Uncharted waters for the blues at the Bop

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Photo: Ryo Yanagida
Photo: Ryo Yanagida
Photo: Ryo Yanagida

Last Friday a rare thing happened. On such a time of the week, and in such a place, you would expect to find lurking in the dark recesses of the Union a baffling creature called a Bop, which runs around wailing to the tune of Lady Gaga, Blink 182, and Bon Jovi, and emits a lingering smell of alcopops and disappointment. But, on this Friday night the beast was slain. The Blueswater, a rock-folk-soul-blues fusion outfit from Edinburgh who regularly play in St Andrews made history in Venue 1 by becoming the first band in recent memory to play a live set during a Bop. It’s no surprise that of all the options, The Blueswater were the natural choice of band to make this momentous leap in Friday night history; this is a band who claim that they “exist to make you dance”, and who regularly threaten to cause the collapse of Aikman’s cellar bar during their raucous, packed-out performances. David Hershaw caught up with lead vocalist Felipe Schrieberg and lead guitarist Charlie Wild to discuss the importance of live music, and the Bop in St Andrews.

The Saint: It is unusual to see a live band playing at the Bop, how do you think it went?

Felipe Schrieberg: We made sure to cater for the Bop appropriately, we got our pop tunes going and made sure we did them justice in a venue such as this. I thought it was great fun. Playing St Andrews is always excellent, the energy is vibrant. Its great to take advantage of it and harness it. In a way, the only thing we have to do is just try to have fun. Sometimes you have to work hard to get an audience on your side and to enjoy the ride. In St Andrews everybody is just ready to go. Everyone’s ready to have fun so you can just go for it.

TS: How do you feel about playing in Venue 1?

FS: Its great that this can happen in Venue 1. We played in Venue 1 many years ago. Back when we were young and sillier. It can definitely be tricky to play Venue 1. Sometimes the sound is not quite right, sometimes things go wrong but this time everything seemed to click into place and that’s always enjoyable.

TS: Do you think there should be more live music at Bops and would you do it again?

FS: We’d definitely be up for doing it again

Charlie Wild: I’ve seen it before with half live bands, where its been DJs with instrumentalists and it always went down really well.

FS: I have to say when I was approached by a member of the ENTS crew to do it – when we were both a bit tipsy after a gig at Aikman’s – I was like ‘Yeh, lets just do it.’ But when you think about it, what we do and the Bop, I’m not sure how great a fit that is. So we had to make sure that we knew what the audience was about and what the Bop was about. Because even although the Bop has a weird, let’s say, controversial, legacy, it has a reputation that you need to respect as a performer. I think we did that appropriately and I think any bands you bring in should be able to do that to some extent.

TS: When can the people of St Andrews hear you next?

We have an Aikman’s gig on 27 April. We do Aikman’s every couple of months, it was where the band was born. Aikman’s is insanity, its probably one of our favourite gigs to play ever, somehow there is just a special kind of vibe there and every time we go there it’s absolute insanity. We hope to see everyone there.

TS: I hear that you are going to debut a new guitarist that some local music fans may recognise. Are you able reveal who the latest member of the band is?

CW: We were just talking about this today.

FS: Yeh at the Aikman’s gig we are going to bring on our special guest Dan Halasz who you play with yourself in The Dirty Hemingways. We are very excited to start working with Dan because he is going to be with us throughout the month of August at our Fringe show.

CW: He’s played with us before. He led the band once at the Andrew Melville Ball. It’s strange because he is actually quite a short man but on stage he seems like he is 10 feet tall.

TS: Why did you decide to play a show completely naked in 2011?

CW: It was about character building.

FS: Yeh, we had a gig during the 2011 Fringe at the Forest Cafe. It is a big enormous venue and in the upstairs area they have this church hall and it was packed and it was great and it was sweaty so we just took off some clothing.

CW: I mean it is easy enough if you are a guitarist because you have got something to cover your ‘necessaries’. Gordon only had a harmonica, though, and I think he didn’t enjoy it very much.

FS: Yeh, that was interesting.

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