(c) Michael Greig 2020
FROM DISTANCE – THE DEBUT ALBUM (OUT SEPTEMBER 18th ON PURE MOTH)
ALSO INCLUDES SINGLES “SKETCH OF A PLAN”, “A VIRTUE” & “BEAR ON BEAR”
“The distorted wall-of-sound that Fiend creates sounds somewhere between Sleigh Bells and Skinny Puppy. It is loud and abrasive, but it still manages to be catchy which is no small feat.” Surviving The Golden Age
“The uplifting electro-infused tonic that 2020 so desperately needs.” Northern Life Magazine
“The Fourth Wall” is the new single from Popcorn Fiend, taken from the Scottish musician’s long-awaited debut album Distance (out next Friday, September 18th on Pure Moth Records). The propulsive electro-rock of “The Fourth Wall” falls sonically somewhere between Modeselektor and Joy Division, with a nod to Josh Wink in the mid-section synths.
“I wrote this track while staying and working in Salford and Manchester, and definitely felt inspired by the early minimal pulse of Factory Records but wanting to channel it through minimal but pumping modern dance music” says Michael MacLennan, aka Popcorn Fiend. “Something that feels underground and sparse, but which has a real energy and drive to it.”
This energy and drive is reflected in the accompanying video for “The Fourth Wall”, which MacLennan filmed on a 10k run from the Highland towns of Conon Bridge to Dingwall and back.
“These are towns which have specific resonance to where I was born and grew up, so the video features many landmarks which are pivotal to me,” he comments. “Once I recorded the run the hard work really began: I beat-synced the run to the sounds of the track, then used each phase – the ‘walls’ referred to by the title – to trigger different visual states. This provides some surreal visual imagery still incorporating local landmarks like the Conon Bridge Hotel, and even stores such as Boots and Spar on the way. I wanted to marry together the more psychedelic elements to the psychogeography of the places that I have called home and which have fundamentally shaped my identity.”
An album 17 years in the making, the journey to Distance began in Aberdeen in 2003 with ahead-of-its-time debut EP Subliminal Messages Will Mess With Your Mind, which delved into the sort of head-spinning eclecticism which music streaming would eventually bring into the mainstream.
A product of MacLennan’s relocation to Glasgow and eight years in the making, 2011’s PF/EP similarly stretched in several musical directions but veered into a starker, raw sound, reflecting the formation of a full band for live performance. Popcorn Fiend sprang into life just as CHVRCHES and The Twilight Sad began showing what Glasgow had to offer in terms of synth-laden anthemic indie pop, but their momentum was stalled by personal circumstances.
MacLennan left Glasgow for Manchester, then London, and then to Salzburg in Austria. All the while he continued to create music, sonically influenced by these differing locations: fist-pumping maximalist electroclash bangers, propulsive 80s-inflected anthemic post-punk, joyously stripped-down minimalistic electro anthems, and disquieting instrumentals which would jitter seamlessly into swelling crescendos.
Distance was built up over the course of 2019 with this narrative and thematic spine in place. MacLennan brought in CHVRCHES engineer David R Simpson, an old friend, to co-produce, mix, and master the album. MacLennan had previously worked on videos for CHVRCHES singer Lauren Mayberry’s previous band Blue Sky Archives, and their drummer Ross Rankin, who had also previously played with Popcorn Fiend, returned to perform on Distance.
A meditation on what is lost and gained through long periods of isolation from friends, family, and loved ones, no one involved in the recording could never have imagined how relevant the central themes of Distance would be to the events of 2020.
Popcorn Fiend Distance
01 Bear On Bear
02 You Don’t Know
03 Sketch of a Plan
04 This Ballroom’s For Dancing
05 A Virtue
06 The Fourth Wall
09 My Life. Your Life. Our Life
10 I Wish
11 Call For Aid