The Scotsman Sessions #320: Gordon McIntyre

Welcome to the Scotsman Sessions. With the performing arts sector still impacted by the pandemic, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, in the new exhibition space at Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery, Ballboy frontman Gordon McIntyre performs Red Horses Racing, taken from his forthcoming solo album Even With the Support of Others

According to Gordon McIntyre, and with reference to the clichéd rallying cry of many a Nineties indie band, “there’s always been a dance solo element to my music.” Edinburgh school teacher McIntyre is best known as the frontman of Ballboy, for whom he has penned gentle, intelligent indie pop vignettes to the delight of the venerable John Peel and a considerable cult following of fans.

McIntyre and Ballboy became synonymous through the Noughties thanks to thought-provoking albums such as The Sash My Father Wore and Other Stories, though arguably his most far-reaching musical success was co-creating the rapturous hit theatre show Midsummer (A Play With Songs) with David Greig.

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Almost 15 years on from the original Traverse Theatre production starring Cora Bissett, McIntyre is now a school headmaster and this rocking prof is poised to deliver his debut album under his own name on Lost Map Records. Even With the Support of Others arrives, from sir with love, in the middle of the school summer holidays.

Gordon McIntyre

“I’ve always done solo work in some way, shape or form,” says McIntyre. “It just seemed like the right time to put this one under my name and distinguish it a little from the Ballboy songs.”

McIntyre provides a taster of the album for The Scotsman Sessions with a live version of the track Red Horses Racing, filmed in the Fruitmarket Gallery’s new exhibition space – formerly the Electric Circus music venue and Buster Browns nightclub before that. For McIntyre, the space is “beautiful, but also inhabited by the ghosts of gigs and discos past”.

The song emerged from one of the Fence Collective’s legendary Home Game festivals in Anstruther, organised by Johnny Lynch, now head honcho of the Eigg-based Lost Map Records. McIntyre likes the continuity.

“The song story is about a couple facing the end of the world (or maybe just the end of their personal world) and incorporates a re-telling of the Eyemouth Fishing disaster,” he says. “So there’s a fair bit going on in it story-wise, but mostly, as always, it’s a love song.

“The album evolved from creative thoughts and conversations during lockdown. It’s an album about connections – person to person, within yourself, and back and forth within time. I guess lockdown made philosophers of us all, in some way, shape or form. It removed the right to adventure from so many for so long. I think we all want to get back to that now. I hope the teenagers of the world just explode into new kinds of music, art and writing.”

The launch of McIntyre the solo artiste does not preclude any future Ballboy activity – in fact, a new Ballboy album has already been written. “It’s just a case of getting everyone in a recording studio at the same time,’ says McIntyre, “and that’s harder than you think with lots of Ballboy kids running wild!”

Even With the Support of Others is released by Lost Map Records on 15 July and launched at St Vincent’s Chapel, Edinburgh on 22 July