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The Grim Northern Social interview | Stockton Georgian |

"I'm a lucky, lucky man!"

Interview by Dawn / Photo courtesy of The Grim Northern Social

'The tour's going great!' Grim Northern Social frontman Ewan MacFarlane exclaims, his huge smile instantly disproving any theories that the band's demeanour may have inspired the 'grim' part of their moniker. Upon meeting him, however, his broad Scots accent and gregarious nature mean that the rest of the band name immediately speaks for itself...

'Last night we were in Glasgow at King Tut's,' he continues enthusiastically. 'That was a sell-out, so it was fantastic. Unfortunately, some of the gigs haven't been too busy, so its hard work, but at the end of the day, it's all experience,' he says optimistically. 'It's good for the fact that you're getting tight as a band. The hard work pays off because when you play a really, really good gig, there's nothing like it - it's the best feeling in the world.'

He puts the smaller crowds down to the fact that, in summer, people save their money for festivals: 'The majority of people can see all the bands they want to see within one weekend'. But that also worked to their advantage recently: 'We played T in the Park two weeks ago and we were in King Tut's tent. It was half one on the Sunday afternoon and we were thinking it would be empty because it was a beautiful day and we were in a tent - but there were 7,000 people in the tent! It blew my mind; it was fantastic!'

The band's forthcoming eponymous album was finished in June and recorded unusually quickly. Ewan explains: 'We were under a lot of pressure because the budget was tight, so I think we recorded and mixed the album in 17 days, which was pretty intense. Saying that, we wanted the album to have a live feel. On the single which you reviewed [Honey] – which is a great review by the way; thank you! - (Our pleasure, Ewan! - Dawn) we didn't feel as if the production did us justice as a live band. It was very well-recorded and everything, but it was hiding a lot of the edge that we have as a live band, so we produced the album ourselves. We wanted to capture what we were about live and we feel as if it's come across. For us personally, Honey wasn't bad, but it just didn't feel quite Grim Northern Social. It was a wee bit too clean, for the want of a better expression.'

And despite the speed at which it was made, Ewan couldn't be happier with the album. 'It's a very, very proud moment,' he says in his charming Glaswegian lilt. 'It's what we've spent most of our life trying to achieve. It's overwhelming, to be honest with you.'

Admitting that picking a favourite is hard, when pressed, Ewan names the tracks Clash of the Social Titans and Maybe It's Time. 'I love the way Maybe It's Time turned out on the album because I didn't expect it to be as good as it turned out,' he admits. And Clash of the Social Titans? 'I'm a big believer in beating the system - people not getting downtrodden,' he explains. 'In Scotland, like in the North East of England, people felt as if they were always getting the raw deal, so the song is about that – me saying, "this is what we're about and this is what we do, so I won't get in your space if you don't get in mine"'. He looks thoughtful as he searches for the right words. 'I don't mean to come across aggressively, but I do feel pretty passionately about that; it means a lot to me. It's kind of surreptitious - it creeps up on you.'

I can't leave the interview without mentioning a quote from an old review on elevationstation.net which describes Ewan as looking like "the by-product of some mad scientist splicing and mixing the genes of Police-era Sting and Ziggy Stardust Bowie".

Ewan bursts out laughing. 'It sounds good to me!' he chuckles, obviously amused. 'Sting's cool and so is David Bowie so aye, that sounds really good! If I was half as cool as them, I'd be doing all right!'

As for the future, Ewan is keeping quietly optimistic. 'We just want to keep gigging because we know we're a great live band and we're only going to get better.' He pauses to share his thoughts on his career and his family. 'It's hard work, but it's fantastic. I'm a lucky, lucky man. So we'll start there, and hopefully more and more people will hear us and come and see what it's all about. And with a wee bit of luck, we'll get a bigger bus next time!'

Thank you to the charming Ewan MacFarlane, to Keith Bourne and to the ever-wonderful Ian Cheek. The Grim Northern Social's self-titled debut album is released on 8/9/03. Check out www.thegrimnorthernsocial.com for more details. Thanks also to David and Jo.

 

 

 

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