Iain Mclaughlin and his Outsiders return to launch their new EP on the 12th of September.
We grasped the opportunity to have a coffee and a chat with Iain with both hands and got the opportunity to explore his thoughts about the new EP, the process of developing and distributing music and much, much more.
In May the band’s website changed to a simple picture of Iain looking down and the date 12/09/2014, it was followed up quickly by the announcement that, as The Highland News put it, “The Dark Lord returns”, which conjures up perfect imagery of the band’s music.
It has been two years since the release of “WeAreAllOutsiders”, the first album from the band, but there is a clear sense of needing to move on “we kind of played it for two years, so the whole build up was getting it to exist, but it was right maybe we have done that”. Iain recalls “the launch was amazing, it was good to get everything down and good to work with”.
There was no quick follow up or return to the studio, Iain concedes “I’m not a very prolific songwriter” although he adds “I write little bits it’s not like I churn out lots of songs”. “I am not a story teller”. However Iain is clear “we’re not really an emo band” adding quickly “but we’re not far off”. “All I try to communicate is what it’s like to be alive”, he later adds.
In an interview with Iain earlier this year he talked about the changing sound of the band; “The addition of a full time keys player (Alasdair Duncan) has widened our sound and allowed us to really play with dynamics which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and involving that sound in the writing process and not just the arrangement is something I’ve really enjoyed doing.”
However there is clearly much much more to the material, on several occasions Iain refers to “crafting” during the interview. He explains; “I like to take a longer time and try to craft them” emphasising that real sense of developing and evolution of the music. Whilst acknowledging his enjoyment of performing live the opportunity of studio time has a clear allure for Iain.
These themes are echoed in the recording process and in particular production,“I think production is a real creative process” describing it as a “proactive creative force”. Iain got his first real taste for this when in University and then his work with Shutter’s music although he is clear that this was a job made easier as “the audio in was amazing”. Hopefully, he indicates his work with the EP might lead to further opportunities.
The production ethos of the new EP, Iain explains in simple terms “I wanted to capture us as a band” in doing so he emphasises the idea of “humanising” the sound, almost the perfect imperfect. “I might be a bit flat but the performance is there, so let’s leave that it’s human lets leave that”. That sense of reality of not hiding behind the technology that allows flaws to be tidied and perhaps even sanitised. Iain jokes “if you stuck an auto tuner on it, it would probably panic”.
The new Ep is named “Falling Through the Dark” although the temptation was to call it “Human Condition” which he admits may have been “over egging” the theme.
The recording features five songs two of which “Tourniquet” and “Easy” have not been heard before. The former track, Iain is keen to impress is not a reference to drugs with it being more inspired by the representation and imagery of ending or cutting off.
The five songs, similar to the album, retain a sense of narrative “they’re all kinda disparate to be honest…but they all sound like us”. Indeed “Blind Faith”, the second track, he describes as a “3 minute pop song” noting that he has not written one since “Remedy” and even the title track has “a bounce to it”.
As we progress Iain talks about the changing environment for music and conjures up a nice contrast to the time taken to develop and “craft” the music and the speed and ability to connect with audiences referring to the impact of the likes of Spotify and Emubands in finding and connecting with an audience. “The route from writing, recording to letting people hear it has never been so direct” Iain explains, and with the emphasis on digitally released music he admitted that not having a physical distribution of the record was discussed.
Indeed “The Dark Lord Returns” perhaps with a lighter , human, touch, although I am fairly convinced it won’t be “The Imperial March” that they use as intro music come Friday.
The line-up for the evening also includes The Whiskys, Red Ronson and Lionel. Tickets are available via The Ironworks website.