Figure 5

everything counts

The hall grows quiet as the band makes their confident appearance on stage. A billowing white sheet ripples behind them, emblazoned with their unmistakably vibrant logo. The crowd watch as the group of retro hair cuts prepare set off into their zone of well crafted mod rock beats. As Neil, (vocals), throws his hair back and bangs his tambourine the atmosphere heightens and the stage becomes alive with a light and sound that feels like another time.

Figure 5 are supporting The Fratellis on this occasion. Behind that white silky sheet that that brushes the floor just behind the band, the main act are tweaking their set. Neil and Martin, (guitar and vocals), are available for a chat as various sound checks fill the venue with thunderous drumming. The boys understand the sometimes difficult nature of being the support act: `Aye going on before big bands is hard, I`ve seen crowds at Oasis gigs shout for them all the way through the support act. It`s the way to get started though` remarks Martin, and get started they have.

Figure 5 formed three years ago, having met each other at Glasgow`s favourite mod haunt, `Friday Street`. They started out performing cover versions of lesser known 60`s garage bands. According to Neil: `These bands acted as the blueprint for our style which developed as we began to write our own material.` The name of the band was inspired by a pre-Warhol and pop art painting by Charles Demuth, Figure 5 in Gold.

The band started 2007 touring heavily with both The Fratellis and Coventry three piece, The Enemy. Back on Scottish soil, how do they feel? `It`s great to be back in Scotland` they reply in unison, `we have been up and down England but we haven`t really toured up here. We`d love to do the rest of the country, take in place like Inverness and Aberdeen.`

The boys grew out of a thriving Glasgow music scene. They hail McCuills pub (where Martin worked along side Barry Fratelli) as their spiritual home having played many a gig there to a loyal fan base. Talking about other recently successful Scottish bands, their inside perspective on the Glasgow scene emerges. `Bands like The View aren`t from Glasgow and it`s good, it helps them to sound different,` says Martin. `A lot of the bands in the Glasgow scene all sound the same and it can be quite uninspiring. It`s all extremely cliquey, if you`re into Gang of Four, you`re cool, if you like Oasis, you’re crap`, sighs Neil.

Perhaps it was a yearning to move away from the Glasgow sound that took them to Tony Hoffer in L.A. to mix their E.P. Most likely however was that they spied the impressive list of Mr Hoffer`s former employers. Bands like The Kooks, Air, Beck and The Fratellis have all worked with this producer with rocking results. `You hear about a lot of bands not getting the sound that they wanted after production. We knew a lot of bands had been happy with what Tony had done. The results were perfect. It was the first time we all sat around and listened to a recording that we were all happy with` says Neil.

The band haven`t played this side of the boarder since their spot on XFM`s Exposure at the start of February during which Jim Gellatly played two of their tracks a night. `We gave our EP to Jim when it was finished, it made sense because he was the first person to play the Fratellis`, says Martin. `We were on tour during our week on exposure, so we weren`t around to hear ourselves on the radio. Our friends kept ringing us up so that we could hear it down the phone` adds Neil. The results of such air time can only be a sneaky boost up the rock and roll ladder? `We thought that Jim was just going to play the EP but he dug up some demos as well and played 11 tracks in total` replies Neil. `It will be very interesting, once we have finished this tour, to come and do our own tour, see what people`s reactions are like now`, Martin adds.

It`s hard to believe that Figure 5 are still unsigned, `We have done everything that you can possibly do. We just want to hold a seven inch in our hands and get paid for what we love to doing`, enthuses Neil, `It`s a weird situation because we have recorded an album and have done three tours. We have proved just how much you can actually achieve without a record deal.` This may be true but how can they be sure it`s their time? `I think that we are ready now. In a process like this you always think that you are great at the time but six months down the line you look back and realise that you were a bit shit. Now, we are ready`, answers Neil confidently.

The frustration of waiting for everything to fall into place must be hard for a band who has been touring with big names like The Fratellis for quite some time. The band took to the stage at Scotland`s T-In the Park festival last summer with exhilarating results, `T-Break last year was fantastic` they both remark. `We were first on, on the Saturday and we thought that it would be quiet as a result but the tent was full. People who wanted to get in told us they had to queue outside without seeing us. Hopefully we will be going again this year`.

No doubt they will. Figure 5 will bring an electric presence to the music scene of which it can never have enough. A recent live session on Radio 1 Scotland added momentum to their race towards a deal.

As the other side of that silky white sheet beckons, it is wonderful to experience their undulating desire to get to the top, before that jaded rock star attitude breaths its influence on them. `You hear so many bands moaning about how crappy their lives are. Block Party`s new album is all about how shit life in London is. I`m thinking, just get the drinks in!` blasts Neil. And so, off they go, continuing their tour and their toil for a contract. It`s not hard to imagine a glorious exit on a pack of scooters, skinny ties and side burns flowing in the cool Edinburgh wind.

Gabriella Griffith

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