Scott Lee Andrews on everything from Mutation, love of The Wildhearts, Exit International, his new project Strange Unit and Oasis b-sides
I had an informative chat with the affable Scott Lee Andrews, on everything from: Mutation, Scott’s love of The Wildhearts and Endless Nameless, Exit International, his new project Strange Unit, music in the time of Covid, and (haters gonna hate) Scott’s and my love of Oasis B-sides. The interview is a biggie, hence it being in two parts. Part 2 will follow in a week or so. Enjoy!
At 8am UK time, 5pm Australia, I gave Scott a brief introduction on what the interview would entail. We then commenced a two hour forty five minute video/phone chat.
The independent venues over here are struggling what with Covid. The government were saying that from 1st August venues could hold gigs again. That’s never gonna happen what with social distancing. How’s life at the moment for you with regards to playing live?
Scott: September was when we were gonna do the first Strange Unit gig but they’ve enforced lockdown again. It’s one of those things where when you ask the question you think back to live gigs. I was watching some live stuff earlier of some shows and thinking, ‘Fuck how long is it gonna be before that’s happening again?’
At this point the video call kept freezing so a phone call was decided on.
Scott: Hello, can you hear me?
Yeah I can hear you fine. All I can see now is a profile pic of you on stage with a bass/guitar, ha ha!
Scott: Ha, ha, ha, ha! I miss being on stage, I’m glad I can’t see it.
Let’s crack on with this then. You moved to Australia a few years ago, what prompted the move?
My wife is Australian and she’s got family in Scotland and lived in the UK on an ancestry visa. She was working for the NHS and then ended up working for a tech company that wanted to expand to Australia. At the time it made sense, as financially it was offering a much better wage for my wife. You know, it’s only a short plane ride, ha ha!
Jumping ahead a bit, later on would you be ok to discuss mental health?
Scott: Yeah, absolutely.
I’ve gotta say, the Exit song ‘Fuck Yeah! Depression’ has been cathartic for me through some tough times.
Scott: That’s great to hear mate. It’s so weird you say that as it came in my head this morning just out of nowhere. I was like, ‘Fucking ’ell, that’s a mad little song, ha ha. It’s a mad fucking song!’ It wasn’t intended to be like a call to arms if that makes sense, but it kind of revealed itself afterwards.
It’s tremendous! There’s a live version that I’ve posted to Facebook several times. If I’m going through a dark period, sometimes I’ll watch it and by the end it’s helped a little. You know what depression’s like, it doesn’t eradicate it, but it helps a little.
Scott: It does, I completely get you mate. I think in the grander scheme of things, in terms of how music kinda helps you through those places… it’s a weird thing for me. In terms of lyrics I kinda don’t get a lot of relief by listening to positive stuff. My thing is volume… volume and power. The physicality I suppose in music, fucking stupid volume and that feeling of your bones being moved? My friend Robyn shared a great radio show which had the guys from Sunn O))) talking about it. I’m thinking about when we did the Mutation stuff, I did loads of research on sonic weapons. I did loads of research on that kinda thing… it’s, feeling something. You know when you’re in the cinema and they put infrasound in trailers and stuff, so you get that feeling of dread? You can’t hear it but sonically where it sits it’s inaudible, but it’s the kinda thing that makes your teeth rattle and makes your stomach feel full of fear – the fear frequency. That was part of the sound design for Mutation, because it was almost performance art. It wasn’t just heavy guitars, it was like a sound bath. That’s the kinda thing in music that’s my saving grace, I just love the feeling of being shaken out of something.
I totally relate, when I’m feeling really bad and I crank the music up – even if it’s for one song – whatever shit I had in my head is obliterated and I’m just hearing that song. I’m in that moment, you know what I mean?
Scott: Yeah, it’s like that saying, ‘Turn it down I can’t hear myself think’. Exactly, that’s why it’s loud ’cause I don’t wanna think, ha ha ha.
What’s the music scene like over there? You’re in Geelong in Victoria yeah, so I suppose Melbourne is the closest major city to you?
Scott: That’s it yeah. Because I don’t drive everything is a train ride. I moved in 2015 and I was still going back to the UK to do the Mutation thing and some stuff with Exit so I wasn’t focusing on what was going on here. It was only when I realised how insane it was of me not to make things easy on myself and get something started here, that I took note. It’s strange man, it’s defiantly not the same as the UK. I found that I’m a bit of an outsider, but that’s changed with the new Strange Unit line-up.
