The Blue Lenas
SOME of my finest ‘band discoveries’ have been artists who play out of Glasgow.
I am not sure what it is about the city- each act will have their own view- that makes Glasgow sound so utterly compelling and different. Whilst I try and answer that (perhaps, impossible) question, I've been catching up with The Blue Lenas. One of the finest bands playing out the city: their new E.P., False Idols, is out and winning over a lot of new fans. Jamies, Scott and Jordan- our intrepid three-piece- set aside some time to chat about music. I was keen to learn about their influences and idols; the plans for the year ahead- how the band came together. The boys were only too happy to comply…
Hi, guys. How has your week been? Get up to much?
(Jamie) Me, personally? Nothing super-exciting. Mainly exploring different styles of music at home and learning how to use a synthesiser!
(Jordan) I've just been cuttin' about, going to some gigs; listening to some good music!
(Scott) A night out in Camden- which is always great. Came back up the road yesterday. Now, just enjoying the Glasgow weather which is bang on form at the moment...
For those new to you and your music: can you introduce yourself to us?
(Jamie) We are a band based in Glasgow, who enjoy playing , writing and recording our music . We are called The Blue Lenas.
You are all from the Glasgow area. How did you chaps get together?
(Jamie) We all knew each other one way or another. Scott, I knew through music and he came from the same area as me. I went to college with Jordan for 2 years and have played (in bands previous) with Jordan.
(Scott) Jamie & I used to play as solo artists. We were playing the same pubs & clubs and realised we shared a common vision for our music. I met Jordan through Jamie and the three of us just clicked as soon as we got into the studio together.
There are a lot of great bands coming out of Glasgow. What is- about the city- that leads to so much great music?
(Jamie) It has a special vibe about it. Depending on where you go , there are lots of pubs like The Priory on Sauchiehall Street which attracts cool people who are musically-orientated- which is often a trigger to meet new people who have a similar mind-set to enjoy each other’s music.
(Scott) I think there are a lot of bands and artists in Glasgow who write about what they know and they aren't afraid to tell it like it is. People can relate to the songs.
Wake Up- a track available on the band’s SoundCloud- caught my ear recently. What was the inspiration behind that song?
(Jamie) We like to infuse different styles, tempo and rhythm change into our songs: this was a fair example of this. Scott will be able to expand on this a bit more as he wrote the core of this song, along with the words...
(Scott) I wrote the basis of the song just before the band got together. Not sure what I was listening to at the time, if I'm honest, so no idea where the tempo-shift came from. It was probably made up of two half-finished songs that I had- and was in one of my experimental moods! When I showed it to the other guys, and we worked on the track, it just all fell into place. The lyrics are about letting fear get in the way of hope & then regretting what could have been. Deep...
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False Idols is your new E.P. Can you tell us about the writing/sound of the E.P.?
(Jamie) We hope it captures an exploration into different styles of music; nice chords and melodies- interesting use of instrument placement and song structure considering we are currently a three-piece. An example is on the track, Porta Bella: I subconsciously infused a Latin feel on the chorus; in contrast to the verse which is a very dark and minor feel. We have enjoyed the challenge of performing and recording as a three-piece as often it forces us to be more creative because you have fewer elements to work with. I personally feel the best songs are when one of us write the core of the track (on our own) and then bring it to the band to add each person’s influence into it.
(Scott) We all have such eclectic tastes in music. The first E.P. was a bit more Rock/Blues-orientated but we kind of allowed other influences to take over on this one. To me, it sounds a lot more colourful than the first.
One track from that album (Porta Bella) has a great ‘60s Power-Pop/Merseybeat vibe. The vocals are really arresting and the band seems at their peak. You guys sound like you are having an awesome time in the studio. What are the reasons (do you think) behind this?
(Jamie) It is a fun track to play, and considering we recorded everything live, the feeling and vibe of the band is captured in this recording. The day as a whole was just generally good fun: we had a good laugh and came up with some really cool ideas on the spot (for some of the songs).
