When your lineup comprises anywhere between 16 and 27 musicians, the term “Supergroup” can rightfully be applied. The Second Hand Marching Band, as Scottish indie scenesters will tell you, also attain that status via the members who have been stalwarts in Glasgow and beyond in recent times.
The entourage have finally got their debut album together after four years in the making, so a chat with founder and driving force Peter Liddle seemed in order…
The line up for the album was as follows:
Peter Liddle (singing, horn, banjo, guitar, dulcimer)
Sophie Sexon (singing, flute)
David McLintock (Ukulele, singing)
Rowan Smith (Ukulele, singing, drums)
Liam Greenshaw (Accordion, singing, drums)
Jen Livingstone (Glock, singing)
Fraser Hughes (Bass)
Jef Sinclair (Clarinet, singing)
Alistair Beith (singing, guitar)
Alasdair MacKenzie (Saxophone, singing)
Andy Bonar (Violin, singing)
Rich Merchant (Cornet, trumpet, singing)
Ross McCrae (trombone, singing)
Sophie Leckenby (drums)
Ryan Breckenridge (mandolin)
Stoo Alexander (singing, melodica)
There have already been coming and going since then and there shall be more – we’ve had a total of (we think) 27 people playing at different times. I (Pete) am the main writer and organiser but luckily I’m aided by the arranging and improvising skills of everyone else when it comes to putting together songs.
We formed in 2007. I had been writing folk songs after spells in indie rock, post-hardcore and pop bands in Glasgow (Trundle Wheel, Wall Street Ammunition Hero and the Poppadoms). I had been getting really into ensemble brass and orchestral sounding music and wanted to make songs that were cathartic but in a nice way, rather than because I was shouting in someone’s face. I spent time buying old instruments from eBay and learning to play them (hence the name) and recorded some demos.
I put the demos up on Myspace and over a year had about twenty people join. Our first gig was at the end of 2007 and we’ve been playing up and down the UK since, which is no mean feat with a minimum of 12 people in the band for gigs.
We’ve spent the last few years trying to act in a DIY fashion, out of necessity more than desire. It’s impossible to record twenty people in a studio without the budget of a small Scandanavian country so we improvised our own way – we bought microphones, mixers, speakers, stands and everything else we needed. I set up a creepy recording room at the back of a garage (the neighbours are still unsure why I have a soundproof, windowless room in there) and we proceeded to knock together more than thirty tracks there, and in other destinations such as parental abodes, bedrooms and practice rooms.
Everyone is in other bands and living busy lives to it has taken a fair while (four years) to do since the release of our first EP.
We make ensemble indie folk music, which sounds like a terrible proposition. We try to put a lot of life into the songs and how they are played and use the size and flexibility of our band to make it interesting to watch. We do a lot of playing in the audience, because we can do that with brass, accordions etc. Our songs are, on the whole, of a depressing nature but with a jaunty delivery. Take the song ‘Wrench Of My Hand’: the music is happy and fun, the catchy chorus is “I CAN KILL OR I CAN SAVE WITH ONE WRENCH OF MY HAND”.
Our new album is called ‘A Hurricane, A Thunderstorm’. It is a collection of thirteen songs, and a mix of full ensemble and quieter tracks. It has amazing artwork by Stewart Francis Easton, an illustrator and embroiderer from Coventry. We are self releasing our album and putting on an exciting launch gig on the 2nd of March (no pun intented) in Mono with RM Hubbert and Withered Hand.
The purpose of the SHMB was to do something that hadn’t been done in terms of the size of a band and the kind of things we played. I also wanted to play outside and with other people. We’ve collaborated with others several times, including Beerjacket, Withered Hand and Zoey Van Goey. It’s great fun to play with so many people and be able to produce such a big sound without scaring people with loud guitars.
More at thesecondhandmarchingband.co.uk