhere you haven’t been so you appeal to the locals while drawing people from further distances.

What were your influences and inspirations in starting up a record label?

We looked at what Fence were doing and what Chemikal Underground were doing and of course, we looked at Song, By Toad, because that was more of a comparable level to what we were aiming for. We just wanted to release music, we both had our own sites and we both had a good understanding of what was happening in the Scottish music scene but we were frustrated that there weren’t people out there releasing it or promoting it. We felt there was a gap in the market for what we wanted to do.

Graeme & Pete from the State Broadcasters - © Get Around Glasgow Photos

Graeme & Pete from the State Broadcasters – © Get Around Glasgow Photos

So Halina and myself met up and we agreed on the ethos that we don’t take any money from it, all profits go back to the artist to help them. We initially said we would like to be a stepping stone to help bands move on but that hasn’t quite happened too much but in a sense, I’m happy with that because we have created a good community,. Obviously Randolph’s Leap have moved on to Lost Map but even with that, we’re still very heavily linked with them, and always will be. If they ever come up with weird little releases or there was something that Lost Map didn’t want to release, we’ll step in, no problem!
We wanted to be part of the music scene but we wanted to put our own stamp on it. We’ve never set out to have a folk sound on the label, perhaps I’ve led the way a wee bit on that but we’re always open to new ideas and bands. It’s not to say we’ll never release a record by a heavy metal band or a dance act, there have been people we’ve talked to and things haven’t worked out, so yeah, we’re open to different things.

What have been the biggest challenges and problems in running a label?

The hardest part is finding the time. We do this on top of everything else. I do it on top of a full-time job, I’m married, we’ve got a wee girl and its finding time. I spend my free time dealing with the label and music stuff. A lot of it is just admin and keeping on top of things. When you have so many bands, that you are essentially managing in a way, there is so much to keep on top of and make sure that things are getting done. Also, all of our bands are quite large and this adds new challenges in arranging events and admin. There is a lot of undue stress and there are highs and lows but of course, there are many great moments involved with it.

What moments have given you the most joy?

For me, the Celtic Connections show at Oran Mor this year was the pinnacle. I had worked on it for about 6 or 7 months, we had to pitch it to the Oran More and Celtic Connections. I also got The Moth & The Mirror back for the event, they hadn’t played for around 3 years, and just the feeling I got at the end of the day when it was all over. I don’t think I’ll ever top that but I’ll aim and try to.

Even the picture of all the performers on the label really drove home how many people you work with and the talent involved with the label.

That is another thing, getting that organised was a lot of work. The photographer was the girlfriend of one of the band members, I had known her for years as well, but it was so stressful. It wasn’t like you could go around some dressing rooms and order people upstairs, that had about 2 weeks of planning just for the photograph. Co-ordination was vital for the whole event.

Olive Grove

What ambitions do you still have with the label and music?

I genuinely haven’t thought about it. It’s not one of these things I worry about because a lot of the time I didn’t get the chance to think because things just keep on going. We haven’t released a second album by a band yet and that is one I want to tick off, and we will do soon.

We’ll be releasing a Jo Mango remix album in September, we‘ll have Woodenbox with their third album, albeit second for us, and we should have a Suns second album. As for they two, it just depends on who comes to us first with a finished product. That’ll definitely be a great box to tick off; getting a second album out from a band is a big ambition we’ll achieve soon.

We’re doing another showcase set, this time in Edinburgh as part of The Pleasance Sessions, and I’d like to do another showcase at some point, but not for a while. I don’t want to have an overkill of these showcases, even at festivals, so we’ll space them out.

To be honest though, I just want our bands to be happy. I don’t care if they sell 10 records, as long as they’re happy. I think some of our bands have done well on other labels but they weren’t too happy, and I think they’re happier with us. I emphasise that we are a family and we have a lot of cross-collaboration going on, which is nice. For example, we’ve just had some of the Skinny Dippers girls working with Woodenbox. As it comes to making progress and achieving ambitions, as long as everyone is happy, we’ll be doing alright.

You can check out the Olive Grove records label here and their twitter page can be found here.