I’m sitting in the flat above Tappie Toories, thinking about Stuart Adamson writing Big Country songs up here. Now I’m thinking if Harry doesn’t arrive soon we’ll be doing the interview doon The Glen or on the benches opposite The Old Inn. It’s 5.15pm and I’m lonely. Now I’m wondering if we can have a drink outside after six. I think we can but only until a minute past midnight on boxing day.
This is 2020. Five days before Christmas. I had a braw lunch at The Carnock Inn today. Steak pie with two tins of Irn Bru. My social inhibitions have not been lowered for a very long time. News just in, Police Scotland have no plans to establish checkpoints or road blocks at the border. Now I see Celtic celebrating the quadruple treble in an empty stadium. Despite setting his lawyers on the BBC, Tyson Fury is still in the running for Sports Personality of the Year. You couldn’t really make this up.
Where is Harry!?
News just in, Harry’s daughter Frankie is finishing her ice cream. I fetch the tins from the fridge. It’s the benches for us.
Harry the big bad bassist bangs the door. The lights on Bruce Street are beautiful reminding me things could be worse. Thankfully TwinsTown are Covid-19 free. Cree Spowart who lives on Bruce Street told me this year’s lights are a tribute to Dunfermline’s weaving industry. My mum left school to help with the war effort and became a weaver at 15 years of age.
Anyway, the twins in TwinsTown keep telling me they’re in a rock ‘n’ roll band and I need to make them appear all rock ‘n’ roll. That means less blethering pish about whatever. Well, I say twins, Donald is the particular one. Stuart doesn’t give a monkey’s what I write.
“Right Harry, what’s rock ‘n’ roll about you?”
He looks surprised. I’ve surprised myself. I’m angry.
“C’mon then,” I continue, “sitting on a bench at the corner of Maygate and Kirkgate drinking a can of Tennents, rock ‘n’ roll, aye!?”
“Fuck AYE!” he replies.
“You should be in Tappies now, playing to a heaving crowd of 114, or at least a polite, sanitised, socially distanced, reduced capacity 25 all enjoying table service, with both doors open for maximum ventilation. Do you feel robbed?”
“Aye, totally, but we’ll think of a funnier answer than that.”
Ten minutes later…
“I’ve no funny answer, but as a serious answer, I do feel frustrated. We have an album [Brankholm Brae] in production and limited opportunity to promote it.”
Harry braved the cold, scooped a bottle of wine, and told me his role on Brankholm Brae is bass guitarist, and occasionally lead guitar. His favourite bass line is Dive In, an upbeat track about bouncing back after heartache.
“I tried to add texture to Dive In’s bass line by avoiding first position root notes and aiming for greater complexity, whilst keeping it true to the spirit of the song,” explained Harry.
Wow, the wine is potent.
Harry goes on, “I like playing Bed Bugs on a high register. It’s not difficult but it’s fun to play. As is Say Goodbye to the Summer, where no one complains when I crank up the distortion pedal.”
Harry’s catchphrase is “flare it!” as he is notorious for flaring his guitar pedals, anytime, anywhere, any angle, and any song.
Harry loves recording in the studio. It’s obvious. Yet his shyness kicks in.
“This is going to sound like a Mr. Men book,” complains Harry as he clams up.
“What Mr. would you be, Harry?”
“Mr. Flare It!” Harry fires back.
His shyness gone, he shows me his new tattoo. ‘Flare It!’ on his chest. Mark, Stuart and Donald have the same. It’s male bonding gone bananas.
Hoping for a hard-hitting question, “I hear you’re a big fan of Danny Dyer, is this true?” I ask.
“No, I prefer Sean Bean, in Sharpe, and Ronnie Scotland.”
In other important matters, I wonder who is Harry’s favourite Tappies bar tender. Apparently, it’s Shaunski aka Shaun Manuel Mitchell who was famously hospitalised after falling off the monkey bars in a local swing park.
We’ve been sat on these benches for three hours. I’m freezing. We’ve had a few drinks. You can probably tell.
