Five Hungry Joes – A pictorial archive of the Trashcan Sinatras. Legendary Scottish Band

February 5, 2011, 2:52 pm
Filed under: Press | Tags: , , ,

The official US press kit for second album, ‘I’ve Seen Everything’ came in the form of a band photograph and written press release…

“Some bands are really good at contriving an image for themselves, but we’re hopeless at that kind of thing,” says Paul Livingston of Scotland’s perpetually self-effacing TRASH CAN SINATRAS. “We just like good songs.”

Indeed, the youthful quintet – singer Frank Reader, guitarists John Douglas and Paul Livingston, drummer Stephen Douglas and new bassist David Hughes – has always placed a decidedly unfashionable emphasis on quality control, a fact that will be obvious after one listen to the band’s sophomore London/Go! Discs’ release I’VE SEEN EVERYTHING. The album preserves the TRASH CAN SINATRAS’ trademark balance of deceptively upbeat melodicism and wicked lyric irony – first heard on their 1990 debut album CAKE – while decisively expanding the band’s artistic scope.

I’VE SEEN EVERYTHING – produced by Ray Shulman of Sundays, Ian McCulloch and Sugarcubes fame – presents fourteen new band-written tunes that add a worldlier, gently ironic edge to the band’s fresh-faced tunesmithery. From the bracing infectiousness of “Blood Rush” and “Hay Fever,” to the swirling dynamics of “Send For Henny” and “Easy Read,” it’s clear the TRASH CAN SINATRAS have come a long way without losing the qualities that made them so appealing in the first place.

“All we knew when we started this record,” Livingston offers, “was that we wanted more loud guitars and fewer jangly things. I think these songs may be a bit more personal than the ones on CAKE, and I also think this record sounds more like a band. CAKE was a load of different tunes recorded, and a lot of the tracks were just remixed demos. The songs on I’VE SEEN EVERYTHING were all recorded during the same sessions, so it sounds more like a real album.”

I’VE SEEN EVERYTHING also sees the return of David Hughes, a founding member from the group’s early days as a loose covers combo. Hughes returned to the fold after predecessor George McDaid left to pursue his academic career. “We’ve known him for years,” Livingston says of Hughes. “He started hanging around again when George left, and the next thing we knew he was in the band.”

When the TRASH CAN SINATRAS formed in 1988, in the harbor town of Irvine on Scotland’s west coast, international pop stardom was the furthest thing from their minds. “It just kind of happened,” Livingston explains. “There just isn’t that much to do where we’re from. It started out as a casual thing, and eventually we started writing our own songs. But it didn’t really become serious until we got signed – it was like, “They’re giving us all this money, we’d better do something.”

The band members were still teenagers when they signed with England’s Go! Discs label, making an immediate U.K. splash with their bittersweetly infectious debut single “Obscurity Knocks” and its similarly well-received followup “Only Tongue Can Tell.” And the stateside release of CAKE won the fivesome an enthusiastic following in the U.S., where the band toured extensively. “Most of the letters we get seem to come from America,” Hughes points out.

Like its predecessor, I’VE SEEN EVERYTHING was recorded at the band’s own 24-track Shabby Road studio, located in nearby Kilmarnock. “It’s just down the road from where we live,” Livingston says. “It’s great recording there, because at the end of the night we can just go home, which is a lot better than spending three or four months in some strange city. We bought it with the money from our publishing deal; we originally intended to run it as a business for other bands to use as well, but there’s hardly any bands around, so we mainly just use it ourselves. It’s dead handy because we can just go in and try songs whenever we want.”

Through it all, the TRASH CAN SINATRAS maintain a quiet yet stubborn devotion to their muse. “We basically just like to write good tunes,” says Hughes. “That’s what drives us, and it all seems to come quite naturally. It’s not a conscious thing at all. We never really push ourselves in any direction; we just write and record, and this is what comes out.”

“I think we’re always gonna be doing this,” Livingston concludes. “Even if everybody started hating us and our record company chucked us off, we’d still write songs and make records for ourselves.”

1993 Go! Discs/London/Polygram

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