Last interview done for issue two and finally
I get to meet a British band. I don't know if it says more about
me or the industry, but I thought this day might never come. Ganger,
at least for the moment, are a quartet from Glasgow with definite
Germanic leanings (yeah, yeah, krautrock band) who started
out on the trail in 1995 only to disappear around the time of their
Fore LP (which was a compilation, not a proper album) amid
claims, that some of their number controlled the band like stormtrooping
nazis. This version sees James Young (drums, etc) and Stuart Henderson
(bass, etc) joined by Natasha Noramly on bass/vocals and Craig B
with guitar/vocals. Stuart doesn't like interviews, preferring instead
to feed me dubious information about release dates, sleeve design,
and his dislike of football, but that's his problem because we're
still only on the first round of the World Cup. The others aren't
so lucky, as I interrupt their argument about Mogwai to find out
So what do you think of Mogwai?
James: (ahem) Great
absolutely brilliant band, they're well liked.
Natasha: I love them.
Craig: Well, we all disagree,
because I think they're great.
J: We don't all disagree.
Just me and you two. I mean I like them as people, I think they're
brilliant and I like their music, I've got no problems with that
at all, so let's leave it at that. Next!
I heard a couple of years ago that you'd
split up, so why are you here with such a changed line-up?
J: It didn't come to a halt,
we came to a small crossroads in our career. Basically everybody
left because they didn't really get on with me and Stuart, that's
the bottom line "fascists" we were called for a wee bit
these two are finding that as well, so give it a year and we'll
split up again and you'll be here asking the same question. Graham
and all that left and I'd heard Fukiyama, which is the band Craig
and Natasha are in as well. I'd heard their tape because Craig gave
me it (and I did send it to Domino) and I really liked it and Ganger,
I felt, were at the stage where we had done all we could with the
type of music we were doing and it was time we should change. I
was looking to change and as I started changing Graham and Martin
and the rest of the band, with the exception of Stuart, were changing
and pulling in an opposite direction they were going more
extreme and I was trying to bring more, I suppose, melody or niceness
or whatever to what we were doing, and the Fukiyama stuff really
suited where I wanted to go. Ganger were playing their final gig
with that line-up in Stirling and I couldn't contain myself any
longer, I spoke to Stuart about it and spotted Natasha in the crowd
and ran up and asked her if she'd consider it. We got together and
that's about it really.
Weren't you on tour with the Third Eye
Foundation at the time?
J: No, we never played with
Third Eye Foundation. It was mooted that we were going to go to
America with them and all that, but this was at the stage where
we couldn't fulfil any commitments because we weren't quite sure
what was happening with the band. With Graham and that we knew we
were unhappy, we knew it was just a matter of time before they left
and we didn't want to book any huge American commitments or anything
like that only to turn around and have to cancel it again.
So is all that the main reason why it's
taken so long for this debut album (Hammock Style) to come
J: Partly. I mean Natasha's
got various things that she'll probably tell you about, but it's
never been an easy ride being in Ganger. Certain situations just
conspire to it even more difficult for us.
N: Also, when we made the booking for recording the album
we never got a booking until February, so that's when we had the
time and felt that we were ready to do it. It's all been ready since
February but you know Domino are taking a little bit of time to
get their stuff together to launch it. It's out in July.
I heard it was in August.
N: Who said that?
Someone that's with you.
J: Stuart's just a businessman. Ask him what colour black is
and he'll say like... (big rant about the potential unblackness
of things that are plainly black, etc)
C: He's a realist.
J: Aye, realism and pessimism
kind of go hand in hand.
I hear you had sleeve problems too.
J: Stuart, I'm gonna get
your balding fucking balls, man! Nah, Stuart's got a problem
with the sleeve. We had something done we asked the people
who'd done the single sleeve to do the album, just to continue the
theme. Something happened between Domino and the people we were
working with on the art and they ended up pulling out of it, so
it was kinda dumped in our lap. Stuart did something and personally
I was like it looked okay on the computer but I'll wait till I see
the mock-up. Saw the mock-up, didn't like it, we had to change it.
That's as far as the problem goes.
N: It's just hard to decide something that everyone feels
so strongly about and it's important. I don't think it's a problem,
I think it's quite healthy that people feel strongly about it because
that's what we've put our energy into. We want it to be right, so
we want everyone to be relatively happy.
