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

Wada-ya Mean…
October 14, 2017, 2:43 pm
Filed under: Press | Tags: , ,

…you’re disappointed?

Here’s an interview from late December 1993 in Music Life – a Japanese music magazine which ran from the early fifties to late nineties – where interviewer Shizuka Wada couldn’t quite connect with the Trashcan Sinatras.


Trash Can Sinatras, First interview in Japan

“No-one in this band has self confidence. We need each others’ support.”

The Trashcan Sinatras attracted attention with the fresh and well-polished sounds of their 1990 debut album, Cake. Now, after announcing the release of their 2nd album, I’ve Seen Everything in June this year, they have made their first tour to Japan…
Interviewer: Shizuka Wada

“They have this many fans!?” It might be rude of me to say this, but I was really surprised to see Shibuya Club Quattro absolutely packed with Trash Can Sinatra fans! However, the reactions of this full house were wide-ranging; from right into it, to disappointed. Myself? I was one of the latter ones. As they admitted in this interview, they were not as confident about their own performance as they should have been on stage. The gig didn’t give us satisfaction. I could not feel any connection with them.

This concert was exactly like the difference in impression between the debut album, Cake, which was a beautiful neo-acoustic album, and the 2nd album, I’ve Seen Everything, which wasn’t as great as the first one and makes you wonder what went wrong. It was very disappointing to see the band’s weak points on display in their 2nd album. I don’t mean that they should just be a neo-acoustic band and rely on their guitars. But unfortunately, this show did not demonstrate to us who they are, what they were thinking or what they were trying to do.

After seeing your show, I’ve got the impression that you are the Neo-Acoustic band that we have been waiting for all this time . Do you think that you are a neo-acoustic band?
John Douglas: We are not particularly trying to be a neo-acoustic band. It just depends on the mood of each song.

Well, what do you think about your Japanese fans calling you a neo-acoustic band?
John: If you compare us to other bands that are called neo-acoustic bands I think you’ll find that we are completely different. I guess, it’s just another word for a kind of band, so I don’t hate it or anything, I don’t really think anything of it.

When I first heard your music, it sounded like you were standing behind a camera shooting a movie. What kind of world were you creating?
Stephen Douglas: Let’s create this kind of world, let’s create this kind of atmosphere….we don’t really have anything like that. Those kinds of things just happen naturally afterwards.

But when you’re making a song, isn’t there anything that you do that is particularly important to you?
Frank Reader: (suddenly appearing from the other side of the room. Apparently he only joins in interviews when he feels like it) No, there’s nothing like that. We all write the songs together, and we incorporate the ideas that each of us bring.

I thought that Cake particularly had a theme of pessimism to it…?
John: Hmmm, not really pessimism, but I guess there was something a bit more like negativity to it. I think that it’s the feeling of the place that we come from coming out through us.

Do you yourselves have an air of negativity?
George McDaid: I don’t think that we are people who write happy songs. I think that, if we did, they would turn out really boring. But having said that, even if we write a negative song, we are still really happy to have the song come out. We’re not trying to be negative.

So, is there actually hope and optimism deep within the music?
Frank: There might be be some positive aspects, we never really dissect our music like that, so I don’t know. The thing that is important to us are our everyday lives, the things we think every day; are we making our music at the best level we can. We just write about ourselves.

If you are just writing about yourselves, why was your 2nd album called I’ve Seen Everything?
John: That wasn’t the original title. We just called it that because it suited the music … it doesn’t actually mean that we’ve seen everything.
George: Those words just show that even if you are standing there, you can see everything but you can’t touch anything. We wanted to show that distance.

Oh really? I thought that you guys must have had a sudden epiphany…
Frank: We just wanted the people who are interested in us and who understand the world like we do to enjoy it. Maybe that’s why it sounds like that to you.

Do you think the world is romantic? Or that you are romanticists?
John: We are at least trying to be.
George: Maybe at some point.

What kind of thing do you find romantic?
Frank: It’s not just the romance between a man and woman. We find the places that we visit for the first time romantic, too.

By the way, what kind of music inspired you to start music?
John: Punk. I was very inspired by the atmosphere and policy of that time; that you play music because you like music. I was inspired by that kind of stance.
Frank: You feel an unbridgeable distance between yourself and superstars, but punk lessens the gap. We want to be like that.

Is your wriggling around on stage inspired by punk?
Frank: I’m not trying to do that, it is all completely subconscious. I often hear about things I do onstage from other people because sometimes things just come out of you subconsciously.

How about the rest of you?
Stephen: Well, I was forced to listen to whatever John used to listen to.
John: Yeah, he didn’t have any choice.
Paul Livingston: I like heavy metal. I like Black Sabbath. It;s not about whether they are good or bad, I just love the fact that they love that they are doing.

So what do you find in common between Black Sabbath and Trash Can Sinatras?
Paul: Our stance towards the music.
Others: What?!? No way, that’s just him.
George: I don’t have any particular band that I like, I just love music. Quality is not the point. But I used to listen to punk.

So you are all from the punk generation?
John: Me and Frank, maybe. We were crazy about The Clash and The Jam.
Paul: My Mum used to be a Sex Pistols fan.
John: Yeah, he may not look it, but Paul is the youngest of us.

So, how did you guys meet?
Frank: When you are living in a small town, you’ll find people who like the same thing as you. We often saw each other at the same concerts or pubs and we started to remember the faces because you think they are weird, and if you are at the pub and you do music you will be kicked out of the pub. That’s why everyone just hung around outside the pub and started getting to know each other then.

Are you talking about the town called Irvine?
John: Yes.

Do you still live in Irvine?
Frank: We live about 10 miles away from Irvine. We all live next door to each other.

Do you ever feel like you have to get out of that little town and go to London, or some place like that?
John: Never. No way we are ever going to London. We don’t do things that we want to do. If we did stuff that we didn’t want to do it would affect our music.

So the Go! Discs label gives you that freedom?
Frank: The only thing that they tell us we have to do is keep the deadline. It’s a business, so we understand that they have deadlines, but it just doesn’t work like that.

So you do whatever the you like, live wherever you want, and don’t listen to your label much. It sounds like you are in a very enviable position. So your next album is going to be brimming with happiness?
Frank: There’s no-one in this band that has confidence in themselves. We need each others’ support. That way, even if one of us is happy, it doesn’t mean that the rest of us are happy too. There’s no-one who has exactly the same ideas or opinions as you, so you can’t predict how the songs will turn out. None of us are capable of writing songs alone in a hotel room in Tokyo.

So, you’re not even planning anything for the next album?
Frank: We are writing a couple of songs, but we don’t know how it’s going to turn out. We like to go with the flow.

After this interview I thought that, for better or for worse, they are an indie band. They are free and do whatever they like. They just want to be liked by the people who understand them, which I think is quite an indie stance. It’s not about themes. I think it’s an ideal situation for the artist, but I think they are a little too deep inside their own little world. I found them to be friendly and likeable guys, but I just wanted to tell them to try harder and become something bigger and better. I’m sure people who understand them will get angry at me for writing this, but maybe that’s the problem.

December 1993, Music Life Magazine (Japan)

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

where’s that Skid Row article? an’ no wee mention on the cover. indie to the core.

Comment by Ben TM

They should’ve been on the cover ha.
Hope you’re good Ben. Are you on the acoustic tour?

Comment by fivehungryjoes

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