The Glass Factory is the new album by Edinburgh’s Frantic Chant. On offer are 21 songs and almost 2 hours worth of music spanning various musical styles and seeing the band play an array of weird and wonderful instruments. Tomatrax caught up with the band to talk about their music!
Where did the name Frantic Chant come from?
Col “Stazy was in a bookshop and saw a board full of magnetic words all jumbled up. In the centre was frantic and chant, he just thought they looked good together and suited the music we were making. I might have got this totally wrong, but that’s how I remember it.”
Your latest album is 21 songs and almost two hours long, what made you decide to put out a double album?
Nick “We had so many songs to get out our system. We had lots of time in the studio to muck about and de-fragment. And also TRUMPETS!”
Stazy “We’re not a band that says ‘Let’s leave that one for the next album’. If a song’s done or nearly done, get it finished and get it on. There’s not one note that’s gone to waste on this album. The running order wasn’t a problem as the songs go as a narrative.
Col “It wasn’t intentional to record so many songs but having an extremely patient producer in Elle Durnan meant we could experiment and record new ideas on the spot. A couple of the songs came while 2 or 3 of us were waiting in the studio for the others to arrive and we’d been playing another wee batch of songs live for a while too.”
What was the inspiration behind the video for ‘Fiberglass Spiderlegs’?
Col “We can’t claim any credit for the video, it was done by Hugo, who is also known as Psyche Coaster. He asked to use the song on a compilation album he was putting together for the Psychedelic Underground Generation blog/label and the next thing we knew he’d posted the amazing video on his YouTube channel.”
Where did the title Glass Factory come from?
Col “There is a sample we used on a song, Mushroom Jim & the Planet of the Funky Apes that was taken from an old UK kids TV program called Jackanory. The sample is from a story called The Glass Factory and the voice is the legendary British actor, Bernard Cribbins. The title just seemed to tie in with the loose concept the album had so we stole it.”
The album covers many musical styles, did you have any ideas on the musical direction if the album as you were writing it?
Stazy “The only style we never mentioned was Psychedelic, but that seems to be what a lot of listeners hear judging by the videos we’ve had made for the tunes and also by the genre of blogs, pages and playlists that support the cause. We’re always trying to move forward with new styles and methods for recording. Luckily we have the luxury of spending time in the studio to play around a lot. We’d get bored if all our songs sounded and felt the same as the next one.”
Darren “Not really, most of the tracks started off from riffs or chord patterns on acoustics, previously it’s all been jams in the practice room. There was an effort to be a bit more musically wanky (you might want to change the adjectives there) – less major chords, avoiding verse, chorus, verse. So we just picked up on things as the songs came together, nothing really thought about in advance. (There was also the mind blowing musical invention from the bass player which transcends all previous bassery, ever)
Col “The only pre planned direction was that we wanted a loose, laid back style on about 4 or 5 songs so the first instrument we recorded for those was an acoustic guitar. Once everything else was added they still seemed to keep the sitting round the campfire vibe we wanted. It was open season on all the other songs and all sorts of things influenced where they ended up. Nick and me travelled to the studio together most days and would listen to different music every time and little things would creep in from that. Stuff like guitar sounds from the likes of Dinosaur Jr and New Order songs that are not too obvious as they’re maybe only one of ten, or more, guitar tracks in the mix.
Is there any style of music you’d never touch?
Nick “I couldn’t touch some piano dirge.”
Darren “Probably Country music.”
Col “None at all, for me. I like to keep it interesting. There’s nothing worse than hearing a band stuck in one sound. There are too many bands that concentrate on certain periods of another band’s life and just keep churning out the same old tired blueprint. In Edinburgh it seems to be The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s “Dig” period that’s getting milked for all it’s got. As good as it was, there are too many other toys to play with to get stuck shaking that rattle forever.”
There is also a large range of instruments covered, how do you determine which instruments to use across the tracks?
Nick “We use whatever we have to hand if it adds to the song.”
Darren “Aye, whatever we can get our hands on.”
