You’re Not From Round Here, Are Ya? – So Many Animal Calls

11 04 2012

ANY ONE FOR SOME POP-ROCK LOVELINESS??

OK. It’s been a good while since I’ve done this feature even though I promised to have it done every fortnight. I kinda dropped the ball on that one. STOP JUDGING ME!!!

This time we’re staying in Glasgow but taking a wee jaunt into the realms of pop-rock, or Failpop as guitarist Sean McKenna likes to describe it, and fixing our beady eyes firmly on Glasgow quartet So Many Animal Calls. I have been aware of So Many Animal Calls for a while, mainly because of the fact they are tied to the same label (Overlook Records) as my band Vasa. I quickly took it upon myself to listen to SMAC as they pretty much everything else that is Overlook related has blown me away recently so I was almost certain that it was almost definately going to be a completely enjoyable listening experience. I’m not a huge fan of pop-rock music but SMAC’s sound is extremely accessible to someone like me who has a bizarre taste in music. Intricate yet not overly demanding guitar play, some beautiful bass lines, majestic vocal passages and powerful drum lines (the drummer has a glorious hairdo by the way) all give So Many Animal Calls a different direction to other pop-rock bands. When most of them are churning out samey and boring passages of bland music SMAC are battering out some pretty challenging music. Keep it going boys.

Despite having only been on the go since June of 2010, So Many Animal Calls have 3 releases against their name, “Your House Is A Hospice”, “Eulogy” and the “Traps” single which was recently released in February of this year. So Many Animal Calls have been turning heads with their own style of aggressive pop-rock which has seen them gain praise and accolades from fans and press alike. This is another band present on the Overlook roster that looks set for big things in the near future.

Since Senor McKenna introduced himself to me and Vasa guitarist Scott at our recent Stereo I have been pretty much immersed in So Many Animal Calls work, downloading the “Eulogy” and “Traps” releases from their BandCamp (http://somanyanimalcalls.bandcamp.com/ – Get on it!) and have found myself to be thoroughly enjoying them. As previously mentioned I am not a huge pop-rock person, which is obvious seeing as this is a post-rock/instrumental blog mainly, but there were several things about the track on “Eulogy” and “Traps” that drew me in. “Eulogy” is a cracker of a release in all honesty. Sweeping from the frenetic tones of “Broken Antlers” to the soothing yet powerful “Oh Dear”. Stand out on this release for me is “In Winter, We Should Have Headed For Shelter”. It kicks off with an almost Rolo Tomassi like sound but then blisters into a beast of a pop-rock song that (and this is where me being a bass slut kicks in) is really driven by the bass in several parts. Amazingly intertwining guitar parts give this song a sound that I find not that dis-similar to bands like My Vitriol. Sean’s vocal passages actually work very well with this track as well. His clear, high-end vocal styles really give this track body and add a different dimension to the track as a whole.

Now. Onto “Traps”. A dirty, sneaky bastard of a song. It’s been keeping me from doing my uni work for days. It’s been blaring from my car radio for days. Catchy as hell to the point where I reckon I’ll be committed to a loony bin, incessantly humming the tune. To quote a saying that one of my university lecturers uses (that I honestly HATE!) “Traps” is So Many Animal Calls’ “single” (honestly, what does that even mean!?!). It’s their song. It basically encapsulates everything that is good about this band. Everything just works together on a musical scale. The minimal style of guitar playing in the verse that explodes into the chorus, the vocals that maintain the calming effect on the whole song even when the band are beasting into a full blown musical noisefest, the bruising bass lines (in Ross Coll you are looking at a very gifted bassist by the way) and Martin leathering out some amazing drum beats. It’s all truly amazing. I’m gay for this song. I know how that sounds and I honestly do not care. This is songwriting at its finest and I think So Many Animal Calls can be truly proud of this track and if they continue to produce work of this high quality then it’s only a matter of time until someone notices their talent and snatches them up. It has to happen. It’s going to happen.

– Check the music video for “Traps” and you will fully understand why I am raving about it. Handsome buggers running about in the snow. Some song.

