1. Of all the Art & Music that inspires you, which is the more
dominant element that they have - Truth or Joy?
"I would say that Truth dominates - there has to be honesty in
what you do and I think most of the music we listen to, and the art
we admire, has that quality. Joy is great, but we're a miserable bunch
a lot of the time, so I think we always go for truth. We're romantic
realists at heart."
2. And if Camera Obscura's music were a Season, which one would it
"I think Autumn for most of the time. We'd maybe have a glimpse
of Summer and a taste of Winter thrown in for balance, but a lot of
what we do has a golden Autumn glow about it."
3. As a band, do you fashion songs or do they develop in their own
"Most of the time, songs will come in a basic form that suggests
how they should be played, so we all have a sympathy to how we think
that is going to be. You do get quite a good feel for the songs early
on and a lot of the time, they just grow organically. There have been
a few where we've tried them out, and they just haven't sounded right
the way we thought they would, and it's taken months of changes to get
the finished version that's on the record. Either from playing them
live a few times or just in the rehearsal studio, they have changed
shape as we've tried different things, whether it's just been a few
arrangement ideas, or a complete change of tack as to the style of the
song. Some of the best known songs have changed dramatically from their
inception to how they sound on the records. It's quite a good feeling
after trying different ideas out and not being happy with them, to suddenly
hit your stride with how it should be and everything clicks!"
4. For you personally, what makes a good group and is it fair to
say that you're all kindred spirits?
"I think there is something about a kind of 'band as gang' mentality,
although we're more a group than a gang - we're maybe a bit old to be
hanging about round the shops these days! You have to have an understanding
of each other as people as well as musicians, and I think we have that.
Most of the groups we love have a real tightness about them, you can
see it as people, they just fit together and it transfers over musically
too. I think we are definitely kindred spirits, we all have the same
way of looking at life and what we want to do, and have an understanding
of each other. We've been together for so long now, that we're very
used to how we all work."
5. The late, great John Peel championed your music very early on
in your career, and also invited you to perform several sessions on
his show. But do you have a particular fond memory, or warm story about
John, that you may be willing to share with us?
"We were lucky enough to be asked to do two Maida Vale sessions
for John and played live from Peel Acres three times. I think our favourite
was the Burn's Night live session we did for him. We all sat down to
have a Burn's Supper, and having been down a couple of times, we weren't
so nervous and silent. The first couple of times we were down, I think
they thought we were really rude, because we barely spoke, but we were
all just nervous beyond belief being in John's house. We played at John's
65th Birthday Party about a month before he died, and it was such a
lovely evening. After a couple of glasses of wine, I wandered over to
talk to John and asked him if, in the highly unlikely, hypothetical
situation that Camera Obscura ever got onto Top Of The Pops, if he would
come on with us and mime mandolin like he did with the Faces. He just
smiled and said, "Of course I will."
6. Are there any musicians who you wished were still alive and creating?
"As much as I'm a fan of New Order, it would have been nice to
get a bit more Joy Division. I'd love to hear what Greig was doing these
7. Camera Obscura songs are renowned for their catchy pop hooks -
but which song hooks have most stuck in your head?
"I absolutely adored the intro to New Order's Age of Consent
should have been a single, should have been Number 1. An absolute classic
pop song! I kind of ruined it for myself by putting it on my phone as
a ringtone, so I started associating it with people phoning me up to
annoy me, which was unfortunate."
8. Are there any bands' or songwriters' lyrics that you admire, or
songs that you wish you had written?
"Too many to go into really. I'd love to have written The Best
That You Can Do (Arthur's Theme)."
9. If you had to go shopping for someone and buy a record, a book
and a film - what would they be and why?
"I'd buy The Pastels' Mobile Safari album, because it's such a
great record - they really hit their stride on that album and everyone
should have a copy in their music library. Iain Banks, The Crow Road,
would be the book. I really like Banks and The Crow Road was the first
book of his I read. I used to live just off Crow Road in Glasgow, and
I was curious about it. It's probably the straightest book he's written,
but it's a great introduction to his work, and it's still my favourite.
For a film, it would be nice to think an Arthouse film, or maybe some
Spanish Cinema would be the way to go, but realistically, it's going
to be Trading Places 2-Disc Special Edition. The world needs laughter,
and you'll be hard pushed to find a more laughter-soaked film than Trading
10. How do you find life on the road / touring?
"We love playing live! Getting to play your songs to people who
want to hear them is what it's all about as musicians. Some of the aspects
of touring can be a real grind - being away from home for long periods
of time, missing our partners, being stuck in vans for half the day
and long haul flights, and who wants to spend any time at all in an
airport? Airports seem to instantly turn people into idiots. And the
hanging around, we could represent Scotland at hanging around waiting
for things to happen, we've done so much of it on the road. Getting
pulled over by the police in foreign countries and having your passports
taken from you, and not knowing what's going on. Being stung on the
head by a wasp in the night in a strange hotel room, or bitten by strange
insects abroad that leave you looking like you have the plague for a
week. But you put up with it all, because that hour and a bit you're
on stage playing to the audience is worth every minute (most of the
11. What are your biggest hopes for Camera Obscura long-term?
"We just want to keep making the best music we can for as long
as we feel we can do it justice. We're really proud of the new album,
so I guess we'd like to see it do really well and we hope people get
as excited about it as we are."
12. Lastly, chips or cream buns?
"This is Glasgow, we would take the cream bun, cover it in batter,
deep-fry it, and serve it with the chips!"
A very special thanks to Gavin and to Camera Obscura's
Manager Franics, for all of their time and help.
"I promise hidden words of tenderness in every single line that