Aficionados of Scottish indie music of the past 20 years will know there are at least two distinct ‘types’ – the big-name, successful pop that crosses over and hits the airwaves, making its creators household names.
The other is the underground – often instrumental, noise-based, sometimes drawing on more traditional styles, but unlikely to trouble the charts.
Odd, them, to read the biog of The Wayne Devro Set, who have produced a debut album that does manage to straddle these two genres – strong on songwriting with an edgy vibe, we find that the band’s founder is a stalwart of the Creeping Bent record label. Yet a clue to the songwriting finesse comes form the fact that he’s previously produced and collaborated on tracks with Belle and Sebastian, Del Amitri, King Creosote, Malcolm Middleton, Shirley Manson, Norman Blake, The Trashcan Sinatras, Eddie Reader, Justin Currie and Emma Pollock.
On that note, we should perhaps go straight to the source…
Mainly me, Brian Docherty. I write, record and produce it and ask friends I’ve worked with to lend their time and craft on a song or a piece of music that needs it.
When I first started gigging as The Wayne Devro Set, Gerry Campbell (Babygod) and i would go out with two electric guitars and an 808 drum machine that’d I’d stop and start with a shoe. Later, my daughter Bel joined us on clarsach, which incidentally led to her, Ken McCluskey and I forming Docken Leaf after Kenny Anderson (King Creosote) asked us to play Home game in Cellardyke Town Hall. We released the single Sunday Hurl in 2013.
On the album Birdsulfur, Bel played clarsach and Gerry and Marco Rea added more guitar. Jackilyn McConachie did backing vocals on two tracks and Kenny Craig made the beat on the opening track Take My Life. All the piano, vocals, guitars, bass, programming and other nonsense I done.
The live line up it varies depending on who’s available and where we play. At the Hug and Pint last week, Andy Alston from Del Amitri played accordian and melodica, Marco played some guitar and backing vocals, and Jackilyn came on for the songs she sang on the album.
It’s been a long time burbling . I was doing a lot of film soundtrack and composing for theatre and was finding motivation hard to come by for a second Scientific Support Dept. album as I was kind of bored with instrumentals outwith any dramatic or visual context. I tried my hand at writing words and melodies, which was a bit daunting, as I’d previously always left that to the singer in any songwriting partnership.
It took a while before I let anyone hear it as the noise coming out my mouth was pretty grim. I did enjoy the process though and felt I was getting somewhere. In 2006 Creeping Bent released the Five Rounds ep under the name Serf and by that time the family had moved up to Aberdeenshire. Being a stay-at-home dad with two nippers didn’t allow much time for music but I kept plodding away and by the time we moved back to Glasgow I was more confident in the material.
Around 2010 I bought The Wayne Devro Set off my dad for a quid, which was the name of his cabaret band in the 70’s, and I knew I wanted to try and make a song based album. It just took a bit more time than I imagined.
I was spoiled on Creeping Bent as Douglas Macintyre would take care of everything as well as managing Scientific Support Dept. and Serf, so it came as quite a shock realising how much work actually goes into getting records released.
When I was mixing the record at Marco’s studio he loved it and wanted to release it on his label. Clare Duffin heard it and liked it and took on a management role. The recording process is as how I’ve always worked since I had my own set up; sit at the piano, or with a guitar, and record the racket I make and pick bits out that make sense, then arrange and build a beat around that, then find a vocal shape or a phrase that sparks a narrative and see where it goes.
Honestly no idea. Clare asked me that when she was trying to explain metadata and search engines! All I could give her were rubbish answers like electronic noise with guitars and piano and singing. I think she settled on electro-folk. whatever the fuck that is!
I get restless on a daily basis if I don’t make noise on something I’m working on and I think that’s why I’m shit to go on holiday with. A long weekend is about my limit… After that I’m a monumental pain in the arse.
‘Birdsulfur’ is out now on the Barne Society label.
More at www.thewaynedevroset.co.uk