|THE MAGNIFICENT SOUND OF BEING "UNHINGED" ON STAGE
THE EDINBURGH BAND HAVE CONQUERED THE CAPITAL, NOW COMES TEXAS
With a name like The Magnificents, you suspect that a band isn't exactly lacking in confidence. And so it is with this Edinburgh-based foursome who look set to take an unsuspecting public by storm. But then The Magnificents have plenty to be confident about.
The band's eponymous debut album has just been released to much praise - the kind of album that you hear and take to instantly. Mashing up early Eighties electro squelches and beats with the raging, incessant anger of punk, The Magnificents sounds like music made by evil alien robots intent on taking over the world via its dancefloors. It is Kraftwerk fronted by Iggy Pop and it works.
"Yeah, it seems to be going down really well," says Tommy Stuart, one of the two synth manglers in the band. "But you know I always thought we were amazing, so it's not exactly a surprise. That probably sounds really arrogant, doesn't it? But it's good that folks are picking up on what we're doing."
Formed at Edinburgh Art College, The Magnificents couldn't be further from the idea of a ditzu, cutesy, art college band. Their live performances are intense rampages of sound that batter the audience into submission. But in a nice way, you understand. The band have managed to harness some that raw, loose-cannon thrill in the recording studio, so the album at times sounds like a fight breaking out inside your hi-fi.
"When we started, everything was just done on intuition and it was pretty unhinged," says Stuart. "It still is, we're still the same people but I think we've broadened our tastes. And I think the progression is definitely there in terms of refinement of the music - our core ideas are a lot more solid now."
The Magnificents are happy by-passing the mainstream record industry. Their album is out on KFM records, a fledgling Edinburgh indie label that is gaining a reputation for innovative and exhilerating music.
"I don't think any of us are waiting to get a lot of money and down to Abbey Road Studios and spend a gazillion pounds," says Stuart. "You just don't need to do that. We paid for the recording of the album by taking the money from gigs, so it's no great shakes making another one the same way."
The Magnificents are heading to Texas next month for the prestigious South By Southwest festival in the company of labelmate David Jack in what Stuart describes as "a big rolling-thinder KFM roadshow."
Jack creates songs out of offbeat samples, hip-hop beats and any kind of sounds he finds around him at the time. His second album Without Vocabulary, is a more relaxed affair than The Magnificents, but Jack shares his labelmates' DIY ethos in music making.
"You can make a real record in your house now and absolutely anyone can do it," he says. "It's really a post-modern punk kind of thing. You just need the money to buy a computer."
Jack is also happy that KFM Records has his interested at heart. "The record business is so screwed just now, the major label side of it anyway," he says. "Labels just put a single out, if it makes money, good, if it doesn't it's 'Let's have the next guy in.' So you've got all these bedroom people making records on the cheap themselves and completely circumventing the major labels."
This year there are a record 14 Scottish artists attending the South By Southwest Festival, which is at least partly down to this fragmentation of the music business. With cottage industry labels sprouting up all over the country, there is more opportunity for quality homegrown music to be heard.
"As far as I'm concerned Scotland's always had good music," says Jack. "I suppose it's just easier for everyone to put that music out now."