In what way?
Scott: Just in terms of the musical climate being a little bit different. The punk stuff is really punk, the indie stuff is just that… it’s almost as if within the genres there’s not a lot of space between them. Each type of band for example, there’s not much sort of breath of difference in there, like the metal bands all sound particularly metal. Perhaps that’s not totally representative, but that’s what I’ve heard. I should really look deeper. The Australian bands at the moment that are doing well outside of Australia that I listen to; you’ve got Tropical Fuck Storm, Amyl And The Sniffers…
Tropical Fuck Storm are amazing!
Scott: Man, they’re like an absolute force of nature live. The live scene before Covid – this is weird actually because it’s the first time I’ve thought of this – you know how you can go out anywhere and there’s a shit ton of gigs going on? They used to have that in Melbourne; so many venues and so much going on. Again it brings it back to where we are now, how’s everyone going to come out of this? It’s weird but I think a lot of that is to do with my attitude. When I moved to Australia it was kinda like starting again. When I was in the UK I built up all these contacts, then moved out here and didn’t have anything to fall back on. It was like going back fifteen years in my career. Even just getting the confidence to go back on stage and do my own thing, because I didn’t have that support from band members that you’ve known years and years. I did have to rewire my brain to get to the place. I’m super glad that I did go through that process, because I kinda feel more confident now than I’ve ever been.
I was introduced to Exit International in 2011 when you supported Ginger at his Birthday Bash. You blew me away as did Chickenhawk (Hawk Eyes). Ginger guested with you on ‘Junkenstein’ didn’t he? There’s a great video online of this performance with a little snippet of you being interviewed backstage afterwards. I love the bit where you say, “It’s probably, the best thing that has ever happened to me…”, then at the end you’re kinda speechless. What did it feel like to share the stage with someone you admire and be playing one of their songs alongside them?
Scott: That was insane! I know I’m speaking to someone who’s as much of a fan of The Wildhearts as I am, so it was just… oh man. I think it’s one of those things. I feel like the last ten, fifteen years I was still growing up even though I was in my mid twenties. I think musicians are a bit young in the head anyway, you’ve gotta be, do you know what I mean? And music fans are. It’s weird ’cause when I started reading your book recently it brought back a lot of memories. Amazing memories. I was so in the moment I never really sat back and thought, ‘That was brilliant, I enjoyed that’, except for when it happened. I can still remember everything about that day, going on from the soundcheck. We did ‘Junkenstein’ which was my choice, ‘Woah Shit, You Got Through’ which was the boys choice and Ginger guested on ‘Glory Horn’ which he chose. Hawk Eyes did ‘Suckerpunch’ and one of their songs ‘Scorpieau’ with Ginger on guitar. He still wanted the supports from that tour to be a part of that night. It was amazing! It was a total ‘pinch me’ moment. Unforgettable.
That’s what surprised me as the few Birthday Bashes before that they’d never been a support band, they’d just been the guests appearances throughout the show. Originally when they announced there were gonna be supports I was a bit disappointed as I was used to the old format and that’s what made it special. That 2011 Birthday Bash with Ryan Jarman making an appearance as well, it’s my favourite Bash ever, simple as.
Scott: That was so good – Ryan was with Kate Nash at the time. There’s footage online somewhere, it was me, Kate Nash and Ryan and I put, ‘Kate and Ryan meeting Scott from Exit International’, just me being a cunt obviously, ha ha – I’m chronically unfunny, ha ha. But that gig was phenomenal and it was a logistical monster as well to have those little set changes ’cause of the gear that needed to be shifted around. Then the night after was a gig as well supporting Ginger. That whole tour was amazing, it was amazing! From that tour onwards we felt like we were part of the team.
In the interview from the Birthday Bash you say, “That’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me”. Is it still the best thing that’s happened to you?
Scott: At that point, that was like the highlight of my life and obviously, since then Japan happened, which was like a next-level thing. Then I suppose from being a Wildhearts fan, Mutation happening, that’s the high watermark.
We’ll delve into Mutation later, no worries.
So obviously you’re a huge fan of The ’Hearts, to what extent were you into them? I’m imagining ‘Endless Nameless’ is you favourite album?
