X Magazine was a quarterly humour and/or music magazine which was first published in March 1990, by Card House Productions in Michigan.
Issue number 8 from the fall of 1991, included a single page article on the Trashcans’ and features a phone call interview with Paul Livingston and Australian contributing editor, Brian May.
Paul Livingston lilts his Glaswegian accent down the phone line over a pub atmosphere to Brian May in Australia.
The Trash Can Sinatras started off playing in night clubs the usual way most fledgling bands do. They did not, however, play any Frank Sinatra covers as some publicity leads you to believe. An ex-member thought up the name and it just ‘stuck.’ Taboo subjects for the band are all centered around the creative process, so rather than find out just what makes them tick, listeners will just have to accept them as they are.
Like many bands, the songs are credited to the whole group. “Frank writes the lyrics, mostly, aye. Everybody else just does the music.’ There’s no particular influence for the subject matter either. “We don’t really like talking about the lyrics because even in the band, most of them mean something different to everybody else. Everyone’s got different ideas what the songs are about.” After comments on the accents, lack of lyrics and the enigma that this creates around the songs themselves, Paul sharply retorted “Tough Luck!” There’s a lot of sarcasm in the lyrics and much playing around with words. “It’s just more fun writing a song that way instead of just singing some sentence that anyone could sing and having a bit of a laugh with the words. There’s no procedure to the arrangements either. “We just write the songs and whatever way they come out, that’s the way they come out. We don’t have any big pretentions about it.”
The Sinatras have their own “Shabby Road” studios in the small Scottish town of Irvine. They deliberately chose a location that was ‘far from the maddening crowd.’ The reason that we bought it, was just so that we could … I mean most bands just move to London & deal with the record company and that. We just thought that if we buy a studio that’s got an office & things and we could record the album up here and everything. It just means that the record company can’t come in every day and annoy us.” Irvine’s just like any other small town with plenty of local young bands, who come into their studio to record.
Their album to date, “Cake” has mainly acoustic arrangements along the lines of Aztec Camera and a warm, but not gooey, feel about it. “The new stuff that we play now doesn’t really have that much [acoustic arrangements]. It was just that John [Livingstone] played acoustic guitar and most of his songs came about on acoustic guitar. Now he’s got an electric guitar so we’ll sound a bit more … louder.” Paul assures that they won’t be rockin’ out or playing any Bruce Springsteen covers in the future.
XTC receive admiration – “They’ve been going for years and years and years, and they get a couple of hits now and again, but they manage to get enough songs together for a new album. Just trundling along, not bothering with anybody else except themselves.”
US college radio has given them much airplay and allowed them to tour there earlier this year. The Sinatras are now in the middle of recording the next album, which should be ready for release in America and the UK at the end of this summer. Following this they will be touring both countries at the end of the year. They have a healthy, non aversive attitude to playing live, so expect them in your local radio station for a live-to-air session.
Masters of the veil and wit to the end, Paul’s summation of the Trash Can Sinatras was “We like getting drunk.” Maybe that’s where “Drunken Chorus” on the album emerged from.Follow @fivehungryjoes
…patiently waiting for something new to come along.
However, as well documented elsewhere – that’s going to be a wee while longer. The music can wait – the health and wellbeing of band members is far more important.
I came across this backstage pass from the Cake era. I’ve no idea of the where, when and whatnots but it’s a cool wee piece of memorabilia all the same. If you’ve never been lucky enough to get your hands on one of these – you could always use the trademan’s entrance.
Get well soon John.
Filed under: Press | Tags: Exposed Magazine, Music, Press, Trashcan Sinatras
I’m afraid I don’t have much information on Exposed Magazine. The usual haunts have been trawled but I can find nothing of its history. The first edition appeared in May 1993 and that folks, is about it.
This article appeared the following month in June and finds the Trashcans’ holed up in a Hammersmith Hotel speaking to Gary Paul.
It’s three years since five talented chaps from the Scottish coastal town of Irvine padded into Popsville with a bucket full of chipper pop songs. They signed to Go! Discs, home to the like of The Beautiful South, Billy Bragg and Paul Weller, and proceeded to melt hearts with singles like Obscurity Knocks and Circling The Circumference, swiftly followed by one of the most dazzling debut albums in ages, the moist and creamy Cake.
