CBL: Hello Kieren. This is Colin Liddell in Japan, eh, interviewing you on behalf of the International Herald Tribune Asahi Shimbun…
CBL: …about your forthcoming trip to Japan, and…
CBL: …basically the articles just about the band so far, the history, and what’s going on and how you feel about things. So, it’s just a general, eh, outline of everything, and so I’d just like to ask you a few questions about, um, everything really.
CBL: Where are you right now?
KW: I’m in the Barrowloands in Glasgow, the famous Barrowlands ballroom in Glasgow.
CBL: Aha, so you’ve got a gig on tonight?
CBL: Aha. And you’ve been doing a soundcheck? Is that right?
KW: Yehhh, I’m just halfway through it at the moment.
CBL: Mmh. OK. Well, I'd like to go back to the beginning. What got you into music in the first place? How did that happen, and how did you and Kyle start writing together?
KW: Well, me, Kyle and Pete all got to hanging around at the same time, when we were 15, and we just started playing together in the house and stuff. Then, we were in a covers band for a while. And me and Kyle were also playing our own songs at parties on acoustics. At parties, people were always saying, 'why don't you start a band?' And we always meant to, but we never had any money for rehearsal space, but we got offered a free rehearsal space in the pub called the Bay View. So there we started [garbled] And that’s when we started writing together.
CBL: So, you started doing all the cover versions first and then from that you progressed into writing?
CBL: Aha. So…
KW: It's a natural thing to do, y'know whadda mean?
CBL: I don't want to, eh, give you a big head or anything like that, but that's quite similar to the way the Beatles developed, isn't it?
KW: Yeh. Yes, they did covers as well and stuff like that.
CBL: Yes, they started on covers then they thought, 'let's write our own stuff as well.'
KW: [garbled] copy other people's stuff, but the people you look up to they're just copying a lot of thing… They're not even… You’ve just got that to do for yourself.
CBL: Is it maybe easier to write your own songs after a while?
KW: Eh, yes. It's easier to remember your own songs. I can't remember any of the covers that I used to play at parties and stuff. It was always [line interference] to play them [garbled] only play our own songs now.
CBL: OK. I'd like to ask you about the big break. It's, em, sort of… In most of the things I've read about you , eh, the key moment seems to have been when you decided to give your demo tape to Pete Doherty.
CBL: Em, what, eh, what was actually on that demo tape?
KW: Em, there were four songs on it. Em, there was Streetlights, Screaming and Shouting, Face for Radio, and Coming Down. They're all on the album, except Screaming and Shouting's the only one that's not on album. That was on the first demo.
CBL: Why did you, eh, decide to, eh, give it to Pete, because he's got a bit of a reputation for, y’know, being a bit chaotic and not, maybe, not knowing which day of the week it is?
KW: Eh, I know, but I know that he likes music and… I don’t really know, but I just thought… I just thought… I thought he'd let us on, and so I asked him and he did. I got it right. I thought… I knew he would. He's just… He's lacky [sic] like us. He’s just like anyone else. I mean I thought he would be the only person… There's really not that many people who would do that. Only him.
CBL: So, you didn't try giving the demo tape to anyone else before that did you?
KW: [line interference] other bands. I gave one to the Paddingtons when they played in Dundee. That was it [garbled and line interference]. We didn't… We never [garbled] like every other bands. We never really pushed… We never really pushed wurselves too much. We just used to give them to people who asked us for them or whatever [garbled and line interference]
CBL: I mean I can see some similarities, not between the music so much, but in the attitude between you and, y'know, Doherty’'s bands. Which is you try to create this atmosphere of having no barrier between the band and the audience.
KW: It's getting harder as we playing these bigger venues, though.
CBL: Yeh. I should imagine it will be impossible soon to, to keep that sort of cozy, close up relationship with the fans.
KW: Em, we'll always play small gigs as well. [garbled] Like we played in Dundee the other week. It was only like a 200 capacity venue. [line interference and garbled] …we're playing them so that people can know, are… Just, like in Dundee, are out the night and stuff.
CBL: I listened to the album, Hats Off To The Buskers, and, y'know, the thing that strikes you when you listen to it, y'know, it's just got this natural energy on it. And I was wondering how much of that was coming from your, eh, your fans and your audience, and how much is just from the guys in the band?