Scott: Ha ha, you’re probably not wrong there. The drummer from my first band (Matt), his brother gave him loads of music because he was a lot older – we were fed so much incredible music. This has got to be around late ’95. We were twelve, thirteen then I think. He had a ninety-minute tape with ‘Earth Vs’ and ‘P.H.U.Q’ on either side but they were both over forty-five minutes, So ‘Love you Til I Don’t’ and ‘Getting It’ cut out by the end. Matt lent it to me and I remember playing it to death. In real-time the next release that was coming out was the ‘Sick of Drugs’ single. I remember going to record fairs and getting all the singles for the B-sides and just being blown away by the quality, you had to turn everything over. I remember getting the TV Tan 12-inch and ‘Suckerpunch 10-inch just because at record fairs they didn’t have the CD. I just needed the music. It was just a case of they sounded like nobody else. There were more ideas in one song than most band’s full albums.
Everything you’re saying mirrors what I wrote in Zealot.
Scott: It’s exactly the same mate when I was reading your book; the same things that attracted you to them were the same for me. And obviously, because of the press they were getting, they were a bit unhinged, it was like, ‘These are a bunch of fuck ups, this is amazing!’ They’re making amazing music and they don’t seem quite all there, in a dangerous comical way that ticks all the boxes. They had all the wrong ingredients making the right sounds and they had a cult following too. I couldn’t make commercial music if I tried; the bands that I love seem to have these cult followings because they make music which is never gonna be appreciated in terms of commercial success. The quality that’s made far outweighs it, do you know what I mean?
Yeah, going back to what we were talking about earlier on, I know Sparks aren’t a small band but still… I was supposed to see them at the Roundhouse in October not Wembley Arena you know what I mean? I class Ginger as one of the greatest songwriters ever but on top of that obviously Ron. He never writes a traditional love song, he always twists and plays around with the format. I love having the lyrics in-front of me as it’s so fascinating having the music paired with the words.
Scott: Yeah it’s that full package, sometimes it’s hard to get into but it’s so rewarding… you know I’m having like flashbacks mate. I’ll pick the ‘Just in Lust’ single out of thin air because of the time period. You’ve got: ‘Mindslide’, ‘Friend For Five Minutes’, and ‘S.I.N’ right. Man, B-sides? You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me!
I put in the book, ‘I’m gonna stop calling them B-sides, they’re fucking A-sides’, they’re class A’s’… it’s ridiculous!
Scott: You’re right though! The Wildhearts ruined so many bands for me when I started buying singles, ’cause I always thought that every band’s barometer of quality was gonna be the same. They were the first band I suppose I got into buying the singles for the B-sides, then it leads me on into chasing the same thing with other bands, but that quality control just wasn’t there with many other bands. Even in terms of the production ’cause they’ve never sounded half rinsed, the production’s always huge.
I know a lot of people hate on them, but whatever, I liked Oasis back in the day…
Scott: Ahh mate! Man!
…I mention in the book about when The Wildhearts did Top of the Pops and Oasis being the same show as well. I mean, Oasis B-sides… fucking ’ell: ‘The Masterplan’, ‘Rockin Chair’!
Scott: Man… ‘The Masterplan’! ‘Acquiesce’!
‘Acquiesce’ a fucking B-side, what’s all that about?!
Scott: The ‘Be Here Now’ stuff, like ‘Stay Young’, there’s some killer songs man, they could be single worthy! Single worthy songs…
I kinda liken Wildhearts B-sides to Oasis ones. Obviously The Wildhearts top it for me, but…
Scott: I’d say you’re absolutely right in terms of the songs being that good that were backing up releases and the fact that they get to bring out ‘The Masterplan’ as a collection of those era B-sides. That album on its own is superb because of the quality of those songs.
Before I forget this and we get onto Mutation, I’m assuming you got the ‘Sick of Drugs’ single? Did you get the one with the grass growing mat?
Scott: I did mate, I did! Sorry, in regards to the ‘Sick of Drugs’ single, it was £3.99 in Woolworths. My Grandfather took me up to town to Merthyr Tydfil and I thought it was £2.99, and he dropped me off. So I was this kid, in town, with £2.99. I walked up and down the high street looking for change on the floor…
Ha ha ha…
Scott: … serious mate and I got to £3.99 finding some extra coins. Honest to God that’s come straight off the top of my head. I swear to God that was my first experience of buying a Wildhearts CD in real-time… and that even caused me trouble. Ha ha ha! See, destined.
The last Wildhearts album ‘Renaissance Men’, I mean, fucking hell, and the ‘Diagnosis’ EP, what do you think of those?
