Wake The President -‘Zumutung!’ (We Can Still Picnic)
Second albums are notoriously difficult affairs. You have to build on the template of your first album so that you’re not repeating yourself -and yet make sure that you don’t loose sight of what made people interested in you in the first place. I’ve championed Wake Te President for a number of years now, the band lead by twins Erik and Bjorn Sandberg, since I first saw them supporting Emma Pollock at the tail end of 2007.
Whilst this isn’t immediate as their debut You Can’t Change That Boy, repeated listens over the last few months since this dropped on the doormat at 17 Seconds have shown it to be an album with more facets than their debut. Yes, they still proudly wear their love of Postcard-era Scots Indie-pop on their sleeves, but the template is shifting. There’s a dreamier quality to parts of this album (no, not in the sense of being shorthand for shoegazing!) as best demonstrated by closing – and standout track ‘Stockholm’s Archipelago.’ But there’s also a more anthemic quality to the songs shining through, like on first single ‘Elaine’ and album opener ‘She Fell Into My Arms.’
The brothers Sandberg have been much involved in record releasing for other acts and events in and around Glasgow, they show truly here that they are up there with the best of the acts they are working with.
Zumutung! is available to download now and released physically on November 7.
In 2008 they released a split single (the title track), were interviewed by yours truly for this blog and recorded this debut LP with Mr. Emma Pollock Paul Savage (who to date has also worked with Franz Ferdinand, King Creosote, Malcolm Middleton and the Phantom Band). So has it been worth the wait?
Yes, in a word. Over the course of ten songs and thirty six minutes, including the three previous singles (and their next, ‘Miss Tierney’) they set out their stall. Comparisons have already been made with the Postcard stable (Go-Betweens/Aztec Camera/Orange Juice et al) but there’s a freshness here that says WTP are more than just another band stuck in 1981. Which is just as well being as it’s 1982, at least that was the concensus from the music business in January. This album has had spins since it pitched up at 17 Seconds Towers a couple of weeks ago, and it grows on each listen. You’ll love it more with every listen you give it, too.
It may only be February, but this is shaping up to be a bumper year for the scottish indie scene already. And – make no mistake – Wake The President are up there with De Rosa and the Phantom Band.
You Can’t Change That Boy is out on March 9 on Electric Honey Records.
Wake The President -‘Remember Fun?’ mp3
Wake the President -‘I’m Sorry.’ mp3 (not on the album, but the b-side to ‘Remember Fun?’
Wake The President -‘Mail Alice.’ mp3
Wake The President -‘Sorrows For Clothes.’ mp3 (not on the album, but the AA-side to ‘Mail Alice’)
It’s not often that we get phonecalls from Rock Stars at 17 Seconds Towers. That said, I won’t forget the day I pulled over to take a call from Emma Pollock. But I was also impressed that once his bar shift was over, Wake The President guitarist Bjorn rang me at home to chat to 17 Seconds about their new single, their name and the DIY aesthetic in 2008.
Wake The President are Bjorn on guitar, his twin Eric is the singer, with Mark on bass and Scott on drums. (Their mySpace site says, rather cryptically:Guitar Eddie The Bear Markus Corrigan Schott Sieczkowski. Then again, it also lists Johnny Hates Jazz as an influence). Signed to Glasgow’s Electric Honey records, in 2007 they released two singles ‘Sorrows For Clothes’ and ‘Remember Fun?’ April will see the release of their third single ‘You Can’t Change That Boy’ which has been made single of the week on both Radio 2’s Stuart Maconie’s show and on XFM Scotland.
So how did your name came about? There’s no meaning behind it, we were just name juggling.
How did the band come together? Eric and I have been kicking about in bands since we were fourteen or fifteen. Mark and Scott changed it: I worked with Scott and met Mark through a friend.
Who do you see as your influences? We always get lazy comparisons like The Smiths and Belle and Sebastian. Our influences include stuff like you highlighted, like Josef K and The Fire Engines. We’re independent in the way we go about things, we take the DIY approach and work closely with the record company.
Who do you see as your contemporaries in Glasgow and Scotland? Do you consider yourselves part of a scene? We’ve never felt we fit in. There’s lots of wee pockets going [in Glasgow] but we’re not part of anything.
Tell us about your new single, ‘You Can’t Change That Boy.’ It’s record of the week on Radio 2, on Stuart Maconie’s show. It was coming out on Electric Honey, but it’s now coming out on a German label called Aufgeladen und Bereit to save money. The album will be coming out on Electric Honey.
What are your touring and festivals plans? Everything’s scheduled for this year, and we’re getting tour supports etc.. We are looking at doing a few festivals but I’m not saying what until they’re announced.
Would you ever move to London to further the band? I don’t see the point in going anywhere. Glasgow is no different from any other city. There are some really great bands, but the city isn’t terribly inspiring. The new single was written on holiday.
