Last updated: 06/14/2011 12:00:00 PM
Photographer: Jayne Duncan © 2003
Aereogramme release their second full length lp in spring 2003. 'Sleep and Release' will surprise those new to the band and will delight and confound those who are familiar with the band’s previous work.
“We needed to create intense music," states Campbell, "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 (arse or otherwise)."
…Glasgow, late nineties… Craig B., fresh from the ashes of Ganger, called upon long time friend Campbell McNeil to work on some ideas. In need of a drummer they found satisfaction in one-time jazz percussionist Martin Scott. Not chin strokers mind, but all proud to be beard wearers.
Recording came quickly and their first fruit was borne in the shape of the Translations single on their own Babi-Yaga label, selling out within weeks. A second single (Hatred) followed thereafter, and that too was a success.
Noticed by Chemikal Underground as they slowly started to grace stages around Glasgow in 2000, a relationship was quickly developed and Aereogramme released the magnificent Glam Cripple EP - the first outing of the labels new boutique imprint, Fukd i.d.
Chemikal Underground simply had to work with Aereogramme on a more permanent and loving basis. A deal was finally concluded and the band retired to the studio to record their magnum opus, A Story In White.
Aereogrammes debut album is a record that marries punishing metal with sublime moments of beauty. It weaved aggression and raw emotion into a new form, transforming calm into mayhem and back again without any surface glitches. It gently unfolds and envelops one completely by stealth. 'A Story In White' was an unqualified triumph - LP of the month in Rock Sound and featured in Kerrang’s LPs of 2001 - and Matador Records released the record in the Fall of 2001.
Following the release of 'A Story in White', Aereogramme embarked on a number of adventures - two American tours, a string of headlining dates across Europe & the UK as well as shows with Idlewild and Anathema, and a bizarre firework incident involving Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips.
Work on the follow-up to A Story In White was constrained by touring and made awkward by living through it. “Its fair to say that six months of solid touring, upheavals in our personal lives, ever increasing disillusionment with the bullshit of this ‘industry’, had taken their toll on the band. Couple this with the addition of a fourth member which created a shift in the personal dynamic within the band - causing us at least as many problems as it solved“, said Campbell.
The fourth man Iain Cook, a shadowy figure operating within the confines of the film and TV soundtrack world, had always been there but this was unknown to all but a few. Craig holds otherwise, “Other commitments had prevented Iain from being in the band full-time, but it was becoming more important for us to match the ferocity of our recordings on stage.”
“Its fair to say that things were tense at the beginning of recording 'sleep and release' and those problems started on the road.” Campbell explains further...“It gave rise to that most classic of rock ironies, feeling lonely when your never alone. Everyone deals with this thing in their own way - booze, drugs, exercise etc. The one uniform release for us all was film and computer games. The recent (for us) arrival of ‘on the road’ dvds and computer games offered us an unreal reality where we could safely communicate with each other.”
Aereogramme walked straight off a plane into CaVa studios to work on this record. The imprint of dark films and the clinical beauty of ‘shoot-em ups’ loomed large. The resultant effect, on record, is that there is natural flow: a deeply cinematic structure - tracks move forward like scenes in a film.
Craig maintains that, “this record is just more intense all round. On the first LP we put the most crazy song after the quietest, which is quite hard for a lot of people to take in. This time we have grouped songs together, and to us it makes complete sense.”
'Sleep and Release' is also a highly charged and political record - the band are serious in their intent. “Each great civilisation in the history of humanity has been judged by its artistic output as well as its progress scientifically and politically – great art defines progress. Put simply a society that advocates the perpetual regurgitation of culture is a society in its death throes. This terrifies me when connected with current world events and there has got to be something more to creating great music than how well you can ape your dads record collection.” Campbell.
In one particularly unsettling moment on Sleep and Release a disjointed voice emanates from the speakers between “A Simple Process of Elimination” and “Older”. Craig: “This is a total fluke but someone rang Martin’s house during the last week of recording and left the message. A wake up call to just how low people can get. I guess it’s apt for this record - misery and joy share the same confusing space sometimes”.
Aereogramme should be celebrated for their breadth of vision. They have made a truly great record - one that covers the whole emotional spectrum.
Campbell's final thought….
“We release our records on two of the coolest labels (Chemikal Underground and Matador) on the planet. Europe think we fucking rock. Stephen Malkmus thinks we fucking rock. John Peel thinks we fucking rock. Ergo, we fucking rock!”