Scott: A real return to form. The best thing for me is that now CJ, Danny and Ritch contribute to the writing. Obviously they did before but it seems like it’s the feature in the band now that they are a unit.
Off the ‘Diagnosis’ EP the Ritch songs are awesome! ‘That’s My Girl’ is probably my favourite song on there…
Scott: Yeah! That’s a killer tune. I think that got some air play on Radio 6.
… he’s a great writer, I mean obviously he wrote ‘The Song Formally Know As?’ That’s hilarious.
Scott: ‘Genius Penis’!
CJ’s solo albums are getting heavier and heavier
Scott: Yeah I heard that. He’s always written fantastic punky bubblegum pop and starting to get his fucking riff on now.
He said in an interview the other week that his writing songs for the new Wildhearts album but if they don’t get used they can easily sit on his next solo album. It now blurs in with The Wildhearts stuff so he can use it either or.
You featured on the first Mutation album ‘Frankenstein Effect’ on the song ‘Gruntwhore’. What was the experience like in the studio, because there are so many people involved in Mutation.
Scott: Through my memory, I think that song was destined for the cutting room floor, at least the instrumental was. I think they were struggling to find a vocal for it. Then I think – ’cause Ginger liked the Exit stuff – he said, ‘Do you fancy having a crack?’ I actually recorded it when Exit was doing B-sides – just went in and smashed the vocal out. I was really surprised to hear that he loved it, but obviously, I was even more surprised when it was the first lead track to be released. That blew me away!
Was the first time you met Ginger the tour around The Birthday Bash in 2011?
Scott: As a fan I met him when Silver Ginger played in Cardiff but obviously that was from a fan perspective. So, it was only until we were doing Exit that Ginger was more kinda like a fan of us – a fan of the band. That was the game-changer in that respect because it wasn’t just the fan relationship anymore – he was a fan of us.
How did it feel to be working alongside Ginger after being a fan for many years?
Scott: At the time I didn’t have the confidence to know what I was doing would be good enough, so there was always a sense of trepidation because I was nervous that this wasn’t good enough. When you get the feedback that it’s in the bag, you’re just like, “Fuck! That’s insane!” Because when you’re working with someone of that calibre, to get the thumbs up or a green light it was just like, “Fucking ’ell! Am I dreaming?” The way it’s helped me is that, you can get a ton of other people who kinda write like him but I suppose the whole idea of these projects is collaborating with other people who bring something else to the table, otherwise he could do it himself.
Yeah. So many of my opinions in Zealot have completely changed now by the way…
Scott: Of course! That’s great!
Because that’s what we do as humans. I could’ve edited them out before the book’s release, as I started writing it in 2005 but for many reasons it didn’t come out until 2017. I didn’t as they were my feelings and opinions at the time of writing. There’s some stuff in there that makes me cringe. I’m like, ‘What the fuck’!
Scott: That’s the thing man, just even doing what you’ve done because you’re definitely committing to something. Time changes things doesn’t it man? You look at it and go, ‘Aargh’. But I like the way you’re looking at it, as it was written at that time and that’s how you were thinking.
Sorry to keep going back to The Wildhearts but… it’s like ‘Endless Nameless’. I mean, as soon as I heard that I loved it! I could tell it was fuzzed up and drowned in feedback and all that stuff but I still don’t get why people don’t like it. I just hear it as a great album. You get people that are like, ‘Ginger can you do a clean version?’…
Scott: Aargh, I knew you were gonna say that, that’s like the most fucking!… ’cause there was a time when it was almost gonna go ahead. Can you remember that?!
Yeah, I remember Ginger mentioning something.
Scott: Yeah that’s right he said something! They were gonna try it.
I suppose it would be interesting, but…
The reason I’m going back to that is because I mentioned it in regards to my book where I left stuff in. ‘Endless Nameless’ more than any other album they produced was of it’s time. It’s like that for a reason.
Scott: Absolutely. The album is magical.
Every member of the band was on a different drug. It was of that time. It should stay of that time. It should not be… touched.
Scott: It was kind of the result of a certain set of circumstances. If it hadn’t been that extreme they would have ultimately ended up with a very different beast and probably nowhere near as interesting.
I read somewhere that after they’d recorded the album the band went out of the studio and someone that was mastering, mixing, producing or whatever took all the distortion off. Apparently Ginger came back in, heard it and went, ‘No’ and whacked everything back up however that works. Not sure whether this is true or not but I’d like to think so.
