Well they’re not really that lovely or little… Econoline = Grumpy Men + Loud Guitars. They take the fuzzy guitar noise of Husker Du, combine it with the freeform dynamics of Braid and have a self-proclaimed 80’s US hardcore wannabe for a lead singer. That’s Mr Ian Scanlon by the way, he’s a busy bunny, not only is he lead singer and guitarist in Econoline, he’s also in Gavin Baker’s side project Jet Johnson, he runs Damn You! Promotions, as well as being a full time Scientist. Anyway back to Econoline, Ian disagrees about them being grumpy.
“My mum says I sound cross on all of the songs and she worries about me. But they do that don't they, and I guess I sound that way. I wouldn't say we were particularly grumpy as a band though, and Valentina’s not a man either, we tend to be a mostly cheerful bunch. There are things I feel strongly about in the songs; some of it is anger, some of its loss and some of its love. I think that goes a little further than grumpy. Maybe Expressive People + Loud Guitars… how lame does that sound! Maybe Drunk People + Loud Guitars is more factually accurate. Having said that we all have our pet hates. Steve's current bugbear is Starsailor who make him extraordinarily angry for example.”
I’ve known Ian for a few years now; my first contact with him was on a discussion list, way back in 1998. I fell in love with a band called Grouch, put them in my favourite 10 bands list, he happened to know them and we started chatting about music. He’s always been very opinionated, and will give you a straight opinion on any band. For instance, like many others, he detests Prog Rock wannabes Muse… but would he go on tour with them to blow them away and gain more fans?
“No. I wouldn't tour with them or any other faux alt' rock shite. I'm not really interested in building up a fan base of people who are so fucking musically illiterate that they like to listen to rehashed Queen songs sung by Thom Yorke’s Goth country cousin. I'm not that interested in getting on the touring treadmill circuit in that way either. I love to play but I'd rather book shows myself and play with bands I know and like (either personally or musically, and ideally both). If you start to lose touch with that aspect of making music, i.e. the having fun with people you like part, it sucks. Also we hear and meet so many great people and bands all the time through Damn You! Or just through other people we know that you just always want to go and play with them and meet them.”
See told ya he didn’t like em! wondering what he thinks the worst type of bands are? OK here he goes
“The worst type, are bands who try too hard to be commercial indie rock... If you want to be a pop band then make pop music don't wear a fucking leather jacket and play the guitar with a shit fringe. There are many of these bands and they just make me want to vom' I could reel off names but I shan't. You just know that they probably like good music and have interesting ideas but that they whore themselves up to sound like some ad executives idea of an alternative rock band SICKENING. So I guess it's the ones I hate.”
His passion, whether it’s love or hate, for music became apparent at a young age due to his older brother's record collection
“It's hard to pinpoint a time... my older brothers always had loads of records in our house, Genesis and Yes through The Jam and The Housemartins. I finally realised I wanted to be a musician the very first time I performed in front of people, I was 15 and I had just been playing bass so I could hang with the cool kids, after that I just never stopped really. When we did our first show as Econoline, Rowan had never played to an audience before. He loved it though. I think it hits you like that. You either get on stage and can't get enough of it, or you just don't get it. People who don't like music really bother me. What's wrong with them?”
Ian’s been in several bands before forming Econoline, the first I heard was Cash Cow, despite gigging continuous in London and recording some superb demos, they never got signed, neither did his next band Drop Bear.
”Cash Cow was very frustrating... but not because we had no interest from labels... in fact, we had quite a lot of interest we just never did anything. We got too caught up in our own importance and didn't seize any opportunities. I did feel like jacking it in after Cash Cow, but I did one gig on my own supporting Reynolds and I knew I couldn't stop. When we got the whole band together it sort of gathered it's own momentum. We're really lucky that very supportive people surround us. Dave and Lorraine at Seriously Groovy (our label) are brilliant, really enthusiastic and behind the records that we give them. I can honestly say that I am enjoying what we're doing now. Sometimes that was hard to say in Cash Cow. Drop Bear was essentially what Econoline were called at first. We changed the name when Tom joined because there was a guy, who played guitar in Feeder on tour, who had a band called Drop Bear that got a publishing deal. So we thought, take the name shit boy we don't want it anymore. Where are they now? Probably top of the charts in America under a different name but who cares. We never sent out any demos as Drop Bear. Or as Econoline really either. Phill played our stuff to Badmusic and the only other labels we talked to were Southern and Seriously groovy, and they both saw us play with other bands and asked for material.”
Econoline’s, and Ian’s first release, the imaginatively titled Econoline E.P, was released at the end of last year. The first release is always pretty important, so I asked him how he felt when that came out.
”It was so easy, that was the best thing. I thought we were going to have to shop it to labels, or put it out ourselves. Badmusic leaping in when they did was amazing. Ric and Pete are champions for that. I kind of felt vindicated, in Cash Cow I'd always pushed to record and release stuff but somehow we thought it would be so difficult. It turns out I was right HOORAY. The most exciting part was getting it in the shops. I was eating a Burger King and the guy from Prime phoned and just said "yeah we'll put it out December 5th", no prevarication at all. That was fucking cool, but obviously I had to pretend to be hard and not bothered. So I put the phone down and started whooping. Getting the first play on the radio was like that too another WHOOHOO moment.”
