In light of the success achieved by The Other Guys, David Hershaw tells us that St Andrews’ musicians have even more to give.

The momentum that The Other Guys’ campaign for Christmas No.1 is currently generating is undoubtedly impressive. However, the recent attention given to the a cappella group has provoked a mixed reaction from some, who have highlighted the discrepancy between the student community’s overwhelming backing of this campaign and the generally apathetic support they offer to the majority of local musicians.

Photo: Yoshimai

It is incredibly important to stress that no one has anything bad to say about The Other Guys or their campaign; people are merely frustrated that despite the vast array of talented and hard-working performers in the town, currently only one act seems to receive any recognition. The Other Guys should be applauded for their outstanding creativity, ability, humour and PR, but it must be asked why they are the only musicians in the town to have broken through into people’s consciousnesses.

It should also be remembered that it has taken the ensemble a number of years to gain their popularity, and they have done so with an ever-evolving line-up. This is a luxury that most bands and soloists don’t have. Most acts spend their full four years here attempting to promote their music and then leave with only a handful of supporters. Local songwriter and multi-musician Nathan Elias (aka Ghost Pony) had this to say:

“I love the success the Other Guys are having, they are a tremendous group. What I disdain are official University bodies as well as students who appear out of the blue saying ‘support the other guys, they are music talent from St Andrews’ without supporting any other group.”

For Elias, improving the resources and support given to local musicians has been a long-fought battle. He highlights that for non-acoustic bands there is still very little provided by the University and progress has been painfully slow regarding “sound proofing a room in the union, setting up a new practice kit, and kitting out a recording studio for groups to use.”

At this point I think I should lay my own cards on the table. I am a member of The Dirty Hemingways, a local band, and have also been attempting to promote local music this year in my capacity as music sub-editor at The Saint. In my experience, it has been a struggle to create any kind of live music presence within in the town, with so few venues and resources available. A fellow member of The Dirty Hemingways, lead-vocalist Daniel Halasz, had this to say:

“I just find it disappointing to see how many St Andrews students (and student run organisations) seem willing to support, buy, share music from The Other Guys when they don’t support other musicians in St Andrews. They shouldn’t support The Other Guys less – they should support everyone else more. And the fact that half of the responses you’re getting are ‘there aren’t any bands in St Andrews!’ goes to show how little people spread the word here. You can argue that The Other Guys are more talented, better looking, more mainstream, whatever you like, but if there’s only room for St Andrews to support one musical act, only the best one with the best chance of making it, isn’t that a bit sad?”

It is important to stress that no one is asking for handouts or a golden ticket from the Union that you can trade in for a record contract. A number of local performers are working very hard to produce and promote their music despite the lack of support they receive. Nathan Elias highlighted how the ‘underground’ music scene is attempting to be heard:

“Where lack of support for local music has fallen gravely short from select sub-committees, the local musicians have come to fill in the gaps. We work very closely together on events like On The Rock’s ‘Wild Rumpus’ and ‘The Mo-Show’. If you’ve seen the Dirty Hemingways, Retrophobes, Ghostpony, Mad Jack, The Glitch, or Harshad and Jay’s rapping, few leave these concerts unimpressed by the talent that these groups have.”

For the musicians that Elias talks about, who have spent the whole year trying to make an impact with very little backing, it is frustrating to see how much encouragement the student community is directing towards The Other Guys and not them as well. It is not only bands and songwriters that suffer either. Zorbey Turkalp identifies that there is very little exposure given to classical music performers:

“I know a few people who have performed extremely difficult concertos or other solo works here, and usually it has taken them at least two years of solid work focusing solely on this one piece… It’s disappointing that the amount of time the concerto musicians puts in is for one performance that barely gets recognised outside the applause at Younger Hall.”

You can therefore forgive certain local musicians for having mixed feelings about The Other Guys’ campaign and the response it has garnered. These musicians have all made it clear that they are not criticising The Other Guys. In fact, Turkalp is a long-term fan and supporter of the group.

