Glasvegas: Haggis, Neeps and Rock n Roll!


When NME hails you as era defining, Carl Barat and Ian Brown book you to open for their shows, Alan McGee is tipping you as the next Oasis, the world listens. By the time Glasvegas returned from NYC in 2008 where they recorded their heavily anticipated eponymous debut, tracks like ‘Flowers & Football Tops’, ‘It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry’ and ‘Stabbed’ were anthems and the tours lined up like dominoes. But the hectic schedules, accolades and sold out shows must have thrown the Glaswegians for a wobbly – lead singer James Allan famously went awol prior to the 2009 Mercury Music Prize awards ceremony for which they were nominated. Their April 2011 follow up Euphoric Heartbreak’s stadium-sized rock sees the Glasgow boys excited about touring again. So excited in fact that bassist Paul Donoghue reports wetting himself just trying to get to here; here being Splendour In The Grass’ 3-day rock fest in Woodford, Queensland, Australia. Always up for a piss about, JUICE nips behind the rows of hastily erected tents and sets up camp with Paul and Rab Allan (lead guitar, backing vocals) and talks about disposable underwear, pharmaceuticals and newspapers.

Euphoric Heartbreak was recorded in Santa Monica, California. That’s a long way from Glasgow, Scotland. How did the place influence your sound?
Rab There were like naked women running past our house every day (snigger) and people cycling. We come from Glasgow were no one even walks, so it was quite a culture change you know. It definitely had an effect on the music.

Would you say the second album sounds sexier or sunnier?
Paul Every photo — I was there for four months – I don’t have one suntan! I left the house twice during the day to get up for football.

Some Malaysians think that Scotland and England are the same place.
Rab That’s like saying Malaysia, China and Japan are the same place.

Fair enuff. But seriously, independence for Scotland; how far should it go?
Rab I don’t think it’s a strong enough country yet.

Er, really?!
Rab We want independence but the first thing we do is drink alcohol and wait for the for the pubs to be open 24 hours a day.

And the problem with that is…?
Paul They only close 5 hours a day now.

Paul There’s only 5 or 6 million people in Scotland; we would be heavily dependant on the oil industry which isn’t going to last forever. We don’t want to be going back to England asking for money every two minutes, knocking on the door … give us a tenner? (laughs)
Rab Can we have a loan?
Paul Can we borrow some sugar?

Do your bit for Scottish tourism; name 3 places to check out when in Glasgow.
Rab I would go to the Barrowland. It’s the markets but it’s also one of the most famous venues in Scotland. It’s been there for years; my gran used to go skating in it. Everyone’s played there … U2, Oasis, Coldplay,us….
Paul There’s a really good museum in Kelvingrove [Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum]. I hadn’t been there in 20 years and went back with my girlfriend 2 months ago, and we were surprised there was a museum like that in Glasgow, cause usually its Edinburgh that has all the historical places.
Rab If you want to go drinking you go to a place called Sauchiehall Street (pronounced sock-ee-holl); it has lots of good bars like Nice N Sleazys, Firewater….

JUICE has been magically whisked here by Air Asia X. If you were to hop on a plane now, where would you have it go?
Rab Santa Monica.
Paul New York. It’s just the first place abroad we went with the band [Glasvegas recorded their self titled debut album there] and when we landed it felt like home. I don’t know why….
Rab Cause you were in the pub! (Laughs)

But was it a Scottish pub though?
Paul No, it was an Irish bar. Every bar is Irish. And all the bar staff think we’re Irish. So they have thick Irish accents until we say we’re Scottish. Then they become total New Yorkers….

There are 2 sides to the media: the bad side as demonstrated by the media debacle that is News Of The World and wiretapping; and then there are journos like Tim Jonze, former NME journo and Guardian’s music editor, who got behind your music early on, even promoting it at an important music conference attended by music industry decision makers. Where does that leave you?
Rab I think it’s a necessary evil. For Glasvegas they’ve been great, a lot of our friends are people in the media and some of them have boundaries and they stick to the boundaries. And then you’ve got other people who would sell their grans for a news story. Listening to people’s phone calls and text messages is a dangerous game to play.
Paul The political media is a very different thing from the media we experience. They have to dig into people’s lives to find out the stories behind it. With the political media they have to think up more imaginative ways to catch people out but unfortunately what they done there was illegal. Lots of people have lost their jobs cause 5 or 6 people made that decision.

What happens when the media delves into the lives of people like Amy Winehouse, they never reflect on the good stuff, they just report the bad stuff….
Rab People don’t want to read about the good stuff. So what they’re doing [the media] is giving people what they want. That’s just the way the world works. I don’t think it’s right but I’m guilty of it. I would go read something if it’s something bad before I’d read something good about someone.

Well that’s honest. Since you are very well travelled boys, I’m sure you’ll have some insightful travel tips to share with JUICE’s readers.
Rab Always take a four-way adapter, so you can put four plugs into the one thing socket.
Paul I thought you meant on the flight, in case the propellers stop working – you’ve got a laptop, an iPad and an electric razor. (laughs)

That’s incredibly practical!
Paul (After much thought) Be very careful if you are a nervous flyer and you want to try to sleep and you take some medication for it – don’t over do it.

I take it you’ve over done it.
Paul Yeah, I done that on the way over here.
Rab I’m the pharmacist. I always have some Valium cause I don’t like flying, so I give some to everyone. And sometimes they take too much….
Paul Yeah, I woke up and had a can of beer all over me.

Haha.  Are you sure it was beer?!
Paul: That was the thing, I wasn’t….
Rab (Laughs) He woke up and came over said ‘Can someone smell it, cause I don’t know what it is?’ (laughs) but it was beer…..
Paul I must have went to the toilet and put my underwear in the bin….
Paul I woke up and I was like ‘Where is my underwear?’
Rab But then what happened was when we got off the plane all our cases had got lost. So for two days he had no underwear….

You went commando?!
Paul No. The airline gave us those grey pyjamas things. They were actually quite comfortable.

Phew. Okay, so not those tiny disposable paper underwear things?
Rab Oh no, not like a nappy….
Paul No, they wouldn’t last 2 minutes with me. They would be like reading a newspaper in the rain….

Haha. Erm. Eww….

Glasvegas played the Amphitheatre at Splendour In The Grass 2011 in Woodford, north of Gold Coast. To see and hear more great bands like them hit up now. Air Asia X flies into Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Darwin Australia. For more on Splendour, click to