On the radar: Over The Wall

Play: Over The Wall - Thurso

Once you've lived in Glasgow for a certain amount of time, you start to believe the place is bleeding bands.

Funny thing is, even though everyone suddenly seems to be in one, it still feels like you've heard them all before. Are you getting old? Or is the neverending conveyor belt of Pavement pastiches and Next Animal Collectives just getting tiresome?

If this is what you ask yourself, then don't fret- it might be time to go Over The Wall.

Ben Hillman and Gavin Prentice are, by day, two friends who met eight years ago in student halls. By night, they create uplifting, playful pop injected with positivity and lyrical witticism - and they're being increasingly noted by those searching for something a little left of the local band norm.

Both members sing, milk beats from laptops and play a plethora of instruments, including guitar, keyboard, harmonica, stylophone and mandolin.

"Ben plays trumpet too - can't forget that as it's where a lot of the euphoria comes from," Prentice says. "Off the back of our first EP a lot of people seemed to think that we were 'folktronica' but that label tends to mislead people. They get a wee surprise when they see us throwing shapes in our live show."

Sourced from the Under the Radar blog

Named after an Albion Rovers fanzine from the 80s, there's a decidedly vintage element to the Casio-littered duo. As Prentice tells it, their exact influences are difficult to pinpoint. "Ben and I first bonded over classic pop songwriting. Stuff like Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, early Tom Waits and The Beatles were the things that brought us together."

But Over The Wall sound like all and none of these artists, all at once. "We don't necessarily sound like that but that's because we were born in the 80s and live in Glasgow," says Prentice. "You can hear where we're from."

For Prentice, that place is Bathgate, these roots informing much of the lyrical content: "It was a big deal for me, growing up, to have a narrative as to why where I lived was like it was and that it was once different, and where it was going. If there's a common thread in our lyrics, it's anxiety over finding your place," he says. "Basically, it's Thatcher's fault that I feel like I don't fit in anywhere!"

Still, humour is an important brick in the proverbial Wall, originally concocted out of necessity when numerous wires from keys and computers led to technical problems and horrendously long gaps during their early sets. "I suppose we just got used to having a chat," Prentice says. Although the duo would balk at the idea of being pigeon-holed as some kind of novelty act, one of their main priorities is to provide entertainment: "We're not there to look cool."

Following positive critical response to EP The Rise and Fall of Over the Wall, packed out gigs in the central belt and appearances at a fistful of festivals, Prentice and Hillman are currently finishing their debut album, due out in May, with single 'Settle Down' poised for release on 5 April.

"I suppose this is the calm before the storm. Hopefully it'll be a storm, anyway," Prentice ponders. With so many fans hungering for something different, and Over The Wall meticulously placing each beat and raucous chorus hook, it's hard to see how the weather won't get a good bit windier.

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