Friday, 15 March 2013

The Scottish Alternative Music Awards

Due to last minute circumstances Ralph was unable to attend the Scottish Alternative Music Awards in person but his able deputy Mr Malcolm (anorak) Parry stepped in (with the offer of drink and debauchery) to cover the night and this is the result!

My week began with an SOS message from everyone's favourite Jack Russell - Ralph , who was due to be covering the awards but unfortunately had to cancel because he was having his claws trimmed (well he is a diva). So he asked if I could cover and review the event for him.  Of course I accepted the mission and like a nervous, rookie Rolling Stone reporter I headed over to Glasgow.

This is the fourth event in the awards history, gaining popularity over the years and gradually moving up to a bigger capacity venue.  This being my first time at the annual event, on entering the venue you could already feel the atmosphere & excitement building.  I mingle saying hello to a few of the award nominee's & music biz personalities.  One Scottish radio hero Vic Galloway, looking suitably dapper in a 3 piece suit he tells me - "I had this made exclusively for me for the night and its a one of a kind" - and why not, he has excellent taste in music and obviously clothing.

Ded Rabbitt.jpgI bump into Best Newcomer nominees Ded Rabbit.  A quick chat and photo opportunity was had, with the guys telling me they were inspired to name the band after Led Zeppelin, taking out the 'a' of the dead. The band of brothers (now based in Edinburgh but all hailing from Yorkshire), blame their dad (who was present) for crossing the border to reside in the Highlands.  

All humbled and excited to be nominated, they do owe their dad some praise, If it wasn't for him shovelling them up north to a new warren, they wouldn't be stood here today with a nod under their belt. They make indie pop with a sax edge, sounding to me like a mix of Arctic Monkeys with The Zutons.

We get an announcement that the event's proceedings will commence in 10 minutes.  The excitement well as the ever increasing audience.  A busy night ahead!

We begin the evenings entertainment with funny man Billy Kirkwood, storming the mic shouting - "HOW YOU DOING YOU MOTHER FUCKERS?" - in his strong Glaswegian accent, looking like a young Billy Connelly disguised as a roadie.  He does his job well warming us all up on this cold night as he introduces us to the opening act Fat Goth.....

A mix of doom laden falsetto vocal, ferocious metal riffs, all with punky attitude, music your granny would love.  A mixed reaction from the audience, maybe stunned or shocked at the extreme noise coming from the speakers.    Lead singer Frazer Stewart tells me later that - "One manager from a nominee's band thought we were utter shite" 

I must admit, I like them myself.  A band who don't take themselves too seriously, enjoying the ride regardless of bad press, though Frazer also commented - "It all adds to the comedy edge".  I'm sure I overheard someone say the venue had received a call from Edinburgh police to turn the volume down.  Joking of course, but these are a band best enjoyed with the volume turned up.  Fat Goth were nominated for Best Rock/Alternative.

Vic Galloway then announces the award for Best Acoustic which went to Little Fire who has performed around the UK including the Latitude Festival, Rockness, the Bedford in London, all around Scotland and has had his music played on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2 and performed live on national television.

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The next award is introduced by two Scottish wrestlers who announce the winner for Best Metal - Bear Arms, a band all hailing from Kinross/Glasgow.  I managed to get 5 minutes with the guys afterwards who were delighted to win their award and gave huge respect to the rest of the bands in that category.  

I went on to ask - “Now you have won, what venue would you like to headline?" - without hesitation - "The Barrowlands".  I also asked - "If you were offered a support slot with any band, who would it be?" They replied - "If they got back together then Alexisonfire or Brandnew, both would be dreams come true".  Well you never know lad's, the doors will be opening for you I’m sure.

Our second live band for the evening was Vigo Thieves.  Stadium sounding Indie Rockers, with 80's U2 bass lines and keyboard sounds.  On one tune we get a guest saxophonist, giving the tune an Aztec Camera feel.  The band introduce their track Ghosts, telling us the video features the controversial, former TV star John Leslie. The band are nominated for Best live Act and based on their set I can see why.

The stage suddenly gets a T in the Park /Slam tent make over for Electronic Band, Roman Nose.  All of them wearing wrestlers masks, the 3 piece armed with two laptops and a drum machine take the stage sounding to me like The Prodigy arm wrestling Daft Punk.  Someone put the roof back on!  Stunning!  The band are nominated for Best Electronic and whilst enjoying their set I get a quick word with another nominee Plum, who tells me "The guys wanted to do a live collaboration with me tonight, but having such a tight schedule with the dance base project I sadly had to refuse, though one day soon I would love to work with the guys and maybe tour together."  Exciting stuff, I’m sure you'll agree?

Next Award : Best Hip Hop goes to Gasp.  Purveyor of hard nosed Scottish reality rap and founder of Badmouth Battles, he's a veteran of the burgeoning Scottish hip hop scene.  Along with the likes of Hector Bizerk and Stanley Odd he's brought Scottish hip hop to the mainstream music fan.

Then Radio 1's Ally McCrae announces Best Rock which goes to Culann.  They're a band that has secured a loyal following, and have played the legendary King Tut's not once - but an astonishing 10 times, including prestigious support slots with the likes of The Datsuns and Band of Skulls. They have also supported punk polemicists Capdown in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.

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We get the big music man, Jim Gellatly on stage to introduce Best Electronic artist which causes some confusion between him and Billy Kirkwood, who says "Strangely the award is advertised as Best Electronic, on the award is Best Electro" - Jim adds -" Or Best Electrician" - followed by - "This person isn't expecting this and has had a few drinks, the award goes to Plum"  

Earlier Plum had said - "I am absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for this award.  Female electronic music producers are very rare right now, so I hope that my shortlisting inspires other female artists to produce great electronic music and compete with the best." 

She accepts her award stunned, almost speechless ("Oh Crap") but elated.  Good on her, I feel this will be her year.  

I make my way back stage to greet her but struggle to get an interview as she still cant talk, just smile with her award.  I spot Fat Goth and manage a chat with lead man Frazer who tells me - "We were up against some stiff competition in our category, we were just honoured to be recognised."  and - "On the back of the nomination we have been able to find funding to nearly complete our third album which is due out soon."  They've a tour booked taking their alternative metal/rock across the border to London, Leeds, Cardiff and hopefully other cities.  I ask who they would like to go on tour with?  - "One band we would love to see reform and go out with is Jesus Lizard, also we would love to tour with Torche."

While I chat with them I unfortunately miss the Best Newcomer award which goes to Edinburgh Country Rockers: The Holy Ghosts, who tell me later that they were taken aback and never expected to win. Well personally I wasn't surprised, great tunes from them and really fun live. Ralph makes up for that in their blog.

The Last award goes to Best Live act OK Social Club.  I only catch a glimpse while I chat to band s and radio people (ligging) backstage but I like what I see and hear.  Given that The OK Social Club have only been together as a band since mid 2011 their achievements are becoming the stuff of legend.  Their first two singles 'The Shape Of Things To Come' and 'The Late 90's' were released on Platform records in 2012 and featured on a number of radio and TV shows.

Well thanks to the great organisers of the SAMAS, I would say everyone was a winner, both the award holders and the nominees who were all bringing their musical talents to a wider audience of Scottish music loving fans, me included. So I’ll see you again next year, hopefully with a Jack Russell and his entourage, in tow.  Many thanks also to Darren Jones Williamson for the photographs he let Ralph steal to accompany those taken by Malc.  Ralph would also like to big up Richy Muirhead and the SAMA team.

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