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 the band?
Ian, Sean, and Nic were previously in a band together called ‘State of Truth’ (you can find their music on Spotify) and when that came to an end at the start of 2017, they started exploring new ideas for their next project. Around the same time, Nic started working with local songwriter Glen Gates who was looking to develop his ideas and needed musicians to help perform his tracks. Nic roped Sean and Ian into this project and ended up becoming Glen Gates’ backing band, known as Glen Gates and The Passing Sages. They continued to develop ideas and write songs throughout 2017, performing at a couple local events and honing their craft. After parting ways with a singer that had become involved with the band due to Glen Gates taking a backseat from performing to focus on writing, they began searching for a replacement in the summer of 2018.
Following quite a bit of interest, two singers were picked to come and audition for the band. Both Carrie and Holly auditioned and were incredible and a really difficult decision needed to be made. For some reason, the band had only been looking for one singer and it was Nic that suggested that their voices may work brilliantly together and actually having two lead singers may offer us more options with what we could do creatively, giving us a CHIC or ABBA vibe.
Both Carrie and Holly were up for joining the band and straight away their voices gelled beautifully.
Another year and a half of development, writing, gigging and releasing music passed until Daniel auditioned for the band just before lockdown in 2020.
A goal of the band from the onset was to take our mutual love of retro music and blend it with modern sensibilities to create a sound that would hopefully appeal to a wide range of people and ages.
Introduce us all to the members and your musical history?
Nic – Howdy, Nic here and I play guitar in the band. My love of music began from a young age, growing up in a household where the radio was always on and music was always heard. As a result of my Mum being a huge Queen fan and sitting me down in front of their music videos I fell in love with the guitar and wanted to be just like Brian May. However, 6 year old me was disappointed to discover that I didn’t sound like him straight away when I got my first guitar and so the guitar was put in the cupboard for a number of years. Clarinet then became my main instrument through primary school and onto high school where I also picked up the guitar again in an attempt to recover some cool points.
From the latter half of high school, music became my passion and focus, continuing with it through college at the Academy of Music and Sound and graduating from Edinburgh Napier in 2016 with a degree in Popular Music.
Since then I have made a living out of music from teaching to performing in shows and playing in a number of bands.
Carrie – 👋 Carrie here. I started singing lessons when I was 6 years old. I used to sing round nursing homes for years when I was at school on the weekends. After school I went on to study Musical Theatre at university. I have always wanted to be a performer on stage. I then took a break out of performing for a while and had a child. I’m loving being back singing again with the band.
Holly – Hi I’m Holly! I’ve been songwriting since I was a teenager and I’ve always loved music. I used to play the cello when I was a kid then I started playing guitar and piano later on. Now when songwriting I like to use a combination of live and digital instruments. I’m happiest when I’m writing!
Sean – Hey! It’s Sean, the looks of the band. Ever since I was a very young kid, I’ve been surrounded by music. My mum and grandad both played musical instruments and my dad has always been a big music fan, so there was always music in our household. I started playing the drums aged 12 or 13 and I’ve not looked back since! I graduated with a degree in Popular Music from Perth UHI in 2016 and since then, I’ve continued to try and make a living from the music industry through performing in bands and teaching drums.
Ian – Hello, it’s the bassist here. I’m far too tedious a Human to be able boil down my life with music into a series of handy quips. Yes, I am always like this. Raised on disco and philosophy.
Daniel – Hi there, I’m Daniel the keys player. I took piano lessons during high school and did the graded exams up to grade 6 so I’d call myself more of a piano player than a keyboard player (and not even that much of a piano player…). But thankfully that’s served me fine since I joined the band in 2020!
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
What the name of the band means! It’s always a long-winded explanation!
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
Facebook listens to you and that’s the end of it! Turn off your phone mics and get your tin foil hats out folks!
What useless party trick do you have?
Nic – I can make balloon animals…oh wait, that is actually pretty useful at a party.
Carrie – Hmmm….. I can do a headstand 😁
Holly – I can do a surprisingly good impression of Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs
Sean – I will frequently attempt a truly awful impression of Scott Stapp from Creed singing any song possible.
Ian – Yo-yo tricks
Daniel – I used to be able to do a half-decent cartwheel but that was many years ago…
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
Probably our performance at the Kings Theatre in Kirkcaldy last year, it just felt like we were all on top of our game and firing on all cylinders. Not only that, but so many people in the audience were singing along to our songs and that felt great to see and hear.
What was the worst experience on stage?
There have been a few dicey moments on stage due to ‘technical issues’ with the backing tracks… When in reality, it’s just been myself making a mess of it! – Sean
Oh yeah, remember that time Sean that you panicked, came in with a drum fill early and it meant that Carrie and Holly hit the key change before the piano did? – Nic
Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about?
