‘Seminal’ is a much-used (or abused) term, particularly when refering to indie bands whose influence and namechecking by their successors far outweighs their success at the time. So we take care when throwing around such terms.
However, given that everyone from the Human League to the Archers of Loaf seem to be doing the reunion thing, it seems like a genuinely innovative act like (The) Scars, criminally under-appreciated but groundbreaking in their day, are one act worthy of some rediscovery.
While most will have encountered them via Lemon Jelly’s remix hit ‘The Shouty Track’, it’s clear that if they emerged today they would still attract attention. 30 years ago, in a post-punk landscape readying itself for the New Romantics, they were a blast of fresh air.
We chatted to them just before their reunion show in Edinburgh.
It’s been, what, 30 years since the album, and the split which wasn’t too far behind. So, why now? (also, I’m not sure, is it the original lineup for the show?)
Paul Research: This is the original lineup featuring Calumn on drums. The path back to a reunion could be summarised from my viewpoint as breakup / move on and do different music projects / forget about Scars / dawn of the internet / create Scars website / play solo gigs / release Author Author on PREVS label / establish relationship with Avalanche / play with Shock & Awe / resume collaboration with Mr King.
Robert King: Steve the drummer who replaced Calumn attended the gig and party afterwards. So, although he did not play, the complete line-up of Scars were present (including Steve Fraser who doubled as bass – in 1980? – after John broke his arm). I have been involved in music almost continually since the break-up. Although much of this was producing young bands’ first demos.
I know Paul did a Scars-lite show for Peel night a while back, which incorporated some video of the band with Robert – did you ever expect that he band would reunite?
PR: It was fated that we would play together again after the Lemon Jelly collaboration in 2005. It could have happened then but logistics prevented it.
RK: I was in Jerusalem at this point and could not leave the country. However, I was greatly thrilled to see the reaction they received as well as their performance onstage with Lemon Jelly.
Is there any feeling of unfinished business, given that the band seemed that they might make a breakthrough – and the acclaim that’s come largely belatedly (all-time lists, even ‘the hit’ with Lemon Jelly)
P: We’ve got some music that wants to be heard and we create a spectacle when we play. It is exciting to be part of, and that is the reason we are playing together today. We don’t talk about “could have/should have” that much.
What have the various members being doing in the intervening years? Keeping busy musically, or even more than that i.e. releasing or performing?
P: I play violin in the Scottish Sinfonia and compose on my laptop.
Robert has 3 solo albums (Opium Kitchen; Hommagination; Mayor of Pigalle) queueing up for release in 2011. John sings in a folk band in London. Calumn is in several bands in France where he lives.
Also, have you been keeping up-to-date with music locally (or internationally come to that?) Anything in particular that’s grabbed you (the support acts, I’m guessing?) Any insight or observations on the Edinburgh scene now in particular compared with the late 70s?
P:I am more involved in classical music now. But when I go out for a couple of beers I personally tend towards punk bands when I go out in Edinburgh – Shock & Awe, Axidents. I know it won’t go down well but I’m not a massive fan of indie music.
RK: I rarely go out, but know of a few bands around the Edinburgh area: Shock and Awe; Accidents; Babylon Dub Punks and young William Baird (current with Sam Barber), who is a musical gypsy (bassist). But given that we did the show as a benefit for Avalanche, we support indie bands.
What’s the plans for the show – running through the album I assume, but any new material? I assume you’ve managed to rehearse a fair bit (am assuming all the band are in Scotland now) – anything come out that makes you fancy doing more, or is it more a one-off?
P: We now feel like there is a lot of potential for more Scars-type fun.
RK: The show has stimulated a desire to write/record more Scars material.
I think we’ve established now that the show wasn’t a one-off? Any future plans for more shows, tour, recording?
P: We are playing Marc Riley’s show on 10th February, and planning more gigs. New material will definitely be part of the picture.
RK: Being a Scar again has been wonderful – I wonder why it ever stopped.
As Paul says, the next Scars activity is that 6 Music session on Feb 10th. After that? … watch this space…
Images from the Picturehouse show courtesy of Mike Melville of Manic Pop Thrills