The Wayne Devro Set is the moniker of Brian Docherty, at one point the artist formerly known as Scientific Support Dept.
He recently released the superb ‘Birdsulfur’ album and Betty cornered him for ten questions.
1.So you’ve got to tell us, what is with the name, The Wayne Devro Set?
My dad had a cabaret band in the 70s that did Beatles, Carpenters, Neil Diamond covers etc and that was their name. They wore matching suits with WDS on the blazer pocket and frilly shirts and dickie bows. The Devro part came from a light engineering firm based in Cumbernauld and they just liked the name Wayne. I gave him a pound coin and we shook on it.
2. What were your earliest experiences of making music, good and bad?
My earliest memories of making music was with a bass guitar plugged into my dad’s WEM Watkins Copicat that lay under the sideboard in our living room. i was about 10. My grandfather played the accordion and also had a home organ that i’d mess about with. I only wanted to learn an instrument properly (the bass) after i joined a punk band in 4th year at school. A bunch of 6th years i knew were playing the school disco and i’d watch them rehearse and they asked me to be the singer. i was shit but it didn’t matter as i got to jump around the stage like a tit screaming Sex Pistols and Alternative TV songs down the mic. I started my own band soon after and started writing songs.
I can’t really remember any bad experiences back then. All that came later when i took it more seriously and the harsh reality of the music industry kicked in.
3. BM was very impressed with the album – did the songs all come at once or have they been percolating for some time?
A mixture really. A couple are 7-8 years old and a few came together in the two year leading up to its release. There were more to choose from but they didn’t fit. Some might see the light of day at some point and some won’t. A song needs to live with me for a while before i know if it’s any good or not.
4. How have the live shows gone – and how many have there been?
Live shows have always been pretty good. Not that there’s been that many. The line-up has varied from gig to gig and i’ve done a few on my own but since the album came out i’ve wanted to play them live as close to the sound of the recordings as possible. The album launch at The Hug and Pint in Glasgow was particularly pleasing from that perspective.
5. Over the years can you tell us, what has been your worst/dodgiest gig, and the best?
I think the worst gig was in Ullapool with a band i was producing years ago. They were doing a Highland tour, and asked if i’d play bass. There was no stage and everybody there was absolutely blotto and i had a guy who stood right next to me the entire gig shouting in my ear ‘Can you play Simply the Best’ by Tina Turner, then falling over on to a table. It got quite surreal. Best gig…no one gig stands out. It’s more moments on a stage when the sound grabs and exhilarates you. I played Wembley Stadium once with a ‘major label artist’ and felt nothing at all. It wasn’t my music.
I was a hired hand and the audience were about 3 miles away. Smaller, intimate gigs are always better, if a little nerve wracking, and the audience are close in and listening.
6. You have worked with some of the best Scottish musicians of the past few years – who else is top of the list, who you would like to work with?
It’s always good working with other musicians but it takes time to develop a musical relationship and it’s rare that time is afforded. I’m working with Finn Lemarinel again, whose EP i produced a couple of years ago and with Graham Crossan who i worked with on the first Machines In Heaven album. They’re both interesting musicians I’ve had time in getting to know, and we take our time over recording, the sounds and arrangements. It’s about the work not the status or an artists profile for me.
7. What were your biggest ambitions for the album and to what extent have they been fulfilled?
Every artist wants their work to be seen and heard by as many as possible, but i was realistic about the level of exposure it would receive based on the fact it was on a tiny label with limited resources. Also, putting a full band together to play it live is expensive and the logistics don’t make sense without a proper production budget. Musicians need paid!
Getting radio play was difficult due to the song lengths and the amount of swearing, but we’ve had good feedback and airplay from a few stations here and in Europe and the USA. There’s a game to be played but I’ve very little interest in. I’d rather spend time writing and developing new things. For me documenting it is more important. I have no control over how it’s received or by how many. I’m alright with that.
8. Do you have a “usual” approach to songwriting – if so what is it?
Probably not. I rarely start with a chord sequence or a lyric. Sometimes it’ll be a beat or a phrase on the guitar or piano or just a tone that i’ll loop until a vocal phrase takes shape and words come that subconsciously have a relevance that i can dig into as the narrative unfolds and reveals itself. Often it’ll leave me in bits when i realise what i’m singing but from then on its trying to craft it into something that doesn’t make me sound like cunt. Never been a fan of a middle eight and i’m bored with verse chorus verse chorus so i look for other ways to keep my interest up.
9. Will there be future live dates, and can you give some details please?
I just played a festival last weekend in Stirling where i grew up which was weird but good. No other live gigs planned until the end of Autumn. I’ll be in the studio between now and then getting an EP ready for release early next year and writing the music for a film about whippets and canals!
10. And the usual Smash Hits question – digestives or Hobnobs?
Digestives. no contest!
‘Birdsulfur’ is out now on the Barne Society label.
More at www.thewaynedevroset.co.uk