Before I launch into the interview I’ll quickly mention that So Many Animal Calls have some beastly gigs coming up that you should really go check out. Number one on my list is their gig in the Cathouse in Glasgow with Carnivores and Crusades (who I’ll be covering soon). That line-up will prove to be immense. If you have any sense whatsoever and want to see three truly amazing bands then get your arse in gear and get a ticket bought for this gig. I’ll be there. Front and center. Making “the eyes” at every single one of the bands. Furthermore, SMAC will be one of SEVEN bands playing at the Overlook 1st Birthday Bash on June 2nd at The Captains Rest in Glasgow. This is going to be the highlight of my year I think. Getting to play it and getting to watch all the amazing Overlook bands as well. Tickets are going fast so if you want to be there get on it quick. ONTO THE INTERVIEW!!!!

INTERVIEW WITH SEAN MCKENNA, LEAD SINGER/GUITARIST/OVERLAD OF SO MANY ANIMAL CALLS

 

So. I’ve heard you guys are some kind of band. Is that right? Let us into the world of So Many Animal Calls. Who are you and what do you want from us? In all seriousness, tell us about SMAC, how you got started and so on.

 We’re not so much a band as a travelling support group. Phrases like “I’ll help you through this, brosef” are an every day occurrence. In all seriousness, we’re a 4 piece aggressive pop band from Glasgow. We sometimes call ourselves failpop because all the nice pop songs I envisioned for the band were butchered/bettered as soon as we took them into a practice room. The band began when me and Ross (Stewart) began writing together following the end of another band I played in. Martin offered to fill in on drums until we found someone permanent but we had one rehearsal and it gelled really well. Around a week later we booked our first show, a week or so after that we set up a studio in my parents house when they were on holiday and recorded our first EP, Your House Is A Hospice. We released it for free to a surprisingly positive response and went onto recruit Ross Coll on bass a few months later (no-one in the 3 piece line-up fulfilled the “cheeky flirtatious sex kitten” role that every band should have. Plus he filled out our live sound). We recorded another EP, Eulogy, in 2011 and off the back of that played a lot more shows, including a tour with Make Sparks and a Tuts show with Carnivores.

Where do you guys draw most of your musical influences from? If you say anything like U2 I will be straight round to SMAC HQ with a hammer. No pressure.

 The Edge is ma da’. He’ll kill you with all his effects. And his beanie hat – that’s actually an effects unit as well but shh. I jest. I guess since we listen to so many local bands that a lot of influence comes from them – Trapped In Kansas, Lovers Turn to Monsters, Makethisrelate (R.I.P) are all favourites of mine. Personally I’ve been listening to a lot of Get Up Kids, Death Cab For Cutie, Dance Gavin Dance and Last Days of April recently so that might shine through at some point – I hope. I’d say generally Q and Not U, Brand New, The Xcerts, The Antlers and Dear and the Headlights are the ones that have influenced us a lot thus far.

 What, so far, has been your biggest/most memorable gig since SMAC has been formed? I have also noticed you will be embarking on a summer tour with Carnivores. Just how ridiculously excited are you aboutthis?

 The EP launch for Eulogy at 13th Note was really special for me – 120 people in a 110 capacity venue was a great thing. When I seen this I was so nervous I set up my pedals wrong leading to some pretty…special guitar sounds that night but it still went well. It was one of few shows we’ve played where I was drowned out by other people singing along – that really confused me. But in the best possible way! The single launch for Traps was pretty amazing too – again it was a case of just being taken aback by how many people had came along. We’re lucky to have such great friends/fans who listen to us play the same set over and over again. The tour with Carnivores will be insane – it’s the first time we’ve done a proper tour (i.e. more than 3 consecutive dates, in a van). Ross Coll said he’s bringing “10 bitches and a mountain of cocaine” but I don’t know if he’ll have a separate van for them. We’ve played 2 shows with the guys from Carnivores and both have been incredibly busy – we’re a good combination apparently! Their live show is ridiculously good, it will be a pleasure getting to see them for 5 nights in a row. They’re also great guys as well which is an added bonus!

 Since your latest single “Traps” was released how has it been received? Have you guys had a lot of positive press and feedback about it?

 Everything we’ve read or heard has been positive bar one angry Hearts fan on Twitter who doesn’t like it. But he only likes the Beatles and no-one else and I don’t think anyone is expecting us to be as good as them. But all other outlets seem to be liking it! Huw Stephens and Jen Long of Radio 1 were kind enough to give it a play which really took us aback. I sometimes think it’s a massive elaborate joke someone is playing on us…but maybe it’s not and people actually enjoy listening to us, which is a lovely thing.