They are, however, stating that if people want to support more local musicians then more of them should start turning out at live events and listening to local music online. More than this, if student groups, societies and media outlets want to get involved then there are plenty of performers deserving of some exposure. Remember, supporting local music is not just for Christmas.

Some local acts to check out:

The Accidentals; The Alleycats; Andrew Pearson (and the Rifle Birds); The Big Band; Black Sheep Music SocietyThe BluesWater; Bridge Street Collective (Zi and the Yads); Calum Bryant; The Dirty Hemingways; Echofield; Fay Butler; St Andrews Gilbert & Sullivan Society; Ghostpony; The Glitch; Harshad and Jay; Hamish Hawk; Heliovore; The Hummingbirds; Jazzworks; Lucy Toms; The Kilrymont Ceilidh Band; Mad Jack; The Marcus Ker Improv Group; Mood Room Collective; The Moon, the Son and the Daughters; Old Soane; Oscar Swedrup; The Other Guys [just in case you haven’t already… (Ed.)]; Retrophobes; St Salvator’s Chapel Choir; SuperCeilidhFragilistic; The University Symphony Orchestra; Youngerhall; Ziyad Elgaid.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Not a student band but a mainstay of the St Andrews live music scene for almost a decade is the Black Sheep Music Society. They play most student balls, regular weekly slots and an original album available on iTunes.

  2. Living in St. Andrews doesn’t magically make people inclined to support ‘underground’ music, they’ll give as much of a fuck as they did wherever their Jack Wills usually calls home, that being, none at all, unless their friends are involved. Don’t be surprised that the majorIty of people who only listen to nice, polished pop music, are more inclined to support nice polished pop music. If you’re tired of not enough people turning up to your gigs, find a smaller venue or sit yourself down with Michael Buble’s latest album and a notepad. If you’re tired of no one with a decent taste in music paying attention, write some better tunes.

  3. As clever as the name change to Hershaw is, it is clear to the student body that once again David Earnshaw has written a piece to ‘stir the pot’. When I somehow made it to the end of this piece of ‘journalism’ I found myself asking – ‘what was the bloody hell point in that’?! The other guys have released a song, a song that truly hit the ground running thanks to the huge support the students have given them, and yet here you are putting a downer on them. WHY??!!?!? They are a student run group, who make music we all love, music we want to see as Christmas number one! It would be incredible for a student a Capella group from our small town to top the charts, bearing in mind that ALL proceeds go into a bursary fund to enable less fortunate students to come here- did you ever think that was part of the incredible success they are having? Doubt it, you’re far too busy putting a downer on the hype they have achieved. Find us a group that produce music that we all enjoy listening to, made up of people who we all love and want to do well, a group of students – who donate all proceeds, which judging by iTunes and amazon are great, to a bursary, I’m sure will receive the support the other guys have had. You can not be angry with the student population for not going out of their way to find this talent you speak of – the other guys are all over social media, a students most visited website(s) and if we like we will, share, like, comment, retweet it whatever! Perhaps write an article attacking them for the publicising techniques instead? The fact is it’s a great song made by guys we love for an awesome cause, and yet the miserable man from up north wants to put a downer on their success.

    Don’t hate, jus’ congratulate.

    • None of that is defamatory to the Other Guys.
      I love our local scene. The stuff they are producing has been featured on Tay FM, Kingdom FM, STAR and BBC Introducing. Most of them have played or are on future line-ups to play local major venues like The Doghouse (home of the Scottish Promoter of the year… I’ll bet ya he probably has good taste), Non-Zeros, Beat Generator, Bannermans, PJ Molloy’s etc. They have opened up for national touring acts like The French Wives, Vukovi, So Many Animal Calls, John Wean, The Silent Forest, The Xcerts and the like. They are producing material that gets picked up by Popular Radio Stations, but sadly gets shortlisted and under promoted in their home turf: St Andrews. Not because people wouldn’t say they are great, but because the students union, or Estates, or the Principal hasn’t provided a link to their music, its not going out in Association Presidential Blasts and the like.

      There is no hating going on, it seems to me like Hershaw/Earnshaw is sounding a wake up call to the many people who claim that there is no student music in St Andrews, to check some of it out in the wake of The Other Guys success.

