Monday, 8 November 2010

[Interview] Randan Discotheque

When I get sent music to review I seldom react with great enthusiasm. After a couple of hundred trendy bands with haircuts you get a wee bit jaded so it is always nice when you get something as refreshing as Randan Discotheque's new single 'Heather the Weather/Duke & His Orderly'. The folky opening of the ode to Heather Reid, weather forecaster for Reporting Scotland, instantly brought a wee smile to my face. However, on closer inspection the song had shades of sadness and melancholy which made it all the more enchanting. B-side sees frontman Craig Coultard weave a tale about the Spanish Civil War and Armenian cannibals. It is another refreshing song with catchy hooks and just enough sincerity to not seem overly gimmicky. The single ushers in the band's second release after last years superb 'Daily Record May 18th 1993'. With an album release penciled in for next year I felt I better have a wee word with Craig. After all, he has made me not dread reading my emails anymore!

Hi there, care to introduce yourself? Who make up Randan Discotheque?

Randan Discotheque are:

Myself, Craig Coulthard (Vocals, guitar, words)
Olly Ridgewell (bass, vocals, my brother in law)
Hugo Phillipe Laurent de Verteuil (guitar and keyboards)
and Owen Curtis Williams (drums, though the drums on the recordings are by our old comrade Doug Currier)

Based in and around Edinburgh College of Art - formed in 2005 as a solo act, this line up for the last 18 months or so.

Your second single 'Heather the Weather' is out on 7" and digitally on the 6th December. What made you write a song about the celebrated weather-woman? I always rated Gail McGrane...

'Heather the Weather' was written while I was feeling quite sorry for myself - a large group of my closest friends all left Edinburgh for London at the same time around 2005/2006, and I was struggling with the thought that maybe I had made a mistake staying in Edinburgh. I was watching Reporting Scotland, and the weather came on - I decided rather stubbornly that I was right to stay, and my friends were wrong to leave, and I started writing a song from the point of view of a regretful friend who missed home. Needless to say, they all still live in London. I feel that Heather represented a certain homeliness and familiarity, a humble attraction.
Gail is pretty sweet, but Heather had/has a certain gravitas, and a softness, a comforting look. I am glad I wrote the song when Heather was presenting - if I'd left it a couple of years it would have been about "Glamourous Gillian" Smart, and she's a little too saucy for the sentiments I wanted to express.

The b-side is inspired by Armenian cannibals and a Spanish Civil War siege. Do you find it easy to switch between light-hearted topics (weather women) and somber topic such as war?

I don't really think like that. All of these things are connected. I like to write songs that are not necessarily what they appear. To me, both Heather and The Duke & His Orderly have elements of humour and melancholy. I think music should be a reflection of the personalities who write/make it. Comedy and tragedy are pretty closely related. The other thing is that different songs aren't written at the same time, so it depends on how I'm feeling. I have always been a bit put off by music/art that suggests the same emotion time after time, song after song.

You definitely flirt with the folk genre regarding your sound. What kind of bands influence you?

When I began playing solo, I only played with an acoustic guitar, so there was an inevitable folk/country sound. Now we are a band the sound has expanded. As for influences, I always find that too big a question to answer with any logic. If you listen to our mixes on Mixcloud, that might give an idea of some of the things we like :

You hail from Fife, do you feel that Fife is often overlooked in terms of music in comparison to Glasgow and Edinburgh bands?

I'm the only member from Fife, and I haven't lived there for 10 years, though my parents still do. I think for the size of it, Fife has produced lots of great music, though I never really felt that the live scene was that healthy. The Skids for example - When I was at school there was The Beta Band, and The Skoubhie Dubh Orchestra - after that came Fence and everyone involved in that scene. I was at school with members of The Phantom Band, Django Django and Dogs Die in Hot Cars, so there's plenty of talent in Fife, I guess as is often the case, people need to leave to expand themselves a bit. I guess that's what makes Fence so special. There's no comparison with Glasgow and Edinburgh when it comes to venues and scale of musical community. However, like I say, I haven't lived and worked there for a while.

What does 2011 hold for Randan Discotheque?

2011 is the year when we will release our first album as a band - hopefully we will be able to play some festivals and raise our profile a bit. I feel that we are very strong as a band now and it would be nice to connect with more people. It's also the year in which we hope to receive our custom made suits and start a dance. There's so few new dances nowadays. Maybe a couple more vinyl releases and help some other people release their music.

Single launch is at Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh on the 4th December.


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