Incendiary interview Bobby Kildea of Belle & Sebastian.

“Yeah, exactly, people read all these things into it. Ringo’s the minister, if you look at all their outfits, and George is the gravedigger. People just have a bit too much time on their hands. Conspiracy theories…”

“Yeah, exactly, people read all these things into it. Ringo’s the minister, if you look at all their outfits, and George is the gravedigger. People just have a bit too much time on their hands. Conspiracy theories…”




(Incendiary Interviewers: Elze Struijk and Zoe Gottehrer waste no time in pumping the lovely Bobby for information…)


IN: Last time you were in Holland, you played Utrecht


BK: Yeah.


IN: I was there. It was great! Do you always do that? Ask people on stage?  I was one of them… I was playing tambourine. (ES)


BK: We do quite generally get people up on stage quite a lot. It’s a nice security to get more and more people up and turn it into more of a party or something.


IN: It is a really nice thing to do for your fans. I researched some of the fans sites, and they all seem so sweet.


BK: Some of them are yeah.


IN:  You joined later on, correct?  How long have you been with B&S?


BK: 5 Years. That’s long enough!


IN: You’ve played on the last two albums? Life Pursuit and Dear Castrophe Waitress?


BK: And some of Storytelling. And some of the EPs as well. Waking up to US was the first one I played on.


IN:  Are you from Glasgow?


BK: No, I’m from Northern Ireland, but I’ve lived in Glasgow for 13 years.


IN: How did you join up with Belle & Sebastian?


BK:  Well the band I played in before, V-Twin started up at the same time as Belle & Sebastian. We were kind of running concurrently and we all played together in different bands – Chris, Steve and Richard played with V-Twin as well, in fact the only person that didn’t play with V-Twin was Mick. I use to live in the flat that Sarah lived in as well. Glasgow is quite a small place!


IN: There are so many bands that are coming from Glasgow


BK: Always has been.


IN: Is there a new kind of excitement in the air, the success of Franz and Belle & Sebastian and Arab Strap with new albums… do you feel the burst of energy in the city?


BK:  Yeah, there always has, but especially with the success of Franz Ferdinand and Snow Patrol as well, its all focused a bit more on Glasgow. It kind of goes in waves, you know? There are loads of bands that are popular again from Glasgow, like any other moment in time.


IN: It just really seems to me that Glasgow is like its own haven or bubble especially for UK music.


BK:  I suppose you have Manchester in the beginning of the 60s the late 70s & then in the 1990s.


IN: Yeah, but Glasgow been the more steady, and consistent in producing prime music stock. (oooph! Don’t say that in Manchester- ed)


BK: (smiles). Now that is good to know.


IN: Okay, we want to come to Glasgow, what are some good clubs to go to.


BK: You’ve got to go to Nice’n’Sleazey’s. Do you know it? Have you heard of it? It’s a great bar and venue as well, holds about 200 people. Then there’s King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. There’s a new venue on Sauchiehall Street called ABC. There is any number of places to see bands. (warning to tourists; Sauchiehall Street is very very long. Get a precise address! – ed)



IN: ABC?  That is where you’re opening the tour for three nights in January?  Are they sold out?


BK:  Yeah, I think so. I think the first two nights are sold out and the third ones pretty close.


IN: Good opening three days, home crowd, all your friends and family.


BK: Yeah, we’ll have to make sure were good. (laughs)


IN:  Yeah… pressure.  Have you been rehearsing?


BK: No, we haven’t actually played the songs since we recorded them. We’ve got a lot of work to do before then, you know?


IN: When did you finish the album?


BK: We finished recording it in August. But it took us up until maybe about 4 weeks ago to finish mixing it. It took a long time; from the moment we sat down to do it, writing it, to recording it then to mixing it; it took basically a year.


IN: Who mixed it?


BK:  Tony Duggan, who had mixed some of our other stuff in the past, he remixed some of the stuff from the album, you know, we remixed some of the stuff back in Glasgow that we weren’t happy with, from what we came back from LA with.


IN: You recorded everything in LA?


BK: Yeah, we recorded 18 songs. So we’ve got a lot of B-side stuff.


IN: What was the name of the producer?


BK: Tony Hoffer. He did Beck and AIR and stuff. (Also; Grandaddy, The Thrills, The Vacation, Supergrass, Turin Breaks – incendiary)


IN: Trevor Horne to Tony Hoffer, you ARE getting more and more poppy and commercial.


