On an anonymous South Lanarkshire industrial estate sits Chem 19 Studios, birthplace of many a masterpiece from feted Glasgow label Chemikal Underground alongside others. Run by producer and ex Delgado Paul Savage, this particular wet and overcast Sunday morning finds Irvine lads Culann recording with house engineer Jason Savage. Leaving keyboard player Ross McCluskie working in the live room, the rest of the band; Kelly brothers PJ (vocals/guitar) and Sean (drums) alongside Greg Irish (guitar) and Calum Davis (bass), file into the studio’s kitchen to discuss their new single ‘All Reverie’.
A stand-alone release due to be launched on the 11th of April at Glasgow’s Audio, it follows a busy year of touring their self-titled debut album, which culminated in a sold out show at King Tuts in December, the eleventh time they have played the iconic venue and “A great night for all involved” according to Sean. Looking back at their first effort, PJ thinks it was “A fair reflection” on where the band was at in 2012 when it was released. He continues, “We can still improve in the future but for our first album we couldn’t be happier with it.’ Sean agrees, “You see all the tiny wee errors you made yourself but if you stand back and look at it I’m very proud of it still.” While inevitably tiring of the ten songs that make up the record having played them all over the country, they are feeling positive about working on new material, spurred on by the positive response form the people they met on the road. A recent show in London put on by the Ralphs Life blog in aid of Rethink Mental Illness, saw them meet a particularly dedicated French fan, as PJ explains, “He just had such a connection with the album. He runs his own radio station, Radio KC over there, just outside of Paris, and he came over to London to see us which is amazing.” Such high praise has not been uncommon with the band receiving a lot of positive feedback on their unique sound, something they are justifiably proud of. “You have to strive to be original, especially now a-days” PJ states. “Personally speaking, when people say to me, “That’s something I’ve not heard before”, that’s exciting, that’s the biggest compliment you can get in terms of writing music.”
‘All Reverie’ finds Culann in interesting territory. “The single is quite up-beat” says PJ. “The last thing we released was Jerusalem which is a driving song with dark connotations and sad history; it’s based on the highland clearances. This one, although it deals with dark subject matter, is quite a positive song. It’s a major (key) song.” Built around a riff composed while on tour, the song is “About helping someone through a dark place, depression or illness, (helping them) get to the other side of it” PJ discloses. “It’s a friendship thing again, we write a lot about friendship.” Clocking in at less than four minutes it is the shortest song they have ever written, a direct result of feedback from DJ Jim Gellatly who, although keen to give them further exposure, was unable to play their music on certain shows due to its epic nature. “I think it’s up beat, I think it’s a positive song and I hope people react positively to it. I think it’s quite catchy, there are good hooks” PJ enthuses. “Although it’s a single and although we did structure it to be radio friendly in that its four minutes long, we have not compromised (on the) music just to please folk. I think it still has our sound.”
Timing the single’s release has also been an important consideration. With the time involved in writing and recording an album, the band felt it important to fill the gap with new music. The worry PJ remarks, is that “If you’re not active on social media and stuff people think you’ve broken up or disappeared off the face of the earth. It’s important to keep up appearances.” Greg feels the timing is right, “I think it’s a good time to pick up momentum before the festival season cos that’s one of the things we never really did last year.” Applications have been sent off to several festivals in preparation for the summer though it remains to be seen if they are successful. This isn’t a worry however with PJ philosophical about the selection process, “If they say no we’ll just book our own shows and get on with it.” Getting on with it may involve a tour of Northern Europe with friends from bands such as What the Blood Revealed helping out with contacts and advice. As with all things however, their plans require money, and Culann is and will probably be for some time to come “A non-profit organisation” reveals PJ. “We want to do things the right way” he continues, “So you’re always running at a loss.” With day jobs currently filling the financial black hole, they are understandably open to approaches from record labels but refuse to wait around sitting on their hands. “You don’t do it for the money, you do it because you love to do it” asserts Sean before concluding, “I think there is an audience out there for it but even if there isn’t, I still like doing it.”
‘All Reverie’ is launched at Audio, Glasgow, on April 11th.