The Wedgewood Rooms was plastered with shabby flyers whilst the scent of stale cigarettes took over the air however, the most eye-catching pieces out the front were the blue “SOLD OUT!” Teenage Fanclub posters. And in a cluttered office above the rooms we sat down with Norman Blake to discuss Teenage Fanclub’s new album, taking a step back and touring with a wiser head.
The waiting period between their last album and most recent record, ‘Here’, was 6 years. “It’s partly due to us being lazy,” he jokingly admitted, “but life just took over.” Side projects and the band’s family-life postponed their recording process. However, the band saw those years as an opportunity. They toured and visited countries all over the world, yet they were seemingly fond of France. “We had an EMI Beatles style desk with vintage gear and lots of bloody great wine and cheese” he reminisced passionately, as his face lit up and a wide smile spread across his face.
It sounded like wine, cheese and vintage gear were his dream combination. But before we got too carried away on the French cheese, he explained that the instrumentals for ‘Here’ were recorded months before any vocals were added on top. “A few months passed and life continued to take over. Then, a conversation just happened and we said, ‘Shall we get together and put some vocals on this?’. So, we did.”
Blake’s enthusiasm for his solo work is clearly evident. His face is full of smiles just as it would be discussing his work with Teenage Fanclub; he made it very clear that he loved both paths. “[Teenage Fanclub] is the main thing we do- I think we’d all say that,” he proclaimed. “Outside of this though, have you heard of a band called Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci? They’re really good. They’re from Wales- broken up a few years ago, but they had a singer in that band called Euros Childs. They toured with us back in the day and we [Blake and Childs] made an album together called Jonny.”
Teenage Fanclub are known for working with multiple record labels throughout their career including, Paperhouse and DGC which could have potentially influenced them when making each album. “Songwriting, look at it like a craft you develop,” he stated. “What’s probably influenced us more than the labels would actually be the collaborative projects we’ve done outside the band because, you learn something new and different from each musician. Everyone’s got a different approach to songwriting- we lift from other people.” But, despite the years Teenage Fanclub have under their belt, Blake still considers them current. “You’re only as good as your last record,” he begins, “we’re an older band and it gets harder as you get older. But, we still see ourselves as a contemporary band; we’ve never broken up. We wouldn’t tour if we didn’t have this album out.”. He then started to chuckle as he concluded, “when people ask me my hobbies outside music I say, “I like playing guitar!””.
He began to explain what it’s been like touring with Spinning Coin. “They’re a really great band,” he said, “but I’m a bit out of touch with it (upcoming music) at the moment; it’s just the way things are. I’m just not as involved as I was when I was 21 but that’s inevitable. Really, young people create that scene- and that’s how it should be. We’re just a bunch of old guys rockin’ out. We definitely don’t jump around as much as we did; I don’t want to put my back out!”
When questioning Blake about the future of Teenage Fanclub, he made it perfectly clear he wanted to make more music in the future. “We’ll have to see,” he teased, “this is what we all do and we enjoy writing songs. It’s the best way for us to express ourselves. Having 3 songwriters makes it easier to make a strong album- we really are extremely lucky.”