Belle & Sebastian on the Next Album and "Accepting That We're a Twee Pop Band"
Photo by Reuben Cox
The dashing Scots of Belle and Sebastian are nothing if not prolific.
Even these days, when they seem to prefer releasing proper albums only every four years or so, the charming and hard-working Glaswegians insist on staying forever busy with collections of B-sides, world tours, and the occasional feature-length film conceived by frontman Stuart Murdoch.
So it was by some minor miracle that we here at Crossfade recently managed to secure a conversation with Chris Geddes, keyboardist and founding member of this perpetual-motion machine of a band that's come to signify a whole genre. (Just don't call it twee.)
The influence of Murdoch, Geddes, and their bandmates is far-reaching, and can be heard in the music of many indie acts here across the pond, from Denver's Tennis to Long Island's Twin Sister and beyond. In fact, if pure pop bliss counted toward the Scottish GDP, Belle & Sebastian would probably be the nation's prime export.
And alas, a new B&S album is nearly finished and set to be shipped out. (Cue the ringing cheers of superfans around the globe.) As Geddes confirms, in his distinct Scottish brogue: "We did most of the recording in Atlanta this past spring."
However, he adds: "It takes a bit longer to get this final stuff done. The band had a lot of shows to play over the summer, so that's kept us busy. And Stuart's been occupied with making the film [God Help the Girl, which Murdoch wrote and directed], so it's only in the last couple of weeks that we've been able to focus on doing what we need to do to finish."
Geddes mentions having just uploaded several tracks from the studio. ("It's as exciting as watching a loading bar on a computer can be," he laughs. To him, handling a new album's worth of masters is just a day in the life of the band.)
But even though the finishing touches are being put on this latest Belle & Sebastian collection, it still won't be released until January, following the band's U.S. tour. "It's [label] Matador's plan, and it's sort of the first time we've finished a record and not just stuck it out as soon as we were done."
The album will be Murdoch, Geddes, and company's ninth studio effort. That's remarkable productivity and longevity for a 21st century indie group, the keyboardist acknowledges. So despite the fact that Belle & Sebastian has never achieved true mainstream success in America, remaining mostly a cult favorite among indie aficionados, he insists that "we're all pretty happy with where we are, just that we've been able to keep the band going and putting out records for such a long time.
"Especially," Geddes notes, "because a lot of our peers aren't doing music anymore, bands like Stereolab or Super Furry Animals or the Delgados, who came out around the same time as us."
And as time passes, how does he and his B&S bandmates feel about that certain T-word genre tag that once dogged them? "Well," the keyboardist says, "we like to say we're just a pop band. But it's something that we argue amongst ourselves a bit.
"Like to me, pop means Lady Gaga or Christina Aguilera. So if I'm going to claim we're a pop band, we're not really, 'cause we don't have hits. Ultimately, in some sense, we have to accept that we're a twee pop band."
He laughs. "And I'm terrible too. If someone tells me about a band, the first thing I want to know is what kind of music they do. You know, what genre they are."
Crossfade's Top Blogs
Belle & Sebastian. Sunday, September 28. Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $32.50 to $45 plus fees via livenation.com. Presale runs Wednesday, June 18, till 10 p.m. with the passcode "loyalfan." All ages. Call 305-673-7300 or visit fillmoremb.com.
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