JIM McCULLOCH (SNOWGOOSE) INTERVIEW IN THE RUN UP TO THE RELEASE OF “THE MAKING OF YOU” ALBUM

Photo Credit – Brian Sweeney

‘THE MAKING OF YOU’

THE NEW ALBUM RELEASED JUNE 26th (ON GLASS MODERN RECORDS) 

ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS, CD & LIMITED-EDITION ORANGE VINYL LP

Anglo-Scottish duo Snowgoose will release their new album ‘The Making of You’ on Glass Modern on June 26 on DDL, CD and limited-edition orange vinyl LP.  The album is preceded by the singles “Hope” and “Who Will You Choose”.

The follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut, ‘Harmony Springs’, new album ‘The Making Of You’ sees the songwriting duo of guitarist Jim McCulloch and singer Anna Sheard supported by a who’s who of Scottish pop music, including members of Belle and Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub, The Bluebells and The Pearlfishers. Tracing a line through ‘60s West Coast psychedelia and early ‘70s folk-rock, Snowgoose have created an album that transcends its influences and assert itself as a modern and forward-thinking collection.

While their 2012 debut was largely written by former Soup Dragons guitarist Jim, the new songs see Anna step forward as a lyricist and melodist. The result of this collaboration between the pair is a record of rare beauty, one moment intimate, the next utterly exuberant.

James at Scottish Music Network caught up with Jim McCulloch of Snowgoose before the release of “The Making of You” Album

Thank you Jim for taking time out to have a chat with us before the release of your second album “The Making of You”. Here is what Jim had to say ….

During these strange times of lockdown how much different has it been for the promotion of you new album “The Making of You”?

Obviously we can`t play any shows to promote the album- we had been in the throes of putting together a string of live dates when all this hit and it was a bitter pill to swallow when all our planning came to nothing. All our promo has been online. Before the lockdown kicked in we were lucky enough to record a session for the BBC Quay Sessions – so I always direct people to that as it`s a great document of Snowgoose performing some of our new material. It`s on YouTube as well as the BBC i-Player. We`re tentatively planning some shows for late Autumn so hopefully that`ll come to pass.

 

The first single from the album released back in February (“Hope”) we featured as our single of the week.  It’s a beautiful song that takes you on a journey to a new beginning – what is the background to this song?

I started writing Hope on holiday in Donegal. It`s a meditation on the fact that even though the world is a dark, dark place sometimes, there are always reasons to be optimistic if you look hard enough. It`s about the indomitable strength of humanity.

 

Snowgoose has lots of artists playing from various backgrounds of the Scottish music scene – how did you come to have them play on the Snowgoose album?

I`ve played music with a lot of people over the years and many of these people are lifelong friends now due to our mutual love of music. All I did was phone them up and ask if they were up for contributing to the album – which thankfully they did!

 

How different was it writing and recording “The Making of You” compared to your debut album “Harmony Springs”?

Writing “Harmony Springs” was a bit of a solo effort from me. I wrote the songs as a vehicle for Anna to show off her unique gifts. The band I built around a core of people I knew would be able to translate my vision into reality, and having everyone agreeing to stick around to record the second album was a real boost. But I knew that Anna was a very creative person and was struggling a bit being merely a mouthpiece.  So, after agreeing that we wanted to record a second album, we came to the decision that she would be much more involved in the writing process – which has obviously paid dividends . When two people`s artistic visions are so closely aligned there`s something magical in what comes out.

 

Where did the band’s name come from (I have been looking around various cartoons to see if Snowgoose appears anywhere, like your old band The Soup Dragons)?

Yeah, I think you`re definitely looking in the wrong place…  Dave McGowan, (Teenage Fanclub and Belle and Sebastian musician) who played a huge part in the early Snowgoose story, had a ski jacket with a Snowgoose logo on the sleeve.. Go figure!

 

The second single and album title track, “The Making Of You”, has the lyric; “Chill up my spine”. This song has the hair on the back of your neck standing on end, with stunning vocals from Anna and the haunting acoustic guitar and lap steel. How did you come to create this beautiful arrangement?