Scott: Oh, really? I love the myth around that album as well. You read a lot of stuff about albums being made and a lot of retrospectives but because it’s such an interesting album from a sonic standpoint. Even to this day, it sounds magical to me because I don’t know how it was done. Some of those sounds and stuff on it I’ve tried to replicate myself. I just love the fact that it sounds like nothing else.
‘Dark Black’ was the third in the trilogy of Mutation albums and was ultimately you and Ginger. I think you were both under the heavy weight of depression at the time. Did you write it in Ginger’s caravan?
Scott: Yeah, it was fucking mad. We were in North Wales and this was like a complete first for me as well. There was no studio there and I’d just cobbled together a rudimental portable set up – I worked out how to record from home using an amp straight into a computer. I had a rough idea of drum programming and stuff like that but nowhere near as comfortable as I am now. I think I’d blown my brain out just getting there because I honestly felt that I wasn’t prepared to do this… Ginger was in a really bad place at the same time as well. So I got off the train with these bags and guitars and stuff and he just said, ‘I don’t think we should be doing this right now. Let’s just have a couple of drinks and go home tomorrow. We were both pretty flat.
Then when we got up to the caravan and started having a couple of drinks we started talking about all these ideas. Ginger had an idea of what he wanted to communicate in terms of the lyrical side of things. For me it was just a case of more, I wanna make an album that sounds like the inside of my head, ’cause if I can get it on the outside then that’ll help. Then we did these little snippets and strange extreme ideas. It wasn’t so many riffs and stuff it was just about like taking two guitar parts, tuning the guitars – one sharp, one flat – playing the same thing… it just sounds wrong. Ironically instead of using distortion, how do you make music sound fucked. So then it kind of went down a rabbit hole. Then we woke up on that Monday morning and the following day and Ginger was like, ‘Let’s get to work’, ha ha.
I’ve got two versions of ‘Dark Black’ in front of me now. One came out on Round Records, the other on Undergroove. The Undergroove version has two bonus tracks titled The Caravan Tapes: ‘Toxins’ and ‘Victim’.
Scott: Basically what happened from that day forward is we wrote two songs a day for the five days. Wrote and recorded essentially, so those caravan tapes were the result of, basically, getting up at seven, eight o’clock in the morning, start at nine, then get up to about one o’clock with whatever track we were working on. Take a break. Start again. The whole album was written and demoed in five days within the caravan. Those caravan tapes are the demos that came off my computer.
I’ll be honest, I don’t often listen to grrr, full-on music – my mind isn’t there. I haven’t got much music in the vein of ‘Dark Black’ and I’m not really into it, but anything involving Ginger I’ll invest more to like it, for want of a better word… (as a caveat I like heavy stuff but ‘Dark Black’ is relentless. Still love it though.)
Scott: I get you mate, yeah.
… and that’s just as well because… it’s fucking amazing! It’s a go to album in time of need now. I’ll tell you, yesterday evening I sat in this big field that me and a mate had a socially distant run around a month or so ago. I think I sent you a photo?
Scott: You did, yeah.
So I had an idea, ‘I’m gonna go up the field of a night ’cause I don’t wanna go down the fucking pub yet.’ I’ve been up there with a mate once or twice but if no one wants to join me I go on my own. I had a bottle of wine and a bottle of beer. Normally I’d listen to something chilled out or at least melodic but last night I wanted to listen to all your stuff in the spirit of our interview today. So there I was in an idyllic setting in the middle of the field with the sun setting, listening to bloody ‘Dark Black’!
Scott: Ha, ha, ha, ha! I gotta admit, when it was was written it wasn’t that it wasn’t fun but we weren’t in a place to do anything else to make it a really fun process, if that makes sense? All of the rerecording of the instruments was done outside of that session. The recording was some kind of an exorcism; the actual writing was the dark part I suppose. We recorded the final takes and all that kinda stuff separately, in a lot more controlled environment – it was almost like we were at a safe distance from the material because the original session was so intense. Then it all came full circle when Dave Draper mixed it, ’cause that’s when it got to the point where it sounded like we were back in the caravan again. I think originally, Kev Vanbergen who did ‘Frankenstein Effect’ and ‘Error’ did have a crack at mixing it but Ginger didn’t like the mixes.
Dave Draper’s fucking awesome isn’t he?
