Edinburgh’s finest band are about to release their long-awaited fourth album, THIS IS GOING TO HURT… the Mumble were honour’d to get a wee blether with the band before their highly anticipated album launch
Hello Victor and welcome back to Mumble Towers (read last year’s interview here). This time you’ve brought an entourage, your band, can you tell us who they all are and what they play?
Victor: Well there’s me, otherwise known as Victor Pope, on acoustic guitar and vocals. Roy Jackson, also known as Nice one Man on backing vocals, melodica, mandolin and electric guitar (usually not all at once), Jess Aslan, otherwise known as Terminator Jess, on keys, Graeme Mackay, otherwise known as Grime, on bass and finally Jon Harley, otherwise known as Cuddles McGee, on drums.
Hello guys, nice to meet you. So, Jon, as the heartbeat of the group, what is the true ethos behind the Victor Pope band?
Jon: It’s always a singular pleasure playing a drumkit with Mr. Victor because, quite simply, Vic is Love!
Hello Roy, this is the band’s fourth album, where, when and by whom was it recorded?
Roy: We recorded the full band with Alan Moffat & co at the old Leith Recording Studios above/next to Leith Depot pub. They drilled through the walls & used the Depot’s gig room as a live room. The council have now chucked them out of their premises though, so Edinburgh Uni can get more students in, but I believe Alan recently secured a new property in Leith & they’re back up & running again. Woo hoo!!
Hello Jess! You bring an interesting sound to the band, what is it and how did your musicianship evolve into the instrument?
Jess: Hi Mumble.I play a mono synthesiser adding some melodies and sometimes harsher sounds to the songs. I joined a few years ago, and love working with the guys. Steve’s pretty specific (demanding) about the sounds he feels works or don’t work with the song. Really it’s easy to implement a sound world if someone’s already got a fixed idea of how they want it to go. Not to make out he’s a control freak about the songs or anything (is that what we’re meant to say Steve?)
That’s great. Bouncing back to Victor now – what would you say are the band’s biggest influences
Victor Pope: We all bring our own unique flavors to the brew but for me it’s songwriters who value truth over musicianship. I’m into me lyrics and a bit of humor doesn’t hurt either. People like Lou Reed, Syd Barret, Billy Bragg, Kimya Dawson, the Television Personalities, Jon Otway, Jon Cooper Clarke, Daniel Johnston and Half Man Half Biscuit.
Hello Graeme – the Victor Pope Band are your first band playing bass. How is the experience improving your skill and your style (try not to mention me unless it’s in proper context) and how would you describe the basslines and vibe you supply.?
Graham: Hi Mumble. Indeed, I picked up bass for the first time in order to support the Victor Pope band and their surge to the top! The biggest help above all that improved me as a player are the people around me. Steve, Jess, Jon and Roy are all incredibly accomplished musicians and the music just flows out of them from every pore! I like to watch what they are all doing and take bits here and there to add to what I am doing. I think it’s what all good bands do – learn from each others strengths! My basslines are all pretty simple but I think that gives others the platform to inject a little more pezang into the songs. My vibe? Mr reliable
Back to Victor, can you tell me about the song selection for the band’s fourth album?
Victor: Well, there’s a lot of new stuff on there but there’s also a couple of old classics I’ve dredged up from the back catalog. One song in particular, Voodoo when U smile, I wrote about twenty years ago. It’s kind of a twisted take on a love song. I believe it was Bukowski who said “Love is a mad dog from hell” and I guess it’s my take on that. The rest of the songs cover a variety of topics. It’s not really a concept album. It’s more of a selection box where you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get next. I like albums like that. They keep you on your toes. But I like to think humor and a cynical, almost nihilistic viewpoint on life are recurrent themes. I’m a bit of a miserable bastard really. But I like to laugh about it.
This is a question for anybody to answer; You’ve opened up you house during the fringe via AirB&B’ and three famous figures from history are staying – who would they be and what would you make for breakfast?
Graeme: Will need to think about the 3 but they’d all be getting sliced sausage rolls that’s for sure!!
Jon: For me, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin and Grigori Rasputin. When they’re finally all chatted out and snoring wax their beards together and see how they get on with their waffles with eggs poached in vodka
Graeme: Ok. Tutankhamen, Jesus, Tollund Man. Nice mix of historic figures there and plenty to talk about.
The Mumble: Graeme, you’d give meat to Jesus?
