Formed in 2012, Book Group came together from the ashes of several Edinburgh bands. They inject thundering drums and feed-backing guitars into pop sensibilities, carried by frontman Graeme Anderson’s quirky, story-driven lyrics; with harmonies and humming synths underlying it all.
Book Group are Graeme Anderson (vocals, guitar & synth), Andrew Brodie (drums), Scott Finnigan (backing vocals and bass) and Michael Morrison (guitars).
We caught up with Graeme and Michael in the queue outside VoxBox record store in Edinburgh on Record Store Day, 'M' was keen to get his mitts on the One Direction 7" Pic Disc so he could sell it on eBay for a huge profit to some pre-pubescent kid who knows no better, 'G' was after the Wye Oak or Conor Oberst exclusives.
Exactly 28 minutes before the doors opened and people turned into vinyl grabbing evil monsters, we asked them a bunch of questions.....
Welcome to the Musicmuso Introducing feature, often referred to as ‘The Theatre of Dreams’…..please tell us about your band
G: We are Book Group. Four guys who love music and like to play some rather noisy but tuneful tunes. I like the fact we are in 'The Theatre of Dreams'. I can't see many other theatres letting us in.
Give me 3 words that best describe you as a band?
M: Uncool loud sounds
G: Twang, bang, grrrrrr!
What is the best advice you ever received and who was it from?
G: Think I've had my fair share of advice growing up but I'm going to have to be dull on this and avoid the music ones. I think 'treat others the same way you would like to be treated' applies to everyone in all walks of life. Being a decent person costs nothing, I like to think I try and be one.
M: Loads, where to begin? My favourite is probably ‘Don’t shit the small stuff’ – that was from my sister. A good pal told me lately that if everyone likes you, you’re doing something wrong…the older I get the more I realise that’s true.
Is it easier for a Scottish band to ‘sound’ Scottish when they sing or slip into ‘American’ mode? (think The Proclaimers vs Wet Wet Wet)
G: Not sure about this one. I think any band that don't sound natural won't come across well. Slipping into anything sounds a tad lazy to me.
M: I don’t care what accent someone sings in, as long as a singer sounds how they want to sound. Just another instrument. Though I guess there’s more room lyrically to drill down into specifics.
How has social media assisted you so far?
G: I struggle a lot with technology and am fairly useless at spending the time needed to scan and use social media properly. Saying that, the other guys are a bit more on the button and we've received lots of kind reviews and messages about our shows and music. It's also been a great way to get information out to people who want to hear from us and to get our music out to a bigger audience.
M: Edwyn Collins retweeted us a couple of days ago. If for nothing else, this band has been worth it for that.
Coldplay are known to have ‘seeds’ on their rider, what interesting items are on your rider?
G: I'm just happy to get a rider to be honest.
M: We once asked for nut, and got Nuts. Obviously everyone loves boobs, but we’re not a group of 13 year old boys…so we threw it in the crowd and watched it get ripped apart.
Give me a fascinating fact about one of the band members….
G: Scott is a hairdresser.
M: Graeme once played for Scotland’s Under 18 ice hockey team.
What was the first song you ever learned to play?
G: Take Me Home Country Roads by John Denver
M: As a band? Summer of Lunches. As a wean? Don’t Fear The Reaper.
What classic song would you have liked to have recorded and why?
G: 'Let's Stick Together' by Al Green. So smooth!!!
M: All My Friends by LCD, Father and Son by Cat Stephens, 99 Red Balloons by Nena.
What can a new fan expect from one of your live shows….
G: A lot of energy, top tunes and pounding drums.
M: Regret that they weren’t into us before we were cool? Beard rash? Shots at the bar?
Any albums in your collection that you possibly regret buying?
G: I've got a couple of Sting's jazzy ones - they're awful!
M: Nah, time and a place for everything.
Do you think that ‘physical’ music (CD/Vinyl) will exist in 20 years time? Explain…
M: Yep, same way TV is still the most powerful advertising medium and paperless offices just don’t exist. I think as less and less money is on the table, artists are inclined to simply do what the fuck they want, instead of chasing a buck. So though it would be cheaper for us to release MP3s over vinyl, if we’re going to make very little money back regardless, we might as well create something tangible that we’re super-proud of.
G - Definitely on vinyl but I think CDs may die out. People that love music seem to be heading back to the physical release. Look at RSD, it's getting bigger and slowly turning into an important date in the music calendar. I think it will become more difficult to buy music in shops though, it will become more of and online thing, which is sad. I love that feeling of going to browse in a record shop and buying a random one.
Would you rather fight a dinosaur sized chicken or 10 chicken sized dinosaurs?
G: Dinosaur sized chicken - have you not seen Jurassic Park 2? Those little dinosaurs were mean as!
M: The mini ones…that would be amazing. Like a really shit Jurassic Park. Or you get a regular sized chimp and get them to fight, like the start of King Kong but in miniature.
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
G: The Grinch. Angry and a tad grumpy but with a sense of fun.
