Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide to start a band?
Robbie: Paul and I met each other at a Madchester night in Edinburgh just after we’d both turned 18. We knew pretty early on we wanted to make music together. Paul tuned me in to a lot of music I maybe hadn’t given much thought to before like XTC, Ride and a lot of new wave 80s stuff. We were into the same kinda core stuff. We both loved The La’s, The Charlatans, Manics, Jesus & Mary Chain – all that stuff. Took us a while to click writing together. We spent a lot of hungover Sunday mornings watching Alan Partridge or old interviews of bands that were clearly erm… Intoxicated? Once we stopped just talking about it and actually pulled the finger out, things kept getting better with it. We were going as Motion for a few years and we put things on the cooler for a bit before deciding to come back and crack on as Silkwave.
Paul: I’ve always been drawn to writing songs for as long as I can remember. One side of my family has kind of classically trained musicians and the other is into songwriting, production and all that stuff. I was bad at school, bit of a class clown, so wasn’t allowed to get saxophone lessons and I ended up teaching myself guitar instead. So the side I was going to go down was decided for me! When you’re playing for long enough and your brain is wired up a certain way I think it’s more or less unavoidable that you’ll end up writing some songs.
I think really I was drawn to creating music because I was hearing a lot of stuff thinking “I could do that”, or “that song could get better if you did this” or “wow, why am I not hearing more music that sounds like THAT?”. Then when you’ve got some songs you’re going to want to play them live, and to play them live you need a band! I’ve always loved creating things, and music is a great outlet for a lot of different ideas with the artwork, videos and all of that kind of thing too. Really most of the best times in my life have been through music, whether that’s going to an event or finding a great album which has shaped my worldview, so putting music back out is my way of giving something back and saying thanks to the gods of music!
Introduce us to all the members?
Robbie: There’s Paul on lead vocals and lead guitar. Paul handles the brunt of the compositional side of things and produces/mixes pretty much all of our stuff himself. I’m on drums and backing vocals and handle most of the lyrics. Lee’s on bass and he’s a total hip hop conossieur so brings a bit of a different dimension for us – also owns some very nice cowboy hats. Declan is on keys and rhythm guitar, the newest member of the group.
How do you think the government have looked after the music industry lately?
Robbie: They haven’t. They speak of the arts and music in particular as though for everybody that does it, it’s nothing more than a hobby. A doss about. Like it can just be tossed to one side and forgotten about. They underestimate how many careers it impacts – even just in music alone. Artists, management, producers, radio DJs, press, road crew, venue owners, sound and light techs, label owners. Thousands of careers that people have spent their whole lives wired to, all to just be told in the face of a crisis to sack it off? Not good, but we shouldn’t have expected any less from this government.
Paul: To appreciate the arts you need a soul, so you can’t really be too surprised. These people aren’t like you or I.
What’s one question you hate being asked when interviewed?
Robbie: We all like to keep our skincare routines private and would appreciate if people would respect that when interviewing us.
Paul: “What did you have for dinner last night?”
Which one is the biggest pain in the arse (lateness, forgetefulness?)
Robbie: Forgetfulness I think it’s probably me. Probably Paul for general things like timekeeping and never seeming to have a phone on him to answer. Lee self-identifies as the biggest pain in the arse, mind you.
What is the unsigned scene like in Edinburgh at the moment?
Paul: Edinburgh produces a lot of great bands, but the problem is that the bands don’t stay around too long. I feel like Glasgow is more known for the music scene, and that’s because they work together rather than against each other. I’ve got to be honest that Edinburgh does feel like “every man for themselves” when it really doesn’t need to be. But realistically speaking though I think it’s better to think of Scotland’s music scene as a whole and not individual parts, that makes more sense to me anyway. In that sense I actually cannot remember a better time for unsigned Scottish music than right now, it’s so diverse and the quality of bands is stunning really.
Robbie: It can be challenging because so many good venues in Edinburgh especially get shut down, demolished and replaced with wave after wave of student housing blocks or a Tesco Express. I certainly wouldn’t say we’ve got a council that encourages live music, put it that way. That’s not to take anything away from the bands themselves and people that are out there to help them. People have been good to us in Edinburgh when we’ve needed it.
What good bands are coming out of Edinburgh at the minute?
Paul: I think all of my favourite Edinburgh band’s broke up like recently. It’s like a curse, don’t make music I like, I’m warning you! People must be exhausted hearing this, but there’s a reason for that, The Ninth Wave and Walt Disco are both amazing. It’s true! The Kundalini Genie are my absolute favourite new Scottish band at the moment.
Robbie: Vistas have been doing really well for themselves for a good few years now. Obviously Young Fathers on an even bigger scale are fantastic. West Lothian’s got a good thing going at the minute with bands like Dictator, The Katuns and The Snuts. Check out Hung Parliament, too. They’re ace.
What’s the most fun you’ve had on stage?
