The following article appears (along with a nice b+w picture) in the morning's edition of The List, Glasgow and Edinburgh's what's on guide. Some more info for the (increasingly tedious) 'why it all takes so long' argument!
More Than Enough
Following Grand Prix was never going to be easy, but Teenage Fanclub reckon they've got it right again with Songs from Northern Britain.
'We've never really been fashionable" declares Norman Blake, a statement so rash that even his bandmates open their mouths to qualify it. 'Well...' Norman continues , 'maybe around the period of Bandwagonesque. But we didn't justify the praise at that point.'
Now TFC are getting round to the idea that maybe than can and do justify the kind of praise that was heaped upon their previous work. we're sitting downstairs in Glasgow's Argyle Street branch of HMV after the Fannnies have played a short set for fans and Monday afternoon shoppers, showing off live renditions of cuts from their new album. As we've come to expect from the band, it's filled with luscious Byrdsian pop and some of their most natural and effortless harmonies to date.
It's a record we should have heard months ago, but, afdter the initial seven months of recording they failed to hook back up again with producer David Bianco. With no immediate solution in sight, the Fannies decided they would finish it off themselves. after that, as Raymond puts it, 'Time just seemed to creep on. We weren't actually doing anything. all we were doing was wanting to start work again, but it turned into a five-month gap.'
All of which seems like an invitation to ask whether their so-called brand new material sounds old hat to them already. Thankfully not, and the break probably helped it sound fresher than usual, as Norman explains. 'Sometimes when you make a record and mix it straight away, you're thinking about all the bits you don't like about it. After a couple of months you forget about them and listen to it as a song again, as opposed to this thing that's constructed of all these different elements.'
The last thing that was on their minds when they went into the studio was how they were going to follow up Grand Prix - the masterwork that showed TFC were just getting into their stride at a point when other bands would be running out of steam. But they would like to be the first to deflate the legend that's grown up around it.
'To me, it was just a record,' states Raymond flatly. 'I do think this is a much more finished-off record than Grand Prix. I listen to Grand Prix now and I think some of the songs are too slow and not quite... Listening to the new album after playing songs from it live, I don't think "Oh god, that sounds really different from the way we do it now" it takes a while to get a song right and the songs on this album are close to the way I wanted them to be.'
'When we brought out Grand Prix at first,' interjects Norman, 'people in the music press didn't like it.' Surely not Norman, wasn't it promptly hosanna'd as the band's masterpiece? 'It became like that,' Norman insists, 'but at first people didn't like it. I think in the music business and among journalists it's received wisdom that something's a good album.'
Raymond : 'When we released Grand Prix Creation couldn't get us any press or any tv stuff or anything. Nobody wanted to know. Later on it was "Ooh, that Grand Prix album's great!"'
So don't make any hasty decisions about Songs From Northern Britain. Not For another six months, anyway.