what we have been doing!
ALIVE! We were very pleased and honoured to been asked to appear at the International Pop Overthrow festival in Liverpool this month. we playied two half-hour sets: the first at 3.30pm on Saturday May 16th at the Cavern Club, the second at 5.30pm at the Cavern Pub the following day.
BACK AT THE BEEB!
We took part in BBC Music at the Quay in Glasgow this month,as part of BBC Music Day. We played four songs on the Morton Through Midnight radio show on Friday 5th June, on a bill with Donovan, Justin Currie, James Grant & Chris Thomson (Bathers/Friends Again), Stephanie Urbina Jones and John Cooper Clarke - illustrious company, to say the least
Copyright the Supernaturals. All rights reserved.
This song began life as mellow acoustic bumble around some old folky chords. It had a kind of Eastern European feel , like the music from the Sixties film, The Ipcress File. The lyrics are based around the British class system. There’s 3 characters in the song. The posh pilot who “quotes Aristotle down the intercom”, the air hostess with the brown perma suntanned face and the beaten down “guy who puts the fuel into the aeroplanes”. There’s unrequited love between the three of them but they never quite get it together.
I’d been on a Ryanair flight to Stockholm with the band in the late 90’s. We’d played an important gig the night before in Wales, to an A & R from V2 records in the USA who wanted to license our album from EMI, and we’d played a stinker. The A & R man had been appalled and ran off without speaking to us. Afterwards, in a mood of doom and gloom we’d then driven the 4 hours to Stansted, tried to sleep to the shrill scraping sounds of the cleaners dragging steel benches over the airport floor. When we eventually boarded our flight at 8am, in a sour mood of defeat, I found I couldn’t get to sleep. When I did eventually drift off, just as the plane was descending, to Skavsta, which is about 270 miles from Stockholm, the air hostess next to me shook a plastic cup full of 50ps beside my ears and woke me up with a gleeful plea to buy a toy Ryanair 747 from her trolley.
When we did the demos for the album I’d sneaked this song in at the end of a session. I wasn’t happy with the folk thing and asked Gav to play it like the “woke up fell out of bed “ bit of Day in the Life by the Beatles. It seemed to work well at double the tempo. It’s the most “produced” song on the album with lots of interlocking bits and pieces and it took a long and trying time to record. Most of the songs on the album have double tracked vocals but this suited a quick guide vocal which is slightly out of tune here and there. It worked well against the heavily produced backing track.
In tribute to the Air Hostess I downloaded some aeroplane noises for the end from I tunes. For any aeroplane spotters out there, it’s a USAF B52 taking off. I don’t think they have air hostesses on those.
My Sweet George
I was on my way to a wedding with my girlfriend. She was driving and I switched the radio on. It was late November. The first item on the news was George Harrison’s death. He’d already been cremated and his ashes spread on the Ganges and it all seemed so sudden and final. I switched the radio off and felt myself slipping into a dark mood, which I stayed in for the rest of the night. I had never been affected by the death of someone I didn’t know personally, but here I was behaving exactly like the candlelight vigil celebrity mourning weirdos I’d spent a large part of my life sneering at.A few months later I sat down with my acoustic guitar and tried to piece together something about the way I’d felt that day. In the early 1980’s my big brother had a vinyl copy of the Blue 67-70 album by the Beatles, and when he’d go out I’d sneak into the living room and carefully put it onto my Dad’s old Sanyo record player and sneak a quick listen before he came back. If he found out I’d been playing the record some punches were meted out in my direction, as he was possessive about his expensive records. When I hear “While my guitar gently weeps” I’m transported back to the early 1980’s and running down the stairs to that song. When writing the lyrics, I also had to get an old Hindu quote about life being about a bird flying in the window of a house and out the next into the lyric somehow, which may have had something to do with George but probably not. Once I’d done a quick demo of the song I forgot about it and moved on. I left it for 10 years and tagged it onto a scruffy CD of demos with a bad magic marker drawing of George Harrison over the words TESCO CDR . When we came to putting songs together for 360 Gavin had mentioned that he thought it was worth trying and once the band bent it into shape, it took on a life of its own, like the bird flying out the window.
James Nov 2014
The Supernaturals release their fourth album “360” in April 2015. The album has fifteen tracks written and recorded over the previous 2 years at Gorbals Sound studios, Glasgow. Produced by Kevin Burleigh (Glasvegas, Simple Minds), the album ranges from the skiffle beat of My Sweet George to the satirical whimsy of Air Hostess with the wry balladry of Zombie and many points in between. The band hark back to their Sixties roots in what is a resounding return to form with their knack for offbeat, wry story telling welded to catchy melodies. The cover of the album, the shoreline of the Firth of Clyde, refers to the sea journey undertaken in the last song on the album, 360, and like the title of the album reflects the band’s return to its original sound.
The Supernaturals formed in 1991 and toured extensively around Scotland releasing 4 mini albums on their own label. They signed to EMI/Food in 1995 releasing two albums “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” and a “Tune a Day”. The band had 7 Top 50 singles between 1995 and 1999. The band’s third album, the Beach boys influenced electronica of “What We Did Last Summer” was released in 2002 on Universal records, after which the band went on a long overdue break. Meantime, several of the band’s songs, the Ivor Novello nominated “Smile” and “I wasn’t built to get up” have taken on a life of their own in subsequent years, having been used in adverts around the world. Rod Stewart covered the band’s song “Dylan’s Day Off” in 1997.
When you are writing a song the best thing you can have is a line to hang the song on. I got the line for Control Me from my 5 year old son after telling him to tidy up his lego. He turned round and said ”you just want to control me.” I wrote it down on my phone and knew I could put a song around it. The same night I’d switched on Dr No, the James Bond film, on some obscure channel and although I’d seen it many times before it was a revelation to me that Dr No actually had a pair of metal hands. Masturbation jokes aside, I thought I had to get that into the song. It seemed the ultimate in isolation to be able to never feel things which you can see and smell and maybe that’s why he built a nuclear weapon reactor somewhere in the Caribbean with the usual plans to get revenge on an uncaring world. At the end of the film Dr No falls into a radioactive pool but it just seemed like a step too far to crowbar that into the song.
Recording the song was a lot of fun. Kev the engineer tuned Gav’s tom toms up like Ringo Starr and Gav has quite a deliberate and late drumming style and hearing him roll round his tom toms with Mark playing off him was an enjoyable way to spend 50 minutes. Eventually we had to get a master. I dusted off my old Gibson SG guitar from back in the day to get that authentic power pop sound like the Raspberries or Fountains of Wayne. It’s a bit tricky to tune as it has a hairline crack in the neck where I threw it at Ken during an over exuberant encore at Leicester University and he stood stock still and refused to catch it. In the dressing room afterwards I think he said he was blinded by the stage lights and didn’t see the guitar hurtling through space towards him by which time we were all drinking red wine and couldn’t care less. It was quickly patched up in a guitar shop the next day. I like looking at the hairline crack when I’m playing it as it reminds me of a brilliant gig and the guitar was a worthwhile sacrifice at the altar of rock.
Loopallu festival 2015 on 25th Sep 2015