(Scott) It's a definite live favourite for me, personally. The chorus has great energy & is really catchy.
The band has some ‘diverse’ influences- from Funkadelic to Muddy Walters. What music/albums were you listening to growing up?
(Jamie) With the greatest respect- considering I have a lot of growing up to do- I find myself listening to artists like Miles Davis, Funkadelic; The (Rolling) Stones, The Beatles; Led Zeppelin, Robert Johnson. More recently: Tame Impala, the Allah-Las. Very recently, I have come across a band originally from Japan called Bo Ningen who is very experimental.
(Scott) The first album I ever got into was A Hard Days' Night by The Beatles. There's a home video in my parents' house of me singing “Whoa, oh, I...” at the age of two, which is hilarious. Aside from that, and purposely omitting the embarrassing ones, I was a big fan of Metal and Hip-Hop in my teens. Bands like Megadeth really made me want to be a better musician & they had something meaningful to say in their lyrics.
A lot of modern bands have samey influences- sounding quite idea-less. Do you think it is important to be varied and original in today’s market?
(Jamie) I don't think it'll make any difference whether you are original or not. I think the main problem- in the current climate- is the general public does not appreciate good art anymore; therefore, good artists don't sell art and it cripples their chance of having a career. Also, it is a combination of other things like local promoters ripping off young upcoming bands. For example, platforms like Spotify and iTunes giving the artist a pathetic financial cut from their hard work. Sure, it's nice to see a band that has something really special and creative.
(Scott) I feel it's more important to stick to your guns and create the music that you want to make. If you're really into what you're doing, people get that vibe from you. If you're writing music to please other people, an audience can tell a mile away.
Which current artists and acts would you recommend to us- either mainstream or unsigned?
(Jamie) A band from Edinburgh called The Jackals; The Blue Lenas, Bo Ningen; Allah –Las. Also, a band called LYLO who I really enjoyed. Melody's Echo Chamber from the south of France. The first album is amazing and she's recording the follow-up at the moment. I'm also a big fan of what Bo Ningen are doing. We got to hang out with them the other night which was great.
In terms of your inspiration: what subjects and themes drive the music of The Blue Lenas?
(Jamie) I would say that musical freedom pushes the band forward! We don't have to worry about sounding a certain way; if it sounds cool and interesting then we will try it.
(Scott) Our music is a big melting pot of our influences. We write purely to amuse ourselves but as the influences cover such a big spectrum; I think most people might hear something they like.
As a group- or one member can answer- which five albums would you, on a personal level, are the most important?
(Jamie) The most influential album for me personally is Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones
(Scott) Revolver by The Beatles. The sonic textures they managed to create way back in the mid-‘60s is unbelievable. There's an album called Spilt Milk by Jellyfish that's as close to perfection (in a record) you're going to get- and had a huge influence on my song-writing. More recent albums- including Sun Structures by Temples and Lonerism by Tame Impala- were recorded at home which really changed my perception of how an album can be recorded. Moondog's self-titled album was made using instruments he had crafted himself which I think is really cool too.
(Jordan) I'd have to say Led Zeppelin I is the album I find most inspirational. All their other albums are amazing! But that one stands out most for me! The band has been performing a lot of gigs over the last few months (Glasgow mainly).
Which gigs stand out as being particularly memorable?
(Jamie) 13th Note after we played on STV during the day: we were really in the groove and improvising a lot on stage which is great.
Do you have any advice for any musicians coming through; those just making their first steps into the industry?
(Jamie) Yes; do it yourself. Create your own scene.
(Scott) Make music to please yourself. Don't pay-to-play.
Finally- and for being a good sport- you can select any song (and I’ll include it here) - why is it special to you?
(Jamie) Me, personally? Wow, hard one. #9 Dream by John Lennon. It's just the finest melody ever.
Photo Credit: Pat McGuire/PMG Photog
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