I couldn’t find Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque this morning, so Grand Prix accompanied my morning coffee, along with Buffalo Tom’s Let Me Come Over.
I wanted something mellow … a bit of Mellow Doubt even. The song “Mellow Doubt” always remains one of my favourites, though most are probably more familiar with TF’s more commercial hits “The Concept” and “Sparky’s Dream”.
In 2005, I interviewed Gerard (call me Gerry) Love … here is how it appeared in Beat Magazine …
Teenage Fanclub’s Gerry Love talks melodies and lyrics with a December assassinating Mary Boukouvalas.
After unsettling a stagnant music scene in 1989 with the release of their unique debut, A Catholic Education, Scotland’s Teenage Fanclub were thrust into further legendary status in 1991 with the unsurpassed Bandwagonesque, even knocking off Nirvana’s Nevermind as Spin’s album that year, and being endorsed as Rolling Stone’s Hot Band for 1992.
While other bands did not survive their respective 90s grunge/pop/Manchurian/Brit-pop phase, Teenage Fanclub continue to thrive. The band of three singer/songwriters – Blake, McGinley and Love, and drummer McDonald, are still making music together and are back with another classic album Man-Made, but this time Teenage Fanclub release it on their own label: PeMa.
With years of experience, Teenage Fanclub can easily boast about influencing a generation of musicians with their unique sound, filled with their devotion to 60s and 70s guitar pop music and their talent for tantalizing harmonies and hazy guitars. Though experience has given Teenage Fanclub bassist Gerry Love self-assurance, he still remains modest and unassuming. “The ideas come from nowhere and your job, your mission, is to take them and turn them into something which is listenable by other people –and I think/feel over the years if I do have a good idea, I could turn it into a decent arrangement. I have that ability now.”
“You’re always a victim of your own ideas –if they’re only half decent ideas then you only have a half-decent product. So I feel over the years I have learnt how to get from A to B really … you’ve really got to work it … I just know that I’m better at it than I was 10 years ago, so I definitely have more confidence.”
Man-Made clearly shows a more sophisticated approach in both lyrics and music, but it still has the Teenage Fanclub signature. Though written in the beginning of their career, tracks such as December and Star Sign from Bandwagonesque have similar styles to Man-Made. Lyrically however, Love thinks that back then he “wasn’t very good” and laughs as he is reminded of my favourite lines about assassinating December. Love says: “I just think earlier on I came up with some good melodies but I don’t think I was very good at lyrics. I think looking back I can forgive myself because I was young and I can find some of the lines charming but I don’t think I was really expressing very much. Like in each of the early songs, I could draw on one or two lines and that’s what I wanted to say but I definitely filled them with a lot of fluff as well.”
“Maybe because I was listening to REM back then and their lyrics were mysterious and enigmatic, but maybe sometimes it was just Michael Stipe making up lines and stuff. If you’re like REM you can get away with writing more obscure lyrics and try and pass them off as enigmatic poetry, whereas you might not have a clue what you’re saying.”
As for touring in Australia to promote Man-Made, Love says: “We’ve been offered some shows in August but we don’t know if we can make it. We play in Japan and then a week later in Ireland. So we were asked to play in Australia and pencilled it in.”
“The problem for me is that the last times we’ve been to Australia, we’ve only had one night in the one place, and every time we come back from that we think, okay next time we’ll try to have some more time because it’s so far away and it’s always such an enjoyable time. And the first time we came to Australia we played the Big Day Out and that spoiled us because we had two or three days in each city. So I think if we could plan it, and if it was financially viable, we would like to have a couple of nights in each place.”
“Melbourne is a real kind of music city. A very nice place. Near the coast –nice and breezy. I really like Australia a lot. Every time you go there you’re like: it’d be really great to lose your passport and have to stay here. The reality is that it’s too far away. If Australia was closer, like where Ireland is, then everybody would probably live there. They have the best of cultures.”
“Those shows in August haven’t been confirmed yet … but hopefully we’ll get back to Australia before the end of the year.”
Man-Made is released on the 16th May 2005, with an impending Australian tour soon.
… and it’s always refreshing when you meet the band, and they are just as lovely as you had imagined.
Hope they tour again soon.