Scott: He’s something else man! I remember the moment the files came through. I sat down and put my headphones on and pressed play – I was just laughing manically, because of how intense it was. It was pretty much almost a ready mastered mix. I couldn’t believe how intense the record sounded. And as you say man, it’s mainly because… I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not a big metal fan, I don’t dig metal but the whole point of that album were the sounds were twisted and gnarled so that – this is something I like in music – where the instruments stop being what they’re supposed to be and it becomes like this thing. I don’t know how to describe it; you don’t know what you’re listening to anymore if that makes sense. That’s when I realized that we’d made something special because it just sounded, fucking…MASSIVE.
It’s funny we’ve discussing Dave Draper because I’ve just been listening to the ‘Ginger Birthday Bash 2018’ album. I’m not big on live albums to be honest – not because I don’t think they’re good, I just don’t listen to them much as I’ve heard the music before and normally put it away after a few listens. Anyway I put it on and it’s like, ‘Jesus, I’m back in The Garage again!’. The sound is unbelievable! I haven’t got a clue about producing, mixing, mastering and all that stuff but whatever he does he’s got the Midas touch.
Scott: From working with him he’s really egoless. He also knows how to achieve the best outcome from who he’s working with…. he really is that great. The live stuff I’ve heard him do is exactly the same. I’m like, ‘Jesus Christ mate this is something else.’ I’d love to hear a Wildhearts album produced by him.
Is the ‘Devolution’ video ever happening?
Scott: I tell you what, I’ll send you a couple of screenshots of the video after this. I found a version (let’s call it) of the video – it’s not shareable because it’s a work in progress edit. We just ran out of money, mate. Something that shows I’ve grown up is that the Strange Unit video I just did with Jeremy: all in, from conception, location, shoot, it cost four hundred dollars.
Now, ‘Devolution’ I think I contributed at least a grand and a half… at least. Man, the idea was just like out of this world, literally – there were supposed to be parts of the video were Devin was floating in space. It’s like if anyone says, ‘Have you got any tips for new bands?’ Do not shoot or film anything that involves going into space or pretending to be in space. My wife made the prosthetics; we had like this womb thing which had blood that was connected to me and I was in this weird like room thing being experimented on. There were bits that Ginger was in that were shot in Japan when The Wildhearts were over there and Devin’s stuff was green screened in Canada. The actual version that we had was an extended version, because the version on the album is about a minute shorter than the original version, ’cause it just gets crazier and crazier and crazier. It sounds like Devin has a meltdown. The original version is pretty bonkers so it gets more and more bonkers. I’d like to finish it.
We did say to Jeremy, ‘Is there anyway we can salvage the footage, the Devin stuff and stuff that I did and kind of’… because if the video was executed like we had in our minds I think it’s a fifty grand video, so I think we are just going to try and find a way now of using that footage, even if it’s like someone sitting down in front of a bank of TVs. Something of that nature that’s easy to do and then footage is being played on these screens so we can make it kind of… hopefully. And it happens every year mate, we always say we’ll get it finished by Record Store Day. I’d love Undergroove to put out the extended version plus some of the extra caravan tapes stuff. Every Record Store Day six months before, it always comes up and then for some reason or the other it doesn’t happen. I’m hell-bent that it will happen one day mate, I promise. There’s some mad shit in that video!
Going back to a Mutation video that did happen, did you get any repercussions from spraying the Mutation logo on the corporate signs in the ‘Irritant’ video?
Scott: Ha ha!
I know it’s Ginger that’s doing it as I noticed the tattoos on his hands.
Scott: That’s right, there’s actually a couple of people who I won’t name, because I was actually in Australia so I shot my performance stuff over here. It was Ginger and a couple of friends, ha ha. You probably know I think who were actually involved with it. They were a couple of close friends. That’s kinda the opp of the ‘Devolution’ video. That was super low budget and it came out really well.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on this stuff. I mean if you do it’s marvellous but it’s like the Devin ‘Genesis’ video where he’s sat down and all this stuff is going on around him – that’s absolutely stunning.
Scott: Yeah Devin’s are great! That’s the thing, music videos were super important back then for us. Taping them off the TV, watching them, rewinding it and watching them again. Then the internet comes along and there’s no music TV anymore. So it’s kinda like are music videos important anymore? It kind of is because everyone’s online now. I still think it’s a valuable tool.
Back onto Mutation. Regarding the ‘Dark Black’ diaries we were messaging each other some time ago and you said you have them. Are they gonna see the light of day?