      Did everyone just forget about Echofield after their triumphant dominance of St Andrews last year?

      Francesca if you want to be taken seriously. Don’t make personal attacks.

    • Did you even read the article? It is supporting The Other Guys, and asking the St Andrews student community to support the rest of St Andrews music in similar fashion. It is not in any way “putting a downer” on The Other Guys, but asking St Andrews students to help other local acts achieve similar popularity and success. How is that negative?

    • As clever as your analysis is, David Hershaw really is David Hershaw. Amazing innit?

      In terms of music based fundraising, Music is Love released a compilation featuring 12 student acts last year with all proceeds going towards a student hardship fund. It has since put on a couple of gigs for the cause. A couple of weeks ago there was a Movember gig which was by all accounts a tremendously successful gig and an Oxjam gig a little before that. I’m not stating this as competition, it’s great that there are lots of fundraising efforts – it’s just bizarre you’d think they were the only one.

    • Sorry, Francessca, but your ‘comment’ totally misses the point of this great piece of journalism. No-one is attacking The Other Guys. In fact, the article makes it very clear that the group is made up of incredibly talented singers and this along with their nifty promo skills has got them the attention and success that they are recieving. I don’t think anyone can deny that. What can be denied, however, is your claim that The Other Guys ‘make music we all love’. Granted, a lot of people do love the music that the group produce and that’s totally cool but I can say for a fact that not everyone is completely besotted with them. And that’s not out of spite that they’re ‘popular’ or have a ‘mainstream’ appeal but for the simple fact that people can like whatever they want to like and a group of squeaky clean boys who would make your granny go wobbly at the knees isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea. This article simply points to the diversity of musical output that St Andrews offers – from folk, to jazz, to classical music, to hip-hop – and stipulates that maybe if enough attention was given to these acts then this town might not get the reputation as being a musical wasteland that it sometimes gets.

    • Francesca,

      I’d just like to make clear that David Earnshaw and David Hershaw are most definitely two distinct people. Mr Hershaw, as stated in the article, is The Saint’s sub-editor for music, and at least some of his work can be found here: http://www.thesaint-online.com/?s=david+hershaw

      Mr Earnshaw is a contributor to The Saint’s Viewpoint section and his work can also be found around the site (our search function isn’t superb).

      – Elliot

    • I actually really like The Other Guys. Even bought the single. Nevertheless, were I not convinced you’re actually just a bloke that I know trying to ‘stir the pot’, then I would be flattered to see I’m still so worthy of your attention.

    • Hi there, this is the Viewpoint editor speaking. Would just like to clarify that this is not David Earnshaw writing under a pseudonym. More so, if it was, it would be quite a pathetic attempt at trying to conceal his identity. Even more so, my column is the one that ‘stirs the pot’. How could you not recall this??

  4. I agree, but I think I’m also quoted throughout the article agreeing 🙂 The Other Guys are great, Lets utilize this success to boost awareness of other groups! Woot!

  5. Fantastic piece. Wondering if someone could put the hyperlink to our Facebook page in our name at the end of the article? Thanks, on behalf of Mad Jack. facebook.com/madjackband

  6. It is true that there are lots of talented classical musicians and bands that receive little attention here in St Andrews, or at least lack the kind of cult following which The Other Guys have attained. The reason for this is rather obvious. Up and down the country there are hundreds of similar artists, and the truth is if you’re not the very best then you need to innovate to get noticed. A musician may play a Beethoven concerto beautifully, but hundreds of other people can do it better, and have been doing it better for hundreds of years. There are no doubt thousands of student bands covering material, or writing their own, playing in pubs all over. If you are not phenomenally good then you need to be original, something true in more contexts than this one, and The Other Guys succeed because of their originality and creativity. Fortunately many people fully aware of this ‘under-appreciation’ will continue playing regardless, because they love what they do and don’t need any external verification, and I will gladly keep enjoying the music in my locality, even if it is the same as that of the next university.

    • Heather, how much of this St Andrews music have you actually listened to before deeming it all unworthy of anyone’s attention and too similar to other student bands around the country?

