When interviewing Edinburgh-band ballboy for Pennyblack Magazine some months ago, I asked frontman Gordon McIntyre if there were any more bands in Edinburgh that we should watch out for. He mentioned Khaya (a band that by the way is great!), and also The Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Organ, who then hadn't released anything. Now they have released a single for Quarterinch Recordings, and have a second one on the way. We decided to ask frontman Ewan John a few things about his band.

PB : Let's start from the beginning. How did The Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Organ form? Had any of the members been in other bands previous to TMMMO?

EJ : I met Alun (since left the TMMMO) at an Olivia Tremor Control (an Elephant 6 band) gig in Edinburgh. I just asked if he was a drummer and he said, "yes", so that's how it started. Graeme was at school with me. He plays keyboards and makes noises. I knew John from previous bands in Edinburgh and asked if he would play bass (he now plays drums) and our new bassist is called Pete. We picked up clarinets (Karen), and violins (Helena) as we went along.

We all play in other bands, John and Ewan play in the fantastic band homescienc'(see www.homescience.co.uk) One of us is in very low fi band called Brian Gallactica, Helena plays with Khaya and anyone else who needs a violin, Karen plays with her friends' band who don't have a name yet but are loud and good and Pete is in a couple of bands called The Pete Boggon Band and Operator. So you see we have created a little scene of our own, I guess.

PB : How many records have you released so far ?

EJ : So far? Just one single ('The Ducks Are Coming Soon') which is still available on request and a Radio 1 session including 'The Pumpkin Song'. There is another single just waiting to come out called 'Bugs'. Anyone can get tapes of this stuff and some other studio recordings by writing to themarvellousmechanicalmouseorgan@hotmail.com

PB : What are your daytime jobs? I suppose that you can't make a living out of this yet...

EJ : I work at the Edinburgh College of Art materials shop selling pencils and paint. John works at Edinburgh College of Art in the union office. Graeme is a full time genius and we don't know what he does. Helena is an art student and Karen is a tutor. Pete works in various art related jobs. All very dull, and I'm afraid we never seem to make any money.

PB : What influences you when writing music and lyrics?

EJ : Well, anything that has a great melody, I love tuneful melodies. At the moment it's a toss up between Of Montreal or The Strokes in terms of musical influences as both are great, although very different. As for influences in the everyday world, at the start we had lots of songs about animals that were lonely and sad but we have drifted from this now and I just write little stories for and about my friends.

PB : What do you think about the pop scene in Scotland and the rest of the UK at the moment? Is it easy for a band like TMMMO go get gigs?

EJ : Edinburgh is especially bad at the moment for live music. In the past two years, some of the top places to play have been transformed in to clubs or theme pubs and have stopped putting on live music. There are only a handful, perhaps only three places to play now in the capital city which is a disgrace. (You can however play in pubs but the set up is not perfect ie: p.a. and room size etc) Mustn't complain though. If you want something done properly, do it yourself.

The scene in Glasgow on the other hand looks very encouraging, at least viewed by anyone from Edinburgh. You have the prospect of getting a gig on the strength of a good recommendation from another band, not like in Edinburgh where it is more a case of waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting... I get quite upset about it so I won't linger on the subject. In Glasgow, there are great smaller, more intimate venues with a regular turnover of live acts such as the 13th Note Café and Nice And Sleazys'. London unfortunately is still the place to go if you want to be "seen" by any of the big music magazines and their reveiwers. Being so far from Edinburgh the cost of actually getting to London defeats any good reasoning for playing there. It is however still a good feeling if the show goes down well enough.

PB : Do you have any records at home that you are ashamed of, and that you hide when you're having friends coming over?

EJ : No, I would never hide anything. In fact I DJ at parties and buy from charity shops the kind of records some people would call, "embarrassing." When all is said and done, most people have a soft spot for the trash they once thought was the bees knees (?Scottish term for good).

PB : Vinyl vs CD. What are your thoughts?

EJ: I buy both on a regular basis, 45s on vinyl and LPs on CD.The artwork on a single looks better in a wee plastic bag and my cat uses all my LPs on vinyl as a scratch post for his claws so I have to keep them up off the floor on shelvess, hence I buy LPs on CD. Confused? My reasoning has nothing to do with quality. I like them both.

PB : Is your goal to be the biggest band in the world and to play arenas, or are your quite ahppy being rather unknown and to have a steady fanbase?

EJ : Quite happy where we are, though I would only say that sometimes I get a little sad that when we write a great new tune, knowing that hardly anyone will hear it. Stadium rock status will come one day when I'm old or long gone. A boy-band will "re-discover me" whilet going through a box of records in a car boot sale, record and cover one of my songs and make a fortune.

PB : Can you please list your top five albums of all time?

EJ : No, sorry, that's too hard. I could give you a couple:

PB : Neutral Milk Hotel - Aeroplane Over The Aea (LP)
The Go-Betweens - 16 Lovers Lane (lp)

or anything by these great bands:

Appendix Out
Of Montreal
Yo La Tengo
Guided By Voices
Simon and Garfunkel
Red House Painters
Bonnie Prince Billy

PB : Thank you









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