Arts

King Creosote heads to Bangor for Queen's Parade gig

Mercury-nominated Scottish singer-songwriter King Creosote has recorded 40-plus albums and is about to start recording another one in a Co Down studio. Ahead of a gig in Bangor at the end of the month, he talks to Brian Campbell

King Creosote plays plays Queen’s Parade Methodist Church in Bangor on August 28

KING Creosote has put out more than 40 records to date, so he’ll not have much trouble getting a setlist ready for his gig in Bangor at the end of the month.

The Scot – real name Kenny Anderson – comes to the Co Down town for the Open House Bangor festival and he’ll be joined by a cellist and a djembe player. Two of KC’s most acclaimed records to date were his 2014 soundtrack for From Scotland With Love and the 2011 album Diamond Mine, a collaboration with English electronica musician Jon Hopkins. That album was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.

How did you enjoy your Out to Lunch gig in Belfast earlier this year?

Out to Lunch was supposed to be our first gig of a tour, but we hijacked it in order to rehearse some of the From Scotland With Love songs, albeit with a smaller band, a day or two ahead of our Celtic Connections festival show. Outside of FSWL we rarely get the chance to play with David McAulay on electric guitar, so that Belfast gig was memorable for that reason alone.

When was your very first gig/tour in Ireland?

My first tour there was as support to James Yorkston in 2005, I think. The first show was in Belfast and that's where I met [Galway singer-songwriter] Adrian Crowley. We went on to play Galway and Dublin and, although you can read all about this tour in James's book [It's Lovely to be Here: The Touring Diaries of a Scottish Gent], the reality was much less poetic, shall we say.

You’re playing a church venue in Bangor and you've done some church gigs already this year. How do you enjoy such venues?

I love playing in churches – the atmosphere and reverb really suit a stripped-back sound and it's usually an emotionally charged experience for performer and audience alike. Jon Hopkins and I played a church in Brighton during the Diamond Mine tour; the gig became quite magical once snow started falling outside. And last October I sang with the Royal Scottish National Opera in Paisley Abbey; I shan't ever forget that.

Is it true that you did a gig in Scotland where the cops stormed in at midnight and the crowd thought they were male strippers and part of the show?!

Yes, that happened at a Khartoum Heroes gig in the East Neuk Hotel in Crail in January. Calling out the police just to guise as strippers is quite a burden on the taxpayer, but I reckon Fife Constabulary is missing a trick. Not only would the local Bobbies return to the station with a few £20 notes stuck to their truncheons and helmets of a Friday night, just think how many hostile situations would be instantly diffused by a bit of comic nudity.

Will you be playing any brand new tunes at the gig and will you be throwing in any cover versions?

We've been road testing new songs all year and in the days leading up to the show in Bangor we'll be recording a few of these down at Analogue Catalogue [studios] near Rathfriland. I usually only cover songs I become temporarily obsessed with, but this hasn't happened since Demis Roussos died.

Can you tell us how you got involved in making the soundtrack for the From Scotland With Love documentary?

Director Virginia Heath was looking for a songwriter to help bring the characters immortalised in the Scottish archive film footage to life and my name was put forward. As someone allergic to writing under pressure, and with a number of rejections in my non-existent soundtrack CV, I only agreed to the project once it was made clear that I could pen songs in my usual slapdash manner, and fall back on my recorded catalogue if all else failed. Virginia gave me general subject matters and moods, I wrote a few ditties, more archive was unearthed that matched my lyrics and so it went back and forth.

Was it a pleasant surprise when you and Jon got the Mercury nomination in 2011 and do you think that whole process helped to introduce your music to more people?

That process certainly helped introduce Diamond Mine to more people, and introduced my music to more local folks. Jon and I made Diamond Mine without any outside interference and handed it over half expecting an outright rejection. We were pleasantly surprised that Domino took the record on board in the first place, never mind submitting it to the Mercury panel.

Who did you end up hanging out with on the night of the ceremony?

I met one of Everything Everything in the lavs after both our bands had lost; he told me his mum was a fan. The rest of the night was spent running from photo opportunity pillar to media post while trying to give the impression that winning the prize mattered not a jot, so I didn't see anything of what else went on.

Do you think either of your daughters would consider going into the music business?

I'm trying to entice my 16-year-old to run the Fence (record label) mail order department during her summer holidays next year, and I'll teach her how to release her own songs should she ever wish to do so. If she sticks to her current trajectory, the wee lass is going to end up running the music business amongst other things by the time she leaves playgroup.

King Creosote plays Queen’s Parade Methodist Church in Bangor on Friday August 28 as part of the Open House Bangor festival. For tickets (£25), visit OpenHouseFestival.com

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