Nic – I don’t have any nails on my big toes.
Carrie – I love toast with banana and melted cheese on top.
Holly – I used to work in a crematorium and my plan B career of choice was a funeral director.
Sean – I am a massive ‘Swifty’ (Taylor Swift fan).
Ian – Nifty on ice skates
Daniel – I fell down the stairs in my house when I was younger, banged my head and went temporarily blind for several hours.
If you had to describe your band/music to an alien how would you describe it?
An intergalactic explosion of funk, set to embark all listeners on a cosmological journey through the universe of pop.
What makes you stand out as a band?
Nowadays there aren’t many bands going around (at least locally) with two lead singers. That, and the mixture of genres in our music is what we feel makes us stand out.
Right now, what’s pissing you off the most? (Can’t say the virus )
Scottish weather – we literally can’t leave our homes right now without getting battered about by 40mph wind and rain. Roll on the summer!
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
We recently performed a cover of “Voulez-Vous” by ABBA which Sean and Nic loved, mainly because Carrie and Holly always claim they aren’t fans of ABBA yet absolutely nailed the song and it went down really well.
Of our own tracks, Destiny is always great fun to perform. People can’t help but dance along to it and the little joint guitar and bass solo in the middle is so groovy.
I hear you have a new single, what can you tell us about it?
Crisis On The Dancefloor is our new song which was inspired by the fact a lot of people here in the UK feel quite embarrassed to dance and let their hair down!
Crisis on the Dancefloor explores our culture’s chronic fear of dancing. Sometimes, I feel we
live in quite a stringent society where we feel embarrassed to let our hair down. The song idea
came to me after attending a hip-hop concert which I thought was going to be bouncing,
instead, I left feeling disappointed at how unenthusiastic the crowd were! The experience
inspired me to write about an Orwellian-style society where dancing and having fun is
Prohibited. – Holly
Talk me through the thought process of the single?
The song started as an initial idea after I attended a gig and the audience were all quite dull. I started experimenting with some electronic music on my laptop and a rap just naturally came out. We jammed it out with the band and it sounded amazing once we added live drums, guitar and organ. – Holly
What was the recording process like?
Prior to going to Gracenote Studios, we recorded a full demo of the track in our own studio so that we knew exactly what we were aiming for with the final version. Demoing the track beforehand also meant that we were able to add parts and develop the track from what we had performed live, allowing us to turn up at Gracenote Studios and record everything relatively quickly.
Last year Nic started exploring the world of guitar plugins and had used Amplitube 5 for our demo of “Crisis In The Dancefloor”. The sound that he had created was ideal for the track and we quickly discovered one of the huge advantages of using guitar plugins to record. He simply saved the setting, took it with him to Gracenote, opened it up in the session and boom the guitar sound was sorted. We didn’t need to spend valuable time in the studio trying out different amps, cabs and mic positions.
To kick off the recording we sorted out all the MIDI parts in the session so that the structure of the song was there and then just filled in the gaps with the drums first, then the guitar, organ and finally vocals. This all took no time at all, thanks mainly to all the work we had done on demoing the track. We would definitely recommend others to do this if they are able.
We worked with Dom Hardy from Gracenote Studios on our 2020 EP ‘Burnin’ Up’ and so he knew exactly what we were looking for with this single and we had built up a good working relationship with him. This makes such a huge difference when you are working on any creative project, if you all understand each other and are singing from the same hymn sheet, it just makes everything so much easier.
A few mixing sessions later and the track was done.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?
This track features a lot more electronic elements than our previous releases and therefore the biggest learning curve was how to blend that with the live instruments in the band. We spent a lot of time combining the acoustic kit with electronic drums to create the backdrop of a dance track but with the power and impact of our live show.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
The nature of the beast with creative projects is that there will always be things that you want to change and develop as time goes by and as you learn new skills. It can quite often be difficult to say “okay this is now completed”. Something that is special about recording a song and releasing it is that it shows a snapshot of where we were as a band at the time. It is something that is hopefully going to be around for a lot longer than any of us and we are really proud of what we managed to achieve with this track.
Everything we learnt from recording ‘Crisis On The Dancefloor’ is going to be heard in all of our releases that will follow and that is very exciting for us as we feel we developed a lot as a band with this single.
Any changes that we may want to make to “Crisis On The Dancefloor” will be heard in our live show for years to come.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
Hopefully lots of gigs! We’ll be continuing to write more new music with new single releases throughout the year and possibly a new music video as well.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
To see what other musical projects members of The Passing Sages are involved with, check out Holly Rosanna’s solo music on Spotify and take a look at Sean and Nic’s other band Stay For Tomorrow if you are into your alt-rock.