Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Attic Lights - Super De Luxe. OUT NOW

One of my favourite albums from 2008, if not my favorite album that year, and one of my all time favourites, was Attic Lights - "Friday Night Lights."  The album was an immediate power pop masterpiece with beautiful four part harmonies tinged with a country feel and slide guitars and now they are back with their second album "Super De Luxe" which is every bit as exciting and brilliant as the first, but, I had a few questions about the album, so I decided to drop Kev Sherry, singer and guitarist an e mail which he very kindly replied to.  But lets have a song first!

ICM: Can you tell be why there was such a long break between "Friday Night Lights and the new album?

KS: A few answers to this. Amidst other things, I think it's a case of 'life getting in the way.' Initially, during the promotional campaign for our first album, the head of the record label (who had been instrumental in signing us) left Island Records to go to EMI so we kind of lost an ally. We were always a risky proposition for a major label to sign (let's face it, we don't sound like a major label band) so I think there was some confusion over what to do with us. Just as we signed to our publishing label, Island records told us they weren't going to go do a second album with us (this would have been about mid 2009 I think.) Which was a bit bizarre as we were really only beginning our album campaign. Speaking to our new publishers about it, the general feeling was that the record label had lost their nerve a bit - or maybe by that point they just didn't quite know what to do with us. 

Our publishers and management were confident we would get another label so we pressed ahead and started work on the 2nd album. Spent about a year writing tracks for it, a few false starts and different sounds and avenues were pursued. We recorded half the album in late 2010 and the other half in Spring 2011. As we were finishing the record, Jamie, our lead guitarist told us he was leaving the band. His wife was about to have a baby and he didn't fancy being on the road away from his family. My mother passed away around this time after a long illness (which also perhaps influenced the album in terms of lyrical content and darker sounds)  so it wasn't until a while later that we started looking for another guitarist before realising that the answer was right under our noses. Jim Lang, who had engineered and co-produced the second album turned out to be the ideal guy for the job. Colin then got married and had a baby of his own. By this time it was 2012 and our management had placed the new album with Elefant Records. When you hand an album to a label they need a good four months or so of prep time to plan for release (Unfortunately, this lead us up to Xmas 2012 and the only people who release records in the last quarter of the year are the big major label artists cashing in on xmas.) So, we held off on release until this year.

To the general public it looks like 5 years (2008-2013) since our last release, but to us it's only really been 3 years since our last single released on Island and this new album coming out. Kinda weird the way it works out!

ICM:  What have you planned for the promotion of the new album, live dates etc? 

KS: Currently sorting out gigs, festivals etc, shooting videos, doing interviews, acoustic sessions etc... There will probably be a tour later this year after the festival season has finished. We are just enjoying being back doing the thing we love. It's early days so we dont' have the full marketing plan in action yet but I imagine we will be working on pushing this new record for the next year  and a half or so. Looking forward to playing at Benicassim Festival on July 19th. Doing a wee show in Glasgow in Nice'n'Sleazy's on May 26th to test our live legs.

Looking forward to shooting some videos for forthcoming singles (lots of daft ideas), organising gigs and festivals and doing radio and online wherever we can. We will have specific tour dates further down the line, all of which will be on our new website which is almost complete.

ICM: I read on your website that we won't have to wait so long for the next album, can you tell me a bit about that, I saw that you have many songs ready to go for that which is great.

KS: Colin and I are always writing songs both together and seperately. Since we finished recording the 2nd album in 2011 we have been writing solidly and have tons of tracks. Colin sent me a song last week that broke my heart, solo piano and vocal, like a Neil Young  song, just beautiful. He is without doubt the most naturally gifted songwriter i've ever met. However, that gets my competitive blood up so now I need to knock one out to equal it. It's a friendly rivalry that gets the best out of both of us (I hope)

ICM: I also read that you are related to David Byrne of Talking Heads which I didn't know before.

KS: Yeah, David was my mum's cousin. They grew up together in Scotland before he emmigrated to Canada and then America. Whenever he was playing in Scotland we would always get on the guest list and go to the gigs and he would come up for lunch to my parents house before shows. I remember being a kid and watching Top of the Pops and my mum telling me that I had a cousin who did that job and pulled out the "Remain in Light" LP and put it on the turntable. I remember thinking.."Oh.. so that's a job that normal people like us can actually do.." It sort of brought it out of the TV and into reality for me. So, it was never this unobtainable thing. It was always something that was possible.
"Say You Love Me" available as a single release.

