On a particularly cold and snowy Tuesday night I was invited along to have a chat with Glasgow’s “East End Boys” Start Static at their rehearsal space in the City Centre’s LoFi Studio. The doom and gloom was quickly lifted when I walked through the maze of corridors to Room 7 – which was Start Static’s base of operations – to find Stephen (guitar), John (vocals), Michael (drums) and Chris (bass) mid-session and in high spirits. A stark contrast from the wintry scenes outside.
This is a band who’ve been playing for a couple of years but manage to give off a great sense of togetherness and camaraderie that would have you believe they are childhood pals. The in-jokes are flying and the mood is one of jovial professionalism as they storm into a new track while I skulk about, camera in hand in one corner of the small recording studio.
On the subject of new material, do you have an EP or album in the making?
J – It’s a weird situation, we’ve not yet released the album we’ve finished. There’s been a huge delay.
C – It’s been a year-long project.
How many tracks do you have and how many are recorded?
J – Recorded, there is thirteen, just about finished mixing. We’re gonna need some tweaks on a few of them. We’ve got say, ten finished, maybe three need some tweaks then hopefully that’ll be the album good to go. Should be ready in a month, round about that ball-park.
Where did you record it?
J – Here (LoFi Studios in Glasgow). There’s two studios in here, this is where we’ve been mixing the album recently but we recorded it through in the other one which goes by the name Seven West.
M – The previous owner went home to Israel and the new guys have called it Technical Jar.
J – Complex. See now I’m lost.
C – This place is more complex than an Eastenders Christmas Special.
Chris had been holding onto that joke for a long time.
Do you have a name for the album yet?
J- It’s called Arguments
Is that for a particular reason?
J – It’s apt – you’re laughing – in a good way, there was lots of healthy and unhealthy arguments. A few wringing the necks n’ that but it’s good.
I guess when it’s a group of lads that can happen…
J – It’s not to do with being lads, we’re arseholes – *sarcastic tone* – see we’re all dicks.
So have you known each other a long time?
J – Aye, well I’ve known Chris and Michael for two years. That’s really not that long but I’ve known this one of the arseholes (points to Stephen) for about twelve years.
S – It started as a hobby really and a good output for our spurts of creativity. Shortly after forming we won a competition for some free studio time, recorded a few tracks and ended up on “Radio1 Introducing…” It was then that we decided to get our act together a little and make a go of it. We gigged for the first time just over a year ago and haven’t looked back.
..and where are you all from?
S – I’m from Coatbridge, now.
J – Rutherglen, originally but I live in town. I hate this question cos I always do this. Glasgow, is what I should say.
M – Motherwell.
C – East Kilbride.
so all more kinda East End Boys..
S – …and West End Girls. Haha, I was waiting on that!! Just lucky I didn’t sing it.
Where are you with a label and funding the album?
J – We don’t have a label. We’re funding it ourselves. I think if we had more time we’d have thought about PledgeMusic but as we’ve always led with the material it wasn’t really an option.
S – There’s a couple of discussions ongoing. We don’t have a label but we know a few people with a couple of contacts. If everything was to come together it would be a great opportunity. We’re also going to Creative Scotland and looking at self-funding that to take it to a decent writer/producer.
Any gigs lined up?
J – Perth on Saturday at a venue called the Green Room.
S – Been there a couple of times. It was also our first gig outside of Glasgow.
You got a following up in Perth?
C – We do actually, yeah. It’s like a home from home.
J – Nick the promoter up there is good at giving us beer so..
S – I think once or twice we’ve come home from Perth, the rest of the times we’ve stayed and had a night out. After Perth we’ve got Whistlebinkies in Edinburgh which is a two-hour set.
A two-hour set?
C – We’re writing a second album right now to cover it. (they’re not)
S – We’ve got about fourteen songs completed, well, thirteen recorded and a cover – Buckcherry ‘Crazy Bitch’ – which we did for a Biker Charity show. We did it a bit tongue-in-cheek but it turned out really well.
C – Extremely well. They were all like “going to stop playing that boring shit and play some more Buckcherry”.
S – DF (Glasgow-based Promoter) have been really good, We’ve done a couple of gigs through them last year at Tuts and opening for Jamie Lenman at Oran Mor with his seven-piece brass band. We only had a four-minute sound-check that night as the support band were late arriving from Manchester, but it was pretty busy and the sound was pretty good. I think our favourite venue so far has been Tuts.
J – As a venue it’s our number one.
S – The recent one at Tuts was a really good gig because It was relevant lineup. We were a pretty good support for Divides and Picnic Basket Nosedive were a good support for us. I really liked the boys at Black Art as well.
Of the songs I’ve listened to so far I’ve heard some My Chemical Romance in there, is that a fair comment?
J – Well, that song we’ve just played funnily enough, we were talking about it before and we thought it had a MCR atmosphere to it so it’s funny you said that. Never have those words been said so many times in this room. On that track, yeah we’re aware it came out like that.
S – We didn’t set out to sound like MCR. What we did deliberately was keep it with one of each instrument essentially because we’ve all played in bands before where if you have two guitars you can start to over complicate things when you go to play live. We do the same with bass and backing vocals and bringing those through in the mix.
