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Saturday, 2 February 2013

Black And White Boy Spotlight Interview Article

© Euan Robertson 2012
We had the delightful sounding Black And White Boy up on the blog before, as a review last time round, this time though we have him up for one of our spotlight interviews, and we're glad he's back!

Heavily influenced by songwriters like Neil Finn and Ryan Adams, Black and White Boy is very much a pop act with a few folky influences along the way. Black and White Boy is singer/songwriter Andrew Nicol, a 28 year old Ayrshire native now residing in Strathbungo in Glasgow’s Southside. Black and White Boy is sometimes a solo act and sometimes a full ensemble with a little help from my friends: Ken Yip, Luther Sean Hall and Nick Maney.

Black and White Boy’s debut, self-titled EP was released on 10th November 2012 on his own record label (Acre Records) that already boasts releases in 2012 by Calum Gilligan, Benjamin Ellis and Anna Sweeney. New Hellfire Club Glasgow described it as:

“...well written folk-rock at its best, it's easy to tune into and hard to forget and comparisons to great singer songwriters such as Elliot Smith are easily heard, but there's also a touch of the (albeit more sedate) Mercury Rev vocals on there too.”

Plans are in motion for an album in 2013, more gigs and a few festival appearances.

Quotes

"Black and White Boy lace their tracks with musical beauty: smooth vocals,...and catchy melodies" Susan Ford - Glasgow PodcArt"

"...a pleasant band to watch and listen to, with simple, swaying chord progressions where the delicate vocal melodies of Andrew Nicol became the focal point of the performance." James Foley - Watch This Space -http://www.watchthisspaceuk.com/ 

"An immediate comparison musically would be troubled singer, Elliott Smith, you can hear it in Andrew’s voice and playing style. The music flowed well, the harmonies in particular were nicely executed." The Practice Room - http://the-practice-room.net/

“...a breath of fresh air for the Glasgow music scene, mixing catchy, and free flowing melodies with well written, crisp and often poignant vocals.” New Hellfire Club Glasgow - http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/2012/11/black-and-white-boy-review.html
Interview

Tell us a bit about your band, like how you got together, or what you have been doing the last few months.

Black and White Boy started back in 2010 on the 5th November. I remember the date because it was my first gig under the name. I was a solo act but I didn't want to perform under my own name in case it morphed into a band over time. I racked my brains for a name that could work either as a solo act or a band and wanted something that summed me up pretty well. Being the shameless Crowded House fan that I am, I stopped on Black and White Boy. I think it works for me. I can be a pretty moody guy and I think the music reflects that. My Mother says I’m either all sugar or all shite and I think that sums it up nicely.

Since then I've played with loads of musicians who've come and gone and added the own influences to the mix. I released an EP in November 2012 which was recorded with a different line up to how B&WB looks now. The comments I got about the EP were mainly positive so overall it’s been a fun experience and I’m currently playing with Luther (Hall) and Nick (Maney) who seem to just love playing music. Next up is recording an album in April and using a recent trip to Australia to hopefully inspire a few more songs…happier songs!!

Describe your band to us in three words, extra points if you can make a haiku describing your music.

ANGST ON TAP

© Euan Robertson 2012
If you could choose one band or musician that has influenced your own bands music the most, who would it be and why?

Ryan Adams has probably been the biggest influence on my music in the past year or so. In my opinion he’s the best songwriter of the past 10 years or so and it would be silly to not have him as an influence. Musically, he’s got it all: great guitarist, great vocalist, great lyricist and he genuinely doesn't seem to care what people think about him or his music. He makes music for himself and doesn't seem bothered about trying to please people. I respect that mind-set a lot. He’s also married to Mandy Moore. Respect!!

What are the main themes/topics for your songs and do you see this changing over time?

Girls!! Always girls!! They songs have always seemed to focus around relationships. I came out of a pretty shitty relationship about a year or so ago and that certainly gave me plenty to write about. About the things that I got wrong and the wrongs I feel were done to me.

My Grandmother also passed away about 2 years ago on my birthday and I wrote a couple of songs about that once I had come to terms with how I felt about it all.  I’m a total atheist and it’s hard to lose someone when you don’t ever think you’ll see them again or speak with them again. It presented me with a bit of a theological crisis of confidence and my girlfriend at the time was a hindrance rather than a help. It’s a tough time but I guess music can help as well as some of my friends who were amazing.
I suppose I’m a pretty honest songwriter and the songs tend to reflect where I am in life. Things have improved for me recently and I've been able to rest a little easier with some of the things that tear me up and so I’m hoping there will be more happy songs in the pipeline!!

Hellfire loves a good photoshoot, if you could pick a location for your favourite band photoshoot (if money, and possibly reality was no object) where would you choose?

Ah, this is when you find out I have absolutely no imagination. I recently did a photoshoot in the back lanes of Strathbungo in Glasgow and I thought it was a really cool location for the shoot. But, if I could do a shoot anywhere, I think I would probably say the south west of the USA in the desert. It seems like such a remote and extreme environment and that sort of appeals to me.