KW: I don't know, but we're all pretty energetic. Even when we're hung over everybody's running around playing football half pissed from last night. [line interference] If something is hard to do [line interference and garbled] that helps us out.
CBL: Um, yeh, well, yeh. Talking about always having a lot of energy, you've also sort of developed a kind of, a bit of a bad boy image as well. Eh, can you tell us…
KW: That's just like papers and stuff that have developed that.
CBL: But there have been a number of incidents as well, though, haven't there? I mean like, quite recently you couldn't go to America because of the cocaine thing.
CBL: I mean that must also be quite good for a band, though, having a bit of a bad boy image as well. I mean that must make you more marketable to a lot of, eh, your fans, coz that's what people want from rock n' roll, they want something a bit, y'know, dangerous, a bit rebellious, y'know, a bit out there.
KW: I don't think it's really rebellious taking drugs.
KW: I don't think its really rebellious taking drugs. I think there's better ways to be rebellious, like writing a rebellious song or I don't know. We don’'t try to promote any kind of image. We just do our thing and play our gigs. As long as people come we’ll keep playing them, y'know what I mean.
CBL: Yeh, uhu, so these things just happened, they're not intended, and then the media kind of blow it up. Is that how it goes?
KW: Yeh, yeh. It is like, sort of, things did happen, but you can focus on other things apart from that, y'know.
KW: Other godd stuff happens that never gets mentioned, y'know whadda mean?
CBL: Yeh. Yeh, I get the feeling you want to…
KW: That's what I meant by sort of just focus on it. I mean the Daily Star is printing stuff all the time and nobody really thinks [garbled] as soon as you get chucked out of hotels, it's all over the place. That's the way it is.
CBL: Yeh. Once you get the reputation, eh, it, eh, keeps, eh, generating more, eh, bad news, uhuh. Yeh. Also, I see you recently got an award, ah, for Wasted Little DJs, the Shockwaves NME award.
CBL: Yeh, I'd like to ask you, a b-bit about that song. Did you write that or did Kyle write that or was it, y'know, um, a collaboration?
KW: All our songs, they're a joint effort. Kyle wrote a lot of it.
CBL: With this particular song, how would that develop, I mean writing together?
KW: I don’t know. That was like just one off. That was spontaneous, just because the girls wanted us to write a song about them, so just done it y'know what I mean. It's quite an old song.
CBL: Mmh. So, did you write part of it and then, y-you handed it over to Kyle, back and forth, or did you just sit down together and try different things and, y'know, criticize each other…
KW: Normally one person comes up with an idea and then we both just sort of jam it out together, em, y'know what I mena, like I've got a few songs now that I need to show to Kyle because I can't finish them, y’'know what I mean, so… But me and Kyle will finish them.
CBL: So the musical ideas, you work out together. But what about the lyrics, though? Because one of the interesting points about this song is the way you use backslang or pig Latin as it's also known.
KW: Yes. That was Kyle's idea. He uses that all the time. Stick that in. Everyone uses it now.
CBL: Yeh, I mean, first time ever in a song, I think.
CBL: I think that's the first time ever that's been in a song, y'know, so that's definitely original anyway. And, em, you’ve been to Japan before, eh, in last December.
CBL: Em, do you remember much of that?
KW: Yes. The people are really nice. They make you want to be a better person being in Japan. [garbled] It's really clean…
CBL: Yeh, it's quite a difference from Dundee, eg, I should imagine.
CBL: It's quite a difference from Dundee.
KW: Yes. Dundee's, mm, yes, very different.
CBL: How would you kind of describe your relationship to Dundee? Because in some ways it's a pretty bleak, y'know, town with not much to do, eh, but, at the same time, you've got this incredible fan base there…
KW: I have a love-hate relationship with Dundee [laughs]. I love it at the moment because I'm never there. But the reason why I wanted to get out [garbled] because I want to get back, know what I mean. Love/hate.
CBL: Love/hate? Is that one of the reasons you got into a band, though, because, y'know, Scotland's like that? There's not many opportunities unless you do something completely different.
KW: Eh, I think I got in a band because I liked to write songs.
