TEENAGE FANCLUB | INTERVIEW
Carl Marsh gets on the blower to Norman Blake, lead singer of Glaswegian guitar pop supremos Teenage Fanclub. Staying with his folks having recorded the band’s new Endless Arcade album, he’s back in his… teenage bedroom.
Endless Arcade will be your 12th studio album, following Here from 2016 – five years ago. What have you been up to in the meantime?
Norman Blake: What it was is that Sony reissued all of our Creation Records albums, so we’d spent a bit of time putting that all back together. It turned out that much of the original artwork and material had been lost, so we had to regenerate elements of that by remastering them. There was quite a bit of work involved in organising all of that. And after we’d done that, we agreed with Sony that we would tour those records by playing all of the albums over three consecutive nights, up and down the country.
And wasn’t it in this period that bassist Gerard Love had decided he’d had enough?
After touring these records, Gerry decided he didn’t want to be in the band and travel anymore. The rest of us thought, “OK, let’s move on,” and go into the studio and start making an LP. We did that about two years ago, took a little break and then this pandemic happened.
As we were in Glasgow at the time, we mixed the record just before all the pandemic kicked in. Usually, we would be a group where we’d be pushing up to the [LP completion] deadline, but we found ourselves in the unusual position of being way ahead of the deadline. It’s a little frustrating because we’d like to be doing shows, but at least the record is out very soon.
What surprised me was – knowing that this album was all written and recorded before lockdown and COVID-19 were even things – some of the names of the tracks could be seen as references to what we’ve all endured this past year and more, can’t they?
It’s funny, but it is entirely coincidental! All the songs were written and initially recorded, though not completely mixed, before the world was turned upside down. Some might say that we had some inkling of what would happen… but I don’t think so.
Your lineup now includes one of our Welsh artists, Euros Childs. What does he bring to the band?
We’ve known Euros for a long time – we’d played with [his former band] Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci 20-odd years ago, and he’s been a pal of mine for a very long time. We’d worked together before, and he’s a great guy who fits in really well. In terms of his personality, he’s easygoing, and he’s amazingly talented. It’s been great to have him come along to play with us.
Teenage Fanclub are now in their fourth decade as a band, but if you can think back to your early days, how did you deal with all the excess – drinking yourselves silly, and so on?
I think the ‘crazy years’, if we had any, didn’t last that long. We very quickly focused on seeing that the music was important. We’ve always been conscious that people have paid money to come to see the show – you have an obligation to do your best to play well, and, you know, look after yourself in a way so that you can be your best every night.
It’s still really important to us because we have a good live reputation, and it’s something we’ve always wanted to look after and maintain. There wasn’t any really crazy, crazy years for us, but we had our moments, mind you. And there’s no wild nights now!
Teenage Fanclub’s Endless Arcade album is out now on PeMa. Info: www.teenagefanclub.com
words CARL MARSH