Robbie: I loved playing Midnight Breakfast Club in Bathgate a couple of times, the staff are always really good to you and the drink is dirt cheap compared to Edinburgh! Playing Hive was a good laugh though. It’s got a bit of a reputation in Edinburgh as the kinda place where the walls sweat and doesn’t have a particularly nice aroma. You’ll frequent a lot of your time there as a fresher, but we didn’t expect to be onstage there. We walked onstage to the X-Files theme too through this plume of smoke which was a tad surreal…
Paul: It was a support slot we were playing, and the crowd was full of people wearing like Oasis shirts and Stone Island gear or whatever all looking a bit perplexed and slightly annoyed. Always know your audience and read the room! I think the most fun I’ve had on stage would be headliner we did at The Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh, it felt like a birthday party or something.
What’s the worst experience you’ve had on stage?
Robbie: A gig we did just as we were starting out in a bar in Edinburgh called Bannermans. Everything you could pin down for a bad gig seemed to come together that night. I remember playing on a kit that was half acoustic/half electric. On to a winner right from the start…
Tell us something about each member you think they’d be surprised about?
Robbie: I was on an episode of Question Time back in 2013. Paul made the NME once after getting lifted out a Primal Scream gig in Glasgow by security. Lee has an avid passion for fishing outside of his music duties. Declan’s middle name is Meclan.
Tell us a funny story from backstage?
Robbie: We played Leith Depot around and were pretty much left to our own devices around soundcheck time. Not sure if Lee had a rough day beforehand with it being a midweek gig, but his answer was to drink one of those Moose Juice shots which are pretty much pure caffeine – like worrying levels of caffeine. We all sat and watched his phone track his heart rate at the time. Thankfully he didn’t need any medical assistance or anything and the gig went really well but I certainly wouldn’t advise that as a pre-gig tipple.
Paul: I would…
Name a four-piece band made up of legends?
Robbie: Beth Gibbons from Portishead on vocals, Chris Karloff from early Kasabian on guitar/synth, Mani on bass and Matt Tong from Bloc Party on drums.
Lee: Willy Nelson, Mark Knopfler, Lemmy and Ginger Baker.
What goes into your favourite sandwich?
Paul: Butter, marmite, mustard, cheese and brown sauce in a toastie.
Lee: Chicken mayo, salad, hot sauce – seeing as I’m the only one who’s seemingly bothered to take this question seriously. Can’t muck around when it comes to scran.
What advice would you give to someone going into the music industry?
Robbie: Always make sure that the love of writing and making music is your main motivator. Make music you’re into because I think people can see through a lack of conviction. Don’t be afraid to wear your influences on your sleeve. You can worry about the other stuff in due course.
Paul: Plan ahead. Don’t follow trends, don’t chase a particular scene. Do it for the right reasons.
What’s your biggest achievement as a band?
Robbie: We sold out our debut headliner at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh which will take some topping. We’ve been lucky enough to get the chance to support some great bands like Neon Waltz, Rascalton, The Dunts and many others thatwe’re all big fans of.
What makes you stand out as a band?
Robbie: Hi-vis jackets. If it’s good enough for The Village People, it’s good enough for us! There’s a lot of really good music coming out of Scotland right now, but I don’t think there’s many new bands trying to capture the sort of sound we are and blend the influences we do.
Right now, what’s pissing you off the most?
Robbie: Tories. I won’t delve too deep into it for now but some of the responses to the free school meals debate have been downright shocking.
Paul: Scotland having to be associated with Westminster at this moment in time. No politics please!
When do you remember having a reyt good laugh as a band?
Robbie: Any night we spent at The Citrus Club in Edinburgh before it closed down.
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
Robbie: Myths was the first proper song Paul and I wrote together, and the first one we released. Still love playing it.
I hear you have a new single out, can you tell us about it?
Paul: It’s one of the older songs. It had been kicking about for a long time in instrumental form, I just couldn’t get anything to work vocal melody wise so I passed it to Robbie and he did a great job completing it. This was originally part of a song called ‘Garden’ which kind of like a really extended song with several parts, very Kraftwerk influenced that way. Sections of this were parts that made up an instrumental intro to that. Over time though, after listening to Wire I became more interested in keeping songs super snappy and to the point, I still had this in my head so I thought it was good enough to use. Instead of being a good writer, I’m a good re-writer. Never throw anything away! ‘Fingers on the Key’ was mainly inspired by ‘Made of Stone’ by The Stone Roses, ’The Raven’ by The Stranglers and ‘Blow It Up’ by The Vaccines.
Robbie: ‘Fingers on the Key’ was written a little while back and we had it decided for a while it would be the first single we release as Silkwave. It was recorded in our own studio and he did the production and mixing himself. The lyrics are pretty much an open letter, to a friend or someone close, who’s maybe hit the ropes a little. You see them in a different light and have to remind yourself – and them – that it’s only temporary. Hopefully there’s some sense of salvation in it.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Lee: Bad Boy Chiller Crew.
Robbie: Did you know that Swindon Town are the only football league club in England not to feature any letters from the world ‘mackerel’? Food for thought…