KW: The only reason I got in a band was because I liked to write songs. I never really thought about doing that, y'know.
CBL: So it was, em, pull factors, not push factors? You weren't pushed into it by, y'know, having nothing else to do? It was just like you were pulled into it because you loved doing it? So, positive reasons, rather than negative?
KW: People said we were good, so yes. People said that we were good, so we just kept doing it.
CBL: I think you're coming to Japan in May.
KW: Yeh, quite soon, yes. We're coming for a week. We're looking forward to it.
CBL: What are you looking forward to most.
KW: Just playing the gigs, man. The Japanese fans are just so brilliant. Just playing the gigs, y'know, we look forward to wherever we go playing the gigs.
CBL: Anything besides the gigs, I mean, any interest in the culture, in going around seeing the sights, em stuff like that?
KW: I'm looking forward to… Yeh, we were only in Tokyo the last time. We're [line interference] really looking forward to it. [line interference] really nice to get a present.
CBL: You've had a very busy time in the last year or so, a lot of success. How’'s that changed things for you?
KW: I don’t know, em, it's harder to sort of just like, em, find time for anyone who's in your life, y'know what I mean, girlfriends, mums, dads, and stuff. It's just… What's good is… I guess [garbled] positive effect, and, aw I’m no feeling very good today. I’m just a bit hungover. Em, it’s just like, eh, it’s been, it's been… I don't think it's affected us in a bad way. I get to see my girlfriend all the time now. She's on tour with us t'isnow, even after shows and stuff [garbled]… y'know what I mean I guess it's a lot better than sitting on your arse and doing nothing, and signing on the brew.
CBL: Yeh, yeh, definitely.
KW: Mum and dad [garbled]
CBL: Because, yeh, one of the songs Tradesman Superstar kind of talks about that, doesn't it?
CBL: Was that one of your lyrics or one of Kyle's?
KW: Yeh, one of my lyrics. That's a good song because it was written at a time when it was... I can't explain it all the time and I’ve never explained it before, um, it was written at the time when it was actually happening, y'know what I mean? I'll be looking back on that time and thinking, 'That was shit, I'll write a song about it.' That was happening at the time. Just what we meant, so…
CBL: The song suggests that you were getting some pressure, eh, maybe from your parents to sort of take on a more kind of realistic trade.
KW: Yeh, I wur. That's what happens to everyone in Dundee.
CBL: Yeh, and so you were having to…
KW: [line interference]
CBL: Could you repeat that? The line went a bit funny there.
KW: Em, what did you want us to repeat?
CBL: Just the last thing you said, because the line just went very funny for a few seconds. I couldn’t catch that.
KW: Alright… I can’t remember what I said.
CBL: I was asking about the pressure you were under from, maybe, from the family side to get a proper trade as it's called, and then…
KW: I'm just saying it's not bad [garbled]… I liked working on the building site and stuff, but if you want to do something else, you can. You don’t have to do it. If you listen to the song, it’s pretty self-explanatory. It explains itself.
CBL: Mmh. So, since the album came out, have you been writing, eh, a lot of songs?
KW: Yeh. Yeh, write songs all the time.
CBL: Is it a different direction or is pretty much the same sort of territory.
KW: They're just songs [garbled] I'm not going to start playing them on keyboards or anything [mutters]...
CBL: So, also the album was recorded with Owen Morris.
KW: Yeh, see I'm holding up four bands doing a soundcheck for the Barrowlands, so like, how long, how long… Are we running all night?
CBL: This'll be the last question, then.
KW: Alright. OK. They're all waiting on us finishing.
CBL: I just wanted to ask you how it was like to work with him and what his input into the album was.
KW: [garbled] a lot of bands he worked on, arrangements and stuff, but he didn't have to… He never changed any of the arrangements or anything, just he [garbled] when we done the demos, they sounded sort of… They were all sort of happy rocky stuff, and then we rerecorded some of the songs [line interference] He didn't want to record Streetlights because he just thought it was like a happy-go-lucky thing, but then we told him what it was actually about and he went, 'Aw no, that's [garbled] we'll have to do that one.'
CBL: Alright. That should be plenty of material for my article, so I’d like to thank you very much and wish you good luck.
KW: No problem.
CBL: OK, cheers.
KW: Thank you.