An Interview with Pelts

This week, we caught up with lead singer, Graham McCarey and Bassist, Stuart Brown from Glaswegian rock band, Pelts to discuss their brand new album, ‘A Little Less Lost’, their favourite Scottish bands and their most memorable gigs so far. Have a read below now…

How did Pelts form and where did the name come from? 

GM – I was at a point, personally, where I just needed something fresh and new, but I also wanted to play with old friends again. Stu, Olly and I had been in bands together years before, and we’d met Ben and Ralph along the way. I met Natasha through a book group, and when we discovered that our voices worked well together, that became a great focal point. The name.. I was pottering about in the kitchen one night, with Radio 4 on in the background. I wasn’t really listening to the discussion that was going on, but suddenly the word ‘pelts’ jumped out at me, and I thought that would be a great name. It’s short and punchy, and it could have many meanings.

You are releasing your debut album, ‘A Little Less Lost’ on the 18th September… how does it feel to finally get the album out? 

GM – it feels incredibly exciting to be getting an album out finally! We’ve had a lot of positive things come from our shorter releases, but this feels properly momentous. Dropping the needle recently on the test pressing of the vinyl LP was a very special moment indeed.

SB – A relief!  It feels like it’s been a long time in the making and I’m outrageously proud to be a part of it

Is there a particular message / meaning that you wanted the album to represent? 

GM – I don’t know about a message, but I think it does have pervasive themes that run through. It kind of charts the last few years of our lives really, and the various life events (both big and small) that we have come through. Hope, redemption, and love.

SB – I think the title says it all, without wanting to speak for everyone in the band, most of us have been through some ‘stuff’ over the course of time that Pelts has existed but with the support of each other and our loved ones we’ve come out the other side – slightly stronger and perhaps…‘A Little Less Lost’ (sorry).

The album is made out of 8 captivating tracks … do you have a favourite? 

GM – It’s virtually impossible to choose, but ‘Haunted’ has a very special place in my affections. It was virtually the first song we ever started to rehearse, back when we started. It had been put aside for quite a while because we couldn’t ever find the right way to play it as a band. It only ever sounded right when we did it really simply – just two voices and a guitar. So that’s how we did it for the album, and I’m really glad we did.

SB – it changes almost daily!  I’d probably pick ‘London Runner’, the album closer.  It seemed to arrive in the rehearsal room almost fully formed as a result of a collaboration between Ben, our drummer and Ralph (keyboards).  It feels a bit different to most of our other songs – it’s pretty much just two chords the whole way through and just builds and builds, for me it was the only way to finish the album.

Tell us more about the production process of the album… 

GM – We recorded the album at Anchor Lane Studios in Glasgow, with the amazing Luigi Pasquini at the helm. We wanted to get a really natural, almost live, feel so we tracked all of the songs together in his live room. That was a great recording experience – really happy that we chose that approach. After that we overdubbed other layers, and vocals – some of which some of the guys recorded separately and brought into the studio to blend in. 

SB – Recording in a ‘proper’ studio for the first time was a really interesting process.  I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly things came together but constantly amazed at just how finely tuned Luigi’s ears are.  We were also very lucky to have Jamie Savage of the legendary Chem-19 Studios master the album and we’re absolutely delighted with the results.

How would you describe your songwriting process? Is there a particular place you go to write or is it something that just comes naturally? 

GM – It’s definitely something that has changed a lot over time, and can now involve collaborative writing from all corners of the band. It can start with an instrumental demo, or a straight forward bare-bones idea. For me, I personally find that ideas can come to me any time, and I’ll most often be writing songs in my head when I’m on the go. It can be living in my head for a while before I even pick up a guitar. Sitting down with the purpose of writing something from scratch very rarely works for me.

SB – I’d like to think that we all contribute to the songwriting process in different ways, even if we’re not all directly involved with the lyrics.  There aren’t many songs on the album that all six of us haven’t influenced in one way or another either in terms or structure, feel or something more tangible.

Your single, Throwing Sticks was recently released – what’s the influence behind the lyrics? 

GM – Throwing Sticks is quite a personal one for me. It was written at a time when my partner and I were living right beside Maxwell Park in Glasgow. That was our first proper home together, and we lived there for almost exactly a year. During that time there were many highs and lows; joys and trials. The black dog in the lyrics – perhaps predictably – refers obliquely to my own mental health issues. When the idea of throwing sticks for this particular dog came into my mind it really gelled the parts of the songs together. For much of that year we were indeed dealing with that dog. But it’s ultimately a really hopeful song, and one that has a lot of really nostalgic imagery in it for me.

Pelts is based in Glasgow … who are your favourite local Glaswegian bands that you recommend us checking out? 

GM – I think we’ve always been really proud to be associated with such a special city, and one that has produced so many incredible bands over the years. I would really recommend checking out some of our extended family of bands – Betatone Distraction, The Paperback Throne, Kevin P Gilday and The Glasgow Cross and our friends The Wild Places. I just did a guest vocal on a special EP by The Wild Places, which is raising money for the Red Cross. Well worth checking out!

SB – Outwith bands and artists that are connected directly with Pelts, there are so many amazing examples in the city – two that spring immediately to mind are Life Model and Heir of the Cursed.  No-one creates an atmosphere like Heir of the Cursed, absolutely mesmerising.

What’s been the most memorable gig you’ve played and why?

GM – Gigs, of course, can be memorable for both good and bad reasons. But I’ll dwell on the good instead of the bad.. One that we have a lot of good memories from was playing at Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh on Halloween a few years ago. It was a really weird atmosphere, but in a good way. There was both slow-dancing and a conga.

SB – It’s really hard to single one out.   I always love playing at the Hug and Pint though, we were part of a bill which played a benefit for SAMH about 18 months ago – it was a fantastic night and the place was absolutely rammed.

What are your aims and ambitions for the band when gigs return?

GM – We’re just really keen to get out in front of audiences again. It’s very frustrating that we can’t play launch gigs for our album, but we’ll maybe just have to have another launch at a later date just to do that. The really positive thing from lockdown times though is that we’ve amassed quite a lot of new material in isolation. There’s a bulging folder of demos in our Google Drive.. the next album may already be written! 

SB – The thing I’m looking forward to most is just being in the same room as the rest of the band.  It’s been so long that we’ve been in the same place making music together and I’ve really missed it.  Once we are allowed to start playing live again, I’m just looking forward to letting people see us play and subjecting them to Graham’s ropey patter!

Make sure you check out Pelts on their social media below now…

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Peltsband

Twitter: @peltsband

Instagram: @peltsband

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