If you were only allowed to listen to one album for a whole year, what album would you choose and why?

“Love is Hell” by Ryan Adams. I think it’s probably his best album and for me it has all the elements of a good rock album. There’s angst, exuberance, arrogance, insecurity along with fantastic melodies and guitar work that make it a close to flawless album for me. It’s maybe not an album for a desert island but, for a year in Glasgow, it’s perfect.

I know from personal experience how difficult being in a band can be sometimes, what would you say is the biggest obstacle new bands will come across as they progress, and what has been yours?

In terms of new bands in Glasgow, I would say the biggest obstacle is the city itself. Or, at least, the scene that exists within the city. It produces loads of good music and to a very high standard for what is essential an amateur scene. But I think it takes itself far too seriously and has an unhealthy fixation on “cool”…whatever that means. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to why some bands are “cool” and other aren't  Maybe it’s down to image or who you know or both but I’m certain loads of good acts get overlooked simply because they lack this “cool” factor. It’s bullshit. I speak as an act who realises that I will never fall into the cool category…and that’s fine. If I wanted to be popular I wouldn't play the style of music I do and I certainly wouldn't tell people that Crowded House are my favourite band. (Crowded House are in my own top five all time favourite bands too....ED)

The biggest obstacle for bands, in my opinion, is facing that they probably will never make it or have any impact on the music scene. Once you accept that I think you’re free to make the music you want without out really worrying about what the cool police think. Let’s face it, they’ll be too busy hanging around crappy bars, listening to obnoxiously obtuse music whilst pretending to be part of some sort of musical intelligentsia to bother worrying about a well written pop song by a band who aren't quite hairy enough.

© Euan Robertson 2012
Who is the biggest inspiration to you in your life right now, and why?

My Grandmother remains a huge influence in my life. She was a very measured woman who would never say anything unless she meant it. I think since she passed I've tried to live in a way that would make her proud. I don’t always get it right and I've done things and treated people in ways that would have made her upset with me but I try my best. I don’t believe she sees me or that I’ll have to answer to her when my time comes but I hope that, when all is said and done, she would have been proud of me.

A lot of unsigned bands these days seem to be hung up on what 'image' they should portray onstage and in the media, do you find that a bands particular style or image is important for them to progress?

I wish image wasn't important but it seems that it is these days. It’s probably nothing new. We often get caught up in thinking that the difficulties that face modern music have never been encountered before. Image was important in the 60's as much as it is now but maybe the balance of music and image has tipped in the wrong direction.


Could you tell us a bit about the best...and worst gigs your band has been involved with? Has there been any nightmare situations at a gig you were due to play where you just thought 'what the fuck is happening??' or my personal favourite 'where the fuck am I and why am I here??'

I played a gig at Pivo Pivo in Glasgow towards the end of last summer where the only people watching were the band on after us. They sat, arms folded and didn't even clap. I just remember thinking “what is the fucking point of even being here??” I got bored after a while and made a lewd joke about anal sex which got a laugh and applause so I had a bit of a go at them. We finished our set, packed up and left them to play to no one. Bitter and petty perhaps but that’s just me I guess. Thankfully the bad gigs are few and far between and, generally, I’m pretty happy with how the gigs go.

What's the first ever album you bought, and be honest! Mine's was 'The Bartman' on 7" picture disc, which I actually still have somewhere.

I think my Brother bought “the Bartman”!! My first record was the single of “To Be With You” by Mister Big. It was on vinyl too!! I think I’m giving away my age a bit with that confession though. Still, it’s a cracking tune but I could never work out if the singer was a girl or a dude.

What would you say is your main plans for the months ahead, anything big in the pipeline you could share with us?

There’s nothing really planned in the way of gigs for the next few months but we’re booked to go into the studio to begin work on B&WB’s first album. Luther, Nick and I will be focusing on practicing hard to be ready to make the most of the time we have in the studio. We’ll be working with Paul McInally at 45 a-side recordings in Glasgow who I’ve worked with in the past and really enjoy working with him…and his tattoos!! Beyond that, it would be good to get some festivals under my belt and maybe get to support some touring acts but recording is the priority for me at the moment.


New Hellfire Club Glasgow On Facebook

UPCOMING HELLFIRE EVENTS:

(15/2/13) NHC MUSIC Podcast - 'Hellfire's Favourites' Launch Edition on MESi Radio Including tracks from The CoffinsThe CosmonautsAye-AyeFluorescent FieldsTwisted RainBow,Twinkle and the SlutsLet's Play GodWinterhold and many more!!!

(29/03/2013-31/03/2013) Hellfire First Long Weekender...Starring; Sneaky PeteThe CoffinsCrooked Little SonsGordon's AliveThe UntitledLets Play GodWinterholdAye AyeFinal SilenceMairLouise DistrasCal MurrayStuntman MikeThe CundeezTwisted Rainbow....and more!

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