Live at CMJ: Sons and Daughters

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photo by Doron Gild

review and interview by Miriam Lamey
photos by Doron Gild

Glaswegian darlings Sons and Daughters are Adele Bethel (vocals, guitar, piano), David Gow (drums, percussion), Ailidh Lennon (bass, mandolin, piano), and Scott Paterson (vocals, guitar.) With two albums under their belt – The Repulsion Box and Love The Cup – the group are about to release their third full-length, This Gift. Originally, Bethel broached the idea of forming Sons and Daughters to Gow after touring with Arab Strap. The pair then acquired Lennon, yet were not complete until Paterson was convinced to join. Sons and Daughters present an energetic, rich, indie rock sound, with Bethel’s forceful lead vocals arching over rhythmic, almost abrasive guitar and upbeat drums and bass. Currently, Sons and Daughters are preparing for a massive UK tour, starting November 1st and the release of their first single from The Gift, entitled “Gilt Complex.”

The band chatted with Miriam after the set:

Miriam: What have you been up to recently?

Dave: Recording. We finished recording our album in album in July, we mixed it and we’ve basically just been learning how to play it.

Miriam: How is this different from your previous two albums if it is different?

Dave: we spent a lot more time on it, pretty much triple the amount of time, writing wise and recording wise really and hopefully that kind of shows. I don’t know how I would describe it!

Scott: It’s massively different; it’s a lot more varied and it’s just sonically wider. There are all kinds of different sounds on it, there are lots of different kinds of songs on there. I mean, you need to hear it really.

Adele: I think the biggest difference in terms of recording is the was probably the producer and the producer’s input to this record, which I think in the last couple of records we pretty much just went into a room and recorded live and we had quite a lot of time constraints especially with the first one, but this one, Bernard Bulter who recorded it came up and listened to the songs, helped up with the arrangement and what he thought and he really brought out a lot more in us this time around. He was a lot more involved in the recording process than the previous producers have been.

Miriam: So what were you inspired by when writing this album?

Scott: We wanted to kind of make it a pop record really. Things like Blondie and The Smiths were big kind of reference points, Iggy Pop, kind of guitar wise, eh, garage rock, that kind of stuff.

Dave: We wanted to make it a bit kind of, groovier, if you like. That’s a terrible word!

[Laughter]

Dave: A bit more of a dance record. It’s a bit less intense, but by no means a party record in terms of themes or anything like that. But we wanted to make it a little bit more upbeat and we listened to a lot of Motown and stuff like that – that kind of vibe we wanted to get across.

Ailidh: We wanted to, like, push ourselves in a different way; out of, our kind of like, way we’ve been used to playing before and our kind of style that we play.

Miriam: How would you describe your past style and how did you sort of take that one step further?

Ailidh: Well, I guess the first time we thought “this is what we sound like” was with “Johnny Cash off the first record and beat-wise and stuff and rhythm-wise, that was quite kind of how it went, and for the next record as well and with this one I think we just wanted to try different things, you know, because there’s only so much you can do when you’re kind of trying to sound like yourselves.

Adele: There’s not as much kind of skifflydrumbeats. We’re more sort of –

Scott: Motown. There’s definitely more Motown in it, it’s a sublte kind of influence, I mean, it’s a rock record, it’s not a funk record, but there’s definitely that kind of stuff in it.

Adele: It’s not as angry as the last record. The last record was quite an angry record in terms in terms of, well, just everything in the music and the lyrics, you know? And this one’s a little – I mean it’s not by any means uplifting, well, maybe a little uplifting, but it’s just a sad record more than an angry record, sort of a melancholy to this one, storytelling aspects, where the last one was…well [laughs]

Miriam: I was going to ask about that, actually, because it’s, called “The Repulsion Box” and it’s very harsh sounding, very kind of, “grrr” and what were you thinking of when you were writing that? Were you completely repulsed by something? Where did it come from?

Adele: Yeah, I think I probably had some issues on the last record [laughs] to be honest, which h ave possibly gone away. I don’t know really, maybe I’m just suppressing them for this one!I had a lot of personal things, a lot of kind of anxiety and things and I think that’s what shaped the last record; now I’m a bit older!

Miriam: How do you find your music is received in America versus in the UK and in Scotland in particular and how do you feel about that?

Scott: America was the first place that we ever put a record out and it’s always been great here over here for us – really, really great. The crowds are amazing and, you know, the UK has kind have followed behind that. I mean, it’s great in the UK – it’s great pretty much wherever we go. We’re really lucky because some bands are in a position where they’re only popular in one country – it’s different wherever you go but it’s always great reception and people like different aspects of it, like the Americans seem to like the American folk aspect of some of the last record, and the English and the UK and the European people tend to like more of the punk kind of aspect to it.

Scott: I think American audiences are less fashion-led, trend-led. They’ve give a band a bit more time over a longer period of time.

Ailidh: They remind me more of like a Glasgow crowd – a Scottish crowd than maybe say a London crowd, really.

Scott: In Europe, if the crowd like you, they’ll like you forever kind of thing, whereas in the UK, sometimes it is whatever’s just hot in the NME and that’s kind of just really sad.

Adele: I think we’ve always had a lot more respect over here and we’ve always been taken a lot more seriously and I think in terms of press and things like that. Whereas you’re just sort of put in a little box back home and considered one thing.

Scott: You’re less exotic back home – you’re exotic here!
[laughs]

Adele: Well, back home we’re constantly asked about Franz Ferdinand all of the time. A lot of the time, people just thought we sounded like them; they never listened to our records. Like, “you’re from Glasgow, you’ve supported them.” And that’s really – we broke away from that to prove we really weren’t anything like that band, even though they’re an amazing band but we seemed to get that all the time in interviews and things.

Ailidh: And it’s always sort, of “what’s the angle, what’s the story kind of thing [with the press]” whereas over here they just like to interview you about your music.

Miriam: That’s good. How did you think you fit in with the Scottish music scene over there?

Scott: We fit in just about as well as everybody else fits in. Although there’s a scene, everyone sounds completely different, so no one really slots in really easily. Everyone’s kind of quite a jagged little shape.

Ailidh: Glasgow’s such a small little city that if you’re anyone that’s just into music, it doesn’t matter what kind of is, you all kind of know each other and play in other’s bands, but the bands don’t sound anything like each other.

Adele: I think that’s the only way it’s considered a scene because everyone knows each other, like and goes, “oh, I play in that band, I play in that band,” and one band can be an electro band, another can be a kind of experimental band, another a punk band or something. Everyone’s got their fingers in different pies in Glasgow just because it’s so small and there’s only a few venues for people to hang out, where exactly the same people hand out.

Miriam: What are you listening to at the moment?

Adele: I quite like Bat for Lashes.I got really into Rilo Kiley this year.

Ailidh: I like Duke Spirit’s new EP.

Scott: I’ve listened to a lot of soul music recently, a lot of Motown, garage rock. I guess that’s also been a bit of an influence.

Ailidh: I don’t have a TV at the moment, so I’ve been listening to a lot of radio – satellite radio!

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