On the radar: Randan Discotheque
Play: Daily Record May 18th 1993 >>>
Music fanatics romanticise their idols as if they were mirror images of themselves: insatiable audiophiles salivating over the rarest vinyl pressing; Simon Reynolds-like geeks spouting conjecture on an obscure afro-gabba-punk outfit; and hovel-dwelling delinquents eagerly seeking out the next small thing.
But once those rouge tinged specs are removed, a harrowing truth is revealed. These deities of the stage are no back-catalogue collecting nut-jobs. Instead, they're disappointingly conventional nine to fivers with girlfriends, jobs, mortgages.
Randan Discotheque's Craig Coulthard is a perfect example of this prosaic normality. On stage, he's an eccentric artist-cum-musician blessed with an ear for melody that screams 'aural-obsessive'. But removed from a venue's elevated platform? Well, that kettle of fish is entirely different.
"I'm not a massive gig-goer and I don't buy a lot of music," he confesses when asked about Scotland's musical revival. "I do know however, that there are a lot more good gigs, good bands, good promoters, good radio DJs and good writers than there were 5 years ago... The truth is I'm maybe not the best person to ask; I'm very self-concerned, critical and pessimistic."
Complying with indie norms has never been high on Coulthard's agenda. Since 2005, the Edinburgh-dwelling Fifer's been flaunting Randan's wonk-pop (un)sensibilities while extolling lyrics so sharp they could scythe the entire Amazonian rainforest. Clearly, Randan Discotheque's not your archetypal alt-folk outfit.
"I certainly don't know what to say when people ask what we sound like," says Coulthard, attempting to pin down the group's sonic persuasion. "Some people find it hard to categorise what we do, and that makes us different but not necessarily good. I guess music based on the sound of doing a jobby on a plate would be hard to categorise too - though I think we are slightly better than that."
With an appellation that conjures images of bevvied-up neds cutting rug in the local dancehall, Randan Discotheque could easily be dismissed as a comical proposition. But, as Coulthard explains, nothing could be further from the truth:
"I was on a camping holiday in northern Italy... and there was this horrible sixties building that said 'Discotheque, RANDAN, Dancing' – it just seemed to be the right name," he says. "I always had the knowledge in my head that the music I wanted to make would move away from acoustic song-writing to something fuller and more energetic. I liked the idea of being called a discotheque, while not providing anything like a disco experience."
Not quite a pill-popping night out, Randan Discotheque's swelling numbers (it's now a full band quartet) have inspired a bulbous, vibrant sound that nudges new single 'Daily Record May 18th, 1993' into more commercially pleasing climes. It's a direction Coulthard's more than eager to pursue:
"I genuinely believe what we do is catchier, more imaginative and modern than a lot of pop music that seems to do well enough to sustain a career," he enthuses. "I want to move on to releasing other people's music on the label, start a nightclub, write a novel, build a house, get a decent music programme on Scottish TV, do some screen-printing, appear on 'The Friday Night Project' with Alan Carr and that human lion, and get to play for 15 seconds on top of that balcony thing before the ad break."
With the mainstream almost within his grasp, does Coulthard ever wonder where he'd be without music?
"I would be a very depressed person if I wasn't making music and being an artist," he explains. "I have to do it so I don't take myself too seriously, it's like laughing at yourself a bit. I also want to make the music I don't hear from elsewhere. I love playing live, though it scares me shitless, and I love it even more playing with other people – being surprised and impressed by what they do, feeling a sense of achievement together, plus it is hot, sweaty fun and you can't beat hot, sweaty fun."
Catch Randan Discotheque in the flesh at the following shows:
1 Aug @ Dolphinstock Festival, Lancaster
19 Aug @ Electric Circus, Edinburgh
28 Aug @ Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh * DAILY RECORD SINGLE LAUNCH
Under the Radar: showcasing the best new music in Scotland
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