M: Johnny Truant from House of Leaves. Thought he was a no good slacker, then realised he was part of a far bigger, darker picture, with lots of questions and laughs along the way.
I see that you performed on Record Store Day (Voxbox in Edinburgh) on April 19th, any 10" obscure white vinyl ‘exclusives’ from this years list that tickle your fancy?
G: I've not had the chance to look yet. I always seem to miss out on the limited edition ones. The grumpy side of me doesn't agree that there should only be a limited edition available. It makes it too easy for folk to grab them and then sell them online on ebay.
M: A few maybe. Bombay Bicycle Club, We have Band, The The, Wye Oak, Conor Oberst.
Who would you like to know has your music on their iPod/MP3 player/cassette walkman?
G: Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips
M: Katy Perry. And Quentin Tarantino.
You chose Bruce Rintoul to produce your new EP, why Bruce?
G: Andrew and Michael knew some of his stuff and recommended that we check him out. He came along to one of our practises and basically deconstructed a song in half an hour. We liked that! He kinda said what he thought and likes things loud, which fits with us. Plus he is a hairy man and we like hairy men!
M: The man is one to watch alright. He has a great ear for structuring a song, and isn’t afraid to try things which might make no sense, or push an idea in a new direction. And he loves Idlewild. He’s unashamedly passionate about what he enjoys too, and we’re exactly that same as a band. Plus he’s a total pop guy (don’t tell anyone that though, it's a secret).
Which 3 albums would you take to a desert island?
G: Grant Lee Buffalo - Mighty Joe Moon | The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin | dEUS - Worst Case Scenario
M: Probably just Hope Is Important – it’s a good message for someone stuck on a desert island.
What was the first ever gig you went to?
G: Whiteout / Thrum @ Lucifer's Mill, Dundee
M: Blur at The SECC, on their Blur tour. It was rad. Super Furrys on support.
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
G: You're right there are loads of good stuff out there - Currently enjoying Poor Things, Call to Mind, Broken Records and Virgin of the Birds.
M: Loads yeah. Locally, check out Prehistoric Friends, Tuff Love, Plastic Animals, Campfires in Winter, Friends in America. Wider afield I really like Virgin of the Birds. And I’m still listening to Sweet Baboo’s last EP on repeat. Incidentally, Friends in America and Virgin of the Birds are playing at our EP launch next month.
You release your new EP ‘Tantrums’ on May 17th, there’s quite a few bands booked to play, how did you get so many?
M: We just asked them nicely. It’s nice to be nice. Sometimes we ask our pals, and sometimes we ask people we want to be pals with…this gig is very much the second one of those approaches.
G: Plus we've got an awesome venue which allows us to have a longer evening. We've got our own bar and DJs and stuff, it's going to be a blast. I hate it when you get to a gig and are then shepherded out at 10pm. We've avoided that.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2014?
G: We are pleased as punch with the EP so are going to celebrate it with some dates in May (Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee). Planning to take in some festivals in the summer and then gig some more in the fall. Also going to be doing a bit more recording. BIG plans for next year!
M: Try and fit in a bit more hillwalking, learn how to make a half-decent dessert, maybe explore some new Scottish islands.
RSD 2014 was not going well for M & G, M got nowhere near the '1D' pic-disc after some 9 year old girl kicked him in the knee, causing him to drop to the floor where the rest of the queue trampled him, G on the other hand couldn't make his mind up on which of the shiny exclusives to get and ended up with a used 12" of 'Its Raining Men' by The Weather Girls.....which was nice.
To console them, I cracked open a bottle of Bucy's Tonic wine and asked them a few quickfire questions....
Coffee or Tea? Coffee.
Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi.
Drum machine or the real deal? Real.
Mac or PC? PC.
Pussycat Dolls or The Spice Girls? Viva Forever.
Ice Cream or Candy Floss? Ice Cream.
Fry up or Sunday roast? Roast.
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)? Ozzy..
CD or Vinyl? Vinyl.
Car or Motorbike? Motorbike.
Acoustic or electric? Ha, electric.
Shower or Bath? Shower.
BBQ or 57 course ‘taster’ menu? BBQ.
Tattoos or Piercings? Tattoos.
Camping or Glamping? Camping.
Robert De Niro or Al Pacino? Pacino (these days).
God or Google? Same thing.
Please read on for information on forthcoming live shows and a list of their social media channels which have all been added for you, all you have to do is 'click'....
2 MAY - POOR THINGS ALBUM LAUNCH PARTY (SUPPORT), STEREO (GLASGOW).
17 MAY - ‘TANTRUMS’ EP LAUNCH PARTY, THE HALLS (EDINBURGH), W/FRIENDS IN AMERICA, PRONTO MAMA, LIVE FROM THE LATIN QUARTER, DJS + MORE
Musicmuso would like to wish Book Group every success in the future, especially at their launch night show on May 17th at 'The Halls' in Edinburgh, get yourself down there, buy the record and support them, they thoroughly deserve at least an evening of your time!
Interview by Steve Muscutt