Record Overplayed
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Mull Historical Society interview | Middlesbrough Cornerhouse | March 2002

Mulling Things Over

Interview and photos by Dawn

As their name suggests, Mull Historical Society are a band who hail from the island of Mull, just off the west coast of Scotland. Their 2001 hit Animal Cannabus was championed by Radio One’s Steve Lamacq, while their debut album Loss was one of Q magazine’s Best 50 Albums of last year. Their recent Top 40 hit Watching Xanadu was released to coincide with a UK tour which saw the band play to a capacity crowd at Middlesbrough’s Cornerhouse.

If you’ve been watching satellite TV in the past couple of months, chances are you’ll have spotted Mull mainman Colin MacIntyre once or twice. Relentlessly promoting Watching Xanadu, he appeared on a number of shows, perhaps most notably Sky’s Saturday morning hit Soccer AM.

"It was just promotion for the sake of it, really – I did a full weekend of it," admits Colin as we talk to him before the Middlesbrough gig. "It’s fine. I mean, for me it’s just about the music and sometimes you find yourself on things like Soccer AM and you realise, ‘I’m not a football pundit, so what am I doing on it?’ But I think it’s a good show and the guy, Tim Lovejoy, has a radio show as well and he’s been really supportive of the band. I quite enjoyed Soccer AM – it was a good laugh. I wish my football skills had been a bit better though," he smiles ruefully. "I took a lot of abuse about that!"

If you didn’t catch any of the interviews, you’re likely to have seen the fantastically original video for Watching Xanadu, picked up by the likes of MTV, which features Colin – in the guise of a giant hare – being pursued around a dog track by greyhounds.

"Our first two videos were done in Mull," explains Colin, "but that one we did in London at the Walthamstow dog track. It was one of the busiest nights of the year – there were thousands of people there - and I had to go out between each race and do all that stuff for the video. They must’ve just thought I was pre-race entertainment or something!" For those who haven’t seen the video, Colin dons a unique brown suit and a fetching pair of furry ears. "I know how these chickens in shopping malls feel now," says Colin, "I just felt stupid!"

On the music side of things, much has been made of the similarities between Mull’s album and the Beach Boys. A compliment, surely?

"I’d like to think it’s complimentary!" Colin laughs, sounding a little unsure. "I mean, I don’t have the Beach Boys’ back catalogue or anything, but I get reviews like that and think, ‘oh right, I’d better go and buy some Brian Wilson then!’ So it’s the other way round, as opposed to me listening to it then trying to sound like it. I’m flattered by the comparisons really."

When asked about his musical influences, Colin looks thoughtful. "I listen to a lot of classical stuff – Bach and things like that. But it’s just a mixture of stuff really. As a kid, I’d listen to The Beatles, the Stones, Bowie and Dylan all the time. It’s not really stuff I listen to now, but I think you sort of store it up. Influences are weird – you just get a mix of things and you make it into your own." He smiles mischievously. "You try and hide where you stole it from!"

So are there any songs you wish you’d written?

"Oh, there’s loads! I mean, I love stuff like The Real Slim Shady. I love what Eminem does – I think from a songwriting point of view he’s really clever. It’s incredible how he puts it together. But I could say a million songs, you know? I also like Daft Punk – I’ve got it as an intro song tonight – Digital Love. I love that song."


So what have you been buying lately?

"The last album I bought was Gorillaz. I haven’t listened to it yet – I’ve got it with me. Oh no – I bought Gorillaz before I came on tour, but I bought a Bach album in Inverness a few days ago, so that was the last album I bought." He pauses and grins. "And the last single I bought was my own to try and increase the sales, if I’m honest!" he laughs. "I don’t really buy singles."

So what’s next for Mull Historical Society? Your first three videos have all featured animals, so where do you see the next single taking you?

"It depends what the next single is," says Colin. "I think it’s going to be a new song – it won’t be off the album – so in that case I’m not quite sure. Depending on which one it is, I’ll probably start thinking about it soon – but I think we’ll move away from animals!"

Thanks to Colin and his management for the interview. Visit www.colinmacintyre.com for more information on Colin's latest project.

 

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