Nada Mucho Interview – Ballboy
Q & A with Gordon McIntyre
By Matt Ashworth
Nada Mucho: Let me start by saying that I don’t think you sound like Belle & Sebastian or Arab Strap. You get that comparison a lot, like you’re the only three bands in Scotland or something.
Gordon McIntyre: I don’t think we do either, but I’ve given up worrying about comparisons with other bands. At the last count we had been compared to about 40 different bands by various members of the press so we can’t be that easy to pin down.
NM: Are you the only bands in Scotland?
GM: There are loads of bands in Scotland – of varying degrees of quality. I don’t worry too much about our place in the grand scheme of things. So long as people are hearing and enjoying the songs then I’m happy.
NM: Next up I should probably tell you I worship your band and should have had someone else do this interview who might have been able to be “objective” and stuff. Do you like your band too?
GM: Absolutely. We produce songs that we like. If we make a song and we don’t like it then we just bin it. Besides the band has taken me to wonderful places and allowed me to meet wonderful people.
NM: What do you think of Seattle?
GM: Well I have to say that it was hard to get a true picture because we were only there for a tiny amount of time (one night and one morning), but based on the show we played and the people we met it was one of my favourite places of the tour. Our driver for the tour was also from Seattle so he spoke about it a lot. It seems to me like a pretty good place to live.
NM: I feel like a dork asking this next one cause its straight outta “Rock Journalism 101,” but “could you tell us about your songwriting process?” I’m curious as all shit.
GM: I’m not sure I can. It’s not set in stone. Sometimes the words come first and sometimes the tunes do. Sometimes I have a story I want to tell and fit the words around that. I don’t rule anything out. I just see what comes out.
NM: You guys come off as being somewhat nonchalant. Combine that with your relatively sparse instrumentation and simple melodies, it seems like the parts add up to something far short of their sum. Is there an intangible element that explains this trait?
GM: The only rules we really follow is that the song has to feel right. It has to have a good flow to it and it has to say something worthwhile lyrically. We really do just write them the way we feel they should be. We don’t sit around and intellectualize about song content.
NM: Do you really hate Scotland?
GM: Yes, sometimes.
GM: It can be a very narrow minded place at times. It is a very insecure place sometimes and this leads to a general attitude of negativity – especially in the press and other media. The Scottish Press is the worst in the world (tied for first place with the English Press). I’m not sure I can fully answer this question in a couple of lines – it’s an essay question really!
NM: Most of what we know about Scotland we learned from Irvine Welsh (bless his soul.) Is that a pretty accurate perception of the Scottish people and culture?
GM: It’s a very accurate perception of one part of Scottish people and culture. The Trainspotting book is far more perceptive than many people realise.
NM: It must seem that way to many younger Americans. Does that concern you and affect how you write and interact with fans/industry types when you’re abroad.
GM: Absolutely not. I don’t let what other people might think get in the way of my songwriting process. I almost did once, for about a day, but I stopped myself. .
NM: What do you like about Scotland?
GM: I absolutely love Edinburgh. I think it is one of the world’s great cities (despite or perhaps because of its small size). I like the fact that people from all over the world live here. Sometimes it gets criticized for not being Scottish enough, but that misses the point. Its strengths are that it is a cosmopolitan, outward looking city (for the most part). And it is a beautiful place to live.
NM: I read that Club Anthems is a compilation of four EPs, right? And then you’ve got another you just put out, or is that a full-length? Where do our readers get Ballboy music?
GM: Following Club Anthems we released an EP called ‘all the records on the radio are shite’ which was only available in Europe. Then we released a full album called ‘a guide for the daylight hours’ which will be released in the USA in the summertime. Once that comes out you should be able to get it in all good music shops in the USA as they say.
NM: Tell us about doing the John Peel Session. Was that a big step for you, exposure-wise?
GM: Definitely. It was a great thrill to be asked. We have now done three Peel sessions, one of which was live on his show and it’s a great way to get your music out to people. And he is a lovely, lovely man.
NM: Have you gotten to a point where you’re able to support yourself through music, or do you have to keep a day job like a lot of the great bands here in the states?
GM: At the moment all of the band work to support ourselves. I am a Primary School teacher by day, as is Katie. Nick works with nursery (kindergarten) children and Gary is a stage manager for theatre productions. In the not too distant future I would like to be doing music full time. I am investigating ways of making this happen.
NM: Anything else we should know about?
GM: That I got the new US release date for ‘a guide for the daylight hours’ yesterday and the date is August 12. I will be coming to the states later this year to play acoustic shows. The dates will be on our website, ballboy.org, when we have them.
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