On the radar: Trapped in Kansas

Share this article

Play: Antlers >>>

It says a lot for the guitar-bass-drums format that it can still produce music that's practically devoid of stylistic precedents. OK, so most pub circuit bands are more likely to be a loose fitting stitch-up of The Libertines, The Jam and Kasabian, but occasionally a group uses the tried and tested set-up to inflict devastatingly original sounds.

One such band is Trapped in Kansas, an Ayr/Glasgow-based quartet who formed just over a year ago while at university. UtR has already called them "Scotland's most accomplished math rock act", an accolade which has less to do with long division than it does minimalistic alt-rock.

And although there are faint echoes of Battles or Foals' forward-thinking dexterity in there, guitarist Gregor Fair is confident they have their own sound: "As a band, we try to avoid musical clichs and experiment with different styles, timings, tempos, tunings, everything. It's more fun as a musician that way, and I really think it comes across in the eventual songs. We all love music, basically, and it's our passion for making it that has driven us to where we are now."

By this point you're probably wondering why four lads from the west of Scotland would call themselves Trapped in Kansas. Gregor, please explain... "If I am not mistaken, the name comes from a bad experience Finn (LeMarinel - guitar/vocals] had during a road trip through America with his mother," he says. "The bad experience being Kansas. I have been told there can be no greater torture than being 'trapped in kansas'. I may have made that sound a lot worse than it actually was.... and to avoid offending those from Kansas, I am changing my mind and saying it's nothing but a loose reference to The Wizard of Oz. I'll let you decide."

It may not be wise to compare your music to the worst forms of torture, but you only have to listen to the two songs on this blog post to understand the irony. Both 'Antlers' and 'The Idiot' are cut from a different cloth from your standard 4/4 time, 12-bar rock. Instead the guitar lines bleed off in countless directions like dabs of watercolour paint, while the rhythm slinks through unfathomable shifts and progressions.

The band already recognise that they're paving their own way: "I really feel we have developed our own style over the last year," Gregor says. "When Finn plays a piece on guitar you can just tell it's a Trapped in Kansas song. There's a definite technique to our guitar playing, which differentiates us from most bands and when combined with the time-shifts, key changes, bass lines and drumming, you can tell it's us."

This determinedly individual sound has started to turn heads across Scotland, and this weekend the band will play the T Break stage at T in the Park, a set that comes hot on the heels of their RockNess gig. But will all this attention throw any light on their native Ayr music scene?

"I think Ayr's just a wee bit too small to have a proper scene as such," Gregor says. "There are some excellent bands we know from the area such as The Darien Venture, Out of Samsara, Oslow, and many more (apologies to anyone I'm forgetting), but any band with aspirations beyond playing in a pub needs to branch out to Glasgow."

As for the country's indie scene as a whole, Gregor is optimistic: "I love the Scottish scene at the moment, it's so easy to immerse yourself in nothing but bands from Scotland and not get bored. The line up for the T-Break stage only reinforces that. It really is a fantastic time for music in Scotland and long may it continue. I'm really looking forward to hearing even more new bands emerge in the near future."

Like what you hear? Watch Trapped in Kansas live at the following shows:

11 Jul @ T Break stage, T in the Park

18 Jul @ The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh

22 Aug @ Twisted Wheel Glasgow

23 Sep @ Drummonds, Aberdeen

25 Sep @ Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh

27 Sep @ Captain's Rest, Glasgow

3 Oct @ The Red House, Sheffield

7 Oct @ Power Out, Brighton

8 Oct @ ibar, Bournemouth

9 Oct @ Joiners, Southhamptom

Under the Radar: showcasing the best new music in Scotland