Thursday, 26 April 2012

We're Only Here For The Banter - Beerjacket

Beerjacket is somewhat of a Glasgow bloggers hero.  Peter Kelly is the somewhat shy and retiring singer/songwriter who despite hiding behind the name Beerjacket produces material that has both longevity and instant appeal.  He's also a charming and friendly guy, honest and heartfelt in spades, and extremely talented.  I was lucky enough to be joined in the Pulse studio recently for a live session, and Peter was kind enough to answer some questions.

Hello, how are you?

A lot better now that I'm not driving aimlessly.  It would probably help if I could drive well in the first place whilst also trying to think in a logical way about how to get places.

It's the question everyone hates, but could you tell us a little bit about your music and your influences?

I'm a singer/songwriter, I play music which is sort of acoustic-y, well it is acoustic I guess there's nothing elaborate or electric.  I like to keep things basic so it's never been a band yet I hide behind a band name because being a singer/songwriter can carry with it a lot of evils that you don't want to be associated with.  You can be a singer/songwriter as long as you don't tell anyone!

Your latest album was The White Feather Trail, how was that album different from what you've done before?

I think it was the step back that was more important than the step forward.  I stepped back from recording, and I've never been particularly proficient with recording or anything and I handed over the responsibility for all of that to a good friend for the album.  The person who produced the album has a huge ear, not like a freak, but it's all about what he hears not about what he wants to hear.  And there were things that I probably would have changed myself, but he stopped me and said, "no wait, that's good".  These were the things that I would have obsessed over when I was recording by myself, but when someone else hears your mistake and sees it as something worth keeping then you realise you're actually not so bad and give yourself a bit of a break.

So the album The White Feather Trail was more about giving over that control to someone else?

Absolutely, I had those songs for such a long time, and they were changing in subtle ways that no one would have cared about.  I would have obsessed over that for another couple of years and I still wouldn't have liked it.  It was getting ridiculous though, I was recording the same nine songs over and over again and never particularly being happy with them.  So I recorded them very basically and just handed them over and said, "just something like that, but you can do it better".  And that's more or less what we did, except that we threw lots of other instruments that I'd never played before on it.

What's your song writing process like?

Less and less do I sit down with a guitar and try to write a song.  Ultimately it doesn't feel good when you listen to a song that sounds like it's been laboured over in that way.  I tend to wait on them, I wait on things to appear in my head.  And I quite often will be sitting and start grinning because I've written something.  It's all inside my head and I don't always feel like I've written a hit.  It tends to all be in my head and then I'll sit down and play it it's there.

What other Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers? 

I think Quickbeam are brilliant, I really love them.  We played together in February of last year and I'd heard little bits and pieces and I love what I heard that night.  I also tend to play with a lot of people that I like.  Michael Cassidy I'm a big fan of his, I think he's great.  I like Reverieme and Mike Nisbet as well.  Michael was booked for a gig that I'd been asked to do by Lloyd of Peenko at The Hidden Lane Tea Room.  It was a tiny wee gig and I was going to try out new songs so I was a wee bit nervous.  I'd liked 'Everybody's Scared' but I hadn't heard of him up to that point, and when he started to play he was really good.  I continue to torture myself of how good he is by playing another eight gigs with him.  I don't like him as a person though!  Apart from his little beard!

At Scottish Fiction we focus on new Scottish music, how do you as a band view the Scottish music 'scene'?
I think there's many circles, there's kind of the wider circle where anyone who's in a band is technically in the 'scene'.  I was thinking of the circles of hell, I think I'm about mid point.  I do find it very supportive from the point of view of the people I play with like Michael, Julia And The Doogans, Reverieme, there's a nice wee thing going.  I think it's quite naturally and it's only when it becomes forced that it becomes a bit uncomfortable and cliquey.  I am certainly enjoying playing music with other people at the same time.

What have you got planned for the rest of 2012?

Two festivals announced so far.  One is a week on Saturday which is Brew At The Bog which is incredible.  It's the first time they've ever done it and they've invited basically the best bands in Scotland at the moment, all the people that only some people know are amazing.  It's an incredible bill.  And I'm doing Wickerman in July as well.  And I'm doing Withered Hand and The Second Hand Marching Band at Sleazy's which is a Friday, the 18th May.  I've also got something which I'm not allowed to talk about which I always have so it makes it sound like I'm making it up.

In terms of new material, any plans in the pipeline for that?

A few weeks ago I was absolutely determined to go back into the studio in the summer, and I still probably will, but The White Feather Trail came out in October and I think I should probably slow down a wee bit, folk seem to like it.  For folk who like it there's going to be something coming up which you should like.

It's been a pleasure having you on and thank you for coming on the show!

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Also listen to the full interview and session tracks here for chat about The SAY Awards, Michael Cassidy's beard and much more!

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