“I don’t know” says Erik Sandberg. “People go on about that but Postcard only lasted for a couple of years. We have a lot more respect for Chemikal Underground.”
Perhaps that’s not what you’d expect to hear from the singer of Wake The President, as the mention of Postcard Records acts like Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and Josef K are usually never too far away when people talk about the band. However, with their newly released debut ‘You Can’t Change That Boy’ , Wake the President are set to blaze their own trail.
Erik Sandberg and his guitar-playing brother Bjorn have been in bands since the age of 16 but Wake The President’s current line-up, which features bassist Mark Corrigan and drummer Scott Sieczkowski, has been together for 3 years. “When we met Mark that’s when things really started to click musically” says Erik. “We shared similar influences like Felt, The Smiths and The Beatles.”
Erik was a student at Stow College when he asked Douglas MacIntyre, director of Stow’s Music Industry Management course, if he would be interested in working with the band. During the course the students release and promote an album from a band of their choosing on Stow’s Electric Honey imprint, with previous acts having included Belle and Sebastian, Snow Patrol and Biffy Clyro.
Wake The President got the nod, and they are grateful for the time and resources Electric Honey have invested in them. Indeed, although the college usually just works with bands for around a year, they are now in their third year of working with Wake The President. “We’re the first band they’ve worked with for that length of time” says Erik. “They’ve given us time to breathe and develop.”
The band recorded ‘You Can’t Change That Boy’ last summer at Chem19 studios. They enlisted the production services of ex-Delgados drummer Paul Savage but admit recording was a fraught process. “There were times when it was amazing and times when it was very stressful” admits Mark. “The studio’s out on this industrial estate and it’s a bit like a nuclear bunker because its has no windows. I think we got cabin fever after about three days.” Indeed, such was the stressful nature of the process, the band recall they had to do 19 takes of the song ‘Professor’.
Despite the stresses of the recording processes, Bjorn says he is happy with the outcome. “Paul pushed us in the studio and I think it worked” he remarks. “He also made sure we kept things fairly stripped-back and didn’t add too much extra instrumentation.” Mark is also satisfied with how things went. “For us, recording at Chem19 was like the holy grail” he says. “I remember listening to the drums on Arab Strap’s ‘Philophobia’ and thinking I’d love to record there, and I’m happy we did.”
Wake The President’s songs offer tales of deceit, infidelity, and West End debauchery. “Glasgow’s a very hedonistic city and I’ve found myself in situations I perhaps shouldn’t have been in” says Erik, adding that many of the songs stem from his own relationships and break-ups. As for the songwriting process itself, Erik says it starts with him writing something then taking it to the rest of the band. “When I first write something it’s basically just a ditty” he says, “When the others get involved it becomes something else.”
The band isn’t Erik and Bjorn’s only musical venture. In 2006 they set-up ‘Say Dirty’ records, which has put out acclaimed releases by the likes of Endor, Zoey Van Goey and Bela. Erik and Bjorn say they were inspired by the DIY attitude of famous Scottish labels like Postcard and Chemikal Underground, but at the moment the label is being put on the back burner as they focus their energies on Wake The President. “We couldn’t give everything to both the band and the label, and our heart is set on the band at the moment” says Bjorn. “However, the label’s always there and I dare say we’ll put out a lot more records in the future”.
While the Glasgow music scene is much lauded at the moment, Wake The President feel somewhat detached from it. “I don’t think we really fit into anything” says Erik. “To me the Glasgow music scene isn’t anything special. I mean, there’s good bands like De Rosa and The Phantom Band but I’m more interested in American acts like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart at the moment.”
The band admits they have a gang mentality, and Erik feels that they’re often wrongly pegged as Postcard Records copyists. “Nobody seems to take us seriously here, whereas if we go somewhere like London people seem to get it a lot more quickly,” he says.
They may see themselves as musical outsiders but you can’t keep a good band down and Wake The President are adamant that they will continue to plough their own furrow. Their combination of upbeat pop and twisted lyrics is an intriguing and rewarding listen, and is sure to find many new admirers in the months ahead.
‘You Can’t Change That Boy’ is out now on Electric Honey