Since the New Band Spotlight feature was launched we’ve featured a number of local Glaswegian bands who are out to rock your socks off, but today we embrace a mellower moment and turn your attention to Above Attics, a duo who have proven a hit with local audiences with their stripped back sound consisting simply of guitar and vocal.
I’ve seen Above Attics a couple of times now and each time I’ve been hypnotised by singer Magdalena’s stunning vocal which has been beautifully captured on their first release, the Beneath it All EP. Magdalena’s voice combined with the mostly acoustic guitar performed by the duo’s other half Rich, make for just over 24 minutes of warm, comforting music that invites you to hit the play button again as soon as its five tracks are over.
We caught up with Rich for a chinwag.
Hi Rich. So what’s the story behind Above Attics? How did the two of you meet and why form a band with simply the two of you?
Above Attics started as basically my side project after my last band Sleep Parade broke up and was just my way of keeping busy musically. Sleep Parade evolved into music that was very long and complicated so I wanted to simplify the music I was writing. I’m very much a 90’s kid so I wanted to have a Pearl Jam/Alice In Chains unplugged vibe about it. I always wanted to work with a female vocalist so once I had a few songs and demo’s put together I advertised, looking for a singer. Through doing that I met Magdalena, we had a jam and have played together ever since.
Because the songs were all written and demoed on acoustic guitar we decided to just work on the song-writing and arrangements ourselves, they sounded great with just the two of us playing so we didn’t think we would need anyone else but it is our goal one day to have a full band.
When you play live it is just the two of you, yet the EP is recorded with full band sound. Why chose not to capture the live sound but a band sound instead?
When we started the band we concentrated on song writing and then getting as many demo’s recorded as we could. As we progressed we talked about how great some of these songs would sound with a full band. We also recorded demo’s with MIDI drums and extra guitar parts, so when we were choosing songs to do for the EP it was the songs that we always envisioned and got used to hearing having a full band sound.
We have decided that the next release will be much more what we sound like live, so we have some variety in the recording we put out. I like it when Artists/bands put out more stripped back records, for example Beck’s new album. So we think it would be great to do something like that.
Who played the E.P.’s additional parts?
The drums and djembe were played by my good friend Ben who was in my very first band when I was at school. He’s an incredible drummer and I wouldn’t have had anyone else; he did an amazing job. All the other instruments were played by me, and Magda helped arrange the string parts.
Aside from djembe are there other exotic instruments on the EP?
The only unusual instrument was a banjo I used on the track ‘Something Beautiful’. I wrote the part originally on guitar but as soon as I heard it, I heard it played on a banjo. So then began my quest to find someone with a banjo so I could borrow it!
As for the djembe, I knew Ben played one and was really good at it so I asked him to bring it to the drum recording session. The drums were actually recorded in a huge church that had been semi converted into a recording studio. We set up the drums right in the middle and threw a few room microphones around it and got an amazing sound. I had no idea what we could use the djembe on but we had some time left after the drum recording so we just tried it on the track ‘Dear Angel’ and it fitted perfectly, especially with the acoustics of the church. We recorded Ben playing the part he came up with completely improvised on the spot. One take and that was it; turned out better than I could have imagined. Hopefully I’ll get him to record some more on future recordings.
For now we are still just sticking to the two of us. At one point we did start auditioning drummers and bass players but it didn’t turn out so well. It’s hard to find people that are going to be as committed as we are to the band. I’ve talked to Ben and he is up for playing djembe on some up coming gigs but we will have to see how that goes.
If we find the right people I think we could take things to a whole new level. I think we could do more interesting arrangements and be more dynamic musically. Magda and I will always work well together and having more talented people giving input can only be a good thing. It would also allow us to branch out from only playing acoustic gigs and play with some louder bands.
Launching the EP is clearly the realisation of a goal. Now that it’s out, what’s next for Above Attics?
Yes, we worked so hard on this EP as it was our first proper release that it’s a big weight off now it’s finally done and out there. We hope the feedback is going to be positive. I am actually really looking forward to getting started on a more stripped down recording that I mentioned earlier. We have a lot more songs that we having been working on during the Beneath it All recording and I think they would suit that stripped back style. Acoustic guitar, some vocals and maybe some piano, that’s all it would need. We are constantly writing new songs so we will definitely have a lot to choose from to pick the best ones.
Now that you’re out of the studio, when can people come see you play next?
We have a few gigs coming up actually. We are playing in Box on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow on the 28th of July and the 25th of August, and we’re also playing in Cuan Mhor in Oban on the 23rd of August.
Cheers Rich. A pleasure to talk to you.