Whilst Interview by Stewart Smith
Counterflows marks the first Glasgow show from a band who have already made waves with shows at London’s Cafe Oto and Dundee Contemporary Arts. February saw the release of their debut EP on Optimo Music, ‘Everything There Was Was There’, a five-track excursion into disco grooves, motorik rhythms, analogue electronics and Ethiopian jazz, all underpinned with a strong punk ethos. The Glasgow-based group will play Late Night Counterflows alongside featured artist Joe McPhee and General Ludd, the new duo from Tom Marshallsay of Dam Mantle and Rich McMaster of Golden Teacher and Silk Cut.
Drummer and multi-instrumentalist Conal Blake spoke to Stewart Smith about Whilst’s evolution from a studio project to a free-wheeling live act.
Could you introduce the band?
We are Scott, Conal, Stu, Andrew and Murray. We have also worked in the studio with vocalists Lara and Aldo.
You all come from a range of musical backgrounds. What brought you together?
Some of us have known each other for years, some of us have played in bands together previously and some of us have only known each other for a short period of time. We were brought together through an opportunity to record some music at the Green Door Studio in Glasgow, last summer.
Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do or has it been more spontaneous?
The whole thing came around purely by chance. We had time and ideas. It was a quite spontaneous process, we would come up with an idea and record it to tape before we could forget. We had the time of our lives recording, at moments we were rolling around on the floor laughing.
You’re one of several bands associated with Green Door Studios. Do you feel it’s become something of a hub for Glasgow bands?
The studio is definitely an important place for Glasgow’s music community. The free courses they provide help demystify the writing and recording process, opening it up for anyone to have a shot. Emily [MacLaren] and Stuart [Evans] have a really open minded and well informed approach to the whole thing, it’s not surprising that the studio is being recognised.
You’re signed to Optimo Music. Have the club and label been a big inspiration for you?
Yeah. Both the club night and the label are great. They are a well established and popular club night who also put on really weird and amazing live music. A fan of James Chance & The Contortions could go along and discover club music and vice versa. The label too, they’ve released some really great music, Peter Zummo, Golden Teacher, Divorce… we love it.
You played your first show at Cry Parrot’s recent residency at Cafe Oto, London. Translating your studio sound to a live setting must be quite a challenge…
Not really, the hardest part was working out who plays what. We were all fighting over who got to play the [Korg] MS10. The Cafe Oto show was great, we really enjoyed ourselves.
Are there any Counterflows artists you’re particularly looking forward to?
Getting to see Joe McPhee play is really exciting. The line up this year is really amazing, definitely looking forward to Heatsick’s Extended Play, The Space Lady, Aki Onda… lots!