Does the word ‘indie’ mean anything in 2008? Coldplay, Travis, Razorlight…completely! Indie started out as a DIY aesthetic, you pressed up records and sent them out. We are doing this ourselves, putting out records…we cut out the middle man.
What are your plans for your debut album? There are names kicking about. The producer, Paul Savage [former Delgados drummer, co-founder of Chemikal Undeground and husband of Emma Pollock] is currently working with Franz Ferdinand. We’ve been working on it at Chem 19 (The legendary scottish studios). Emma had us there and asked us to support her.
Who would you most like to work with? We’re collaborating with Jeff from Unkle Bob, who’s a good pianist, on the album, and Gemma, an old friend, who’s a singer. I’d like to work with Tony Dougan as a producer.
Are you actively seeking a bug record deal? If offered a deal, we know who we’d sign with. It has to be the right deal for us. We’ve all got day jobs -I’m a part-time bar-man- so it has to be the right deal for us.
‘You Can’t Change That Boy’ is out on April 7 on Aufgelanden & Bereit. Their debut album is scheduled for October. Make friends with Wake The President here
Here’s the video a friend made for their debut single ‘Sorrows For Clothes.’
Wake The President are a top notch band from Glasgow who released two fantastic 7″s in 2007. I saw them supporting Emma Pollock in December and was blown away. I spoke to them after the gig and they said they were happy for me to post their music on my blog so I hope that still stands!
They have released two excellent singles so far, which hint at Belle and Sebastian, but owe far more to the likes of Orange Juice, Arab Strap and Josef K.
See what you think:
Wake The President -‘Mail Alice.’ mp3
Wake The President -‘Sorrows For Clothes.’ mp3
Wake The President -‘Remember Fun?’ mp3
Wake the president -‘I’m Sorry.’ mp3
If you like the tracks – and i can’t see why you wouldn’t, please support the band in any way you can.
I have mentioned many times just how much I love Emma Pollock’s work. Having topped the second ever 17 Seconds’ Festive Fifty with ‘Adrenaline’, I went with Mrs. 17 Seconds and sister-in-law to see her for my fourth time this year, and the third time in this very venue.
Previous support acts to Emma Pollock this year have included Broken Records and Katie Sutherland. I don’t know whether she personally picks them or not, but Wake The President are winners too, who like the two afore-mentioned acts I intend to feature again here at 17 Seconds. From their opener ‘I Should Be So Happy’ it is clear that here are a band who channel the spirit of the Fire Engines, early Orange Juice and most strongly of all, Josef K. Acknowledging this, their penultimate song tonight is a faithful and affectionate cover of Josef K’s ‘It’s Kinda Funny.’ They have released two 7″ singles on Electric Honey (the record label in Glasgow run by Stow College that most famously put out Belle & Sebastian’s debut, Tigermilk, back in 1996) – ‘Sorrows For Clothes/Mail Alice’ and ‘Remember Fun?’ all of which get an airing tonight -and which they have said they are happy for me to post here. Other songs played include ‘Professor’ ‘You Can’t Change This Boy’ and ‘Security Place’ the latter which is dedicated to Malcolm Middleton. By the end of their short set, it’s clear that this is a band we will be hearing more from in 2008.
One of Emma Pollock’s many endearing features is that she doesn’t take herself seriously, and instead of throwing a rock star strop when there is an immediate technical hitch, laughs and tells to do what we were doing a moment before. The show starts properly with ‘If Silence Means That Much To You.’ She thanks us for coming out and confesses that she hates shopping, especially when that place is Braehead [a very soulless shopping mall on the west side of Glasgow]. We get ‘Acid Test’ and ‘New land’ which has taken on a delicious country twang live. This is the third time she has played Cabaret Voltaire this year, but actually the first since Watch the Fireworks was released, so now the songs are better known, and played by her fans. Many of those her tonight were Delgados fans, but the only reference she makes to her time in Scotland’s greatest ever band is saying that it’s been much easier touring with this band than ‘that other lot!’
Having played the album repeatedly, these songs are now firmly lodged in my brain, and over the course of the evening we get all eleven songs, plus ‘Jesus On The Cross’ the track she collaborated with Louise Welsh for the Roddy Woomble-assembled Ballads Of The Book. ‘Adrenaline’ still literally gets the, um, adrenaline, running, from the moment that keyboard riff kicks in and ‘Limbs’ still melts this old heart no matter how many times I’ve heard it played live this year. The e-bowed guitaron album closer ‘The Optimist’ is one of the finest, most atmospheric moments I have experiences this year. After an encore of ‘You’ll Come Around’ it’s out into the night. Thanks for soundtracking my year, Ms. Pollock, and another fantastic gig.