The Sound of Young(ish) Scotland

Posted by in November's Magazine

Stevie Jackson: Guitarist, writer and a singer for Belle & Sebastian:   Attracts nicknames such as ‘Reverb’ or ‘Stevie Reverb’ due to dexterous use of said effects and has recently produced his first solo album I Can’t Get No which he’s touring all over the world.

What does avant-garde mean to you? Actually when I was about ten I asked my mum that and she gave me a very succinct answer. “It’s the music of the future played now.” I think I was asking her about John and Yoko. That definition still does it or me.


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Ruffled any feathers in your time? Nah, not me, although I did cause a minor scandal at this indie night called National Pop League by complaining that they never play the Stones. I was told in no uncertain terms to start my own club, fair enough I suppose.

How did you find yourself playing Neu! Reekie!? And how was it? You asked me Michael through Roy Moller, don’t you remember? Great. Artistic events are always cooler and sexier than just playing a gig. I can’t help it, I’m an age old Velvets fan, gotta get the turtleneck sweater on. I know that’s an old cliché, don’t care. Cool films, great poems and a few tunes, what could be better. It was crazy doing Suspicious Minds as an encore, kinda relished doing that at an evening of poetry, seemed kinda funny at the time. Very poetic song, mind you, I guess you couldn’t really call it a subversive move

What’s your favourite word? And use it in a sentence… ‘I’ve heard someone found some ultra rare super 8 footage of the Beatles playing in Hamburg’. There’s the sentence now spot the word.

What’s on the cards for you in 2012? I’m going to try and live in the present, not be haunted by the past. It’s a hard thing to do. Try and write everyday. You see, one can get caught in the present trying to atone for the past and it goes on and on, how do you break out of it? Someone tell me?


Duglas T. Stewart of the band BMX Bandits:  Duglas is pop’s spokesman on love, magic and fairytales. Whilst the Bandits have shared members with other Glasgow bands (such as Teenage Fanclub, The Vaselines and The Soup Dragons), Duglas has been the effulgent yellow yolk that’s spanned it all. Kurt Cobain often claimed that if he could be in any other band it would be BMX Bandits.

What does avant-garde mean to you? To me it means different from the normal/usual approach to things. I never really thought of myself as avant-garde, as the way I approach writing songs and music is very instinctive and natural to me. Friends and colleagues have described me as coming much more out of the avant-garde than them and maybe that’s just the way I am naturally as a human being as well as an artist. It’s not a planned approach for me.

Ruffled any feathers in your time? Even before I started making music I used to take delight in being a source of annoyance for some types of people. At high school, and it was a rough school, I would hang around smokers corner wearing a deerstalker and smoking a Sherlock Holmes pipe hoping to provoke a reaction. If one of the rougher boys approached and said, “Who the fuck are you?” I’d say, “My name is Nancy”, shake their hand firmly and enquire if they were into sport.

When I started my band in 1985 we would regularly get abuse and objects thrown at us and I would reply to this behaviour by threatening to write a note to their parents or pull down their trousers and pants and smack their bare bottom in front of all the ladies and gentlemen. We were often advised to stay in our dressing room or sneaked out the back way of venues after shows back then.

How did you find yourself playing Neu! Reekie!? And how was it? I got sent a message by Michael and one by Carla, it sounded very intriguing and I like to do things that aren’t conventional rock ‘n’ roll type of events. I’m not really a ‘rock’ guy. I enjoyed it very much. I shed a few tears and also had laughs at a short film called Harvie Krumpet. People seemed to enjoy my own set. It was rather rough and ready but rough and ready is often preferable to overly polished.

Whatʼs your favourite word? And use it in a sentence… I’m going to cheat and give an answer you might want to disqualify – front bottom. I like referring to female genitalia as a ‘lady’s front bottom’. I always feel happy when I say it because I love how it sounds and also I really love lady’s front bottoms (obviously not all of them, as I’m sure some are kind of unpleasant). If I had to go for just one word I think I’d go for bottom. For me it sounds exactly right for describing a lovely round little bottom, it’s like a picture in sound. It’s not quite as special when used for bottom of the class or bottom of the pile, etc.

What’s on the cards for you in 2012? We’ll have a new album out called BMX Bandits In Space and the documentary. BMX Bandits Serious Drugs should be appearing in cinemas around the world.


Tam Dean Burn:   Born Leither, a Dirty Red, deid gangster, new dad. Or as my twitter description has it – baldy auldy punky drawers, actor/agitator/less agitated, thanks to the power of human givens.

What does avant-garde mean to you? The forces of, and for, revolution. Mayakovsky and Rodchenko joining forces with the Bolsheviks are the best it’s ever been.

Ruffled any feathers in your time? Certainly huv, noh least in the very pages of this esteemed journal where ah kicked up shit about critics, their awards, and Caledonia.