Graeme: I’m not sure you could even class sliced sausage as meat!
Victor: Charles Bukowski, The Marquis de Sade and Mr Bean. Chocolate Fudge Sundee.
Roy: I’d invite Freddie Mercury, Jimi Hendrix & Mozart. Not sure exactly what I’d make but it would definitely be something with jam in.
Jess: Wow boys, no women?!
Victor: It’d be nice to have a lady there but I’d be worried if Mr Bean started to get a bit lecherous..
Jon: Good point luv… ditch Marx for Annie Jones Elliot.
Jess: Three air bnb guests will be Delia Derbyshire the boss of electronic music, Roberto Bolaño seemed like a pretty cool cat and Mac Miller who just died way to soon and should come back and make some more excellent pop music – Porridge and apple as standard.
Victor: OK. Margret Atwood instead of Mr Bean. Bah humbug.
Thanks guys, so back to the new album, I’ve been listening to it & its great work. Graeme, Your bass on festival casualty is really top notch, can you tell us how. It was created and do you think it’s your best work on the album?
Graeme: Interesting you say that as I would say that Festival Casualty is my weakest song on the album in terms of bass. The bass line I am most pleased with is the suicide (specifically the chorus). It kind of came out of nowhere but looking back at it there seem to be some similarities to Rock the Casbah I’ve noticed! It’s all about taking in your influences when coming up with new music. Recycling old material.
Roy, you’ve been with the band since the start. Does this album capture the band’s live sound, or is their a lot of overdubbing. Also, how would you describe the band’s sound overall?
Roy: We always like to record the bones of a track live in the round whenever possible & that’s what we did again for this album. I suppose the more you record the more you begin to think about overdubs though. Certainly on this record there were backing vocals & percussion that we only conceived when we were listening to the live rushes. Also, I would describe our sound as loud!!
So Steve, you’re launching the album this weekend, can you tell us about it?
Victor: Aye. Well it’s set up to be a big night. We’ve got Little Love and the Friendly Vibes supporting us who are one of my favorite bands in Edinburgh. We’ve done a lot of gigs with them, they’re kind of like our sister band, as their sound is quite close to the kind of thing we do. We’re trying to start a scene but so far it’s just us two bands. We’ve also got Lou McLean who writes these beautifully sharp, witty and honest songs who we saw at a previous gig with Little Love and were very impressed. I bought both her CDs! We’ll have merch for sale including the new album of course and the previous one plus some T shirts. And we’re doing 2 45 minute sets. The new album back to back and a kind of greatest hits set after that. Oh, and it’s at Leith Depot, 7pm onwards, Saturday 19th January, a mere 3 pounds entry. We like Leith Depot. It’s kind of like our home turf.
THE LEITH DEPOT
SATURDAY 19TH JANUARY
Review by Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
Strengths gather fears and worry dissolve. It had been one of them days January blues. I skipped down Leith walk to the Depot in time for Anne McIntosh’s Birthday gathering. The Depot was packed with creatives that I love and we had a really beautiful start to the nights proceedings. Hugs and kisses at every turn. I first saw Steven Vickers perform as Victor Pope, taking the stage of a Strip Cub on Lothian Rd 5 years ago. It was one of Granny Nessie Radge Romie’s musical spectaculars and the night that Steve first blew me away. Hmmm I thought. He can have a private dance. indeed in the resulting years that followed our friendship would bloom, both being Northern English Urchins gave us a bond. And for a while I became part of the rhythm section of The Victor Pope Band.
Tonight’s performance was a gig in two halves. The first half was the new album “This Is Going To Hurt” performed in full. The second half was a greatest hits set. Having performed with the band more times than I have seen them, being part of the audience was quite a thrill, Acis As had travelled from London to perform this groundbreaking intimate gig. It didn’t take long to have the place bouncing and it soon became evident that this new album, is to be the release that takes The Victor Pope band to the next level of performance art . The greatest hits set was fantastic in the same way. Knowing the rhythm of each song set my dancing feet on fire. It was a fantastic gig and the perfect tonic. Everyone was buzzing and excited in the knowledge that something legendary had taken place.
2019 is going to be the year that sees this very entertaining Band reach greater heights of creative and performance success. The Perfect Tonic and Remedy great Rock N Roll and great friends, thanks everyone for transforming the Divine January Blues.
Photography: Anne Macintosh