 Now. You’re the second Overlook band that I have had the pleasure of covering. How did the opportunity to sign up to the Overlook family come about?

 Mr Ward (OverLord) emailed us about setting up a meeting back in January and we jumped at the chance given we’re all Trapped In Kansas fanboys. We were due to release the single, Traps, in a few weeks time and they said they’d be happy to help with promoting it so we agreed to release it through them. They’re just genuinely nice guys and, being in a band themselves, you know they’re releasing music for the right reasons! It’s a great family to be a part of. Anyone reading should make sure they attend the Overlook Records 1st Birthday Festival at the Captains Rest – there’s not one band on the bill that isn’t awesome. Except SMAC. But we’re on in the middle so you can go upstairs and get a pizza. Captains Rest Pizza is the business. And their handcut chips. I think I’m digressing a little here. NEXT QUESTION.

 What’s the plans for the remainder of 2012? Can we expect any more new releases/videos/lewd calenders?

We’re in the process of writing an EP just now. We’ve got one song which we’ve been ending our set with “She Was Speaking From The Bottom of The Sea” which I think could become a single. I’m really proud of that song, I can’t wait for people to hear a recorded version. But we’re taking our time writing the EP. If I don’t have faith in a song, no-one in the band will and no-one listening will. I want to make sure people are hearing our best work, so that’s all we’ll be recording. In terms of calendars, I’ve actually started collecting photos for a 2013 calendar entitled “Ross Coll – Defecation Diaries” which will consist of pictures of him on the toilet. So far I have one photo taken at our show in Dunfermline last week.

 What was the filming process like for the “Traps” video? Was it quite strange for you guys filming a music video or did you enjoy the experience? Where was the video shot?

 It was our first experience filming a video so I had no idea what to expect. For all the complaining I done about nearly getting hypothermia, it was actually a great day. It was bitingly cold though and the diesel generator decided to play up around 6pm when the sun was going down and we were filming band shots. Thankfully, Emily (Wyle) made it really easy for us – she didn’t seem to mind our complete inexperience in acting/being in front of a camera/running/being functioning humans. We really have her and Craig Monaghan to thank for the video – they made everything run smoothly and look perfect.

 Are there any bands in Scotland that you have either seen/played with who you think we should be keeping an eye on?

 I think the Overlook bands might be a force to be reckoned with soon – everything I’ve heard from them has been scarily good. Carnivores and Make Sparks are two that are definitely heading places and it will be cool to tell people “I played with them before!” when they, inevitably, end up being huge. Campfires in Winter are a band I’ve known for years and they’re new stuff is really exciting, I’d keep an eye on them too! Loch Awe were a folk band and now they’re a rock band – they’re excellent at both. I’d highly recommend you listen to them. NOW.

Just exactly how does your drummer Martin maintain such a glorious barnet? It defies all logic….

 I believe it’s related to planetary patterns. He won’t tell us any more but the last time there was a solar eclipse he was temporarily bald and he meticulously checks his horoscope to ensure that Mercury doesn’t align with Saturn. He says when that happens the volume becomes uncontrollable and the last time it happened it killed his younger sibling. It’s either that or the application of mousse after showering. I think the latter seems slightly more likely.

 What has been your most rewarding moment so far been since all your time in So Many Animal Calls?

 I don’t think I could pinpoint one moment – everything about it still amazes me. The radio 1 airplay, selling out shows, going to the opposite end of the country and having people come to see you and buy your t shirts because they seen your video and liked it…I really don’t know. I genuinely appreciate every little thing that happens to us. To the point that I said “Thank you” 3 times to the bar man on Friday in Dunfermline when he gave me a free bottle of water. I’m genuinely appreciative that people listen to us at all.

HOORAY!! That’s You’re Not From Round Here, Are Ya? back into hibernation for another fortnight. It’s been fun. I find it hilarious that I can write upwards of 2700 words on a band I love but I struggle to write a 2000 word essay for uni. Priorities eh?

You can get you fix of So Many Animal Calls on –

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/somanyanimalcalls

BandCamp – http://somanyanimalcalls.bandcamp.com/

BigCartel – http://somanyanimalcalls.bigcartel.com/ (buy some stuff off them!!)

Thanks go out to Sean McKenna for getting back to me with the most detailed answers ever and being an all round LAD!!. Thanks man!!

Catch you next time,

John


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