I wanted the track to be quite cinematic and like a lot of people I am a huge fan of Paul Giovanni`s ‘Wicker Man’ soundtrack. There`s a darkness pulsing just under the surface of this music, and I was obsessed by the concept of the precise moment when something ripe starts to go rotten – the sweetness turns to something else entirely.

 

Your latest single from the album, “Who Will You Choose”, features stunning harmonies and captures you from the first listen – can you tell us a bit about the song and the story behind it?

We`re big fans of the Laurel Canyon sound – it`s all twelve-string acoustics and three part harmonies. It might not be fashionable to say it, but David Crosby is a bit of an influence – not so much the cocaine-guzzling and the yacht-rock, but his golden moment in the sun just before he was chucked out of The Byrds . And his first solo album is beautiful to listen to. We had great fun experimenting with the harmonies in the studio. The song is quite linear so it`s all about creating a groove and building on it.

 

How do you feel the band has developed since 2012?  What have you learned that has created the sound of Snowgoose?

Hmmm… 8 years is a bit of a hiatus isn`t it? We`re certainly more sure of ourselves now. Back before the first album ‘Harmony Springs’ came out there was no Snowgoose – nothing.  We were asking ourselves – do people really need to hear this music or is it just self-indulgence?  But it was so well received and we were so pleased with the reaction that Anna and I knew we wanted to work together and build on what was now there. It`s about trusting each other`s instincts and just seeing where we end up.

 

With the release of “The Making of You” fast approaching, what can your fans expect from this new album?

Well, more of the same to a certain extent… I think Anna`s singing is sublime and she could sing a list of ingredients and make it sound bewitching. Underneath that, the band are playing some brilliant songs so, so well… We recorded everyone live at the same time, including the lead vocals, so there`s a really powerful feeling of togetherness that is undeniable.

 

Going through lockdown has been tough for most folk – what have both Anna and yourself been up to during these strange times?

Just trying to stay sane! We`ve both got young families so home schooling is taking up a fair bit of time and I`m trying to catch up with long postponed domestic DIY projects. Not much time for navel-gazing !

 

Have you managed to watch any of the recent online band and artist streams? Was there any new band/ artist that captured you during these times?

There`s so much good stuff out there at the moment, but I was recommended to check out Snails and I wasn`t disappointed.

 

Finally, when do you think the UK’s live music scene will be back and are you both looking forward to taking the album on the road and performing again?

It`s hard to answer this one. A lot of people are pinning their hopes on October/November 2020 for a return to live music. I`m not convinced that is going to be possible because social distancing is going to be a fact of life for the foreseeable future. Maybe certain venues with enough space and specific seating arrangements might be viable, but certainly not traditional stand up gigs. Who knows? That said, we can`t wait to get out there and perform these songs in front of people…somehow!

‘THE MAKING OF YOU’

THE NEW ALBUM RELEASED JUNE 26th (ON GLASS MODERN RECORDS) 

ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS, CD & LIMITED-EDITION ORANGE VINYL LP

‘THE MAKING OF YOU’ – ALBUM TRACKLISTING:

 

01 Everything

02 Who Will You Choose

03 Hope

04 The Making Of You

05 Counting Time

06 Golden Wing

07 Leonard

08 Deserted Forest

09 The Optimist

10 Undertow

11 Gave Up Without a Sound

 

 

SNOWGOOSE ARE:

 

Anna Sheard – vocals

Jim McCulloch (Soup Dragons/Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan) – guitars/vocals/melodica/percussion

 

WITH:

 

Raymond McGinley (Teenage Fanclub) – guitars

Dave McGowan (Belle & Sebastian/Teenage Fanclub) – bass

Stevie Jones (Sound of Yell/El Hombre Trajeado/Arab Strap/RM Hubbert) – bass/double bass

Stuart Kidd (The Wellgreen/Euros Childs/Jonny/BMX Bandits) – drums/vocals/percussion

Chris Geddes (Belle & Sebastian) – keyboards

Ken McCluskey (The Bluebells) – harmonica

Tim Davidson (Camera Obscura/Traceyanne & Danny/Alasdair Roberts & Friends) – lap steel

Davie Scott (The Pearlfishers) – string arrangements