Their second release was for London based label, Seriously Groovy. The Emo police aka Collective Zine sorta described ‘Breakfast Of Champions’ as Emo, which is pretty high praise. Though Ian doesn’t really see it that way
”Hmm… I gag slightly at the term Emo, if it implies that we make emotional music then yeah we do, but then all music should be emotional. Chris Summerlin (Reynolds) will kick my ass for that as I essentially stole that off of him, HOHO, but still it's the truth. Also I don't really consider us to be part of a specific scene like that, a lot of bands in any given genre SUCK and when you define yourself as a genre band you will inevitably get compared to them and not the good ones. When the album comes out there'll be a lot of things on there that aren't especially "Emo" our next single for example, ‘I'm Plagued’, is far more late 80's indie rock sounding full on 1 minute thirty Grungey pop, with two guitar solos at once J Mascis we thank you, and we also recorded an 8 minute monstrosity that's like Built to Spill with the volume being continually turned up. Tom our departed drummer ragged on me for having an Emo voice and said if we got called Emo he would disown the band, HA, fucking yank, and his friends are on ‘Fueled by Ramen’ how much more Emo could they be? At the end of the day Andy Malcolm would hit you for calling us Emo as to him it means proper mentalist bands with screaming, like Heroin and all the stuff on 31G. I believe he would refer to us as "indie rock" and he is the authority in these matters. Lots of people say we resemble The Cure, which I am down with as ‘Staring at the Sea’ is an important part of our video regimen at home, as well as ‘Elvis; Aloha from Hawaii’.”
Despite being non-chart friendly, English and definitely not Nu-Metal, the single also receive pretty good reviews in the NME and Kerrang. I was quite shocked, though Mr Scanlon wasn’t so surprised
”I think that there are writers at both papers who like the sort of music we make and we got lucky and they happened to review the singles. I have a lot of time for Stevie Chick in particular. I've known him, through my old band, since he wrote ‘Resistor’ his pre Melody Maker zine. In fact Jamie from Transcopic records, who drummed in my old band, threw a can of wee at him after he interviewed us once. I think he was being friendly.”
Though like most other British bands I’ve asked, he does agree with me that the British press has a tendency to praise foreign bands, and ignore homegrown talent
“Reynolds called one of their songs, ‘Significantly Inferior To Our American Contempories’ which sums it up. It's annoying that there are bands like Rebus, San Quentin, the Gringo mob (Reynolds, Eska, San Lorenzo, Hirameka Hi-Fi) and the like who are all fucking better than reheated arse like The Strokes, but will not get an eighth of the column inches. Even bands that get a ton of respect like Bluetip and Burning Airlines leave me cold compared to the ROCK we have here. However, hit continental Europe and it works for the UK too. We have just had our single be ‘Record of the week’ on a radio station in Italy and Yugoslavia… and who the hell are we? I think there's always an aspect of grass is greener. It's just that much more interesting if a band has come 4000 miles to play to you than if they've come round the corner. Which isn't to say it doesn't suck. Cos it does. We see it a lot with the Damn You! gigs we put on American bands= loads of people UK bands= none.”
If you want to hear them, here’s their schedule for the rest of the year:
"7” version of ‘Breakfast of Champions’ / ‘No Message Attached’ is out on the in shops for £1, or it should be anyway, bargain.
The next single will be out in August, barring disasters at the pressers, and the album will be out in the autumn and will crush all in it's path.
We also have our split with Caretaker but that seems to be stuck in Czech Republic limbo so Lord knows when that's out, on Big Scary Monsters.”
They’ve also got a couple of gigs in June:
2nd - Tunbridge Wells Forum (w/ Box and Planquez)
5th - The Verge, Kentish Town (w/ Wolf Colonel and Fence)
30th - Safe Between The Ears II at Farnham Maltings (w/ Billy Mahonie, Reynolds, Hirameka Hi Fi, The Oedipus et al)
Ian comments: ”All of those are with our marvellous replacement drummer Valentina from Querrelle who are rocking in a Blonde Redhead way and should be gigging soon. We're playing Silver Rocket in July (6th) with Rebus and San Quentin and hopefully going to Italy sometime too then to do promo stuff for the single, for which we have to make a video for Italian TV, I shit you not. In August we have some shows in the southwest, Hereford, Bristol and maybe Exeter with Kids Near Water and San Quentin. We’ve also just found out we're on the reserve list for Reading/ Leeds so we have to hurt a load of bands on the bill to get on. Which I will do with great pleasure having seen the line up.”
Wondering who’d they kill and how?
“So many targets probably best to gas the lot, but then that's my general feeling on most of humanity. I only know about four bands that are playing. Travis, Eminem and Marilyn Manson are headlining, and I think Rocket from the Crypt are playing. They came to see Tristeza but missed our support slot goddamn them.”
If you want to hear Econoline, check out:
EmV (Real Audio)