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Colin Macintyre of the Scottish band Mull Historical Society
By August Forte, St@tic
(more articles from this author)
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[St@tic] You grew up on the Isle of Mull watching your uncle's cover band do classic pop/rock, which seems to have influenced your own songwriting. As you aged and moved about the country, what other styles of music/bands influenced you as a songwriter? Was there a specific scene of musicians/bands that you worked with once you moved to Glasgow?

Colin Macintyre I listen to quite a range of things. I go through fazes of not really listening to music also - probably because I spend a lot of time on my own. I like things ranging from Bach to Bowie. I like to let a little of it all seep into what I do and write. It's important for me to maintain my own style/sound so I try not to be too influenced by what I hear - but obviously you are, to a certain extent. The trick is to steal from others and then hide it well into what you do! I've never really been a part of any scene in Glasgow. There were times when I would have loved to know more musicians, but after a while I just started to do it all myself and now I'm not reliant on any scene. (But) there are good bands in the area - the Delgados to name one.

[St@tic] (The American debut) Loss (XL Recordings/Beggars Group) is loaded with lyrical observations of workers, both blue and white collar, and how they deal with the day-to-day routine of their given professions. Why does the notion of the worker inspire you in the way that it does?

Colin Macintyre Because I've been there!! I've done jobs that I couldn't stand, where you could almost feel your brain closing in on you. My way of dealing with it was to write about it all, and these experiences and the people around me. I found it all pretty inspiring. I like to glorify the mundane I suppose. You can paint a pretty big picture from focusing on these people and their issues - redundancy, job satisfaction, office politics - I like the detail in the daily struggle of these people's lives.

[St@tic] What are your earliest memories of work? Your most recent outside of being a songwriter/musician?

Colin Macintyre (My) earliest memories of real work (after school) are with an office firm of fund managers that I worked with when I first left Mull and came to Glasgow. They were the biggest fund management company in Scotland when I joined and maybe the 4th biggest by the time I left - so that shows you how good I was! It wasn't really me, but I learned a lot, and as I said, I wrote loads at this time. I'd do a day's work, then rush to gigs, tear off my tie, and then perform. It was a real learning experience, but I'm glad it's over. My most recent job, which I gave up when I signed my deal, was with British telecom, answering the directory enquiries calls. Mind numbing, but again, it inspired me in ways they'll never know! On my last day there I stole their mission statement for the artwork on Loss.

[St@tic] MHS is gaining a good deal of momentum in the UK. What are your expectations for releasing Loss in America? What do you expect to find once the band reaches the US to play live?

Colin Macintyre I've been flattered with the things people have said about the album in the UK. I suppose I don't really have any expectations for the US, it's just really exciting to have my music out there. I played in New York last month and it was brilliant--an amazing experience, and I can't wait to play all over the states, as we should be doing in the summer. I just hope people get what I'm doing and can enjoy it- there's not much more than that.

[St@tic] Who are the other musicians that comprise MHS? What instruments do they play and, briefly, what are their respective musical backgrounds?

Colin Macintyre I write all the parts myself, and record as much of it as I can myself. So the live band varies in terms of size depending on the gigs I'm playing.

[St@tic] What can you tell us about the integration of video in your live shows? How did you become acquainted with (video makers) Gordon Buchanan and Wendy Rattray?

Colin Macintyre I've (often) used video clips as a live backdrop. I think it's important at any level you're playing to try and put on a show, and take people into your world for a while at gigs. Gordon and Wendy are friends of mine. Gordon is also from Mull and is a wildlife cameraman and that probably explains how many animals (or humans dressed as animals) creep into my videos. Wendy is a TV producer. So I'm lucky to be able to use people who share my humor and get what I'm doing. It's important to try and do things originally and they also think the same way creatively.

[St@tic] Why did you decide to self-produce Loss? Are there any other producers that you were considering or would like to work with in the future?

Colin Macintyre I had to produce it because over the years I've written so many songs that I find it hard now to separate the producing, or how the songs should sound, from the songwriting itself and how (the songs) sound in my head. I'm comfortable in the studio I use and with the engineer that I have. I've begun recording the second album, and again I'm producing it, so I can't see me using anyone else really. I couldn't have produced when I was younger; it's just experience that I've built up and knowledge that I've acquired. But I've got loads to learn! I like to find it out for myself though, or steal!

[St@tic] What was your response the first time you heard "Barcode Bypass" on Radio 1?

Colin Macintyre Laughter! I was loading into King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, a venue in Glasgow, when the promoter came running down to tell me it was on - it didn't do my credibility with him any harm, as weeks earlier I'd sent him the same recording of the song, which started out life as a demo, in the hope of a gig there...then my phone started going - it was great to hear it.

[St@tic] Any plans to release the numerous songs that didn't make Loss's final cut?

Colin Macintyre Well, some have come out as b-sides, and others will too. A lot of the songs that I've written at home probably should stay under the bed, as they were just me developing, but there are loads more that I've done in the studio which will hopefully see the light of day in some form - I'd like to do a compilation of unreleased tracks and b-sides some time in the future. But the trouble is I've already got loads left over from the second album's recording so far. But it's important for me to keep the quality in my songs, so only the best go on the albums - there has to be the right mix.

[St@tic] What can you tell us about the real Mull Historical Society?

Colin Macintyre They go on walks. They have talks in the village hall or in their homes. They take packed lunches with them. Some are retired. They advertise their timetable in the local press. I saw it. I wrote songs about them - or what I imagined them to be. They're probably bemused by me. I want a seat on their board. We're forever linked.

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