Not to terribly age ourselves right from the start of this tale but Belle & Sebastian is a very important band to a lot of people at BYT, mainly because, I imagine, it came about at JUST THE RIGHT TIME for us for it to FEEL VERY PERSONAL. In my case, I was 15 years old when Tigermilk came about. On top of being 15 (which frankly, should be enough), I was also obscenely tall, so skinny that I used to buy jeggings which fit like normal jeans around my bony legs and spending my first year away from home in a boarding school in England, where I was (pretty painfully) reminded on a daily basis that I was not the smartest, prettiest or funniest girl around (not even close) and that wearing (weird fitting) jeggings was not cool in the slightest. But I remember hearing the first notes of “Expectations” and knowing that these were MY KIND OF PEOPLE. The second I heard it the first time, I needed to hear it once again (and with feeling) and again and again …
Two years later, the word “twee” forever etched in my brain, The Boy With The Arab Strap landed just as I was about to graduate high school and land myself in art school (with obviously MORE OF THESE KIND OF PEOPLE) and I can keep on going but you get the picture-almost every record (and single and….) of theirs fits neatly into a sentimental education category for me and now, in 2012 here we are:
- wearing jeggings became cool and then (inevitably) uncool again
- general awkwardness has somewhat subsided (despite the basic causes for it still being very much present)
- and on account of a music festival named after a song Stevie Jackson wrote and which appeared famously on “The Boy With The Arab Strap” happening THIS WEEKEND @ ARTISPHERE (and him playing opening night) I got the opportunity to interview Stevie about ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING
And needless to say I sort of hit a little bit of writer’s block. I mean, WHAT DO YOU ASK? Initially, I wanted to just go the meta route and ask him ALL THE SAME questions chickfactor magazine which is in charge of said festival asked him in an interview in 2000 and see how it compares (Stevie very kindly told me that not much has changed and that we need to find a different angle) and so I recruited the help of some of my other B&S fans here at BYT (many thanks to Phil Runco and Cale for being the best, always) and here is what we came up with.
It is not our best work but it is not our worst work either. Mainly-it is HERE TO MAKE YOU BUY TICKETS TO FRIDAY+SATURDAY’S festivities @ Artisphere (everyone from Stevie to Frankie Rose to Lorelei to BLACK TAMBOURINE) is going to be there and to make everyone listen to the “Jonathan David” single again, in case you haven’t in a while.
First things first: When are we going to hear a new B&S record?
Well Stuart is making his movie this summer (“God Help the Girl”) so I don’t imagine anything will come out till 2013.
Next: Favorite and least favorite member of B&S (past or present)?
Well it’s been so long that It’s hard to remember not being around them. I’m pretty close to all of them. I don’t really see our past members Isobel and Stuart David at all although I generally have fond memories of them both. There’ll all pretty funny and generous and supportive and great to work with. Maybe Stuart is my favourite as we’re the same age or something. My least favourite member? Now that be would be myself as I’ve always had esteem issues ha ha (ha).
Ok, now that we got these out of the way….lets talk about this weekend. How did you get involved with The Chick Factor festival @ Artisphere?
Well, when Belle and Sebastian first came to America in ’97 Gail was one of the first people we met. Chickfactor magazine was very supportive of us in our crucial early period…we’ve been friends ever since. I also first played solo at a Chickfactor event in London a few years ago so when asked to play the event at the Artisphere it seemed a natural thing to be involved in and a pleasure to boot.
Who are you most excited to hear out of the line-up? (and why?)
Well I might be playing a few songs with Honey Bunch so I’m looking foreword to hearing them, I’ve never even met them ha ha..should be a happening…I hope!
What can we expect to hear FROM YOU?
I’ve been pondering that myself. I never really know until I’m about to go on. It’ll just be me and the guitar so there’s a freedom in that. I’ve recently written a few songs with Maggie MacDonald the Canadian writer also known for her work with the Hidden Cameras so I’m sure I’ll feel like playing some of them. Oh yes I have a record out (I can’t get no) Stevie Jackson, so I’ll play some of that and maybe a couple of B&S songs which I don’t normally do but it feels appropriate given the nature of event. Oh yes and of course a few tunes with Honey Bunch for fun.
How do you know to save a song for yourself or give it to Belle & Sebastian?
