Andrew Pearson has been busy over the past year or so. Having recently supported Malcolm Middleton and The Pictish Trail in St Andrews, he is about to fledge the nest and embark on a mini-tour around Scotland. The Saint sent music editor David Hershaw to Aikman’s to meet up with Andrew and his band, The Riflebirds, to discuss their new album There’ll Be Flowers Come The Spring, their penchant for grungecore, and some local influences.
David Hershaw: For anyone who doesn’t know you guys, how did the band come about?
Andrew Pearson: I kinda have a policy whereby I don’t just decide I want a guitar on a song so then look for a guitarist. The band are just my friends. Tilly plays clarinet and Stefan plays accordion so I was like; “yeh, we’ll incorporate that into a sound,” because I’d rather play music and tour and things with my best friends than people I don’t know particularly well.
DH: How did the recording process differ for this album compared to your last?
AP: The first album I did I booked a studio out in the Scottish borders and was there for two days and did it all in two days. This one was done in our living room. So, it took much longer but that was a lot to do with when people were free and things. So it was a longer process but it was a nicer process. It wasn’t so isolated.
DH: How would you describe the new album to people?
Stefan Maurice: Well it’s the cutting edge of grungecore.
AP: (Laughing) Yeh that’s right. It doesn’t get much more grunge than our grungecore. Basically, I see every record as a record of where I was at that time, so a lot of the songwriting is heavily connected with St Andrews. I don’t sing about walks on West Sands or whatever, I just sing about what I was thinking about with religion and politics and things. Also, recording with my friends and recording in my flat, that is the sound that perforates the album. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, considering it was done in our living room.
DH: Who would you say your main influences are? What other artists can you hear in your own music?
AP: I probably have quite a magpie approach with things. I think certain songs sound more like certain people. Like “Ribbons,” which is the single, I would say is quite James Yorkstony because it has that driving guitar sound.
SM: I remember you wanted the production of the album on the whole to match James Yorkston. AP: Yeh, I like When the Haar Roles In, he uses clarinet and accordion as well so that’s quite similar. But in terms of influences, Fence Records are a massive influence. That’s King Creosote’s sofa! (pointing)
DH: Is it?
AP: Yeah, he’s extraordinary because he did gigs here, like four- and five-hour gigs, and people from London would come up to Aikman’s just because he refused to go to London. So that influence of being able to record something in my living room and not going through the hoops of studio recording has been massive.
DH: You have some gigs coming up? Where and when can people see you?
AP: The album launch is on February 18, which is a Monday, so we’re playing St Andrews on the Friday (15th), Glasgow on the Saturday (16th) and Edinburgh on the Sunday (17th) as a lead up to that. Which is for publicity’s sake but also because we’ve never toured before and it’ll be really fun.
DH: What’s your favourite song of the new album?
AP: The obvious one is the single “Ribbons,” which is a free download. I guess that one is the classic Riflebirds sound in that its kind of all about the lyrics. It has a full sound but it’s never overtaking or overstepping the lyrics and it’s quite a slow build but towards the end it really works.
Tilly Rossetti: That would have been mine as well. Although I like “Hold Hands Among the Atoms.” I like playing that one live and people respond really nicely to it.
SM: Well the album didn’t have a name for a while did it? And then there was just a ukulele lying around the flat and Andy starting playing it developed into a short opening track called “All Your Memory.”
TR: And its got some ducks on it.
AP: Yeh I quite like that song because before I’ve been a bit lyric heavy and that song has only four lines here and there. It’s quite simple and I think it is an indication of where we’re heading.
DH: If you could recommend one album for the students of St Andrews to listen to what would it be?
AP: I’ll probably go King Creosote.
TR: Yeah, you would.
AP: Yeah, I’ve gotten to the stage when if someone asks me to recommend an album I’ll ask them what they are into, not because I have a great wealth of knowledge but just so I can decide which King Creosote album to give them. I would probably say Sea Glass though.
There Will Be Flowers Come Spring is released on February 15. You can find out more about Andrew Pearson & Riflebirds along with other St Andrews based acts on Pearson’s co-curated record label, Common Records.