How did you find yourself playing Neu! Reekie!? And how was it? Amidst a fruitful chinwag aboot nappies, felly new faither Kev (No Boaby) Williamson got me sayin’ aye tae everythin’ and that was it – hooked again. The Book Trust venue has a special resonance for me as we were looking at having a Harry Horse exhibition there a couple o’ years back. It wis great, ah did Late Lamented Fame Of The Giant City Of New York by Bertolt Brecht to a dub version of Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue by JD Twitch of Pure and Optimo, with visuals I put together. It was written at the time of the Wall Street Crash and is so pertinent to now.

What’s your favourite word? Ooze.

What’s on the cards for you in 2012? Off to a remote island in Russia early doors to make the movie Anna Karenina, adapting Jack London’s novel The Star Rover for stage and as part of a campaign against solitary confinement, and a few other things up my sleeve that I’d best not talk about quite yet.


Ron Butlin the current Edinburgh Makar:   Has published eleven books. The Sound of My Voice was awarded the Prix MillePages and Prix Lucioles (both for Best Foreign Novel), and was included in the recent Guardian’s 1,000 Books You Have To Read.

What does avant-garde mean to you? Energy and hope, so long as the avant-gardists aren’t too self-conscious. Can’t stand manifestos – all too soon they become statements of mindless dogmatism

Ruffled any feathers in your time? Over a few years I had endless difficulties with a publisher who will remain nameless – eventually he took me to court for alleged defamation!

How did you find yourself playing Neu! Reekie!? And how was it? Neu! Reekie! is a most hospitable gathering. Suitably wined, I came on between music sets and a series of near-pornographic animations that were hugely entertaining. Despite this competition Joe (a poet who’s recently moved up from London) and myself were both warmly received.

What’s your favourite word? See next…

What’s on the cards for you in 2012? I have a new collection of poetry coming out next summer, The Magicians of Edinburgh, which will be the basis for a Fringe show with jazzers Dick Lee and Anne Evans at Valvona & Crolla. Also, several trips abroad to festivals – my wife fancies tacking extra time onto the one in Slovenia for a holiday. In fact, holiday is beginning to sound like my current favourite word! I’ve just completed a new novel, Ghost Moon, after two years’ work – again holiday sounds good to me!


Roy Moller:   Is a singer-songwriter who has gigged under various guises; formally of Meth O.D. and The Wow Kafe, currently of Roy Moller Enterprises and The Store Keys (along with Stevie Jackson and The Wellgreen), he boasts bountiful Belle and Sebastian collaborations/credits and was recently crowned ‘Scotland’s Best Kept Secret’ by Marc Riley

What does avant-garde mean to you? To me it’s a case of Avant Gardyloo! – as the slops fall from above, art shall rise from the street.

Ruffled any feathers in your time? Absolutely. Line? Toe? No! And I always stand up for my Leith rights.

How did you find yourself playing Neu! Reekie!? And how was it? I was performing at a Simon & Garfunkel night when Michael offered me the gig. “If you want me to, YES!” I found Neu! Reekie! 4 an audiovisual treat of wit, warmth and welcome. A hometown High Street high. I played again during the festival with my soul brother Stevie Jackson. It was high, wide and handsome.

What’s your favourite word? And use it in a sentence… Weltschmerz. I’d use it in a sentence like, ‘A thousand Herz of Weltschmerz, y’know – side two of Low’.

What’s on the cards for you in 2012? “If I could tell you, I’d let you know.” W.H. Auden said that. But I will hopefully have an album out with my co-conspirator Sporting Hero. It’s called The Singing’s Getting Better But The Songs Are Getting Worse.


Malcolm Ross:   Started out with Josef K then moved onto Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, Mark Knopfler(??) and The High Bees. More recently scored film music for Chocolat and The Illusionist, now there’s a dash of The Low Miffs.

What does avant-garde mean to you? At the front, looking for something new.

Ruffled any feathers in your time? Yes, but not proud of it.

How did you find yourself playing Neu! Reekie!? And how was it? Because of the animation theme and friendship with Kevin. Enjoyed it – I like a bit of variety.
What’s your favourite word? And use it in a sentence… Beat. ‘All they could hear was the beat of the drum’.

What’s on the cards for you in 2012? Taxi driving.


Stevie Jackson image courtesy:


3 responses to “The Sound of Young(ish) Scotland”

  1. Pedersen says:

    To justify The Mark Knopfler reference in the Malcolm Ross interview I quote the mighty Wiiki:

    After Orange Juice, Ross joined Roddy Frame in Aztec Camera as second guitarist, and recorded and toured the Mark Knopfler produced Knife album.

  2. All about the detail says:

    Was no-one else quite taken by clicking to enlarge a picture of a quite subdued Stevie Jackson and watching it transform into a roaring Tam Dean Burn?

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