BK:  Trevor Horne is one of the biggest producers in the world wouldn’t you say? All of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and SEAL and recently Tatu…


IN: Seemed always to me like a strange step in B&S… why did you decide to start working with Trevor Horne? (ES)


BK: We were looking for a producer and he got in contact with us. It is the same way that we ended up working with Tony Hoffer, the new one. He wrote us an email and said he’d be interested to work with us. The reason we chose those two particular was, in the main, due to the fact that they approached us and expressed an interest and of course we met up with them, and they said the right things and so we just went ahead with it.


IN: I am interested in what is your most prized bass or guitar or amp?  Do you use all vintage equipment?


BK: Valve amps yeah. Me and Steve both use Fender amps. The guitar I used most in the new record was a Les Paul that I bought in America a couple of years ago. The bass we used was a Mustang, a short scale one. We use a lot of old equipment. It’s a hassle to get it to work a lot of the time. When you’re touring it, it goes out. Those valve amps don’t really travel all that well. So you have to take a lot of spare valves because they get broken, just with all the moving. It’s just our equipment. That’s what we use. When we were recording the album we had lots of different amps to try and Richard has lots of different drums as well. 


IN:  Any stories about a guitar you had that got nicked at a show or something?


BK: Luckily not yet (laughs).


IN: Shit sorry, didn’t mean to jinx you or anything.


BK:  What like Sonic Youth?  Did you hear that story? You know, they all use different guitars tunings and different strings, they are all kind of customs and they got them all stolen like five years ago. All of those songs, those older songs were recorded and played on these special guitars and now that they’ve all been stolen they don’t know how they can recreate that particular sound again. Hopefully they won’t happen to us.


IN:  You are touring January and February in the UK.  Are you planning to tour other places?


BK: Yeah, we’re America in March and then Europe in April, hopefully and then Japan and Australia after that. I think we’ll be pretty solidly busy until the summer. Then we’ll start doing festivals.


IN:  Are you guys big in Japan?


BK:  We do okay.  Everybody’s big in Japan, like that song. They are very polite.  They sit and wait till the end of the song, and then they applaud. They are a very considerate audience! Which is good, but sometimes you want them to just go “RAAAAAHHHHH”… hello wake up! I’m not saying you don’t get a good energy from the Japanese, you really do believe me, but it’s different than playing somewhere like Spain or South America.


IN: Do they (Spanish & South Americans) go nuts?


BK: Yeah… it’s crazy!


IN:  How do you find Dutch audiences?  They are known for being stiff for the first half of the set.


BK: No, they’re great. The thing is that particular experience happens to us quite a lot anyway.  If they’re a kind of old-school audience, the kind of hard-core B&S audiences, like the If You’re  Feeling Sinister show at The Barbican in London (Sun 25th Sept 2005) it was like walking into church. Everyone all of a sudden was like “sssssshh”. It was a bit strange. But it happens quite a lot, some people are very quiet.


IN: But you guys do a lot of get your audiences involved in the shows. I remember you did a cover of Good Vibrations. And there was this guy behind yelling Paper Boat the whole show.  (ES)


BK: Yeah, that’s right! That was one of the better ones. Yeah, you always get people trying to think of the most obscure tune they can think of. But we do a lot of cover versions, but it is always just requests from the crowd. If there is a gap, we go, ok right, who wants to sing a song?


IN: You did Here Comes the Sun once when I saw you. Do you practice that stuff?  Do you ever play at weddings?! (ES)


BK: Actually, Here Comes the Sun is a song we did actually rehearse. We did a charity show in Glasgow 5 or 4 years ago and it was all cover versions, so that was one of the songs. But generally we don’t, someone shouts out a song and we try to rock it out and just play it there and then with varying degrees of success. (Smiles)


IN:  What’s the deal with the conspiracy theory about The Beatles, that Paul actually been dead for like 35 years?  My boss has a documentary about it.  Have you seen it?


BK:  Yeah, yeah… since 1969. (naw, surely post 1966 – Paul is dead stuff on Sgt. Peppers – ed) I haven’t actually seen it.  But if you look at the cover of Abbey Road, it’s got all the clues, you know like, 28IF on the back of the number plate on the car.  (Which is supposed to be that McCarthy would have been 28, if he had lived).


(You can find out more about these rumors


IN: And Paul’s got no shoes.


BK: Yeah, exactly, people read all these things into it. Ringo’s the minister, if you look at all their outfits, and George is the gravedigger. People just have a bit too much time on their hands. Conspiracy theories…


IN: Funny gossip.


BK: Yeah, it keeps a real interest.


IN: Stuart does all of the photos and artwork correct?


BK: Yeah, he designs all the sleeves, take the photos, he loves all that stuff.


IN: Is Stuart spiritual or is he really religious?


