Jamie Cameron Interview: Glasgow grunge

IF YOU ARE GOING TO START A band, it probably helps if you've already seen a bit of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle first hand. Jamie Cameron, singer and guitarist with Glasgow-based nu-grunge four-piece St Deluxe, has had a lifetime of witnessing bands behind the scenes thanks to his family business.

As well as fronting one of the best new bands in Scotland, Cameron works at Glasgow's Riverside Studios alongside his dad, uncle, brother and cousin. For 20 years Riverside has been at the heart of the Scottish indie scene, Cameron's dad Duncan producing and engineering recording sessions for the cream of the country's talent.

"My dad's worked with everyone from Teenage Fanclub and BMX Bandits to Arab Strap and Travis," says Cameron. "I guess that's really influenced me a lot. Seeing people like that coming through the studio made a big impression on me.

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"People have illusions about people in bands, that they're famous and rich, but it's never, ever the case," he laughs. "I knew how it really was from an early age. If you're playing in a band you're not really ever going to make a lot of money; if it happens it's cool, but it's not likely.

"We used to have the studio in the house until I was about seven or eight. There were loads of guys who are now famous hanging around, back when they were all starting out. I'd come home from school and Bobby Gillespie would be setting up drums in the hall and bashing away. I was like, 'Move, I need to get in to do my homework'."

St Deluxe tap into the noisier end of the Scottish indie spectrum, bringing to mind the more raucous side of Primal Scream and the Jesus and Mary Chain, as well the fuzzed-up energy of US grunge and indie, bands such as Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth. No less a music spotter than Alan McGee has called them "a Scottish Nirvana for the 21st century".

Cameron isn't letting that kind of flattery go to his head. He and fellow guitarist Martin Kirwan have heard it all before with their first band, Speeder, signed to indie label Infectious a few years ago alongside the likes of Garbage and Ash.

"It just didn't work out for one reason or another," says Cameron. "We were really young and it was great experience for a first stab at a band, but in the end there were personality clashes. Me and Martin just decided to do the music we wanted to do instead, and that's how St Deluxe started."

The band's debut album suggests this was the right decision. Brimming with youthful exuberance, killer harmonies and messy guitar solos, it's eerily reminiscent of early Teenage Fanclub. It's a sound, though, that is wildly out of step with current trends for jangly guitar fops and 1980s-flecked synth-pop. "If you start trying to make records to fit in with whatever else is happening, like a Libertines-style band or a Franz Ferdinand clone, you're not doing what you want to do," explains Cameron. "Lots of bands are chasing fame, trying to buy into something that happened three or four months ago, instead of doing what they want. If the fame doesn't happen, at least you've made music you're proud of."

The band are already well into making album number two. "The first album was us finding where we all sat in the band, getting a sound together," says Cameron. "Now we're trying to take it a bit further, seeing what we can come up with through experimentation." With that in mind they've been working with a raft of guest producers, from American underground legend Calvin Johnson to Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite.

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In the meantime, the band are honing their live craft. From time to time the four members act as a band for hire, backing the likes of Duglas Stewart as the BMX Bandits, and Francis MacDonald, original drummer with Teenage Fanclub and now a solo artist. While both those projects are restrained affairs, the live St Deluxe is the exact opposite.

"When St Deluxe play live we're definitely influenced by bands like My Bloody Valentine," Cameron says. "We always want to play as loud as possible; that in itself is a really good effect, I think. It's all about trying to have fun, trying to make it exciting for us and the audience. Mind you, lots of venues have noise limiters these days, which is a pain."

• St Deluxe play King Tut's, Glasgow, tonight.