Interview with Scott of Sons And Daughters

Delusions Of Adequacy: Your band Sons And Daughters has a very distinctive sound – dark, dynamic, catchy, tightly-structured tunes with terse, yet emotive vocals (dual vocals from Adele and you – sometimes dueling, sometimes partnered). Your fast numbers are all restless energy and ‘foot-stomping-floorboard’ menacing, while your ballads are starkly somber and delicately melancholic. Who is in the band and what do you play?

Scott: The band are: Adele who sings and plays occasional piano and guitar, Ailidh who plays bass and mandolin, Dave who plays the drums and me, Scott, I play guitar and sing.

DOA: What are your musical influences? Are your songs based on traditional Scottish, or other, song structures?

Scott: Our musical influences are very wide but they really are not based in any kind of traditional Scottish music. A lot of people think that because we sing in our own accents and that there is the odd bit of mandolin that we are really into Scottish folk when it’s not really the case.

There are many bands that we all love equally and that influence us but each of us individually likes things that the others don’t and I think it’s when each of us bring those influences in that things start to sound like Sons And Daughters.

I can’t speak for the others but big personal influences would be: The Smiths, The Velvet Underground, girl groups like the Shangri-La’s and The Crystals, American 60’s garage rock, Motown, Leonard Cohen, Dylan, Iggy and The Stooges, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, T Rex, Smog…I could go on forever!

DOA: How do you create your songs? Does someone come in with the lyrics first, and a tune is built around it, or do the musical arrangements come first? Who writes the lyrics for the songs? Is it a shared duty or is there one main song-writer?

Scott: Adele is the main lyric writer in the band and she tends to write around the music that we put together. Like a lot of bands there isn’t one main songwriter who gives everyone their parts to play. What tends to happen, lately anyway, is I may have a few riffs or a rough sketch of a verse/chorus or bridge, maybe even a hint of a vocal melody that I’ll show to the band during practices. From there we go and flesh it out and arrange the song. Sometimes it sounds just the way you thought it would and sometimes it sounds completely different.

DOA: How do you decide who will sing lead on a song? On some songs, Adele’s vocals are at the forefront, with your vocals supporting hers, and on other songs it’s the opposite – and then there are the songs with an equal mix of your vocals.

Scott: Well, it’s clear that Adele has the best voice! She’s just made to be a lead singer! I think I sang lead on some of the earlier stuff because songs like “Johnny Cash” or “Awkward Duet” or “Blood” were songs I had from playing solo before the band and I guess we must have thought that it would give a bit of a balance to have both of us share the lead on different songs. Nowadays I’m more than happy to sit back and just do the backing vocals and watch Adele go off like a firework. She can do stuff with her voice that I could never do.

DOA: Your debut,The Repulsion Box, is an amazing album, and you’re currently finishing up work on your second album. Anything you can spill about the songs and their themes, the recording process, and what the vibe was like between everyone?

Scott: Our new album is in the can. It’s called This Gift and should be out in January. We recorded it in London with Bernard Butler. It’s been an incredibly difficult record to make. For a start we didn’t just want to copy the previous records so we spent a good year writing the songs before even going near the studio. The recording process itself was quite drawn out, lasting from January to July of this year. Bernard is a very, very talented guy and while we got on great socially there was a lot of tension in the studio. When something wasn’t quite happening Bernard would be quite up front about saying so and he definitely made us raise our game as far as writing was concerned. As a result it’s a much more ambitious and varied sounding Sons And Daughters record there’s far more light and shade and infinitely more texture than on the previous albums.

DOA: Do you all live in the same area in Scotland? Do you all hang out when you’re not working as Sons And Daughters? Do you feel that your location plays an important part in shaping your songs and lyrics?

Scott: We all live in Glasgow. Yes, we do see each other when we aren’t doing anything in the band. I guess Glasgow does shape our songs but it’s in a way I can’t quite grasp. Maybe it’s the weather or maybe it’s the people. Bands don’t tend to copy each other or bandwagon jump quite so easily up here and as a result there is a great deal of individuality from Glasgow music whether it’s people like Mogwai, Belle And Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub or Franz Ferdinand. I think it’s subconsciously frowned on up here if you don’t make an effort to find your own sound so in that respect I suppose Glasgow has helped us be ourselves.

DOA: What are your live shows like? What was it like opening for artists like Morrissey and Queens Of The Stone Age?

Scott: The live shows are always great, it’s my favourite thing about being in a band. Opening for Morrissey was fantastic as Adele and I are huge Smiths fans and getting to watch him every night was a treat. As for the Queens Of The Stone Age show, it never happened! We were gutted! We were meant to play with them at a secret London show in Koko around the time of Lullabies To Paralyze. We were on the motorway, making our way down to the show when we got a call from our manager and our friend Amanda who does our press saying that there had been bombs going off all over London and that we’d really better just go back. It was July the 7th. We turned around and headed back home.

DOA: What are your current favorite bands, singers, songs, and/or albums? Anything rocking your world, music-wise?

Scott: Although it’s not strictly the newest of the new I fucking love that last Eagles Of Death Metal record Death By Sexy. It’s just great party rock in the same way T Rex is.

DOA: Ok, I’m going to get a little more specific here, about a few of your songs. I think you covered the Morrissey single “Pregnant For The Last Time” early in your career. hy did you pick that (relatively obscure) song? Is there a mutual-appreciation relationship going on here with Morrissey?

Scott: Adele and I are big fans, yes. We were doing a BBC session, we were about to go on tour with him so we covered “Pregnant For The Last Time” for a laugh.

DOA: Why did you re-record your song “Blood”, which is originally on Love The Cup mini-album/EP, but then found in higher intensity on Dance Me In single/EP?

Scott: We desperately needed a b-side and we didn’t have any new songs! Plus we thought we could play it better than we did on Love The Cup. I like both versions though.

DOA: “Drunk Medicine”, a live take on your studio-recorded song “Medicine” is a hoot ‘n’ a holler! Where did you record it and how far a state of inebriation were you all in? Sorry to be so nosy – the tune just really crackles with high energy and a good time.

Scott: That was recorded in Conny’s place in Germany during The Repulsion Box session. We were pissed and I guess in the control room and just decided to try some live acoustic versions of the songs we had been recording that day. Dave had made a drum kit out of junk and I think you can hear him kicking over a fire extinguisher he was using for percussion at the very end of the track making Adele laugh…

DOA: What do you love about being part of the band? What are the annoyances? If you weren’t part of Sons And Daughters, what do you think you’d be involved in?

Scott: I love everything about being in a band. Getting to play music every day was my dream when I was a teenager. The traveling and playing live are my favourite bits but I do love recording too. Annoyances, apart from email interviews (kidding!), are few and far between. If I wasn’t in Sons And Daughters I’d be writing and recording my own music or starting another band. It’s all I ever want to do.