When most people think of Falkirk the immediate associations will be The Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel which is at the junction of the Forth and Clyde and Union canals. The town has a rich industrial past and was the birthplace for Scotland’s other national drink Irn Bru. However, it also has a long association with publishing and the arts and recently there have been a number of new bands/artists as well as literary magazines sprouting up and flourishing locally and beyond. One such example is Vulture Party whose disquieting alt pop for the socially conscious is causing ripples in the music world. John Welsh caught up with the band for an exclusive chat as part of our Into Scottish Creatives series.
Can you tell Into Scottish Creatives about the history of Vulture Party, who is in the band, how you started etc?
After David’s previous band Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo came to an end, he and Louise spoke about starting up something new. Louise had contributed to the last Sweethearts album and both she and Dickson had performed with them at their final gig.
David and Louise had also done a lead vocal for a collaborative project, Out of the Swim, they were working on, in which Dickson plays bass. The combo of these made David, Louise and Dickson realise they gelled well and should kick-start something new. That was the beginning of Vulture Party, with Roddy joining down the line.
Your eponymous debut album, Vulture Party, was released at the start of April this year. How long did it take to write and what were the creative influences that helped shape the album?
David and Louise already had a good few songs written, so that part didn’t take too long. It was the recording process that took a lot longer than we expected. There were a few interruptions, but the main issue was just about every song was too long and we hadn’t thought enough about production before hitting the big red record button. We’re chuffed with the final product though, so the lengthy process was worth it and we took plenty learning from the process.
You released the album on the Last Night From Glasgow record label. How did that come about and what was it about LNFG that made them stand out?
Dickson recorded two albums with L-space, who were on LNFG, so it came from there. After amicably leaving L-space and asking LNFG for advice on vinyl costs, Ian Smith (from LNFG) suggested Vulture Party consider LNFG’s Hive imprint for release of the album. It all worked out well, they’re a great crowd to work with.
Your album launch gig (I had tickets!) was due to take place just as the country went into lockdown due to Covid 19. How difficult was that at the time given it was your debut album and there was no ability to tour and help promote the record?
It was pretty grim! We had been rehearsing loads and were getting things really tight for the launch. If you want a live show to be right, you need a venue, posters and promo, a sound engineer, lighting.
Talking about lockdown, what have the band been up to during it – have you discovered new skills or taken up any hobbies?
We’ve mainly been writing album #2 and firing ideas and demos to each other over WhatsApp, Dropbox and WeTransfer. When folk were allowed to get together, we recorded some demos and sketched out the dynamics of the album. We also did a track for LNFG’s Isolation Sessions, a cover of the Starless song, Somewhere in the Night, which was fun and a different sort of challenge for us. No new hobbies as we all have pretty full lives. David’s main hobby is buying, selling and watching videos of effects pedals, so he’ll have been doing plenty of that.
Falkirk seems awash with creative talent at the moment, with the likes of The Media Whores, Razur Cuts magazine and the recent return of The Arab Strap as well as yourselves. Why do you think that is and are there any other bands/artists from the area you would recommend?
It’s a funny wee town, often overlooked because it sits between Edinburgh and Glasgow, but there seems to be something about it that generates a great standard of art.
Arab Strap are internationally successful yet they started out telling stories to music about going out in Falkirk, getting drunk and pulling/trying to pull. Adam Stafford’s instrumental double album Fire Behind the Curtain got a five-star review in The Skinny and is equal parts chaos and beauty.
At one point the town had three literary magazines (one being Razur Cuts) running at the same time, all doing events and all with slightly different target audiences (although there was/is plenty crossover too). And there’s Gordon Legge and Alan Bissett to add to the list, neither of whom has produced conventional novels.
And of course there’s The Cocteau Twins, without whom Teardrop by Massive Attack wouldn’t be a thing. It’s difficult to say why we tend to produce eclectic, different stuff void of cheese, but long may it continue.
The videos for the singles New Humans and Sun Dance are very striking – tell us about them and working with Adam Stafford who was involved with both.
Thanks, that’s kind as we didn’t have much of a budget for either. We knew Adam had an eye for film, having won awards for his short films in the past, so we approached him and asked if he fancied it and were chuffed when he said yes.
We gave him our ideas and he came up with a treatment. Both shoots ran exceptionally smoothly and to time, so great experiences all round. Louise did the choreography and we all chipped in for props and costumes or made things ourselves. They say never work with kids or animals, but the kids in the Sun Dance video were fantastic, especially given it was shot in a warehouse in winter!
What’s next for Vulture Party? Are you working on new tunes and if so when can we expect to hear new material?
We are and we’re really pleased with how things are sounding. We think it’ll be a bit like a Cure album, not in sound necessarily, more that it’ll be partly pop party and partly rain pounding windows on a sunless day. We’re going a bit more synthy this time, with some of the influences being New Order, Talking Heads, Joy Division and Portishead. New material will appear spring 2021.
Lastly, thinking back to all the gigs you’ve attended, which one stands out the most as really memorable and why?
Dickson – Mogwai at the Royal Concert Hall during the Rave Tapes tour. (I’ve never heard something be so loud, so tight and so clear all at the same time. I was right up the back but was still blown away).
Louise – The Felice Brothers at Oran Mor. (I was pregnant so wasn’t even drinking, so that proves just how good they were).
David – David Byrne at the Royal Concert Hall. (His vocals were outstanding and the show he put on was epic).
Roddy – Gogol Bordello at the Carling Academy. (Haven’t seen an act before or since that can touch them for pure energy).