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Strike The Colours

Work to rule (with Jenny Reeve)

By • Feb 22nd, 2019 • Category: features

They do say that good things come to those that wait. In which case, the new album from Strike The Colours is as expected – pretty spectacular.

With a nine-year gap between the Glasgow-based quartet’s previous release ‘Seven Roads’ and newie ‘Flock’, Jenny Reeve is candid about the delay in releasing the band’s third long-player, actually recorded in 2011. “None of us wanted to just fling the record out without any consideration,” says the singer, “so it took until now for us to come back together as a band and dedicate our time to its proper launch.”

And finding the time to devote to Strike The Colours isn’t easy – Jonny Scott plays drums with world-conquering synthpop act Chvrches, bassist Graeme Smillie tours with
Emma Pollock and Karine Polwart, and Davey McAulay works with the likes of King Creosote.

And of course there’s Reeve herself. The outfit is often perceived as her project, but despite being the one who answers my questions, she’s quick to dispel any ideas that it’s a one-woman-band.

“The ideas were created together from the outset,” she insists. “We purposefully worked that way, to create an album that felt fluid and uninhibited. We deliberately stayed away from any full ideas being fully written by any one person in the band.”

I wonder if this venture perhaps comes across as being her baby owing to her being well-known as a member of Arab Strap, but perhaps seen as a ‘sidewoman’ to the core duo of Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton.

“Um… well, we don’t give ourselves titles like that, whether in Strike or in Arab Strap or whatever,” Reeve insists. “It really doesn’t work that way. I work alongside some incredible musicians across a number of projects and for that I am very grateful. I don’t feel any possession over any of them, though Strike the Colours is a project-band close to my heart and one with whom I share with my best friends.

“So no, it’s not mine. I hope it’s never regarded as such. It’s a band to which I commit myself and ideas, alongside those whom I respect and love.”

‘Flock’s feel flits between styles – from the rollocking rollercoaster of ‘Aces’ all the way through to the delicate stylings of ‘New Snow.’ All quite far-removed from her own ‘side project’, Bdy_Prts – a collaboration with Sparrow And The Workshop’s Jill O’Sullivan, which last year produced dance-infused album ‘Fly Invisible Hero’. But with Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbot as well as Emma Pollock lending their vocals to ‘Flock’, do they make for a decent substitute for Jill?

Fortunately Reeve takes my question’s tongue-in-cheek intention. “An unfair question!” she responds with mock indignation, before adopting a more serious tone. “There can be no substitute for Jill, she’s an exceptional songwriter and musician, and someone I count as a friend… as I count Davey, Graeme and Jonny!” she adds quickly.

“Also bear in mind that the Strike record was written six years before the Bdy_Prts record”. Which is a fair point, Bdy_Prts’ almost hip-hop stylings aren’t touched on on ‘Flock’.

“I have an infinite love of music and of many different types/styles of music.” Reeve says before anticipating my next question. “I don’t think I have a preference for one or the other. They occupy different spaces in my head I suppose, it’s just different styles and approaches to writing.”

‘Flock’ was recorded in Wales at the Rockfield Studios complex (depicted in the new Queen ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ biopic). But while the spirit of Freddie may not inhabit the new release, the change of scenery had a great bearing on its making.

“We spent almost three weeks at the studio, in glorious weather,” Reeve recalls. “To get away from the day-to-day, to create a space we could all inhabit without time contraints… they are some of the best times I’ve ever experienced – formative experiences if you like. I feel very lucky.”

‘Flock’ is out now. More at facebook.com/strikethecolours.
This article originally appeared in the Motherwell Times.

Strike The Colours – Flock Teaser 1 from David McAulay on Vimeo.

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