“We need a sensible finish,” I suggest, hopefully.
“We didn’t finish talking about my favourite track. It’s Spitfire. I get to show off my guitar skills on it,” replies Harry, “and I totally flared it!”
Well done Dovv and all involved, including Ben Sharp of TwinsTown fame. Until very recently I didn’t know about Ben being “the king of all men”. Playing poker in the video for TwinsTown’s Double Trouble, I thought Ben was singing the king of all in. ‘All in’ being a well known poker move. Some might say my only poker move. I suppose we call him B-Sharp for a reason.
Shortly after offering his devoted following a royal salute, Ben the king of all men joined The Stevie Agnew Band sans Stevie Agnew on stage at The White Gates.
“This boy is called Ben,” and he fairly gets around. Next up here the B-Sharp man is at Tpot Studios, Path of Condie, laying down backing vocals for Brankholm Brae, the forthcoming debut album from TwinsTown.
Before I go and to set the record straight, Ben says he prefers the king of all in. Bad news for me, I fancied that title for myself.
Don’t think I’ve forgotten about Dovv and Backstreets of Your Mind. I’ve often seen David playing The Old Inn and he is always superb. The last time I spotted him was on stage with Oskar Braves at Oakley Miners’ Welfare Club or The 1925 Community Club as I think it is now known after a recent rebranding. They smashed it at what was a great night featuring an audience with music mogul and Creation Records label owner, Alan McGee, telling stories of his work with Oasis, Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream and The Libertines, amongst others.
I love the Oskar Braves photograph above. If anyone knows who took it please let me know. It’s brilliant.
So goes the opening line of Hollow Horse by The Icicle Works. It’s bound to fill our manager, Billy George, with good Christmas cheer. I know it’s one of his favourites. I think I’m right in saying that, under the guise of Honk Promotions, Billy booked lead singer Ian McNabb for a brilliant gig at PJ Molloy’s.
There was a technical issue during the first four songs and Ian McNabb walked off. Issue resolved, McNabb returned from the green room and started the gig anew. He played the first four songs again, continued on for ages and brought the house down.
I remember it being really loud for a lone singer/songwriter. No bad thing when the sound quality is top notch, which it was once the technical was fixed.
The chorus of Hollow Horse is memorable too.
The feel good factor for Wayne…? I’m thinking Jump by Van Halen.
Aztec Camera recorded a very gentle cover version of jump and Wayne can choose.
I’m torn over a selection for Mark. I’m thinking piano, keys, synthesizers, the mellotron and “the fucking Jennings” as Mark calls his favourite instrument at Robin Evans’ Tpot Studios, Path of Condie.
The Door’s Light My Fire or People are strange, The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever or Lady Madonna, or Baba O’Riley by The Who? No, I’ve got it, for Mark it’s A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum.
As the BBC have shown us this Christmas, changing a famous Pogues song, it’s okay to butcher other people’s lyrics. Here’s my alternative chorus for Procol Harum’s classic.
I know Kirsty MacColl sang “haggard” instead of “faggot” on Top of the Pops and a few years ago Shane McGowan couldn’t be arsed arguing about it. However, Fairytale of New York is a classic and MacColl is singing in character; a marginalised and bitter character. In the voice of that character, the lyric is true. The BBC = lyric police.
Rant over, it’s Donald time!
Okay I made a wee change there too. MC Hammer’s Hammer Time has been compromised. Anyway, my actual choice for Donald is of course Elton John, but not Sacrifice, oh no, it’s I’m Still Standing.
Yes, Donald is still standing – no thanks to Stuart.
Talking of Stuart…
Yes, you can count on toun legend Stevie Agnew to put a smile on Stuart’s face.
Last but not least, Harry. Last Christmas is too obvious a choice. Staying with George Michael I’ll pick Careless Whisper for The Duke.
Wayne told me that George Michael wrote Careless Whisper and added Andrew Ridgeley to the songwriting credits to ensure his Wham! band mate never had to worry about money.
C’mon Donald and Stuart, fingers oot! None of us want to worry about money either.