In the last few months, the Mull Historical Society have come to be seen as one of the most promising new bands in Britain, and have signed to Rough Trade (which, in turn, has started to label itself the most talked about label in Britain). High profile support slots with the likes of The Strokes, Travis, Elbow, Terris and Tindersticks have certainly helped establish the band in the minds of British music fans, as have some festival slots.

Similar to The Fall or The The, Mull Historical Society is really the solo project of songwriter Colin MacIntyre but who chooses work under a group name, with a backing group. Colin was brought up on the island of Mull (just off Scotland’s west coast) and his first musical experience was watching his uncle’s covers bands. After being inspired to pick up a guitar he formed his first band, Trax,which was mainly composed of local friends and relatives. He is not inspired by the current musical climate, and this has had a big effect on the Mull Historical Society. Songwriting and originality is the key – from strange sleeves and videos to the group's unique sound, a cross between lo-fi and sixties pop. When I asked if he was worried by potentially being labelled as "hype" he answered with an emphatic "No".

Equally important in the history of the band was Colin’s time in Glasgow when, after studying Public Administration, he worked at BT Directory Enquiries. Amazingly, this influenced the way he records (on a 4 track, at home), and also provided the MHS Manifesto – the BT Mission statement.

The band's name came from an actual historical society on Mull, after Colin had used this as a song title. After signing with Rough Trade, the band released its first single 'Barcode Bypass', which has 'Mull Historical Society' as its B-side last November, and followed this in April with a second single 'I Tried.' The Mull Historical Society's third and most recent release, which came out in August, has been the excellent 'Animal Cannabus', a three track CD, which has two very impressive B--sides'Ugly Buildings are Beautiful' and 'Industrial Hangers'. The group's debut album will be released in October, and is called 'Loss.' To support that the Mull Historical Society will head off on its first British national headline tour from September to November, and then a new single, “Watching Xanadu” will be out in January. It all sounds pretty hectic to me!

Pennyblackmusic was lucky enough to set up an e-mail interview with Colin Macintyre. After his computer crashed the first time round these are his second attempt to answer my questions!

PB: You live and write in Glasgow> Was naming the band after the island you grew up on a conscious attempt, therefore, not to be lumped in with any Glasgow scene or movement? How important do you conside to be unique and set apart from the music scene?

CM: When I wrote the song 'Mull Historical Society'. I knew that was the band name I would go under and I was aware that it would give my music an identity. I don’t really think about being unique or set apart from any scene - which hopefully maintains that identity.

PB: Can you explain your fondness for BT? How much has this affected the Mull Historical Society’s music and ideas? You say you use the BT Mission statement as a mission statement for the band.

CM: I have no fondness for BT! Other than to say it formed a pretty strong idea that I had to get on with music to get out of the place. I think the politics of the office and the structures of those type of restrictive working environments is something that crops up my songs a fair bit - I've worked within it so it just interests and amuses me. I swiped the BT mission statement off their wall when I left on my last day - it's on the album's artwork.

PB: You seem to be the dominant figure in the band. To what extent is it a solo project and what do the other members bring to the music?

CM: It is solo in that I write all the songs. I've always worked alone that way - it's the only way I know how to record and put the music together. But I couldn't perform them without my band.

PB: You’ve written over 300 songs, of which 11 will appear on the debut album. How many of the others will see the light of day at some stage?

CM: Some of them will be released as B-sides. It's just a constant process of writing and recording. I tend to see my songs collectively - some will have their day and some are just stepping-stones to better songs and will stay in my songbooks.

PB: The debut record is called “Loss”. What can people who enjoyed the singles expect from it? Are you entirely satisfied with the record? Do you have any expectations about how well it will do?

CM: I am completely satisfied with the record. It was a long time coming! People can expect a rounded trip through the kind of songs I write (whatever that means?!). It's upbeat and downbeat, high and low. I'm just as proud of the production and the way it sounds as I am of the songs, to be honest
.
PB: Q. Are you happy being an indie/guitar band at a time when they are generally being written off? Would you rather not be labelled an indie band, and are you hoping to establish the band as a fixture in the charts? Or alternatively are you looking for the lo-fi/art-rock crowd?

CM: I haven't seen an indie guitar label attached to what I do anywhere.I wouldn't describe it that way at all. Musical labels don’t really concern me, or scenes or whatever. I like different types of music only because it's good. I hope people view what I do in that way. As for commercial success, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing - got no real expectations.

PB: Where do these strange videos come from? To what extent are you involved in the concepts? Do you intend to stick with this “low-budget” approach for your entire career?

CM: The videos have been filmed and directed by Gordon Buchanan and Wendy Rattray - they are friends who put the films together. I am involved with the ideas, but it's great to involve people who are good at what they do who are friends and share the same ideas/humour etc, which is important. I don’t have any plans to stick to any particular low-budget format, just want to keep the ideas strong and interesting to us, and hopefully then to others!

PB: Do you consider any groups an inspiration for Mull Historical Society, other than your uncle’s covers group that initially made you want to pick up a guitar?

CM: Watching my uncles' group as a kid gave me the bug for music, which has never left me. It was a great grounding looking back (all those years ago...).There weren't really groups as a kid that made me pick up guitar other than The Beatles really. But my uncles' band played all that stuff, so I kind of got it first hand - and then just learned how to play it.

PB: How are you reacting to all the attention from MTV, Radio One and NME?

CM: Radio 1, MTV, NME etc has been great. It's brilliant to have that support. But I'm just glad people are getting my music, whether it's music media/press, or the people buying the singles and coming to the gigs - whoever they are. Just as long as the songs are out there, that's all that matters really.

PB: What are your opinions on your early singles? Are you happy with them, and do you agree that they have marked a general progression in style? “Animal Cannabus” sounds really unique on MTV2 next to all the nu-metal

CM: It's hard for me to stand back from my music and be that objective. I hope my songs have a style of their own, I’ve spent long enough doing it! I'm happy with the singles so far. We're just letting the music sift through hopefully, no pressure and no hype! There is a really great team of people around my songs who have mapped out the last year or so better than I ever could have done without them. It’s just as important as the music in some ways.

PB: Finally, what are the next plans for Mull Historical Society? You’ve already recorded songs not on the album for a John Peel session, so are you thinking about a second record already?

CM: The John Peel session was great fun. I was able to record new songs for that. Yeah, the next record is in the making at home. Probably get into the studio-proper next year at some stage to record it. Let's get the first one out for now!

PB: Thank you

CM: Cheers











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