Thursday, 25 August 2011

We're Only Here For The Banter - Black International

Edinburgh band are six and half a dozen. However there's something about Black International which deserves your attention. The three piece outfit completed their line up in 2009, and since have been building towards big things. Post punk influenced pop, their music is much like Edinburgh itself, beautiful with smudges of grim and dirt. Debut album 'In Debt' was released in March of this year, and the band have some high placed admirers including BBC1's Ally McCrae, Vic Galloway. Rumour has it fellow blogger Ayetunes is a big fan too!

The band took some time out to talk to us. Here what they had to say:

Hello, how are you?

Very well, thank you!

Tell us a little bit about your music and influences.

Our music is economical, stripped down, and to the point. Our influences are fairly eclectic, but everything gets thrown in the blender and comes out sounding like… us, really! The aesthetic of the band is chiefly informed by left-field punk music, but if you look closely you can see lots of other things buried in there; 1960s pop, garage and soul, Latin jazz, rockabilly, but all viewed through our utilitarian prism... For example, Feed Me Rhetoric on the album owes quite a lot to Tropicália- the Bossa Nova beat, the fuzz guitar parts, the vocal stylings etcetera- but if I didn't mention that you’d probably never put two and two together. Most of our songs have elements drawn from somewhere you might not expect, and I often sense people struggling to get a handle on what the band sounds like. We can be quite slippery, which occasionally causes unease. We don't mind that though!

Scotland has a thriving music scene. How do you find being a part of that?

It’s an exciting time at the moment, there’s so much quality out there, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with! I think one of the strengths of the Scottish scene is the passion of the people who are writing about it, bloggers, podcasters and so forth; there’s so much genuine enthusiasm, and that’s healthy. We’re proud of the fact we’re a Scottish band, and we’re in some very good company. We’re also keen to get our music heard as far away as possible, so to that end you sometimes have to think of yourself as a British band or even a European one first, and Scottish second.

The album "In Debt" has been out for 5 months now, how have things changed since its release?

When we first put the album out it was probably safe to say that very few people had heard of us. I think our profile has been raised a bit since then, and in places other than Scotland too. I’m not saying we’re suddenly cool or a buzz band or anything, but compared to a few months back we’re getting a bit more recognition. We’ve done things we’d only dreamed of in the past, like doing a live session for Ally McCrae on Radio 1. Most bands in our position would chew their own feet off to get that sort of exposure, it’s humbling and encouraging at the same time. We’ve had some label interest recently, people are offering us gigs a lot more… it’s good to finally get some return for our hard work, even if it’s still on a very small scale.

You put the album out on your own label, how valuable do you think it is to have a DIY attitude towards music?

I think you’d be insane not to have that attitude. You could sit around for years waiting for a label to approach you, it’s even less likely now than it was five years ago. The tools for bands to release their own music are there, it’s fairly inexpensive, straightforward and simple to do. You hear bands occasionally moaning about not getting exposure or gigs, why not start a blog or put on some of your own gigs with like-minded people? It just takes a bit of creative thinking and some basic social skills. Nobody will ever want to work with a band in this day and age who can’t demonstrate a bit of nous when it comes to doing things for themselves.

Which Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

There are far too many to mention without things getting out of hand, so I'll pick 6 of our communal favourites to keep it sensible- United Fruit, Pensioner, Verse Metrics, Rollor, French Wives and Kid Canaveral. All excellent bands. There are easily two dozen more I could list just off the top of my head.

Some very nice things have been said about the album, what has been your own biggest accolade so far?

It’s difficult to pick one thing, the reaction has been largely positive, and we really appreciate anyone taking the time to listen to it and review it. Personally speaking, it’s always nice when someone comes up to you at a show and says how much they liked the record, I find that’s about as much of an accolade as you can hope for. Craig was wandering around T in the Park this year and someone asked him for his autograph and said they’d loved the album; something like that really makes your day as a musician, once the initial suspicion that they’re taking the piss subsides!

What could we expect to see/hear from your live shows?

Sweating. Swearing. Noise. Lollipops. Our shows are pretty intense most of the time.

And what does the rest of 2011 hold for the band?

At the moment we're making a video for a projected single release, and we're starting to sort out songs for our next batch of recording. We have enough ideas for another album, but whether or not we go down that route again remains to be seen. Apart from that we'll be gigging away as usual, we're off down south again in September for a mini tour which should be fun. There may be some extra-exciting news coming soon, but we remain tight-lipped about that for now! I’m such a tease.

Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?

Ok, my memory for jokes is abysmal, so I had to ask a friend to supply one. I can only apologise for this…

My mate's shagging twins. I asked how he tells them apart. He said, "It's easy, Sally's got massive tits and Brian has a beard..."

You can check out more about Black International on their website, follow their banter on Twitter, and join in some social networking fun on Facebook.

Destruct_o_ by Black International

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