It’s really bloody cold outside but Glaswegian Stink-core pioneers Aereogramme are surely used to weather far worse than this in Scotland so I shall complain no further. Signed to notorious Scotch label Chemikal Underground , Aereogramme have recently completed their first American tour and are back in the UK to support their recently released album ‘A Story In White’ with a tour with Scally-Goths-turned-Experimental-Metallers Anathema. Drowned In Sound manage to catch up with the bearded three – vocalist & guitarist Craig B, bassist & samples man Campbell McNeil and drummer Martin Scott - in the Manchester student bar over a dubiously inexpensive pizza…
You’ve just got back after the “Beards Across America” tour. How was the reaction?
Martin: It actually seemed to be pretty good. I don’t if it was just me but people just seemed a little bit more upfront for listening. It wasn’t as if people were moshing away at the front. It seemed to me that many more people listened, which was great. We only play a song called ‘Snowstorm’ if we think the crowd are listening and we think they will want to hear it. We played ‘Snowstorm’ four times on that tour and we haven’t played it at all on the last two British tours. I thought it was a good reaction.
Was the tour at all difficult after the events September 11th?
Campbell: Oh not at all. Well I think Superchunk seemed to think that the crowds had been affected – only in numbers. But the people were great.
Craig: Can you put down that the pizza is shite.
These views are particularly significant, especially considering the sheer number of American bands deciding to postpone their overseas commitments. Aereogramme are not afraid of repaying their long-time supporters’ efforts either. With the first [nopassingphase] compilation record to be released early in 2001, Craig B proffered his services adding an exclusive track: “It was just to help out somebody really. He’s just doing a new label and there was a song already recorded so it was like, “Use that one.” [James Moore] needed a track and he’s supported us from the start and so its like helping somebody back. He’s a good guy. He loves his music.”
Your album, “A Story In White”, was eclectic, to say the least. Name your influences.
Campbell: I’ll go for Slayer and Jane’s Addiction today.
Martin: Otis Redding and Far.
Craig: Mark Eitzel and The God Machine.
Lyrics on the album are maybe fewer in number when compared to some other records but you are never found wanting more from it. Whatever the songs may lack in vocals, it is more than made up for in instrumental potency. Craig is the primary lyricist and he explains how he prefers to write them: "The best way that I’ve found is certainly not to try and force something. I’ve sat down and I’ve actually tried to write good lyrics and it always comes out really, really badly. So basically what I do is I’ll have the guitar tune and I’ll just let whatever’s in there come out and then build it up around that."
It seems that Aereogramme's main aim is to give something back to music using songs - not just the music or the lyrics, as Craig explains: "I never say, “The lyrics are amazing but the music’s really shit!” I usually listen to everything as a whole. All I really want to do is move people awake like bands move us that we listen to. Do the same for somebody else. Mark Eitzel is the most incredible songwriter but without the music I wouldn’t pay attention to it."
Having indicated that the lyrics are not the most important part of each song, Campbell tells a story on which album track 'Shouting For Joey' is based: "Shouting For Joey is about a seriously handicapped guy who used to appear on Blue Peter in the late 70s called Joey Deacon, who had severe cerebral palsy. Basically he had a guy who used to hang out with him who claimed he could understand Joey when nobody else could and I never believed him. I thought this guy was on a scam and I always imagined it that Joey knew that this guy was completely lying to him and lying to the nation and I just imagined how ferociously angry must have been as he couldn’t communicate and that this guy was a fuckin' scam. Even at the age of 7 or 8 I knew this guy was a scam. So that’s what Shouting For Joey is about – just getting your head around that sort of frustration because I guess everyone can relate to that from time to time but no one can fully understand Joey’s pain."
Aereogramme are currently performing dates as part of the annual Kerrang! Tour, but it seems that it's not as great as Campbell had expected: "It feels pretty good but there seems to be a lot of bullshit going on. I’ve always loved Kerrang. Each level of this thing that we go to we just seem to through more and more of this unnecessary shite and I don’t understand it because it should be the bigger you get the easier things get but it's just not the case. Fuck it."
Earlier this year you played a gig at the Highbury garage where you played above 6x7 on the bill. How did that come about?
Campbell: It was a last minute thing. They needed a practise basically.
Martin: They needed a showcase gig really. It wasn’t anything heavy.
DiS: I almost went to that gig.
Campbell: It was a really good gig. Modest Mouse were amazing.
DiS: I saw The Strokes instead.
Campbell: Oh well.
What have you been listening to recently?
Campbell: An album by a band called Botch. I don’t know much about them. I heard them in the States. That’s the best new thing I've heard and we just heard them a couple of weeks ago.
Martin: Last thing I bought was a Misfits CD. And also this band from the states who are sort of slightly more country tinged female fronted Weezer, if you could imagine it. They just write the best pop tunes.
Craig: Stars Of The Lid and Lift To Experience. They send me to sleep – but in a good way.
Tell us a joke.
Craig: There’s a guy and girl in a car and they’re getting it on big time. The girl leans over and says, “Kiss me where it’s wet and stinky.” So he drives her up to Aberdeen.
So there you have it.
Aereogramme don't like shite pizza, understandably.
They won't shy away from returning a favour and indeed continue to praise former DiS writer James Moore.
America approve of their existence.
They have a fine record out in the shops. Get it.