A tender, passionate collection of glittering, guitar plucked tunes, Cake was sprinkled with piano, violin, accordion and heady harmonies. From heartaching ballads it spiralled to swirling, exultant psychedelia before climbing to choppy, strident stompers. The lyrics too were not to be ignored, poignant, witty and pun laden desktop tales from smalltown Scotland. Amidst Cake’s mixed reception, The Trash Cans were hailed as the new La’s, the new Smiths and the new Aztec Camera all rolled into one. Ignoring the hype they gigged like madmen, building up an impressive live following and doing well in the States where they shifted over 100,000 slices of Cake. Then, after a severe lack of chart action, they disappeared.
Until now that is, for the Sinatras have returned in style with their follow up album I’ve Seen Everything. There have been a couple of changes. The lads have all moved a bit further inland to the neighbouring town of Kilmarnock and bassist George McDaid has been replaced by original member David Hughes, who joins Frank Read (vocals and full-time brother to Fairground Attraction lady Eddi Reader), brothers John and Stephen Douglas (guitar and drums) and Paul Livingston (guitar). One listen to I’ve Seen Everything and you can tell that the Trashies are maturing nicely thank you very much. Produced by Ray Schulman, known for his work with The Sugarcubes and Ian McCulloch, Everything is a spirited, lushly layered and intimate bag of classic pop ditties. But why has it all taken so long and what have they being doing all this time?
Snug in a Hammersmith hostelry, we get to the bottom of the Trash Cans’ long absence while getting to the bottom of a few pints. “We’ve been busy creating magical songs,” grins John in a thick, sometimes impenetrable accent. “It does seem daft that it took three years,” mumbles David from behind his beer glass, “but I mean, fuck it. It doesn’t matter. It just means that we’ve ended up with a really good album. One that we’re happy with. What’s the problem?”
A pair of affable, quiet chaps, these two Cans are clearly confident in the band’s material. So much so that throughout our conversation they seem reluctant to discuss their work, preferring to let the music speak for itself. And why not? Putting a band and its songs under a microscope then pulling them apart can be a destructive thing. Perhaps that’s why they seldom do interviews. “No band is that important,” says David, “music is music, it’s there to be enjoyed. The press, journalists and critics put too much emphasis on bands and take them away from what they’re primarily about.” And, David reckons, it’s getting worse. “Nowadays the press treat bands are purely product. Ten years ago the NME used to encompass loads of bands from either end of the spectrum. From Joseph K to ABC they were all treated equally, there was never any great pushing going on. That all seemed to start with bands like The Happy Mondays.
It was about the time of the Mondays, the Roses and the Carpets that the Sinatras made their first foray into the pop arena. Perhaps that’s why they didn’t make the great impact they should have. As John says: “The press is geared towards the fashion of the day and we weren’t the fashion of the day. Maybe it was because people didn’t like it,” he laughs, “which is fair enough. They can stick it up their arses.” Well, really!
One place the band found friends though was in America. The college radio circuit, with its love of guitar bands latched onto the Sinatras’ blend of melodic, emotive pop. You could say it gave them a bit of a boost. “We’re more confident now than we were three years ago,” says John, “because we went to the States where people actually listened. There was the realisation that hey, wait a minute, it’s not just us five that are enjoying this, there’s other people too.”
This confidence in their music and in each other is reflected in the band’s songwriting process. Every Sinatra has his say. “Nobody’s precious about their songs and ideas,” says David. “Even if you wrote something that was dead personal, you could take it to another member of the band and ask them what they think. Then you get a whole new angle on it. You could take something back in time and fuck up your life for the better or worse. And it didn’t happen anyway so it doesn’t matter. It’s just words, you can do what you want.”
It’s a fair few years now since John, Frank and David left school for a period of, as John puts it, “signing on and fannying around.” It wasn’t until they were in their twenties that they formed a band and started playing cover versions down the local. It was strictly an amateurish affair until Paul joined. “He was a mean guitar player,” remembers John. “He’d been playing since he was eight. We thought, fuck who’s this? Then we wrote our first song, Drunken Chorus, which is still one of our favourites and we thought, this is good we should do this for the rest of our lives. Let’s really enjoy it. Whatever happens this is what we do. Things could go wrong and we could end up back on the dole but we’ll still be making music.”
Like their namesake, the Sinatras do it their way. They love their music and you should too. Take them to your heart. You won’t regret it.
June 1993 Issue 2 Exposed Magazine