DCSIMG

Up and Comming: Mise en scène

TO DESCRIBE A PARTICULAR CITY'S music scene as incestuous is to imply some sort of corruption at its heart. That's not the case in Glasgow, which has been blooming, musically, more than ever of late – though at times it does feel as if certain musicians in the city's emerging bands are playing indie Top Trumps, trying to lend a stint on bass or rhythm guitar to as many groups as they can.

Which is all healthy for the amount of music being produced, if not for the array of viewpoints creating it. The youthful Findo Gask aren't entirely immune to this trend – their keyboard player Gavin Thomson, 25, was a member of the recently-split Flying Matchstick Men – but the group's origins mean they can fairly be described as their own men.

Singer and guitarist Gerard Black, bassist Gregory Williams and drummer Michael Marshall, all 21, formed the group while in the same year at school in Kirkcaldy. Black and Williams have, in fact, been in bands together since they were 13, the pair moving to Glasgow three years ago, with Marshall following soon after.

"I never really associate us with many other bands in Glasgow," says Black, "although we are friends with quite a few of them. I just think it's because we started off in Fife, it makes us feel more independent and lets us steer clear of the usual politics that happen within a city's scene. Glasgow's a great place for making music, of course, but we don't want to get too caught up in things like that."

Black does concede, though, that releasing their debut single last year on cult Glasgow club Optimo's OSCarr label is a privilege that most other bands in the city would die for. A double A-side entitled Va-Va-Va/Wrapped in Plastic, it's the only thing Findo Gask – who are named after the Perthshire village – have officially released so far.

Since then, due to unspecified illness within the band and a desire to freshen up their set, the quartet haven't played live this year, spending their time writing instead. The upcoming gig at Record Playerz – a one-off set featuring specially extended club versions of their songs – represents a mini-comeback, with more dates planned over the summer and hopefully another single in the autumn.

Findo Gask's six-month hiatus may well be representative of their early success, and their ambition. While most groups might be content to hit the stages of the same venues month after month, trying to wear audiences down with whatever repertoire they have to hand, the quartet have chosen to hone and add to a set that was already invigoratingly diverse. They combine Pet Shop Boys synth-pop with acid house, glitch techno with Sigur Rs-like sonic constructions, and the glossy austerity of Stereolab with the vogueish electro of Hot Chip.

Yet it's often Black's well-practised, verging on falsetto vocals which are most remarked upon. "I've always studied the vocals of groups like The Beach Boys and The Mamas and the Papas," he says. "Bands who are bursting with melody and have lots of harmonies. The Associates are probably my biggest influence, I've almost ripped off everything Billy Mackenzie ever did, but not quite. Who else? The Cocteau Twins.

"There are all sorts of influences, actually, and I know where I've taken bits from other singers. But the main thing is to not sound too much like a choirboy, which the band are always egging me on to do anyway."

And these are all groups or songwriters on whom Black models only his voice. "We get bored of doing one thing very quickly," he says. "It was never our plan to stick to one style of music, and what we do reflects the wide taste in music we have between us.

"I reckon a good band should be able to play slow songs as well as four to the floor thumpers in a club, you know? No-one wants to hear the same thing all the way through a set."

It's invigorating to listen to Black speak of his band's music with the knowledge of a classically trained musician and the eager enthusiasm of a student of popular music. "It took us a while to crack the production," he says of the intended, as-yet-untitled second single, "so I'm at the stage where I can't tell if it's catchy any more. The rest of the band tell me it is, though, which is strange considering it has too many key changes for a pop song.

"There are a lot of Gameboy sounds in it too, but not in a Crystal Castles way. Michael said he hasn't heard a song with those sounds that hasn't annoyed him until now, so hopefully that's a good sign."

What is it about lyrically? "It's quite ambiguous," hedges Black. "Relationships, maybe? Probably relationships, or the lack of. Yeah, they're always about relationships actually, I just don't like to be too obvious about it." He laughs. "Or maybe I've picked up a phrase I like, or thought of a couplet that sounds nice …"

In a city filled with energetic, talented young bands, it seems a glib conclusion to say that Findo Gask are like nothing you've ever heard before. So let's just say they sound like much of the very best music, the sound of influences lovingly picked apart and reassembled in a way that is entirely their own.

&#149 Findo Gask play Glasgow School of Art's Record Playerz club night on 12 June.

 
 
 

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