novices

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

bum is burst­ing with songs about knife at­tacks, mug­gings, race hate crimes, and aban­doned fam­i­lies. “Peo­ple say that a lot of the songs have themes,” says Al­lan. “But to me, they’re not themes, they’re just ideas sin­cerely ex­pressed. I wasn’t even think­ing about ‘themes’ when I wrote the songs. I never even knew that th­ese songs would end up get­ting re­leased”.

Allen says his songs are rooted in the real world be­cause that’s where he gets his in­spi­ra­tion. “You find that a lot of new, young bands have tra­di­tion­ally writ­ten ‘es­capist’ songs; they sing about try­ing to get out of a place or es­cap­ing in some way,” he says. “But I’m the op­po­site, and I find that I can be at my best and my most hon­est when talk­ing about real events. For ex­am­ple, the first song on the al­bum is called Flow­ers And Foot­ball Tops and that was di­rectly in­spired by a teenager who was stabbed to death, then drenched in petrol and set alight nearby.

“Heart­break­ing sto­ries like that stay with you and I can’t shake that feel­ing off and it makes its way into a song.”

Af­ter school, Allen was briefly a pro­fes­sional foot­baller (play­ing for Falkirk and Queen’s Park) be­fore a num­ber of the years on the dole. “I spent a lot of time lis­ten­ing to mu­sic on the ra­dio, and what re­ally stopped me from writ­ing songs was the feel­ing that no one would get what I was do­ing,” he says. “I wanted to write about what was hap­pen­ing around me in Dal­marnock, but all I was hear­ing on the ra­dio was songs about lim­ou­sines. I think, though, the mo­ment that re­ally in­spired me was when I got a Hank Wil­liams com­pi­la­tion al­bum and I re­alised that great mu­sic could be about the sim­plest things.”

Hank Wil­liams aside, there is one tow­er­ing mu­si­cal in­flu­ence on Allen. Some­one who he lis­tened to again and again and again in his bed­room and some­one whose fin­ger­prints are all over his band’s al­bum. “Phil Spec­tor!” he ex­claims. “Re­ally, it’s no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that watch­ing art films and lis­ten­ing to Phil Spec­tor records made me who I am to­day. I par­tic­u­larly fell in love with Spec­tor’s Christ­mas al­bum and I used to play it re­ally loud – even dur­ing the height of sum­mer. I’m prob­a­bly still known by some peo­ple as ‘that weirdo who plays Christ­mas records dur­ing the sum­mer’.”

Not a band to play the tra­di­tional tour­ing cir­cuit, last year Glasve­gas em­barked on a tour of Scot­tish pris­ons. “It was some­thing that was heart­break­ing and beau­ti­ful at the same time,” he says. “Some­times, there was per­haps a bit too much re­al­ity, but there were some re­ally great mo­ments. It’s def­i­nitely some­thing we’d do again.”

The huge lev­els of at­ten­tion now beginning to swirl around the band mean noth­ing to Allen. “It’s great when you see your­self on the front cover of a mu­sic mag­a­zine and you have peo­ple like Mor­ris­sey say­ing nice things about you. But you can’t let it dis­tract you.”

As their own trib­ute to the Phil Spec­tor Christ­mas al­bum, Glasve­gas will head for Tran­syl­va­nia to record their own Christ­mas al­bum later in the year. “This is a re­ally big thing for us and re­ally vi­tal to who we are as a band,” Allen says. “Peo­ple think we’re mad. I re­mem­ber sit­ting down with all th­ese la­bels who were try­ing to sign us and we told them that we had to do a Christ­mas al­bum, that had to be part of the deal. And they were say­ing ‘yes, a few al­bums in’ and we were say­ing ‘no– im­me­di­ately’.

“It’s con­fus­ing for peo­ple to un­der­stand, but I grew up with that al­bum and I want to record an al­bum that’s not so much about Christ­mas per se, but that time of year. There won’t be any cov­ers. It’s all orig­i­nals.

“Peo­ple think it’s all a big joke, but we’ve al­ready writ­ten the songs for it. And the first thing I’ll do when it’s fin­ished is send a copy

to Phil Spec­tor.” The al­bum is re­leased on Fri­day

Septem­ber 5th.

Glasve­gas, from left, James Al­lan, Paul Donoghue, Caro­line McKay and Rab Al­lan

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