Stazy “Elle will come up with ideas for mandolins and other shit. She also comes up with some nice harmonies which are sometimes testing for me. We’ve played on bills with Colin and his band Bombskare and we’ve been trying to get him involved in some way for a while, but shit’s never worked out. As soon as Nick played the start of `Swing to the Left` I could hear the sound of the horns in my head. We knew Colin could do the business on it, and he did. We got him to apply his lip service to another 3or 4 as a thanks.”
Do you have a favourite instrument?
Stazy “I’m a closet bass player. I always manage to get a couple of tracks on an album where me and Darren have a swap.
Nick “My Les Paul Gold Top.”
Col “Not a single instrument as such but I really enjoy squeezing new sounds out of keyboards with shed loads of effects.”
Darren “Anything blunt.”
Is there any instrument you’ve always wanted to play but are yet to do so?
Stazy “I love hearing a piano on a track that suits. I could do with learning the guitar a bit as well.”
Col “I’d love to have a shot on an electric violin or viola and pretend I’m John Cale.”
Nick “I’d like 15 minutes with a lap steel through a big Leslie.”
‘The Major’s Shot Himself, Mrs Grant’ features over 300 voices from musicians from all over the world. Was it hard to collect al these voices and use them in the song?
Col “I knew I wanted the voices to sound like they were swimming round in a pot of glue and had the exact sound in my head so it didn’t take too long to put together. The hardest part was making sure the music didn’t get lost in it all. Luckily the variation in the quality of each recording just added to the madness. I was blown away by the amount of people who gave up their time to record the lines and can’t thank them enough.”
What was the inspiration behind the album’s cover?
Nick “It’s a wee visual representation of the song titles, lyrics and daft band in-jokes that belong in The Glass Factory.”
Stazy “The picture is us looking into The Glass Factory.”
When writing what comes first the words of the music?
Col “Almost always it’s the music. That gives Stazy time to work on the melody. The words are sometimes gathered from things we’ve written down during recording. Mushroom Jim & the Planet of the Funky Apes was a bit like that and is, in part, a wee diary of the time spent recording the album. There are nods in there to David Bowie and Mick Lynch from Stump who passed away in the 18 months or so we were in the studio. There’s even homage to Pete Burns in another song.”
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Stazy “Usually I listen to it to death during the recording, then once we get the final album I listen to it a few times then leave it for a good six months.”
Nick “On heavy rotation.”
Col “I listen to the most recent album a lot after it’s finished and I dip my toes back into the older albums every now and then. I never believe anyone who says they don’t listen to their music, unless it was The Kooks then I’d understand why.”
What other music do you listen to?
Stazy “I’ve been listening to podcasts for ages but been getting back into getting album’s on the buds. I’m liking new Arcade Fire. Lorde, Depeche Mode and got the George Michael album back on after watching his new film. St, Vincent and Superorganism. The Rhemedies new CD is entertaining. I got the 2 Gallaghers albums as well. Darren played me Ride’s new stuff. Good. I’ve seen the Fire Engines this year too.
Nick “I listen to anything from Memphis to Manchester like Stone Roses, The Smiths, Happy Mondays, The Yardbirds and labels like Sun and Stax.”
Col “I’ve not listened to much new stuff recently but Glasgow’s Spinning Coin has just released a great album on The Pastels record label. We played with a couple of Edinburgh based bands called Mad Gerald and PAL a few months ago and I love what they’re doing. Other than that I’ve been revisiting old albums by The Cardiacs, Violent Femmes and The Cure a lot recently.”
Darren “Neon Waltz, we played with them a wee while back, DMAs and The Rhemedies.”
What do you have planned in 2018?
Col “We’ve started recording again and have the bare bones of about 4 songs on the go. We might release it as an EP but, as you’ll have worked out by now, we get a bit carried away in the studio and it could quite easily turn into a 5 hour rock opera.”
Darren “Planned? What does that mean?”
Check out Frantic Chant’s Facebook page to find out more!