> Music interview: Man of Moon, Chemicals - the remixes EP - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

Music interview: Man of Moon, Chemicals – the remixes EP

Man of Moon sound like they’ve been busy with their lockdown, pulling together a remix EP and working on new material. I caught up with singer and guitarist Chris Bainbridge to chat about the new EP, touring with The Twilight Sad, live music during lockdown, and the importance of grassroots venues.

How’s it been going with the new remix EP?

Great! I’m so pleased with the way it’s turned out. We just really wanted to use artists who are really relevant in today’s Scottish music scene. We wanted to work with people whose music we really like and see what they could do with it. It’s been really cool to hear people’s different takes on the same song. The way that some of the artists have chopped up the vocals and completely changed the compositions has been wicked.

We always wanted to do a remix release cause I love it when bands do that. I’m a big Radiohead fan and they’ve got a couple of b-side/remix EPs and albums that we’re a fan of. After we did ‘Chemicals’ last year, we found we had a record that lended itself really well to being remixed, especially ‘Skin’. So we asked Django to do ‘Ride the Waves’ and one of my best mates, Danny, he’s Amber Leaf, he wanted to have a bash at ‘Skin’.

We actually had them last year, so we’ve been sitting on them for quite a while. I wasn’t really sure what to do with them cause we’ve been working on the album. Then it got to lock down and I was like ‘F’ing hell we need to put them out while people are at home bored. So I thought, why not do a ‘Chemicals’ remix release and get quite a few people more to add to it and make an actual collection.

We already had two at the start of it then Mikey did one. I got in contact with Millie from The Ninth Wave, Edwin Organ, and Zoe Graham to see if they’d be keen. Luckily they were and they’ve done a brilliant job, so it’s worked out well.

I’ve also done another version of ‘Ride The Waves’. I’ve not used any of the tracks from the original but I’ve re-recorded the bass parts and drums at home on synths and stuff. It’s a bit more like electronica and I’ve re-recorded the vocals.

Moving away from the remix EP for the moment. The night you played at the Usher Hall last year with The Twilight Sad was a bit of a special evening.

To be honest it’s actually a weird one. That was one of the shows that, from the outside, it would have looked immense. It really was immense, the build up to it was insane. I was super nervous about it but also really really buzzing. It was class that we got to do the whole of Europe with them and then finish in a hometown.

That was amazing but I was so nervous for it. I just really wasn’t digging the sound on stage and I thought I was playing shit; so I just hated it. I came off stage like ‘F’sake, that was shite’, and was in a bad mood. I watched a video that someone put up the next day and to be honest it actually sounded alright.

Sometimes when you’re in that headspace on stage it’s really difficult to listen to anyone saying it’s good or that. I think we were also tired from being on the road for a long time and it was the last show of this big tour. There was a lot of pressure, you know?

Watching Twilight Sad afterwards was unbelievable, proper insane, and so emotional. The tour as a whole was amazing. Some of the shows in Germany and Italy were really really cool and getting to hang out with the boys for longer was really fun.

Has lockdown been a good break from gigging for you then?

Yeah, it’s been great having a chance to work on my production skills a bit. I’ve just moved into a new flat in January and I’ve been setting up a wee bit of a studio in my room. My mate gave me an electronic drum kit, a really good one as well. So I’ve got a guitar, and a kit, and a synth now. Having all this free time has meant that I can try and get better at making demos in the flat. Weirdly, I’ve just been recording demos on my phone for the past ten years or whatever. My mate gave me a version of Logic last year that I’ve only just got round to putting on my laptop. So it’s been cool.

I’ve always wanted to get into reading cause I don’t actually normally read but I thought it would help with lyric writing. I’ve been reading Mark Everett from The Eels’ autobiography. I love playing live to be honest. I love the buzz of it. So in that way it’s been a bit boring. Not actually getting to see shows is a bit of a bummer.

You did the online Tolbooth session a few weeks ago. How did that go for you?

I really enjoyed it but was actually dreading it. I’m a bit of a caveman and not very tech savvy so I was really paranoid that something was going to go wrong – it ended up being fine.

It was really cool to see people engaging with the set in the comments afterwards. I just finished the set, had a beer, and sat and went through the comments – it was really heartwarming. There were people tuning in that had seen us in Italy with The Twilight Sad, folk from Germany and that. It was weird playing just to my phone but I definitely want to do it again. We’ve actually got another couple planned.

I think musicians and the industry have to adapt to the fact that live-streaming has become much more of a thing. It will get a bit more professional as it goes on cause lockdown’s going to get lifted and bands can go into the studio or whatever.

We’ve some cool ideas about us doing a live stream set when the album comes out further down the line. With the Chemicals remix release, which is coming out on the 29th May on Spotify and everywhere else, to celebrate it on the Friday I’m going to play a half hour set just like I did for the Tolbooth.

It’s going to be me playing guitars, vocals and synth for half an hour. When I finish it’s going to cut over to Mikey in his flat and he’s going live-stream a DJ set with a couple of the remixes and banging tunes that he likes. So, people can listen to depressing tunes from me and then dancey tunes from him.

It should be fun and it’ll give people something to look forward to. It’ll feel more like a gig, you know? Cause we love playing gigs and then doing DJ sets after.

You’ve played a lot of grassroots venues over the years and they’re obviously struggling right now. What’s your thoughts on the importance of small venues?

Oh man, I could talk for ages about this. I think the small venues are the most important by a f’ing mile. All the best gigs that I’ve been to besides Young Fathers at Leith Theatre, which is also an independent venue – it was the best gig I’ve ever been to – have been in tiny little sweatboxes where you can feel the band right in front of you. I’m not into big stadium gigs or whatever, it’s not really my thing. I also love playing the wee shows.

In terms of up and coming bands, if the small independent venues go then these new bands have got nowhere to play, there’s not going to be any shows for them. So they’re really vital to the music scene and I’ll be so sad when we eventually see some of them go. I can’t really see how all of them are going to come out of it. Some of them have come up with some really good ideas on how to raise money, places like Sneaky Pete’s and The Hug. I think the next year and a half is going to be really tough for these wee venues.

Do you think there’s a risk that the lack of opportunities for bands is going to cause some to disappear?

I know of a couple of bands that were just about to sign deals and then lockdown happened. I think some are going to really struggle to survive till next summer. But then, I think that lockdown has bonded the community. There’s already a really good community feel within the Scottish music scene but I’ve noticed even more that people are being super supportive of each other, so we’ll make it through with that.

You were saying that playing live is what you really love. What are your favourite tunes to play?

I’ve a couple from the new set. ‘This World’ starts off with really really quiet guitar and vocals and ends up with Mikey’s hypnotic beat at the end. The end part of that tune is so much fun to play; it’s just guitar and drums and we’re just locked in. Usually the crowd likes it quite a lot cause it’s quite unexpected I think, the ending.

There’s a track that we don’t have in the set anymore called ‘No Nights Sleep’ that we did in a session for Vic Galloway on the BBC. I think that recording of that tune is the most proud I’ve ever felt of a recording we’ve done. It’s an intense one, just my kind of style. We might bring that back for album two.

Man of Moon’s ‘Chemicals: The remixes’ EP will be released on most of the major streaming platforms on 29th May.

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