slow magazine the revolution will be photocopied

slow #2/summer 1998

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 more.

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 out?
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.
N: Stuart!
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 or lo-fi?
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 Scotland game.

Will you stop watching it when Scotland go home at the end of next week?
C: Listen to this! Oh come on.
It's traditional!
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 from originally.
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 gig.

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.


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