Kyle Burgess, lead singer of last year’s Best Alt/Rock SAMA Winners We Came From Wolves, is a cool dude with a clear picture in his mind. He sees where he wants his band to be and is working hard to get them there. We had a chat with Kyle about the ups and downs that the band has experienced in the time between stepping up to receive that award, this time last year, and what’s in store for the adoptive Glaswegians as we begin to move out of 2016.
You won Best Rock/Alternative Award at the 2015 SAMA’s, did you have any inclination towards whether you would win, before the event?
Not at all. A lot of people said that when they asked us to play that was a bit of a giveaway but I was inclined to think the opposite and maybe because they knew who was going to win they thought we were deserving of the nomination and wanted to give us a part in the night even though we hadn’t won. We didn’t want to look too much into it but if my mind started to wander, it was more that direction.
What did you make of the bands around you in your category of Rock/Alternative?
Bands like Catholic Action, I know they had a huge following in Glasgow, an especially huge industry following and are very much in the scene for all the right reasons. So I just thought that was a given. We were the outsiders from Perth but we’ve got a good following and we got votes not only from those within Scotland but further afield as well due to our touring.
Do you feel that touring and social media go hand in hand in extending your reach to gather the votes for these types of awards?
We didn’t want to do a faceless “give us your votes” because it doesn’t mean anything if you win it because you’ve been the band hounding people the most. However, when we found out we were nominated we did say to vote for us if you think we’re deserving of it. We try to play the UK at least three times a year, a week at a time and that’s created strong ties to a bunch of places that were good or progressive as well as a couple of new places along the way. We do have pockets of fans all over so I think a lot of people were looking for an opportunity to back us and they did in that case. It was a nice wee end to twelve months that were particularly good for us in terms of festivals and the album.
What’s happened with the band since the SAMAs – do you feel the award has helped in any way?
If I’m being totally honest I thought it may have done more for us than it had. It’s great to have it on your CV and our label at the time obviously enjoyed it and we can add it to our bio. But, maybe if we’d kept the same lineup (former drummer and lead guitarist both left shortly after the awards) maybe we could’ve done some TV stuff and sessions but we’ll never know. We won the award then announced that Taylor and Harrison were leaving the band, to be replaced by Andy and Michael. So it was like starting all over again but it didn’t feel like we were being handed much more than the affirmation that we had people backing us, wanting us to do well and that we should keep going, even after losing half of the band.
Do you feel SAMAs has enough coverage across the whole of Scotland, speaking as a member of a band originally from Perth?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think SAMAs had regional judges before this year, but Glasgow’s always going to seem like it’s represented more because it is the biggest city and music hub in Scotland and it draws people from places like Perth, Aberdeen, Inverness who now live in Glasgow. It’s where it’s at. There’s no sour grapes with that at all. Some of the best bands play out of Glasgow but aren’t necessarily Glaswegian. Twilight Sad, and The Excerts for example. Scotland is alive with music and I do think SAMAs represents that across the whole country.
SAMAs are heavily involved in promoting not only the bands involved but themselves to give them a better platform, do you agree?
Yeah, I know the guys who run it and they’re working hard with the likes of BBC – The Social and the lead up to this year’s SAMA event and the various associated showcase events. They start their promotion early, casting their reach further with the vinyl series and things like that but in a selfish way I’d have loved it if they’d done a winners session or something like that to get everyone together. We actually spoke about that with them and gave them some other feedback. However, they’re doing really well with it and there’s an element of learning with the fact they’ve got a team of young guys there. I’m sure we could’ve did better with it but circumstance didn’t allow for that.
Do you think that as the SAMAs mature – in their seventh year now – they can act on feedback that bands provide?
I certainly wouldn’t be acting the expert and would definitely not be jealous of the amount of work that must have to go into it. Organisation, sponsors, etc. From our side we can see they have interns and people who are willing to help out, but if I’m interested in the awards, want to see who won the awards, maybe an interview with the winners backstage. A live session with winners so that people can see whether those bands are worthy of their award. Create a bit of discussion.
To go back to representation for a minute, can you think of any category that isn’t represented by the SAMAs that perhaps should be?
That’s a hard one but maybe an award for record of the year. Although you have the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Awards that deal with that I suppose.
Yeah. Personally I’m not a massive fan of that event as it seems to me like it’s a bit of a pals’s act in the judging and if you don’t fit the look they’re not interested. I could be wrong.
Yeah, bands like Fatherson and The Excerts, how they don’t win those kind of awards is baffling but music is taste and you can’t please everyone so as long as bands are being acknowledged that’s not too bad. Judges are judges and they’ll pick stuff we may not agree with but music is down to taste. It’s not there for winning awards but if it does, it’s a nice wee bonus.
Scotland’s music scene is flourishing and you’re part of that, what’s your take on it from the band’s perspective?
There seems to be more and more events with loads of good bands. Recently we played the Perth Music EXPO which SAMAs are associated with and it was good to be a part of an event with some top bands from the local scene as well as from Europe. It’s a very competitive time and I’m sure only the bands see it that way. For the fans it must be a great time. For ages there was loads of bands but now the level is so high that it’s like “f**k me” you have to be better or you’re going to be yesterday’s news – I agree it’s flourishing, totally.
You’re keeping things fresh with a new single released this week – ‘Places Unfamiliar!’, tell us about it.
We’ve actually recorded two, so there’ll be another one out in February. I always thought that once you’d released an album that was you in “album world”. Then I saw The Excerts put out an EP and I thought, this is awesome. So we thought we don’t have to rush it and put out another album, let’s work on putting out a decent EP. We had about six songs and I went away to a cabin in the middle of nowhere to work on them. We chose two that meant the most at the time to concentrate on and that’s the two we’ve worked on to get out there.