An interview with the Cosmic Rough Riders
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Cosmic Rough Riders Interview / Enjoy the Melodic Sunshine

Glasgow's newest pop-gems note-perfect stab at the big-time. Main boy, Danny talks to Crud about ripping off The Beach Boys and not giving a fanny about the fannies..



There are a number of things you may know, or think you know, about Scot pop gems the Cosmic Rough Riders. Their geographic roots stem from Glasgow's ramshackle inner city, but they don't exactly sound that way. There's little doubt however that they look like it, thankfully being a good deal easier on the ear than the easel. They're the gentle glistening psychedelic jewel in Alan McGee's new crown and possibly to Poptones what Teenagae Fanclub were to Creation. Going on these vague guidelines though they are almost certainly much better than you expect them to be.

Catching them onstage, as Crud does for the first time playing to a packed and jovial audience clearly on the same sunshine drip as the band at the University of London Union on a brief UK tour, they don't look even loosely like the underdogs they've previously painted themselves out to be at all. Confident, buzzing, strong, shimmering and more willing to throw exaggerated and largely indistinguishable rock shapes than sink cross-legged into the communal trance that their image suggests.

Note perfect and satisfyingly translucent they use all the space the box venue offers to lift the contents of their fine debut album 'Enjoy The Melodic Sunshine' (and find fault with that title if you can) onto a plain that there just isn't enough room for on a tiny shiny disc. From the crisp tender crust of early, 'Document'-era REM, the craning acoustics of The Byrds, innocent boy-next-door Beatles pop trim and of course the ultra-violet Beach Boys rays, songs such as lead call 'Revolution (In The Summertime)', 'Melanie', 'The Pain Inside' and their clearest moment of hippie weakness 'Glastonbury Revisited' leave their pollen lingering in the air for some time after.

We join pint-sized, lolloping-haired front man Danny the morning after, over a faltering mobile line en-route to the next gig in Bangor, the seeds of the previous evening's aftershow festivities firmly sown in his head. Give or take at least two tunnels and a generally unwilling bugger of a signal we find him by and large happy about the London gig, the tour and life in general.

Crud: So, little over a year ago you had no deal and nobody knew your name. Quite a change in the interim then?

"I'll tell you how surreal it all is. I had never been out of the UK before I signed with Poptones. I'd never been on a plane. This year alone I've been to 19 countries and been on over 40 planes. I've made four videos. I've been on about 30 TV shows worldwide, done numerous interviews, hundreds of live radio sessions, been filmed by MTV in Japan. The list is fucking endless! And we've had a good slagging on the singles page in NME, just like any other good band has. That's when you know you're good, when they say you're shite. It really is a fucking backhanded compliment. So we know we're on the right tracks."

Crud: Your life been stuck on fast forward then?

"I never thought it'd happen this quick, I was quite happy for us to be doing little albums on our own, and maybe by album number seven we might start to earn a living. But having got a manager and the deal with Poptones we kind of got the leap to album number seven almost overnight. It's all to do with good solid hard work. Loads of bands will talk about it and talk about it and 2 years later they've done fuck all. We've done 147 gigs this year, tonight will be 148. We're just about to get a silver disc for the album in the UK, so it's working."

Crud: But you're not exactly what would be labeled trendy, who's buying the records?

"What I've done is just follow my nose. I've really just done that, not listened to what people say is trendy. I've picked out the kind of music that I like, I think, like you probably think, everybody thinks they've got good taste. I just thought if I can please myself and make an album with the band that I would want to buy myself and maybe likeminded people would buy it too. I haven't really given a shit about making money or anything like that. I think there's so much cynicism in the music press at the moment, people are trying to tell me that certain bands are the fucking future of rock n roll. But they're not doing anything new, they're as retro as we are. It's all water off a ducks back to me, I can't be bothered doing stuff to please other people. I do it to please myself."

Crud: So you're quite happy not actually bringing on a revolution?

"I got into music as a child because I loved it, it was entertainment. I just feel like I want to entertain people. I don't want to save their lives, I just want to do what comes natural. And the music I'm making is the natural kind of music for me to make. It's like if you run a sponge under water, you hold it under a tap and the water goes in the top end of the sponge, you turn the tap off and squeeze the sponge it doesn't just come straight out the other end. I feel kind of like the sponge and I'm taking in all these influences and when I squeeze them back out they're in a different order but they also take a bit of me with them."

Crud: You draw quite heavily on those influences then, because you don't sound like you come from the rough end of Glasgow?

"Music is about escapism. If you lived in Castlemilk in Glasgow where we live, as child growing up it's quite a hard life, it's difficult, it's a hard area, the people are tough. There's unemployment, drugs. I mean, you'd walk past the bookies and want to put on a football coupon and there's a guy trying to sell you heroin at the door. And I would rather have my mind transported somewhere else through music. Actually that's a title we're thinking on for the next album, it's being considered, 'Escapism'."

Crud: But while you don't sound like you're from the rough end of Glasgow, you've said yourself that you might look it.

"Yeah, well I don't know. Some pictures make us look worse than others, but y'know I never got into music to be a pin up on anyone's wall. I got into it because I love music and I don't give a fuck about all that other stuff, it means shit man. How many superficial and crap bands have been hiding behind a bit of make-up and a nice suit. It's fucking shite, it says nothing about music. If they want that why don't they go buy a fucking fashion magazine and give us all peace. I have no problems with myself! I'm me and I'm happy with that!"

Crud: You might not be part of any real discernable 'scene', but don't you think that on the stairway of escapist acoustic pop your ascending star has just passed Teenage Fanclub's descending one?

"I don't know, I don't think we sound as much like them as some people do. I know for a fact, I've spoken to Norman (Blake) on a few occasions about this, and he doesn't think we sound like Teenage Fanclub. But y'know, Teenage Fanclub are basically a complete carbon copy of Big Star, there's loads of Teenage Fanclubs, they're an out and out blatant copy. If you want to draw a line from us it's not to Teenage Fanclub, it's the people that influence Teenage Fanclub. If they hadn't existed this band would still sound exactly the same. And if you really want to know who I fucking rip off then it's REM and The Beach Boys. I really love REM, they're my favourite band of all time. And the great thing for us is that they fucking love us too! They've all got the album and have dropped us messages saying they love it. For me, when they say that, the Gods have spoken. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks."

If you are in the Strathclyde area looking for a little luxury then these luxury Boutique hotels might be worth a looky. Alternatively, for all you bohemian cheapskates who like a bevvy or two it may be worth checking out these cheaper b&bs in the West End and in Glasgow City Centre.

James Berry for Crud Magazine© 2001


2-4-7-MUSIC.COM 2006

STILL refusing to dumb it down.

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