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We See Lights

a quick pre-gig chat (with Alan Rae)

By • Dec 11th, 2012 • Category: features

Edinburgh indie collective We See Lights have been persuaded to come together for the is this music? 10th anniversary show on the 13th. We grabbed a quick chat with the band…

You do seem to have a quite sporadic existence as a band – we’ll see you playing a few shows or release a CD or track, then go off the radar for a bit. Is this through accident or design? And now you have got back together in the rehearsal studio, what can we expect coming up?

There’s a few reasons for this. First of all, we’ve never really been a “band” as such – Paul, Stephen and myself started writing songs together and a few mates joined us to play them, but then a few those people left and other people joined, and then they left and others joined, and so on. We’ve never actually had a settled line-up for more than a year, which makes things difficult. Secondly, we do everything ourselves, we don’t have any management or booking agent and so it’s very difficult for us (as a bunch of people with full time jobs) to keep everything organised and ticking over all of the time. For example you’re talking about releasing tracks and then not hearing much from us., which is a fair point and one that we’ve recognised. The reality for us making an album (which we are in the process of doing right now!) is that we can’t all take two or three weeks off and record it – there’s too many of us to coordinate in order to do that and we wouldn’t all get time off work and even then, you can’t really just take the best part of a month off work to do that when the band doesn’t support you financially. So what we try to do is keep everyone in contact with each other for occasions when we are asked to do a gig or festival that we think is worthwhile (such as this itm? gig!) and make sure we can do that. At the same time, it falls to Stephen and Paul and myself to organise sessions and do a lot of the recording when it comes to getting the album done. So that’s the long answer to that: it’s not an ideal situation, because obviously we’d love to be putting out new music ever year and playing gigs regularly, but we try and keep as organised as possible! We’ve been recording a new album since last year and hoped we’d release it this year, which isn’t going to happen. We released the first song from it, Hopeless at Maths, in the summer, and it looks like we’ll have another song out next month with the album coming out the following month. The album is called Bloody Twenties and it looks like it will have 10 tracks on it.

I know that various elements of the band have been involved with Xmas-related shows before – so, any festive covers or originals that we can expect?

We See Lights have an alter ego, it’s like our secret superhero identity for playing Christmas songs: We See Christmas Lights! We See Christmas Lights play at the Christmas Songwriters’ Club in Edinburgh every year but they’re a rowdy bunch who wear shit jumpers and drunkenly play half-written and rehearsed songs. They do look a lot like us though. But I’m not sure if you want those guys at the itm? gig. They will definitely be at at the Queens Hall for the CSC this year though (December 22nd!) and it’s sure to be a brilliant night, so I’d say it’s more likely that the Christmas songs will come out then!

Edinburgh’s music scene has been unpredictable to say the least, with venue closures battling with interesting festivals like EH1 and Haddowfest. Given your longstanding involvement, how do you see things at present, compared to (say) 5 years ago? And, on the subject of gigs and festivals, anything else planned from yourselves, or are there enough festival-y things without you having to take it upon yourselves to do more than xmas shows and your own shows?

It’s hard for me to tell, because how WSL is interacting with the Edinburgh music scene now is vastly different from five years ago. If I was just going by our experience I’d say that there’s less enthusiasm in the music scene – fewer venues, fewer promoters, fewer people coming out to shows. But I don’t know if I’m in a good position to judge that because when a band gets to our stage, having been around for a while, people aren’t generally beating our door down to have us at gigs every month. So the experience of other bands is probably different from ours. No one could argue that the way people interact with the music ‘industry’ as a whole is totally changing now. There are always exceptions of course – Electric Circus I think really does put on great gigs all the time. But in general when massive changes like these happen, the people at the bottom of the food chain tend to go first. Which is obviously why we’re seeing a lot of the grassroots closures in Edinburgh with venues and record stores etc.

There’s always the impression that you’re having fun when you play – does this carry through all the time, or is it all a great big front for a seething mass of inter-band-member resentment?

We usually have 7 or 8 people playing in the band at gigs, so it’s something we try to do to put on a good show. We try to make fun music and get people involved in that. Outside of that context though, yeah we hate each other… Just joking! We’re all good friends and there’s very little disharmony other than what you’d expect when you get a bunch of people together in a rehearsal room or a tour van for a long time!

And finally, the question we all need to know the answer to – do you like The Smiths?

What difference does it make? (Sorry that was TERRIBLE. Atrocious. Yes we love The Smiths.)

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