Stay In School, Kids: 6 Bands who formed at Scottish unis
There’s a number of bands that made their first steps toward fame at Scotland's unis, and here are a few of the best studious, scholarly examples
Belle and Sebastian
Despite having a name that sounds like it could be a Disney film about the adventures of a brunette princess and a talking lobster, Belle and Sebastian are undoubtedly one of Scotland’s most recognised groups. While their members didn’t technically attend a university, the group met and formed the band at Stow College – now Glasgow Kelvin College – where the two Stuarts (Murdoch and David) enrolled on a Beatbox programme for unemployed musicians, which, quite frankly, sounds fantastic. The band began as a college project, with Murdoch even using the band’s first record, Tigermilk, as his finished assignment. Wonder what it was graded.
This is one that seems to be quite well-known to most Edinburgh music-lovers. All four members of Django Django studied at Edinburgh College of Art in the early 2000s, where the quartet became friends and later formed the band. They may have headed south to continue their project in London, but the foundations of Django Django’s psychedelic groove-licks were born in the Scottish capital.
Ahh, Snow Patrol. Scotland’s answer to Coldplay, only with a bit more likability, better tunes, and no Chris Martin. While the days of Chasing Cars, Chocolate, and Run topping the indie charts are long gone, the band’s university days stray even further behind. The group first formed when Gary Lightbody, Michael Morrison and Mark McClelland met at the University of Dundee, where they played venues around the uni and city together. Fun fact: they were first called Shrug, before changing to Polar Bear after another band had that name, only for another band to have that same name too, forcing them to switch again, finally to Snow Patrol.
Iain Cook and Martin Doherty actually met at the University of Strathclyde all the way back in 2003. The pair formed a long-standing musical friendship when Cook produced some tracks for Doherty’s then-band Julia Thirteen and also worked together on a few alt-rock projects over the years after. Lauren Mayberry also attended Strathy afterwards, graduating with an MA in Journalism in 2010, before CHVRCHES later formed in 2011 when Cook and Doherty made the switch to electronic music and enlisted Mayberry’s talents. It’s fair to say, they haven’t looked back since.
A few members of FF entered the world of academia, but not altogether. Alex Kapronos, frontman of indie-heroes Franz Ferdinand attended the University of Aberdeen, before dropping out and heading over to Strathclyde to complete a degree in Theology. Bob Hardy went to art school, while former guitarist Nick McCarthy studied jazz bass (cool, right?) in Munich. Kapranos also met drummer Paul Thomson at a party, which is about as student-y a formation we can think of.
Unsurprisingly, the charming composer is highly trained in multiple instruments, receiving his education at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, where he fittingly studied composition. His exposure to playing in bands, having also learned bass, guitar and drums, led him to write music with a classical-meets-modern twist that has earned him generous praise over his past three albums. That’s what we call putting your studies to good use.
Before the group made the switch to a solo-project earlier this year, the founding members, Stina Tweeddale and Shona McVicar, met while studying at the University of Glasgow. Yet, after forming as an indie duo, the pair realised that they had more musical matters on their minds than simply doing their degrees. As it turned out, pursuing their creative career is proving to be a pretty fruitful decision.