Many thanks to Attic Lights and Kev Sherry for his time and the information kindly provided.

Contact, befriend, follow, like and love Attic Lights here: Facebook

Attic lights official website:

Buy the album here: Amazon

Official Press Release:

Attic Lights were one of the biggest surprise hits of 2008 after debut album Friday Night Lightsappeared on Island Records to rapturous applause. The Guardian described it as “Chiming 12-string perfection”, the NME claimed how Attic Lights “comes on like The Eagles lassoing Fountains Of Wayne to The Beach Boys” and Artrocker classified Friday Night Lights as “one of the finest guitar pop albums this year.” The Fly called it “spellbinding” whilst Uncut noted how it was “truly infectious”. Q could barely contain themselves when mentioning the “sumptuous harmonies”. Tastemakers Mojo exclaimed, “These lads really knock together a perfect tune.” 
If the major label success was not to continue, a slightly modified Attic Lights signed with Elefant records in 2012 and released the Say You Love Me EP. The four songs lovingly melded indie pop with everyone from Big Star to sunshine pop ’60s legends Harper’s Bizzare and The Cyrkle. “Since our previous single in 2009 we've changed labels, lost one guitarist, gained another, written countless new songs and recorded our second album,” states vocalist and guitarist Kev Sherry matter-of-factly. “I guess, if anything else has changed, as songwriters we feel we've got better at our craft and that we have come in to our own a little bit more and shaken off our early influences to develop a more unique sound.”

On Super De Luxe (produced by Teenage Fanclub’s Francis Macdonald) the band take the cleanest pop to even higher levels whilst adding new flavours along the way. Named after the very same jukebox brand that guitarist Tim Davidson has at home, the album itself serves up short, sharp doses of pop nirvana akin to a dream 45 collection. “We were all massive fans of Weezer and The Lemonheads growing up so that has really driven our desire for catchy melodies mixed with loud guitars,” says Kevin of things that have inspired this new outing. “The Beach Boys and Beatles/Paul McCartney are of course key but we have also recently been listening to a lot of classic soul, Motown and disco, which you can hear in tracks like ‘Future Bound’ and ‘Stay Before You Leave’ while there's also a touch of anthemic rock thanks to some Bruce Springsteen and Death Cab For Cutie.” ‘Say You Love Me’ (the album’s opening track) really is solid proof of the band’s perfect pop sensibilities; reminiscent of Camera Obscura yet more wide-eyed and innocent with a ’50s bobbysox feel about it, ‘Mona Lisa’ has an unforgettable chorus in the same school as The Cars and Red Kross and ‘Don’t You’ has something of an early ’90s buzzsaw guitar stylistic and the kind of soaring to-die-for harmonies that may well draw Teenage Fanclub and Fountains Of Wayne comparisons. “Orbison” , the aptly named tribute to Roy Orbison, has a classy foot to the floor mid-70s powerpop vibe, somewhere between a burning Elvis Costello and a red hot Raspberries, pushing the euphoria up to unknown levels. Album closer ‘Gabrielle’ is majestic, proving the Scottish band’s ability to sound tremendously contemporary and also show their love for circa 1970 Paul McCartney.  It’s as if Elliott Smith is still with us.
It’s been four years since Attic Lights breakthrough yet they still maintain that very same timeless Scottish pop sensibility in an era of One Dimension, synth pop and so on. “The musical landscape is such a vast canvas these days and in general people seem to be listening to ever wider types of music,” says Kevin. “I don't think it's the same as 10 years ago when you would find exclusive little musical tribes. Nowadays the kinda thing we do sits alongside everything else...” But clearly chiming guitars will always have a place whatever the weather, won’t they? Even in cloudy Glasgow. “It’s a strange thing that coming from such a grey, rainy country so many bands are drawn towards sunshine harmony indie rock. I don't really know why it's so popular in Scotland,” laughs Kevin, “other than maybe it's the best escape from the appalling weather. And obviously we all are influenced by our local heroes so bands like Teenage Fanclub and Belle & Sebastian showed that there is an area of music there worth exploring.”
From big label money to hip Spanish indie pop mecca Attic Lights are certainly continuing to explore the possibilities of sunshine driven chiming pop and in doing so it almost sounds as if they could appeal to that whole landscape: the 10-year-old girls that follow today’s sanitized pop, daytime Radio 2 listeners and of course the gently beard stroking fans of Big Star.  A light shineth!

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