Scott: Ah yeah… I have. I will endeavour to find them. I do remember writing them out at least twice.
They would be a great companion piece to the album, reading the dairy as well as the lyrics along with the music would be a beautiful thing.
Scott: It was pretty full on. It was blow by blow for want of a better phrase; song by song in the order that they were recorded. All the shit that was going on at the time that was happening during the day.
Was it just you who was keeping the diary?
Scott: Yeah. It was kinda observational from what it was like to be in the caravan, so it was super intense. I definitely have a draft somewhere but I’ve went through two or three laptops since then. Basically every time a laptop dies I get the hard-drive put onto a backup drive and I’ve got three or four of them round here. I reckon there’s a strong possibility I can find them, if I find them I’ll give them to you for this.
Mate, that would be something else man. I’ve always wanted to read them because I remember you mentioning them at the time. When it didn’t happen I was gutted.
Scott: They’re pretty fucking dark and I was questioning how much artistic licence you’d have to be able to edit them. But then a part of me was like, ‘Na, I don’t think it should be edited’ like we were saying earlier.
I think a lot of people who are into Exit International, The Wildhearts, Ginger and Mutation have mental health issues and may get something from them. However some things can trigger some people as well unfortunately.
Scott: Yeah you’re right, you’re right!
Obviously I haven’t read them but I can imagine partly what they’ll be like.
Scott: I remember it was a very ominous kinda feeling. It wasn’t as if something once had happened, it was like something is about to happen. So there was a massive feeling of unrest and impending doom but it was unquantifiable. It was really odd to make all the normal observations – I can’t remember us eating much for six days.
I saw you on the Mutation tour at the Underworld and it was the most intensely cathartic experience I’ve had at a gig. How was that gig and tour for you?
Scott: I think everyone was struggling a bit throughout that period. The rehearsals were extremely intense, which were basically ten days before the tour – maybe ten or fourteen days – then straight on tour. Learning the songs from scratch (to a certain degree) because some of them had never been played live before even though they were recorded. Which is the weird thing. It was as intense offstage as it was onstage.
I’m trying to think back now… when you took Mutation over to Japan wasn’t there some sort of incident involving you and Denzil? Did you play a gig but were totally out of it or something?
Scott: Yeah that’s accurate.
Was it something you did the night before? Do you know what I’m talking about?
Scott: Yeah I know exactly what you’re talking about. So the night before we were flying to Japan we were based in a hotel somewhere near Heathrow and me and Denzel had a couple of drinks. We then went for some food and we ended up wrestling and I pocked him in the eye with a chip. When we got back to the hotel, we got kicked out of the hotel and drove to the airport but by then Denzel’s eye was fucked! Denzel couldn’t get through customs and they told him he had to go to hospital. So then Ginger and Dunc flew onto Japan… I lost my phone as well at the same time. Then I had to try and get Denzel went to the London Eye Hospital where he got treated then we flew out the next day. We missed the off day and I think all of that just caught up with me and the first Tokyo show I was a mess, I was fucking shattered. From my perspective I thought I was ok, but I was a fucking mess. It was pretty unprofessional of me. Got through the gig but things got pretty fucked from that point, yeah. Learned a lot from it, I’ll tell you that much.
Scott: The “C word” yeah.
What sort of chip was it? Was it a Steakhouse chip? I’m guessing it was one with a pointy end? And why did you poke him in the eye with a chip, ha ha? (I needed to know)
Scott: God knows, I don’t even know how. It definitely wouldn’t have been a purposeful thing, I mean ’cause it’s a fucking hot chip. Neither of us know what happened. I think it was a French fry.
If I hear the band Hot Chip on the radio I’m gonna…
Scott: Ha ha ha, fucking ’ell mate!
… I’m not a fan to be honest but, ha ha ha!… you and Denzel’s eye are gonna pop straight into my mind.
Scott: The way that we all feel about the band is it was cursed. That’s pretty much what everyone feels about that tour is it was cursed for better or worse if that makes sense? It did give some good results when it was needed but was also fucking trying! Yeah, that night at the Underworld was difficult, it was one of those where you wonder if the gig was gonna happen, even. It was play by ear each day. It was pretty fucking mad… pretty mad. I am still very proud of the band and crew, and in hindsight it’s a miracle we got through it, but was again another incredible experience which I am so grateful to have been a part of.
STRANGE UNIT EP