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BMX Bandits - Interview Part 2

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 24 / 7 / 2012

BMX Bandits - Interview Part 2


In the second part of our two part interview with Duglas T. Stewart from Scottish indie legends BMX Bandits, Anthony Strutt talks to him about the band's years on Creation Records and change of direction in recent years with the addition for the first time of a female co-singer, Rachel Allison

PB: Did you tour much in the early days? DTS: I guess that we did in our early indie days. We would get in a van and do four dates, often London, Brighton, Newcastle and then a gig back home. PB: What sort of venues are we talking about here? DTS: We used to do The Venue in New Cross. I remember playing The Duke of York in Leeds. We Played The Princess Charlotte which was here in Leicester. PB: Which labels were you on apart from 53rd & 3rd? It was very short lived as a label. DTS: The first three singles came out on 53rd & 3rd. The 'NME' hated us, but these were like number one Indie singles. When 53rd & 3rd folded, I sent off about fifty tapes to fifty different labels, and only got one reply from the label Subway Records who said they weren't interested. So we didn't have a label, but I managed to get a bank loan to make a record, and BMX Bandits and Teenage Fanclub recorded records back to back, and sold them to Rough Trade. This was when Rough Trade went bankrupt, and I got myself seriously into debt, and couldn't get the records back and for a guy like me it was a serious problem. Our Japanese friends came to the rescue. We did a gig in London, and this Japanese guy came up afterwards, and said he would release our records in Japan. The label was Vinyl Japan, and he said, "You come to Japan", so we ended up going to Japan and touring over therewith Heavenly. Alan McGee said in a few interviews at the time that he thought we were a bit of a joke and he wasn't interested in signing us to Creation Records, but it turned out that he had never actually heard us. He had an idea in his head because of what he had read in the press, and we were a bit funny on stage, so he thought we were like a comedy act. Then he finallh heard something by us, and he was like, "I was wrong about BMX Bandits", so he tried to get people to like us and he became supportive, and he put his heart and soul into it, and eventually in the early 1990s we ended up on Creation, PB: The new documentary film is called 'Serious Drugs', which is your best known song and was a 1992 single. Do you think it is your best song? You recorded it and held onto it for a while, didn't you? DTS: Yeah, that was because we were in between deals. We recorded our second album, 'Star Wars', for Vinyl Japan in 1991. We recorded that album, and we knew it wasn't part of that. It didn't quite fit in with the rest of the album, and Alan really wanted to release it, but it wasn't going to be as he didn't have the money to do so that year. It, therefore, took a bit of time to come together. I don't think it's my best song, I think there are different parts of the band. Some prefer the band in '86-'87. Some got into us at the start of the 90s, but 'Serious Drugs' might be the first thing people know us for. Other people like Jim Burns came to us later than that, or post-Creation. 'Serious Drugs' is like though the height or the pinnacle of the seesaw of BMX Bandits. The idea of the film is that music and BMX Bandits are a form of therapy, and in that sense it is the perfect title. PB: During your time at Creation, did you feel as if you were part of the Creation family? DTS: I was never a fan of recreational drug use at all, so I was not the usual person there. PB: I love Creation, mainly pre-Oasis Creation, but I didn't realise there was so many drugs involved. DTS: It wasn't all like that, it was a bit like 53rd & 3rd in a way. It was like a club for waifs and strays. It even ended up with Ivor Cutler on the label. PB: A lot of people have come and gone in the band. Are you still friends with people like Norman Blake? DTS My band isn't conventional, as when people leave there is no bad feeling. It is like an extended family. Norman left in 1991 officially but has appeared on every album since, and normally appears on stage for a few songs at gigs. Jim McCulloch was in the band's first line up in 1986, and he is still with us now. PB: Would you say you have the same audience as you did back in 1986. Have grown up with you? DTS: It is a real mixture. There are older people whom have been there since the start, or left and have come back. There are people from the Creation era. It's nice there are still young people there, especially when we play Japan. When we do signings in HMV people turn up in school uniforms, and then there is a guy in an office suit. which is nice to see as well. There are people like Jim, whom is slightly younger then us and only discovered us about six or seven years ago, but then it became a big thing for him. PB: Well, he made a film. DTS: Which is incredible. PB: You now have a female vocalist, Rachel Allison. Would you say the direction has changed because your newer stuff has more of a country edge? DTS: I love the rules of writing a country song. I have always been a fan of songs with female vocals, from the Shangri-Las to the Ronettes, to Dolly Parton and Bobby Gently, but I always wanted a girl in the band. I got her in to do backing vocals. Next day she was a BMX Bandit, and she was like, "What!" She was pleased. There may come to a point when Rachel doesn't want to do it, but I have written things I wouldn't normally write with her in the band. PB: What are your future plans? DTS: We have a new album coming out on Elefant in September. There has been a long relationship with them. I would not only trust them with my music but with my life. It is like with Jim. I could trust him with both as well. PB: And you worked with the BBC as well? DTS: I worked for the BBC as a producer, which I don't do anymore, although I have just applied to do something new for them. I did a lot for 'Top of the Pops' in Scotland. There was strange meet and greets with people like the Cheeky Girls and the Satanic Westlife. That is a judgement on them as human beings. That was interesting, and I also made three hundred shows called 'The Beat Room'. It was made for BBC Choice now BBC3 and had amazing people on it. I got to pick the bands and people like Cornelius, the Pastels, Belle and Sebastian, the White Stripes before their first TV gig and stuff like that. Making music is my disease. PB: Thank you.

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BMX Bandits - Interview Part 2

BMX Bandits - Interview Part 2

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Interview Part 1 (2012)
BMX Bandits - Interview Part 1
In the first part of a two part interview, Duglas T. Stewart, the front man with Scottish group BMX Bandits, speaks to Anthony Strutt about groundbreaking indie pop guitar band, and it early years in the late 80s on influential record label 53rd & 3rd Records
Interview (2012)


BMX Bandits (2011)
BMX Bandits - BMX Bandits
Tony Gaughan looks back at the early career of Glaswegian indie outfit the BMX Bandits, who to celebrate their 25th anniversary, have just re-rleased on one CD their first two albums, 1986's 'C86' and 1991's 'Star Wars'

live reviews

Oran Mor, Glasgow, 23/1/2011
BMX Bandits - Oran Mor, Glasgow, 23/1/2011
Tony Gaughan finds indie local pop legends on exuberant form as they celebrate their 25th anniversary with a gig at the Oran Mor in Glasgow


BMX Bandits in Space (2013)
Excellent first album in five years from seminal and much acclaimed Scottish indie pop veterans, BMX Bandits

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