Time to Unwind
Ranked within these pages as one of the great Scottish albums of the last decade, Aereogramme’s Sleep and Release initially provoked genre-bending slogans – like ‘dream metal’ and ‘post-pop’ – as critics scratched their skull and attempted to make sense of what it was that the Glasgow quartet were doing so well. It was a benchmark that symbolised their increasing knack for vividly cinematic songcraft at a standard they'd admirably maintain for the remainder of the band’s lifespan.
Their split in late 2007 saw to it that Aereogramme remains a cult concern, though the delayed success of strings-heavy track Barriers – commissioned as the soundtrack to an S1 Jobs advertising campaign late last year – was a vindicating reminder that they were one step ahead after all.
This month singer/guitarist Craig B and guitarist/sequencer Iain Cook return with a sedate, late-night counterpart to their former day job. We recently talked to Craig about the sessions surrounding Aereogramme’s pivotal second album and find out how he came to collaborate with his old band mate as The Unwinding Hours.
The Unwinding Hours was initially conceived as a solo project, what changed along the way?
In the mid-nineties I used to travel to Whitburn in West Lothian to record songs on Iain's 4-track because he always had the technical knowledge that I lacked. He was always a really good musical sparring partner as well and this slowly started up again when I began recording some demos at his studio on the south side of Glasgow at the start of 2008. There was never a clear goal in mind but we knew we had no desire to try and get another band going so we just kept writing and recording until we had enough material for an album.
As a new band, are you wary of revisiting Aereogramme’s catalogue in a live setting?
I don't really feel comfortable doing any of the full band songs live. It wouldn't feel right without Campbell [McNeil, bass] or Martin [Scott, drums]. If I ever do acoustic sets though, the odd quieter Aereogramme song usually pops up.
What have you come to consider Aereogramme's finest work since the split?
That's hard to answer. My favourite songs are spread across all the albums we did but I have a particular fondness for Sleep and Release because it has the heaviest song we ever did [Wood] and maybe the most personal [A Winter's Discord] so I’m extremely happy it was picked out by your paper.
We tried to make it as dynamic as we possibly could and it turned out to be quite an intense and layered album, especially with all the segues. It doesn't really let you rest and take anything in until it's all over. I'm incredibly proud of it but I'm not surprised we didn't bother the charts. It's not an easy listen.
Did the problems you had with your throat in 2005 ultimately push the band away from its metal roots?
Yes and no. We had recorded the mini album [Seclusion] after Sleep and Release and that was us moving in a different direction anyway. By the time we got to My Heart Has a Wish…, I just didn't feel like screaming anymore. I think I wasn't as angry by then and it would have felt slightly dishonest to continue trying to have screaming songs just for the sake of it. I mean, when I unfortunately stumble upon a Linkin Park song on the radio I can't help but think that guy sounds like a dick. What's he angry about now? Slayer at least still sound genuinely pissed off.
What did you make of Barriers unexpected success late last year?
I'm really happy that loads more people got to hear Aereogramme. It continues to make me smile when people discover and like our music and the S1 Jobs advert was just another way for that to happen.
Aereogramme always seemed to hold the album form in high regard and The Unwinding Hours debut appears to share that outlook. What makes for an exceptional album in your book?
A great album that springs to mind is Jane Doe by Converge and what makes that album so great is the fact it’s diverse, inventive, emotionally involving and each song is consistently brilliant. It’s also only at the end of the album that you finally realise how it all makes sense and fits together and that is incredibly rewarding.