Are there any bands that inspire your style as a band and individuals?
J – We’ve got quite a mix of influences. I’m a lifelong Blink-182 fan for my sins and everything that goes along with that pop-punk.
Do you lend a bit of Tom DeLonge’s vocal to your sound?
J – Well, I’d love to say no but I think everybody tells me yes.
C – Big Muse fan, loving the early 2000’s Nu-Metal stuff so Papa Roach are my favourite band so for me it’s all about really big bass, even Nickelback…
S – All about that REALLY BIG BASS!
C – Most of the bands I listen to coincidentally are three-piece bands, love Green Day, Alkaline Trio are again, one of my favourite bands, who we’re going to see in June and I’ll be throwing my used pants at them. And I mean used, front and back.
S – We like to think our set has a variety of different sounds. We would say that we lie somewhere between punk-rock and indie. We’re definitely not Pop Punk and definitely not what has become known as Indie but we try to take all of the good things from both. If it help’s we can quote a colourful review of our recent gig at King Tut’s from the Sunday Mail where we were described as having “big room indie rock which has a quirky post-punk sharpness”
When it comes to taking your songs to a live setting, how would you factor in a song which has two guitar parts?
S – Just play them both at the same time.
C – These shoulders are extremely tired from carrying all the second guitar parts. It’s tough!
S – We do a lot of backing vocals so the sound is generally quite full live so we can sacrifice some of the “nicer” parts that are on a record to fill it out.
J – I think Stephen is quite conscious when he’s writing a part that if there is two guitar parts that there’s only going to be one live.
S – We decided not to go with two guitars live, that was always the plan.
J – Yeah, it’s quite uncommon to only have one guitar in the group, certainly in the Glasgow rock circuit but I think there’s almost an anxiety (from Start Static) to go to two guitars because you don’t have the same control over your own sound live. I like that fact that whatever the guys set up in their back-line, there’s a good chance the sound guy will take that through.
You strip it back for live settings then?
C – Yeah, that’s something that may not have come across at Tuts but we’re working on our sound to make sure. In the studio, you know you spend hours, days going over bits and bobs recording but in rehearsals we spend a lot of time making sure the levels are right. We’ve all been doing this ten years, plus. We’ve kinda learned the lessons the hard way.
What lessons have you been dealt over the years?
C – We had an impromptu sound man at our first away gig where we brought a few of the boys with us to The Green Room in Perth. He is my friend (and a drummer from a previous band) who’s also studying sound engineering. I think he basically just ran his hand across the dials, turning everything up to ten. It sounded magnificent.
J – The first thing we had to discuss afterwards was – next time, don’t let our steaming pals push the sound guy out the way and take over.
S – The sound guy was as high as a kite. I was meant to be driving home that night and I just thought “fuck it” I had to phone the wife and tell her I was staying because I’d had a really bad day.
J – One of my remaining memories of that gig was the smell of salt and vinegar because the sound guy went for a chippy. So while our pals took over, he’s standing at the bar eating fish and chips.
You have a few videos on YouTube, how did you go about filming those?
J – A friend of my brother who works for the BBC asked what our plan was the night before we had scheduled time to shoot the Reckless video . We didn’t have a plan and he said to can it because you won’t be able to do a video without a plan. But we’d already booked time for it so we cracked open some beers, got the cameras out and it worked. It suited the song.
S – We played pass the parcel with the panda. In the end we made the video ourselves, Mike did all the editing.
M – The first section of the video was filmed using a steady-cam then it was put down on a table and we put shake on the actual video to take away from the fact that I’d plonked it down then ran out the room and to cover up any crossovers – it worked like a charm.
S – Even with the second one, he made up a dolly out of Lego. Just a few pieces and these wee wheels. I met this professional video company with work and they had a hover-cam with the four propellers worth fifteen grand and I was like “my mate – made a dolly out of Lego.” He was raging.
C – With the videos, we’re trying to be what we are rather than trying to put out a big, big video. That’s not who we are. The whole point is the first video was just made up on the spot and it’s just us pissing about. We’ve now done two more and are halfway through another one which includes footage we have from Tuts and we’ve got a ‘band day’ before we go to Perth so we’ll probably film pissing about in the car. The panda thing came about after someone made a comment about it in the first one so we thought we’d just go with that and it seems to be more popular than us.
M – The latest video is about getting her back – Pretty Little Bubble.
Which track of yours would you recommend to new listeners?
S – We would say Reckless – we love it, the video’s good and it always gets a good reaction live. ‘Running for Ages’ has also been popular and featured as a Breakout Track on XFM towards the end of last year.
Just listening to the tracks available at the moment it’s easy to figure out where their power lies and that’s in the dynamics of the sound they produce. Every element of this group is clearly defined and no one part is pushed out the way for the other. These guys know how to lay down a track and are on the verge of releasing what could potentially be a massively popular album. You can get hold of them via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.
Loves getting his gig on but also loves to get behind a camera and capture music in the making. Check out akgphotos.com for more.