    • Yeah I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the other guys have only recently caught up with the American acapella scene, both in terms of notoriety and fun.

  7. Probably worth pointing out that most of The Other Guys are heavily involved in these ‘poorly attended’ classical music concerts you talk about too – though in truth, they tend to be quite well attended compared to similar concerts elsewhere.

    • I know all too well that they are in these groups, Sarah.. I also know that some concerts are well-attended…but these well-attended ones occur about once a semester, and there is little promotion of classical music in St Andrews outside of these occasions where people rope in their friends to see them play; I think 90%+ of people know a member of the Other Guys as a member of the Other Guys rather than Choir X. Furthermore, I think there is still a lot of work to be done in promoting classical musicians here to “make it” (encompassing various definitions of success), so to speak. I wish that the Wednesday and Friday recitals would get more attention, for example, as they are there every week, as well as the little groups here and there that people don’t know about. A need for a good recording studio is essential as well. As for the orchestras, it’d be nice to see more recognition on youtube and an album for charity e.g. (although it’s harder to judge as they intentionally play for one performance). Lastly, and this is just a state of things that will never change because of how people are, I feel the people at the very top in skill level, the concerto musicians, hardly get recognized for their efforts the way other groups do. Sadly it is designed as one performance, but to put all that effort into essentially a professional piece and then be shadowed (in a sense) by an a cappella group must be a bit disappointing (even if it is not your intention to be recognized or anything like that!). Most people in my mind don’t know that we have these musicians.

      • I’m not really sure what your point is? Popular music is popular – that’s life. A baroque scholar might study for 20 years to perform an authentic John Passion, only for 1,000 people to see it, where as Bieber might easily play to 100,000 in a big gig – that’s just how it is. Also the reason that the orchestra/chapel choir don’t produce recordings that get national attention is because there are other groups that do the same thing but in truth far better. Our symphony orchestra can never play as well as the LSO – doesn’t mean it’s concerts aren’t worth attending, but that’s just reality. Music like anything else is a supply and demand market.

        Bands is a different question and I agree that we are in desperate need of adequate practice facilities for them.

  8. I have actually listened to quite a lot of St Andrews music, James, both classical concerts and bands. Did I say it was unworthy of anyone’s attention? To the contrary, I actually said I enjoyed it, but the reality is that it’s not exceptional when compared with the same elsewhere, and this is also speaking from experience.
    I notice this is the second comment you have made attacking a previous post, but you seem not to have given any opinion of your own regarding the topic.

    • My opinion is that I disagree – there’s a lot of quality music being made in St Andrews that compares favourably to student musicians at other universities. If you want to tell me that there are better bands at most universities than The Blueswater or Echofield or The Retrophobes or The Dirty Hemingways or The Glitch (just a small selection of the large amount of talent we have), than you’re having a laugh. Maybe these guys aren’t all the next Vampire Weekend or Queens of the Stone Age or whatever bands you like, but these bands deserve way more promotion and support from the St Andrews community than they get.

      • We are forgetting one aspect of how new music develops: evolution. New music doesn’t just “happen” to be great, there is a lot of trial and error, development, shit shows, changes, experimentation, thats how musicians create exceptional music. Many now popular artist started off in small communities like this one, and have been given the opportunity to experiment. The point we are missing is that St Andrews is not a music hub, yet we should give those that want to create the support and opportunity to do so – and therefore possibly develop into something more pristine (or not) in the future. We forget music is an art, and sometimes we need to appreciate it not because we like it, but because we value its production and creation and mere existence in the context around us. Not everybody has to be interested, and probably shouldn’t, but those that are should continue to make an effort.

  9. I agree with the articles comment about non-acoustic bands. If we wish to have a vibrant music scene there must be adequate provision for these bands to practice and form with minimal fuss.
    There is simply no place to practice in St Andrews without restrictions on amplified music and drums. I was even told that brass instruments were also considered ‘too loud’.
    Not only rock/pop bands would benefit but any genre of music which requires amplified sounds. This has been stifling the local musicianship for years now.

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