BK:  Stuart? It’s a bit of both; he doesn’t really talk about it. It’s not something he talks about generally. He used to live in the flat above the church. And he still sings in the choir and talks to the youth groups. But he’s NOT like ever holding a bible up; it’s not like that at all. It is a very personal thing for him and it’s his own business. He doesn’t get up on a soapbox and start preaching to the masses.


IN: I suppose your music is his outlet. B&S is not outwardly religious; it is more just stories of the trials of life. That is religion, spiritually, living and being.


BK: Absolutely.


IN: Have you been doing any D-Jing?


BK: Saturday night!  Me Richard and Chris are D-Jing at a Rough Trade party with Geoff Travis (head of Rough Trade). I think the guys from Super Furry Animals are doing it as well, so it might be for an hour or something.


IN: Is it fun for you to DJ, because you get to show all your different sides, musical tastes and influences?


BK: We’ll it is basically an excuse for another trip isn’t it?  It’s in Barcelona. Chris has been D_Jing for years and Richard too. I don’t really DJ, I just play records and it’s nothing too clever, you know? Play them, next, get some singles on, 96 Tears, good dancing tunes, can’t be too clever about it, plays tunes people want to hear, not anything too obscure. Just a great mix tape.


IN: I was D-Jing recently with a friend, and our first gig went totally wrong because the CD player broke, and it was playing Belle & Sebastian when it broke. We call ourselves Dear Castrophe DJs because of that (ES)


BK: (Laughing) OH really!? Dear Castrophe DJs, that’s great.  Good stuff. I still carry around records and so does Chris, but Richard, he takes CDs and sometimes just the iPod. See, the thing that people do now with just the laptop, well the thing is, I can sort of see the point of it, if your D-Jing from your laptop and you think, fuck, I wish I brought that record, you can just download it, for 99 pence and then you’ve got it and you can play it, so I do see the point.


IN: Amplification of the iPod is not as good.


BK: yeah, generally, you always have to turn the vinyl up as well. CDs are always louder. You’ve got to work harder when you’re playing records. And it looks better and you can practice your moves on it as well.


IN: You bring out everything on records as well right?


BK: Yeah, we always have, we always will, I hope. Because I still buy vinyl. It looks better in your collection. I don’t even know how to download something. I still way behind everybody else, you know?


IN: So you don’t use E-Donkey or E-Mule or anything?


BK: What?


IN: E-Donkey?


BK: What? What’s that?


IN: I think it was the first site that had The Life Pursuit available for download. I’ve already had the album for 3 or 4 weeks now. (ES) (You mean to say you didn’t buyihe LP, and now you tell a member of the bloody band about it??? –ed)


BK: I know nothing about computers to be honest. I think that how it’s out on the Internet already is just the way that times have changed. You need to leave three months, before delivering the album. Record companies want three months to get all the promotion together. But now, you send out one promo, then it’s shooting out and everyone can get it.


IN: Yeah, it is unfortunate I suppose, but maybe also a good thing. It gets more buzz going, starting, people on your forms are already talking about which songs they like best. My favorite song from the new album is probably White Collar Boy, the rhythm is great… sounds like Rock n’ Roll part 1 by….

BK: Gary Glitter (hopefully about to go down for a while – ed). It’s got that real glam rock feeling.

IN: The new album is really familiar in a lot of way, the rhythm and grooves, and at moments commercial, but I think the commerciality is out weighed by the fact that it just makes you feel good.

BK: That’s great! That’s what we’re here for.

IN: Yeah there is a lot of positive emotion expressed; it is really a happy go lucky album, the new one. Well in comparison to Waking up to Us.

BK: WELL YEAH! (Laughs) It was really a different band then. You’ve read the book; you know what the history of the band is, who was in it and what the issues were.

IN: If you had to pick a band that you would like ask for a support act, which band would it be?

BK: There is a new Glasgow band called The Nineteen Nineties who are a three-piece rock n’ roll band who I was really dying to get as support us. And they just signed to Rough Trade last week, so they should be the next… Yeah, they are really great.

IN: When I saw you in Utrecht there was a Dutch band opening.

BK: A lot of times bands aren’t available to do a whole tour so sometimes it depends on the promoter and stuff. A lot of times we do use local supports, so it kind of varies. We did some shows with Bright Eyes in the States, maybe two and a half years ago. We’ve been really lucky with supporting acts, we had Jonathan Richmond four years ago. He’s great. The Shins, they opened for us as well. Big bands and small bands….

Alas! Time was up! Bobby was pulled away before we could ask him any more, but thanks once again!

Words: Zoe E Goettehrer.