3 is yet again the magic number

Don’t you love it when you buy a ticket for an act or artist that you really like and then you find out that you like the support act as well? It gives the purchases a lot more value for money, which is never a bad thing. Given the post-punk nature of Young Marble Giants, I’ve liked them since I stumbled upon them a good few years back and their upcoming show in Stereo on Monday the 20th of October was a must-buy.

I was therefore delighted to see on Twitter that Glasgow band Haight-Ashbury were also going to be on the bill. Yes, the band’s name gives you an immediate insight into their sound, but they offer a lot more than just a 60s psychedelic folk style and they’ve been a local act I’ve enjoyed a great deal over the years.

I caught up with Scott from the band to talk about gigs, tours, records, prestigious support slots and how the band should be classed as Glasgow trendsetters.

For people who may not be aware of you just yet, could you tell us a bit about the band?
We’re a Glasgow 3 piece that have been going for about 5 years, our set up is a guitar bass and vocal harmonies, the band is myself (Scott), my sister Kirsty and our friend Jen.

The next chance people will get to see you perform in Glasgow is on the 20th of October in Stereo supporting Young Marble Giants. Are you looking forward to the gig and how did it come about?
We’re mainly looking forward to gigging again since it’s been a few months since our last lot of touring finished, as a band you get used to busy summers! YMG are on the same European booker as us ‘Julie Tippex’ so when they booked a UK tour we got asked to support cause it should be a good fit, they’re a very cool band and have been influential to people we’re big fans of such as Kurt Cobain so it should be great!

Haight Ashbury

Some of the best Glasgow (and near to Glasgow) bands have been influenced by similar influences to yourself – do you think there is something about the Glasgow psyche or personality that means this style of music is particularly appealing?
I’m not really sure, there’s all sorts of different music coming out of Scotland just now, I’m not really sure what the style or main influences are but it’s just great to see Scottish and local bands do well, and from a selfish point of view it’s great to draw attention to the area for all the right reasons!

Your 4th album has just been completed – can you tell us a bit about that?
We were planning on spending the spring this year taking our time with it and enjoying recording again but the way things worked out with tours that came out of nowhere it essentially became two sessions of 4 songs, after that it felt wrong to force more cause you’re in a different place, so we decided to leave it at that which felt right, having a shorter album is a nice change up from the last 3 which we have fully loaded.

Do you have any plans in place to promote and tour the record just yet?
We’ll definitely be gigging again as much as possible early 2015, until then we have gigs scattered about to end this year and start getting the singles out and about!

A lot of people got the chance to see you supporting Paolo Nutini on his recent tour. How was that experience for you?
It was excellent, it ended up spanning 3 tours and a couple of months so it was great for us, mainly because of how unexpected it was. When we started out we were lucky enough to do a few high profile tours with the Vaselines and the Waterboys very early on but since then we have really done our own things and concentrated on our own gigs in Europe, so this was a really fresh change. Paolo picked us personally for it all so that was a huge compliment and most importantly Paolo and his whole team were extremely generous with us. At some point or another all of his team helped us with something or another, from fixing Kirsty’s bass 5 minutes before the Barrowlands, to his guitar tech rebuilding my wee cigar box guitar, to Paolo letting us crash on his tour bus, really good people!

If anyone has gone to gigs in Glasgow over the years, they would likely have seen you perform or be in the crowd, do you have any favourite memories of your time gigging so far?
I have great memories from the days when we played 3 or 4 times a week at all the Glasgow bars, its became the start of any night out, we would be playing a few songs somewhere or other, like Bar Brel, or Rio Cafe in the west end. I think our proudest gigs have been being able to turn up in Berlin or Vienna and pull a great crowd, that’s always blown us away because it’s so far from home!

What would be your favourite Glasgow venue and do you think there are any differences between the Glasgow scene now compared to when you started out?
It’s an obvious answer but the Barrowlands and King Tuts are our favourites, although there are places like ABC that I love to see bands at that we haven’t gigged. We haven’t gigged in Scotland as much as other places over the last few years so we’re not in the best place to answer, but from living in Glasgow I don’t think its hugely different. Trends change but as long as people can play and have people watch them for free as much as possible that’s all that matters. Big ticket prices can kill gigs for new bands; as long as the band get a beer and get to play that’s the most important thing at the start!

You’ve also developed a strong following across Europe, how do you feel that came about?
Initially we were very lucky to have our first single picked up by BBC6 Music and it got a lot of air time and they followed that up with album of the day for our first album. That level of play led to opportunities at festivals designed for introducing up and coming bands in Europe, in France and Austria, similar to Brighton’s Great Escape. From then on we made great connections with bookers and had lots of help along the way from radio stations continually playing our new tracks. That let us continue to build in France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, even as far as Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Czech Republic. The amount of countries has been great because it’s led to loads of touring constantly back and forth.

Do you notice any differences between Scottish and European audiences?
Everywhere has their own advantages and plus points. Our French gigs have all been at a level of a cool bohemian underground scene, always in cool smaller places then crashing at someone’s apartment , Austria and Switzerland were more ‘professional gigs’ but all of these places have always had cool young crowds for us, but that all down to great bookers and reps that we’ve been lucky enough to work with. We’ve never played a bad Scottish gig so it’s no different here but you judge your own country differently because you know it so well.

Do you have any tips for anyone thinking about releasing their own material or working with a small independent label?
I think at this level it’s just about continuing regardless and releasing as much as you can. We don’t get attached to our albums and songs, we just want them to be there for anyone to find, recorded and set in stone then we move on with what’s new. If it’s been a success or got some play then great, if not hopefully next time.

Haight Ashbury

Amongst the band’s press photos are snaps taken in the Kelvingrove Bandstand area a few years ago. Clearly you were trendsetters in ensuring the venue was renovated, how do you feel about its reintroduction to the Glasgow music scene?
Those pics at the band stand were supposed to be a Brian Jonestown rip off, with all our friends joining us and wearing black instead of white, then it poured all day and it became an umbrella shoot! The band stand was just a cool setting really close by. We’re delighted its back up and running. We got asked to play supporting the Waterboys at the summer nights sessions just after the Games but sadly I was in Croatia so we missed the chance! Hopefully next time, that would have been a great experience as we as a band all stay within 5 minutes of the venue.

The Bandstand was an integral part of the Commonwealth Games celebration in the city, were you swept up in the Commonwealth excitement?
Yeah it was great, the girls got really involved and all around my flat was surrounded by activities, brilliant atmosphere for the city.

Do you have any musical ambitions you would still like to achieve?
As long as we get to keep doing this as often as possible we’re happy!

The band’s site can be found here and you can check out their Facebook page here.