When B&S are getting a record together we just throw around ideas, bits of songs and then they take shape. So the group is writing the song as well if you know what I mean, kind of a different process from doing it yourself but that’s what being in a band is all about, our band at any rate.
So, we’ve always wondered…. What’s the story behind the (I can’t get no) Stevie Jackson title?
In the 90’s I was in a band called the Moondails and we used to hit Europe in a van, try and get gigs, at night we could go busking and I would always play “Satisfaction” by the Stones, always a money spinner. One night we were in Holland sitting at table by the window with a milling crowd of exuberant youth outside in the street. Basically we had no more money for another round of drinks and we’d ran out of cigarettes. I grabbed my guitar, hit the street, broke into “Satisfaction” and a party started, a guy with a trombone appeared and started jamming. Meanwhile the rest of the Moondials are watching all this from the window. In 10 minutes we had enough for a few more rounds. I sat down at the table and Colin the Bass player started singing “I can’t get no Stevie Jackson” it kind of stuck so it seemed like a natural title.
Relatedly…Favorite Rolling Stones song and why?
Always fascinated by “Monkey Man” It’s the sound, the structure, the feeling. Jagger is mostly just yelling and yet there’s something mystical going on. It’s the tonality of the guitars it’s kind of hard to explain. Total groove as well.
Which song in the world do you wish you have written?
“Begin the Beguine” by Cole Porter, beautiful elegant and emotionally devastating in a good way. The last 2 verses put the listener through such an emotional wringer that when it reaches the conclusion the effect is exhilarating. So beautifully crafted melodically. Cole Porter was great. Hoagy Carmichael is great as well…”Memphis in June” would be a close second place.
B&S released a lot of great songs as b-sides; favorite B&S b-side?
Well, for the first few years I don’t really think of us having B Sides. We released LPs and EPs, the EP’s having 4 tracks, kind of it’s own entity. Later on, starting from Legal Man in 2000 there was more of a sense of A sides and B sides. There’s one I love called “Desperation Made a Fool of Me” which I love, which I think is the B side of “Step into My Office”. It’s a great song.
Did you contribute anything to the new LateNightTales compilation album? If so, tell us about some of your selections, if not, tell us what you would have contributed if you were in charge.
Not a thing. I think I suggested a Harry Nilsson tune “All I think about is you”. I played it for the band, opinion was divided to say the least. That’s always been one of my favourite records. I like Dion a lot, I always come back to him. I wish I’d pushed one of his tunes. Beautiful singer, the best, top of the heap! I really enjoyed the Late Night Tales record, a revelation, most of it I didn’t now. Beans our piano player did a great job (mostly his baby).
Favourite Hollywood movie set in Scotland?
I can’t think of any good ones to be honest. There’s been a whole crop of Hollywood films been shot in Glasgow recently but it’s financial thing and the nature of our grid system. Our fair city has been filling in for New York and Philadelphia, Brad and Angelina and the like have been seen kicking about. There’s “Brigadoon” which of course isn’t a real place. Seriously can’t think of one…not a Hollywood one at any rate.
Aside from “chick,” favorite slang for female?
Probably just “girl,” eg. “Hey girl, how are you”, “You look great girl”, “I love you girl”, I’m sorry girl”, “Forgive me girl”, etc.
Classic AND classy… and then, lets do a playlist thing sine I am sure our readers would love to listen to music with you on ANY OCCASION. Just fill in the blanks:
- Best song for getting ready to go out is……Friday nights, back in the day, getting ready to go out, my girl would come around and we’d always love to play “Sometime in New York City” by John and Yoko. Great Friday Energy to it… “Sisters oh Sisters” that’s the stuff.
- Best song for getting ready to stay in is……“Stardust” by Willie Nelson
- Best song for first kiss is….. “Dawn Chorus” – 5 in the morning
- Best song for a 100th kiss is…. “You’re Getting to Be Habit with Me” by Frank Sinatra
- Best song for a breakup is…. “You’re a Big Girl Now” by Bob Dylan
- Best song to do nothing to is…. “Moonlight Mile” by the Stones
- Best song to get EVERYONE dancing is…. “Modern Love” by David Bowie (AMEN TO THAT-ed)
- Best song for ANYTIME is…. “Rock the Boat” by The Hues Corporation
We could go on forever like this. THANK YOU-and see you this weekend!