Would you prefer to be called post-rock
C: Po-fi. Or lo-rock.
J: Lo-rock. Lo-rock would
be cool, man. Go on and do that because I bet NME cotton
on to it and we'll have a lo-rock movement. None of them, thank
you very much, none of them at all.
Isn't it a bit suicidal touring when
there's a World Cup on?
J: Yup, very much so, especially
given the fact that I'd really rather watch the football. I hate,
I hate, I hate being on tour when there's football it happens
once every four years and we have to pick this time to go on tour
absolutely brilliant! It'll affect the people coming to the
gigs as well because there's three games a day on. At the weekend
before going on tour I had a total football feast because I knew
I was going to watch very little of it when we were on tour. It's
not the best idea in the world.
N: It's our day off tomorrow and we'll get to watch the
Will you stop watching it when Scotland
go home at the end of next week?
C: Listen to this! Oh
J: (proving he's better
off as a musician than a football pundit) We're gonna absolutely
hump Morocco. We'll beat Norway and then, no we'll draw with Norway,
this is what'll happen because we do this all the time we'll
draw with Norway and we'll need to get three goals against Morocco
and it'll be 3-2 and then Morocco will score in injury time and
we'll go out. No, I'll watch it all the way to the end as far as
I'm concerned: I've got money on Argentina to win it anyway so I'm
hoping they'll do the business.
How do you come up with your stupid
("interesting", sorry) song titles?
J: Cheers. With the single
we didn't know what to do and I just dropped a pen on a newspaper
and it just had "with tongues twisting words" and I was
like "Right, we'll use that then". There's no predetermined
method we write everything and then we try and name it later
if we can't name it anything.
N: We've got lots of working titles and we've kind of incorporated
them into the real names, I suppose that could work out quite strange.
We don't tend to go for something really serious but they all kind
of relate to the song in some way. Well for us they do definitely.
Lids of the Stars are you
taking the piss or what?
J: No, no, it's a homage,
because we absolutely love Stars of the Lid and the song came about
because Stuart started playing over a Stars of the Lid track. We
kind of wanted to tip our hat to them because that's where it came
N: And also it's got significance for us because we were
meant to be playing with them in Glasgow and it fell through for
one reason or another. It was a big hallmark for us, missing that
Why two bassists?
N: Well we have two drummers
as well at the moment. Two bassists is a hard question, I wouldn't
want to say anything to dis guitars or anything.
J: The two bass thing basically
started off way back when, we've always had two bass players. It
started off because everyone in Glasgow was doing stuff with a traditional
line-up bass, guitar, vocals and drums and all that
we wanted to do something that was more rhythmical and had more
of a groove to it. You can get that groove to a certain extent with
guitars and all that, but we decided to try something different.
You do it with guitars you end yo being
Spaceman 3, don't you?
J: Yeah, that's the problem.
But there are other ways round that. I mean I wouldn't say Tortoise
sound like Spacemen 3 and they use guitars and stuff. We're a baby
Tortoise. What are baby tortoises called?
Have you chased the remix bandwagon?
J: We had a trilogy out,
three records mixed by Underdog, Andy Weatherall and Darryl that
works in Rough Trade. And we did a Ui remix as well, years ago,
so been there and done it, mate we stay ahead of our own.
N: We're also involved in a recording
that hopefully is going to come out, called Mount Florida,
basically it's using a lot of Ganger recordings and music and a
lot of samples and things so hopefully that'll be out soon as well.
I hear you'd like to do TV themes/adverts
J: Aye I'd love to. I hear
that you get particularly well paid.
N: There's been discussion about doing the soundtrack for
a movie that's going to be up in Scotland a live thing while
the film's actually running so we're considering doing that,
it'd be quite interesting.
J: Doing music for an advert
would be brilliant because my mum would be in her element, she'd
totally jump for joy.
Would you mind what it was advertising?
J: As long as it wasn't McDonalds,
or Guinness. Tortoise did Calvin Klein, that's amazing man. I'd
do something like that, I'd do a really good clothing label or something
like that. I'd do Kate Moss as well...
Mysteriously, this is where the rest of the
band make their excuses and leave.