Time to kick off interviews for 2013 and where better to start on our own Aberdeen doorstep with the much improved Marionettes.
So, who exactly are the Marionettes?
[Paddy] Marionettes consist of myself (Paddy Buchanan), Daryl Rankin, Pete Taylor, Thomas Emslie and Derek Stewart. We’ve been playing music together for years now, and have a damn good time in doing so! We’re just good lads.
Three guitars in your line-up… any influences, obvious or otherwise?
[Daryl] We jokingly point to the obvious Iron Maiden reference now and then, but apart from that our line up is the way it is through experimentation with different songs & ideas. We only add the third guitar if we think it actually brings something to the song, so it isn’t a permanent fixture but one we fully embrace it when necessary. So no, the three guitar element isn’t the result of a particular influence.
[Paddy] Having the option to break out the third guitar is very handy indeed! People seem to enjoy it, and we try to avoid Iron Maidenesque harmonic shredding! Theres a time and a place…
I think I saw you a couple of times last year, first at the (new) Big Beach Ball… what did you think of that as an event?
[Daryl] The Big Beach Ball was a brilliant experience, we played in the early evening so we had the benefit of going off to experience the rest of the festival from a customer perspective as opposed to that of the performer. In terms of our actual performance it was great; we played to a packed room who were right at our feet dancing away, which is the best way to enjoy a Marionettes gig!
[Paddy] It’s fantastic for Aberdeen to have an event like this, and we really appreciate that there’s a place for bands like us to play at it. The whole thing was fantastically organized and had a very real festival atmosphere. Great news is that the Big Beach Ball will be happening once more this year on Sunday the 5th of May, and Marionettes will again be performing!
…and then at The Lemon Tree at the end of the year with The Complete Stone Roses, must have been nice to play to a near full house in your hometown?
[Daryl] Yeah, that was a fun gig, perhaps a bit weird if nothing else. The crowd seemed receptive, however you could tell that they were waiting for the main act; which is fair enough as that’s who they’ve paid to see! We got some great feedback though, and the show was definitely worth playing as it was a really well-attended show.
Whats your favourite venue in Aberdeen, both to play and to enjoy as a punter?
[Daryl] I feel a personal affiliation with the Lemon Tree, having worked there for the past four years and we’ve had many great gigs there in the past year as well; such as supporting The Pigeon Detectives, The Ordinary Boys and our own headline show there last April. In recent months Cellar 35 has become quite prominent, and we have become massive fans as a result of our Christmas party there in December. We’re returning there next month, small gigs are brilliant.
[Paddy] My favourite venue in Aberdeen has to be the Blue Lamp, it has atmosphere and charm like no other… I have fond memories of kef, and Moshulu for that matter, but to be honest we owe a debt to all the venues who have had us play in the past and gave us a platform to play on when we first started.
You have a new Single out at the beginning of February, has that been on the cards for a while?
[Daryl] Our new Single “Teaparties” has been a few months in planning, but these things take time in order to give them the best chance to succeed. It will have been ten months since our last release by the time it comes out, so it seems like a good time to put out something new.
Was it recorded and mixed locally?
[Daryl] Yeah, we recorded it in my friend Matt’s house. He is responsible for the production, however we had it mastered by an external company. I used to play in a band with Matt called Weather Barn, and he produced the majority of the material we released so I knew it would be a good option for Marionettes. We are very happy with the results and highly recommend his services to anybody.
[Paddy] I’m a big fan of recording in a home studio environment. Working with someone you know, coupled with the fact that you’re not working against the clock to anywhere near the same degree as you would be in a professional studio, helps to create a relaxed recording environment. This seems to produce good results in my experience and Matt’s done a great job!
And hopefully an album to follow later on in the year?
[Daryl] Yes, hopefully! We’re writing it just now, that’s all we can reveal at this point. We’re some way off of a release date, but with it being our debut album we’re taking care and doing the best job we can. So you’ll have to wait, sorry!
Along with the Single you have the Teaparties Tour next month which includes four dates south of the border, something to look forward to there?
[Daryl] Yeah, we love touring and it is by far one of the most enjoyable things you can do as a band. We started playing in England last year and wanted to continue this year in that vein; the highlight of this tour is our slot at Death Disco in London which we are really excited about.
Is it hard for bands located as far north as Aberdeen to secure dates down south?
[Daryl] Yes. But once you get in the door and have your name banded about a bit more it becomes easier. Promoters either remember you or know somebody who has put you on before; as a result of this our tours have progressively gotten longer and more frequent.
And kicking off at Dangerous Club!
[Daryl] Indeed! We love Peterhead! We hadn’t initially intended to do this, but we remembered how much fun it had been in the past and gigs up there are always a great experience. We can’t think of a better way to kick things off.
What do you think of the current Aberdeen music scene?
[Daryl] The overall standard really is very high. You have bands such as The Little Kicks, Stanley and Indian Red Lopez who have done the rounds for a while now but at the same time consistently produce quality music. Whereas you only have to look to other talents such as Min Diesel, Suburban Saints and Cats in Capes to see that there are newer bands really making a name for themselves both in Aberdeen and further afield.
You’ve already supported a few established acts, who’d be your dream to share a stage with?
[Paddy] If I could support Morrisey I would perhaps be the happiest man in the whole world! I held his hand once and I have never washed properly since.
Bad news with local record shop legends One Up closing down, what does that mean to you guys?
[Paddy] It means we now have nowhere in Aberdeen to sell physical copies of our music other than at our gigs and online… One Up were always extremely helpful to local musicians, they gave countless artists the chance to have their music sold in an actual record shop. The lack of their presence on Belmont street is a massive blow for music in the North East of Scotland.
What would you do to keep record shops alive (if you could)?
[Paddy] The fact of the matter is that people need to be spending more money in record shops if they want to see them stay afloat. Downloading music is great, its faster and more convenient than going to a shop, however I think many people still enjoy the romance of being able to hold an album in their hands as they listen.
Any favourite memories of One Up?
[Paddy] For me it has to be when we played a gig in the shop! It was a very surreal experience having shoppers bustling past you to pay for things , but a hugely enjoyable one all the same. I’m really honoured we got the chance to play there.
How do you purchase music yourselves?
[Paddy] I used to always try to get music I wanted from One Up if they stocked it. Gigs are also a great place to buy music (and record sales cash always comes in handy for skint bands on tour!). I’m an advocate of raking through charity shops for records and picking out a semi-random selection of things I’ve never head before.
Your five desert island discs?
[Paddy] 1990s – Cookies
[Daryl] Nirvana – In Utero
[Thomas] The Beta Band – The Three EP’s
[Pete] The Cribs – Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever
[Derek] Chet Baker – Chet Baker Sings
And finally… your favourite flavour of crisps?
[Paddy] As a crisp enthusiast, I would happily munch upon almost any flavour of crisp! Roast Ox seem to be a popular choice with me at the moment.
[Daryl] Cheese and onion. There’s always a time and place for cheese and onion.
Thanks for your time lads and see you on tour. Still Burning.