Scottish band Aereogramme was formed in 1998 when guitarist Craig B., who formerly played with a band called Ganger, got together with drummer Martin Scott and bassist Campbell McNeil. In an interview in Lost at Sea posted on SotU, a reviewer described the band's music as varying from "an explosion produced from a shockwave of guitar driven brutality, guarded in white noise, wrapped with the sharp piercing screams from singer Craig B's reflective lyrics" to moments when "Craig is able to blend his timid falsetto voice into a serene sedation." In Delusions of Adequacy, a reviewer wrote, "Listening to Aereogramme can be a difficult, oftentimes bipolar experience. The payoff, however, is nothing short of breathtaking."
"I Want It to Be About the Music"
The band writes its songs collectively; as Craig B. said in a Wiesen Fans interview, "It starts out with me when I write something on the acoustic and then Campbell usually has the ideas, and then it's Ian who puts those ideas into practice and then Martin has an incredible … slant on the whole process." In addition, although Craig B. is the lead singer, when the band performs, he positions himself off to one side because, as he told an interviewer from Delusions of Adequacy, "I don't think that's what it's all about. I'm always going to be watched because I am the singer. But … I want it to be about the music and the band as a whole."
Visually, Aereogramme is known for its hairiness: all the members have beards, and reviewers of the band's music frequently comment on this. Craig B. told the Wiesen Fans interviewer that there was no special meaning to their collective bearded look: "It's laziness really, that's all it is. We never thought about it, we just all slowly started to grow beards."
Their first releases were the singles "Translations" and "Hatred," released on their own label, which they called Babi-Yaga. They began to get more gigs around their home town of Glasgow, Scotland, eventually getting the attention of the Chemikal Underground label and signing with them. They released another recording, Glam Cripple EP, with Chemikal Underground, and then released their debut album, A Story in White, in 2001. The album combined headbanging metal sounds with ethereal notes, switching from one extreme to the other within seconds.
Following the release of A Story in White, the band made two U.S. tours and a tour of Europe and the United Kingdom. The touring caused upheavals in their personal lives and made them feel rather disillusioned about the music industry. At the same time, they added a new member, guitarist and programmer Iain Cook, who came from a background of film and television soundtrack work. He had worked with the band before, but now joined full-time and appeared on stage with them instead of remaining a shadowy figure in the background and in the studio.
The band released Sleep and Release in 2001. On the Matador Records website, McNeil wrote, "We needed to create intense music. Whether it was intensely wild or intensely fragile. We have no interest in slack-jawed, faux-working-class posturing or conceited, culturally aware post-irony. It's got to be about hearts on sleeves not tongues in cheeks." They had enough money to go on a U.S. tour in support of the album, fronting for the Delgados; they noted in a Leeds Music Scene interview, "The U.S. is so huge that it constantly changes and continues to keep you interested."
"More of an Experiment"
Seclusion, released in 2004, was a darker, more industrial and progressive-sounding album than A Story in White or Sleep and Release. Craig B. told an interviewer from Lost at Sea that the different sound was partly because the band had to record the album themselves and could not afford studio equipment, but he remarked, "The results are very encouraging to us." He added that the album "was more of an experiment with what we could do on our own."
Because the band has not had much commercial success, they have continued to work ordinary jobs to make ends meet: Scott digs ditches, McNeil works in a bar, and Craig B. has done various things, including cleaning toilets, for a living; he does not have a permanent place to live. In an interview in Delusions ofAdequacy, Craig B. said, "When I'm playing, music gives me meaning. That's when you really feel good, that's when I feel great." He said that contrasts in their lives between the excitement of performing and the tedium of their ordinary lives mirrored the extremes in their music: "You've got this music that is really quiet, and then it will just explode. Well, that's what happens in everyday life."
The band has received even less attention in the United States than in the United Kingdom. Craig B. told an interviewer from Lost at Sea, "We have no hype in the U.K. and no money to tour the states. It bugs the hell out of me but I just have to be patient." Iain Cook told an interviewer in Kissing Just for Practice, "We don't expect to make the charts with each release, but it has been slowly getting better since our first releases … so we take heart from that. There are a lot of people who do buy the records and come to the shows and tell us what our music means to them and that is something."
"Translations" (7"), Babi-Yaga Records, 1999.
"Hatred" (7"), Babi-Yaga Records, 1999.
Glam Cripple EP, Chemikal Underground, 2000.
A Story in White, Chemikal Underground, 2001.
White Paw EP, Chemikal Underground, 2001.
Sleep and Release, Chemikal Underground, 2001.
Livers and Lungs, Chemikal Underground, 2003.
Seclusion, Undergroove Records, 2004.
In the Fishtank, Konkurrent, 2006.
My Heart Has a Wish You Would Not Go, Chemikal Underground, 2007.
For the Record …
Members include: Craig B. , guitar; Iain Cook , guitar; Campbell McNeill , bass; and Martin Scott , drums.
Formed in 1998; released "Translations" (7"), 1999; "Hatred" (7"), 1999; Glam Cripple EP, 2000; A Story in White, 2001; White Paw EP, 2001; Sleep and Release, 2001; Livers and Lungs, 2003; Seclusion, 2004; In the Fishtank, 2006; My Heart Has a Wish You Would Not Go, 2007.
Addresses: Record company—Matador Records/Beggars Group, 625 Broadway, New York, NY 10012.
Music Week, August 11, 2001, p. 11.
"Aereogramme," Matador Records Website, http://www.matadorrecords.com/aereogramme/biography.html (February 15, 2007).
"The Brothers Grim," Drowned in Sound, reprinted at http://www.sotu.co.uk/drown2view.htm (February 16, 2007).
"Interview with Aereogramme," Delusions of Adequacy, reprinted at http://www.sotu.co.uk/adequacyview.htm (February 16, 2007).
"Interview with Aereogramme," Kissing Just for Practice, reprinted at http://www.sotu.co.uk/kissingview.htm (February 16, 2007).
"Interview with Aereogramme," Leeds Music Scene, reprinted at http://www.sotu.co.uk/leedsview.htm (February 16, 2007).
"Interview with Aereogramme," Lost at Sea, reprinted at http://www.sotu.co.uk/lostatseainterview.htm (February 16, 2007).
"Interview with Aereogramme," Maelstrom, reprinted at http://www.sotu.co.uk/maelstromview.htm (February 16, 2007).
"Interview with Aereogramme," Wiesen Fans, reprinted at http://www.sotu.co.uk/wiesenview.htm (February 16, 2007).
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