On the radar: Bronto Skylift
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Rockstars aren't known for having a firm grasp of mathematics. Perhaps that's why, every now and then, one of the simple equations of music fails to balance: to get a bigger sound, you need more musicians, right?
Wrong. Over the last few years, a succession of two-piece acts, from Rhode Island's Lightning Bolt to venerable Norwegian black metal crust punks (no, really) Darkthrone, have defied convention to prove that a drumkit and a single guitar can make all the noise you'll ever need.
Bronto Skylift, Glasgow's own two-pronged noisemongers, are reluctant to shed light on the eldritch mysteries surrounding how such a small ensemble manages to create such a huge racket. "We could never reveal our secrets!" laughs guitarist and vocalist Niall Strachan. "I think it's a combination of Iain hitting the drums really hard and me hitting my guitar really hard and brushing our teeth three times a day!"
Originally hailing from the north - Strachan is from Inverness while drummer Iain Stewart has roots in Orkney - Bronto Skylift formed in Glasgow in early 2007, quickly earning a reputation as energetic live perfomers. Though the band originally featured a bassist, three soon became two, and Strachan and Stewart have carried on as a duo ever since.
The Bronto Skylift sound is difficult to pinpoint, but there's nothing wrong with that, the band say. "The music maybe sounds familiar," says Strachan, sagely, "but at the same time you can't put your finger on it."
Falling somewhere in the nexus between grunge, sludge and noise rock, Bronto's songs are laden with driving, jagged riffs with plenty of opportunity for Stewart to demonstrate his virtuoso drumming skills. A comparison with Lightning Bolt is certainly valid, though Bronto's brand of noise is perhaps a little less chaotic and a bit more focused.
Like a few of UtR's recent favourites, including Hey Vampires and The Whisky Works, Bronto Skylift are full of praise for Glasgow's emerging punk and grunge scene. "There's a great community of bands at the moment, giving each other help and support but all ploughing their own paths," enthuses Strachan, who also acknowledges a musical sea-change in a city previously dominated by indie and acoustic acts. "There seems to be a move away from the twee stuff going about the past few years towards a heavier, more crunchy type of music," he muses.
Summer 2009 is set to be very busy indeed for Bronto Skylift. As well as landing a prestigious Saturday night slot on the T Break stage at T in the Park, the guys will also play at the Wickerman Festival in Dumfries at the end of July and have a spate of other shows lined up across Scotland. They're also recording new material when the opportunity arises and may just be seeking a label to release it on in the near future.
Proving once again that maths and music make for uneasy bedfellows, Bronto Skylift are definitely more than the sum of their parts.
Intrigued? Catch Bronto Skylift live at the following dates:
9 Jul @ Bloc, Glasgow
11 Jul @ T Break Stage, T in the Park
16 Jul @ The Mill (Oran Mor), Glasgow
25 Jul @ Solus Tent, Wickerman Festival, Dundrennan
31 Jul @ Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh
1 Aug @ Captain's Rest, Glasgow
Under the Radar: showcasing the best new music in Scotland
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