Well, we finally got there.
On the go for nearly two years, nearly a year since their first recording (albeit a bootleg) was released on these very pages, and months since the band very kindly recorded two session tracks for a Tidal Wave of Freshair (available to buy in aid of a good cause here), The Bad Books are on the verge of releasing some actual tunes.
Sorry, did we say The Bad Books? Well, much has happened since the band headlined Tidal Wave 3 in June (can you spot a theme? We rather like these guys!), including a name change to Book Group.
Same personnel though (that would be Graeme Anderson on vocals/synths/guitars, Scott Finnegan on bass and vocals, Andrew Brodie on drums and Michael Morrison on guitars) and the same, crisp rock sound too. And wonderfully, debut EP Homeward Sound does them justice. Four tracks, available on 10″ vinyl and download from May 18, coincidentally the same day the band play their rather splendid sounding launch night in Edinburgh.
Marvellously, Graeme and Michael took us through the EP and dealt with some more of our annoying questions!
Track 1: Year of The Cat
Tidal Wave says: A blistering statement of intent. The paciest thing here, it plonks its balls on the table about ten seconds in and doesn’t put them away until the song fades. The production brings out every guitar stroke and Graeme’s vocals are superbly mixed. We can see why they’ve invested so much time in the song.
Michael Morrison: We had tried to start recording a couple of times before making Homeward Sound but they were both scrapped for, well, not being good enough. When we did eventually get in a decent studio with a great producer, this was the first track we did – and it couldn’t have turned out any better really. It’s probably our only consistently balls-out rock song (hey, didn’t we just say that?! – Ed), and a very good welcome to the EP.
Graeme Anderson: This was written shortly after my move to the Borders. Find that whole fitting in somewhere new a bit awkward if people aren’t welcoming. Not wanting to dish the dirt on my home, but folk had more interest in Leigh (Graeme’s long-suffering wife) knowing that she was a local rather than a lad from Scumdee. The song’s basically about that. Mike and the guys gave it more of a growl which is just what I needed. I like growling! A perfect start to the record.
Track 2: BOP
Tidal Wave says: A bit slower, but no less snarly. A live staple, we have no idea why it’s fully capitalised either.
MM: Slow-building, a bit moody and menacing towards the end. BOP is pretty typical of how our songs are written. Graeme brings in a really nice, upbeat idea on an acoustic and we all dark it out. It’s probably the closest to a pop song of the four, but with the Motown trick of upbeat music and downbeat lyrics.
GA: A comfort song. Kinda about enjoying time with friends or that someone special. . . also has a touch of cannibalism about it too. Like to think it has a sweet melody. Love the guitars in this one and Andrew’s drums kick it off with a nice bang.
Track 3: Seedlings
Tidal Wave says: A million miles away from its acoustic version, this could lift the roof off any venue, such is its huge chorus and driving rhythm. Proper rock music, this.
MM: I love the driving drums through the verses on this, and Scott’s backing vocals too. I remember recording it and thinking there was a risk it could go too ‘stadium rock’, so we made the guitars warbled and feedbacking in the verse, then pushed in the chorus. It actually sounds the best on vinyl too for some reason.
GA: I agree with Michael here. Scott really kicks the ass out of this tune. Cracking vocals and his bass drives it along at a great pace. Song-wise it’s a straightforward hate song. We’ve all been there.
Track 4: Summer of Lunches
Tidal Wave says: Our favourite? That might be because we’re already very familiar with the other three songs, or at least their bootlegged or acoustic versions, but don’t underestimate the power of this one. It takes a while to build, and as the band outline below, it ends on a huge sound outro with duelling guitars, hooky backing vocals and thundering drums. Like the other three songs. it’s AWESOME.
MM: The first song we wrote? We often open the set with this but the big stuttering outro made it an obvious choice as a closer. It goes full circle with Year of The Cat. I think it hopefully hints at what’s to come next too.
GA: A celebration of good times with a predictable life ending. Musically it’s one that we love playing and was our first tune to get together. it kind of made us think – ‘that’s not bad’ and pushed us on to bigger sounds. The chaotic ending rings true for our approach to band life, kind of a roll our sleeves up and get on with it approach.
Cheers! So we know its been ages, but what prompted the name change?
MM: A number of reasons really, primarily that there’s another (wonderful) band called Bad Books – check them out. We always knew this but only ever intended to play one gig, but then it kind of snowballed into more. Personally though, I think a name like Bad Books comes with its expectations; which I see as a bit of a hinderance. Plus we’re all members of the same book group, so it made sense.
GA: I honestly didn’t know there was a band called Bad Books till after a couple of gigs. Gutted we had to change at the time, but Book Group feels right now.
What about the tracks that didn’t make it – still got plans for them?
MM: Oh aye! Always writing and a plan is afoot for the next thing – saying no more for now.
GA: We have loads of stuff that we want to record and some plans are already in the pipeline. Genuinely excited about what is coming up. Really proud of the EP but know that we have more surprises and hooks on the way.
What’s lined up for the EP launch then?
MM: It should be a great night and even if I wasn’t playing at it I’d be bloody excited to be there – the other three bands alone make an amazing line up. Plastic Animals are the best kind of fuzzy, dream-pop, Campfires in Winter are a very welcome west coast addition (and making their Edinburgh debut on the night) and then we are bed-shittingly grateful that Rory Sutherland and Martin Donnelly have agreed to perform their new collaboration. Plus we only have the bloody Live From The Latin Quarter blokes DJing. Fucking hell. We’ll have to bring our A-game, that’s for sure…
GA: Are you coming Stu?
Ummmmm…… anyway, it’s nearly summer (allegedly!) Will we see you at festivals?
MM: Already played the best festival last month (Gnomegame) so any others are a bonus. Off to goNorth in June and maybe another, we’ll see.
GA: Gnomegame was amazing and was great to be involved with a fence event. Looking forward to goNorth and also bought my ticket for Latitude – you promised me a dance during Grizzly Bear!
Ah crap, so we did.
Spending a weekend hiding from their bearded frontman aside, exciting times are afoot in the Book Group camp. You’ll be able to buy Homeward Sound from their Bandcamp page and you can get a ticket to the launch gig here. Not one to be missed. Unless you already had a ticket to an inconveniently-timed gig by American alt rock legend.