The Scotsman Sessions #334: Poster Paints

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, Carla Easton and Simon Liddell – aka Poster Paints – perform the track Hard to Sweeten from their forthcoming debut album Not Sorry, with Calum Muir and Kim Grant.

“A common thread of South Lanarkshire despondency” is what connects new Scottish supergroup Poster Paints, says Carla Easton, ex of Futuristic Retro Champions, TeenCanteen and Ette, whose bandmate is former Frightened Rabbit guitarist and keyboard player Simon Liddell. They both grew up in the region, five minutes’ drive from each other’s houses, yet they didn’t meet until 2019.

“It’s weird,” says Easton. “Our parents knew each other and he played football with my brother. We recently discovered we were in the same youth orchestra. My mum even taught at Simon’s primary school.”

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“We managed to avoid each other for that amount of time, though,” he says.

Poster Paints
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“Yeah,” she laughs. “We nearly made it!”

After they met, they realised the depth of their shared musical interests, including bands like Teenage Fanclub, Mazzy Star and the Vaselines. The latter duo are no surprise, as they introduced the pair. Easton had been playing with the Vaselines since 2017, and she met Liddell at the Doune the Rabbit Hole festival in 2019.

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“I had a friend who needed a song for his short film, so I asked Carla to put some vocals on it,” says Liddell (the song is named Rupture, after the film, which hasn’t been released yet). “That’s the first track we wrote, it came together really easily, so we wanted to do more. That was around lockdown starting, so it became, not necessarily a lockdown project, but a time filler, sending songs back and forward remotely.”

The pair live close to one another in Glasgow, although the project began in the initial emergency phase of the pandemic, when socialising wasn’t permitted at all. Easton didn’t even have a home studio at this point, she’d just record demos into her iPad.

“We’d go to the park [when restrictions eased],” she remembers. “We’d say, ‘see that co-write we’ve been doing? It’s alright, do you think we should do an album?’ It was a different way to work. We’ve both co-written with other people before, but normally that's been in a room, jamming out ideas and talking about things.”

Their debut album Not Sorry was recorded in Scotland, Canada and America, but all remotely. Even when restrictions lifted, they were so comfortable with the process there was no point booking a studio.

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“I think fans of Simon’s previous records will love it, and fans of mine will too,” says Easton. “It’s a uniquely new project, but it takes our strengths and puts them together to make something new, without reinventing the wheel.”

Dates are planned next year, as are more recordings. In the meantime, their Scotsman Session is the album track Hard to Sweeten, recorded in Easton’s flat. The filmmaker is Lisa Fabian, and Calum Muir and Kim Grant play on it alongside Easton and Liddell.

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“It's probably the lightest track on the album, a finger-picked ballad,” says Liddell. “It’s a sort of campfire get-together… not a real campfire, because we were in a flat, but you know what I mean. Everyone around the piano.”

What is the song about, if anything? “I guess being drawn to the things that are bad for you,” says Easton, “and repeating those exercises in life.”

Poster Paints’ debut album Not Sorry is released by Ernest Jenning Record Co. and Olive Grove Records on 14 October. The band play the Glad Café, Glasgow, on 22 October with support from Flinch and Simply Thrilled DJs, see www.posterpaints.bandcamp.com