The Scottish music scene has always been a notable affair. The country that has spawned the likes of Del Amitri, The Proclaimers and Franz Ferdinand is already proving that 2010 could be their year to reclaim the top of the charts. Alongside Twin Atlantic and The Frightened Rabbit are brother duo Oswald, who have asked their current fanbase to help them make some instrumental decisions. The public chose the tragic tale “Flying To The Ground” as the pair’s next single after an online vote. zap! bang! took a moment to talk to lead singer Tom McCreery about the impact of social networking on the band.
You let the public decide your forthcoming single, were you influenced by the current swathe of public opionion programmes?
No not at all. We just felt that it was important to give the public a voice again and allow them to decide the music industry. Kerrang magazine put it best… It’s all about choice: Do you like when somebody else decides what you should listen to? Do you like the pop stuff that’s falling on you from TV screens? This was the problem, the guys from Oswald were thinking about, and they found the perfect way to change this situation. They decided to let their fans choose what the band’s next single will be. The fans were asked to vote for their favorite Oswald song and their voice has been heard!
Do you agree with the choice that was made?
Yeah I do — that’s been the reassuring thing — so far the fans have picked what me and Ants would pick both on “These Days” and “Flying To The Ground”.
Would you put any other band decisions up for public vote?
Haha — yeah, a few — but how bad can I be?
The fans were asked to vote for their favorite Oswald song and their voice has been heard!
So can you tell us a little bit more about the selected track, “Flying To The Ground”?
“Flying To The Ground” was written about the death of a friend of the band. It was about Sam — a guy who had a full sex change — I got a phone call one morning — it was a Sunday — and told that Sam had died after a fall from a fourth storey window. The song is a one fingered salute to the world from Sam because Sam struggled for acceptance even though she was a great person. She was the life and soul of the party and pretty Glam. So I wrote the song to reflect that i.e. dark lyrics pleading for acceptance but with a touch of vitriol all wrapped up in an upbeat energetic musical bubble. Plus her dad is so proud of the track. He told me on the phone it brought him closure. Can you ask for more?
How representative of your music is the selection?
“Flying To The Ground” was kind of a turning point for us as a song. I have a whole bunch of new stuff that is leagues ahead and is really exciting — but every song is like a journey — you evolve constantly. So this single is a glimpse of where we were heading. We’re there now for the moment and who knows what will happen next. All i know is that this song opened a door to something else which I love.
What do you make to the current swathe of reality television?
Complete and utter contrived mind controlling shit. Don’t think – watch, don’t talk – watch, don’t question – watch. Then when it’s all done pick up your phone and vote for something that you had no influence over anyway. Marketing genius.
What do you make to the term ‘celebrity’? Is that something to which you aspire?
In my sisters’ eyes I’m a celebrity. In my Mum and Dads’ eyes I’m a celebrity — it depends on the context — do I want to be on every cover of every magazine? Yeah! Haha.
Can you describe Oswald in five words?
The Band Of The People
If you could compare yourselves to any other group, who would that be?
Ahhhhh… I’d love to have the same legacy that REM, Bowie or U2 have.
The Scottish music scene is doing well at the moment. Who of your contemporaries do you most respect?
Probably Biffy Clyro and Simple Minds — because Simple Minds still kick it.
There’s nothing that can beat the realness of actually living and breathing music.
As a group you seem to be constantly in tune with your fans, be it through voting or blogs. Do you see the internet as a replacement of the traditional fan club setup?
Not a replacement. More of a supplement. It’s still really important to have the traditional stuff as well as the web thing. What the web has done is allow us to reach a global audience in a quick and interactive way. The web has allowed the instant delivery of information and media to music lovers but there’s still a huge place for the traditional grass roots stuff — because let’s face it all the technology in the world can’t beat being face-to-face. There’s nothing that can beat the realness of actually living and breathing music, pledging your allegiance to music and going out and being a fan. When I was younger I was obsessed by some bands I would hold the album in my hand and read from cover-to-cover — every word — I even sniffed the odd album cover — nuts innit? But that’s what’s missing now. In some ways the web is awesome because it allows artists to achieve a reach that previously only major record companies could provide but at the same time we have to be careful we don’t over do it and completely remove the physical bond between an artist and a music lover… I guess what I’m saying then is that we need scratch n sniff internet access. Seriously though it’s about a balance between old and new — traditional and new model — we have to accept that some traditional methods don’t apply anymore but at the same time too much of the new model dehumanises a very human thing — but get the mix right and it’s perfect.
Do you ever feel that social networking impedes of your privacy?
Privacy? What’s that? In all honesty no because social networking puts you in charge — you can decide — it’s like your own press machine.
Who brings what to the table?
Well generally I write the lyrics and the music in the sense that I come to the studio with finished songs — then Ants and i work to take the songs to where they end up. Although we have had a number of songs that just happened in a jam. We love to fully produce and record our demos to a very high standard before going into the studio with a producer to take the songs to somewhere else. There’s never a game plan — we just let the lyrics and the music guide. It’s all about experimenting and just going with the flow — that’s when exciting things happen and you can sit back at the end and think — how did we write this?
Image is increasingly important to a band. What defines yours?
To be honest we wear what we like — I think we are pretty down to earth and not overly conscious of it. We don’t have stylists or hair stylists or anything like that (no jokes please!). We’re an honest band — what you see is what you get.
If you could support any other artist on tour?
On the flipside, your name is already out there. If you could help an unknown upcoming by giving them a support slot, who would that?
I reckon I would give Iona Marshall a chance. Love her. She supported us recently and it’s like Clannad crossed with Dido.
And finally, what are your hopes for 2010?
To be healthy, successful, happy and keep making music!
“Flying To The Ground” is released on February 22nd 2010. For more information visit Oswald’s Official Site.