Ian Beattie and Craig Johnston are Man With Glasses, a new Scottish outfit with a penchant for melodic, instrumental electronica, storytelling and pirates (yarr!). We chatted with Ian about the band’s influences, future and their upcoming adventures as part of our Introducing series.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. What’s the story behind Man With Glasses and how would you describe your sound?
Man With Glasses consists of two writers, Craig Johnston and myself Ian Beattie. We had played together in several bands throughout Scotland, myself as a bassist and Craig as a guitarist. we had became reliable session players throughout the local music scene and it seemed that our paths kept crossing. We gradually built up a chemistry and a respect for each other’s playing which led us to withdraw from the session work and concentrate on our own ideas and then, Man With Glasses was born. We had a limited budget but wanted a big sound so we borrowed a friends van and embarked on a road trip around Scotland with the aim of accruing used instruments from various pawn shops around the country. We returned home (very hungover) with four keyboards, three drum machines and countless effects pedals.
We locked ourselves away for two weeks at the tail end of last year and wrote and recorded six tracks. We entered into our adventure with no preconceived ideas of a genre or style as such and as we had been tied to the session work for so long, we truly felt we had a blank canvas and our new sense of freedom allowed us to explore our love for electronic music whilst remaining faithful to our guitar based backgrounds. Three of these tracks have been signed to international record labels and we have also signed a licensing/sync deal. It has been a fantastic start.
We have been asked a few times why we chose the name Man With Glasses. Well, my dad passed away when I was really young and all I now remember is the presence of a Man With Glasses. Anyone who has lost a parent at a young age knows that there is a constant hole or void within yourself without remedy and trying to fill this hole can lead a person down many roads. I took solace in listening to and now creating music so I felt that it was only fitting that this was documented when deciding upon a title for our project. Craig kindly agreed.
When we listened to your music for the first time it evoked chilled, ambient – almost hypnotic – vibes. What kind of artists are your inspirations? Who would you regard as your peers?
We love bands like Spacemen 3, Massive Attack and Wire. All quite dark and emotive influences, although our music is quite uplifting. I would say there is definitely a deep appreciation of both indie and dance music within it. We are both greatly inspired by artists that are not afraid to experiment with their sound and production and we love instrumental music – we believe our storytelling lies within within our melodies somehow.
Do you have specific roles when creating music and writing songs?
Our initial six recordings were genuinely conceived within our first sessions. We had returned home from our trip and we were buzzing and ready to go, therefore this first collection of music was written together and pretty much on the spot.
All of the tracks started as maybe a keys/guitar part (or xylophone on Israel Hands) that was played by either Craig or myself, and then we would jump straight into each other’s groove knowing exactly what we were looking for. Craig is a qualified producer and sound engineer so that makes life simple (well maybe for me).
You songs titles are quite interesting to say the least: ‘Israel Hands’, ‘Coprolalia’, ‘Diastema’ (Yes, I did look them up on the internet!). Do you have a system for naming songs?
I can honestly say that I have nothing interesting to declare with regards to naming our music. We did at one point flirt with the idea of using only medical terms which we did for Coprolalia and Diastema (as you have discovered) but instead we opted to have no strategy and just have fun with the titles. As far as I know Israel Hands was a pirate and was second in command to Blackbeard. I had read somewhere at the time of recording that Israel Hands was supposed to be an alright guy, so a nice pirate really… and I just thought that would be a pretty cool title for our track at the time……ARRR!
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
I guess you could say that everything we have done has been challenging in its own way. Of course it was daunting to leave our session work, build a studio and have to confront the music industry ourselves as we had no experience of dealing with the more mundane tasks of the business such as copyright/promotion and contract small print.
What do the next few months have in store for Man With Glasses – gigs, releases, hunts for new instruments and equipment?
Well, we kind of agreed, along with the persuasion of our girlfriends, that another pawn shop road trip may be off the cards for while. Our first single named Biting a Wet Sponge was released in July this year on Pink Dolphin Music Ltd and our second single named Narwhal is being released via Wold Records based in Norway on the 29th August, whilst Israel Hands is already on a chill out compilation from a label in New York.
We have another recording session scheduled for later this year with the aim of starting what would be our first EP. This will be new all new material and should be available early 2017 which potentially may lead to our first live work. We were offered to play a festival is Scotland this summer (nothing major) but we declined as we honestly had not thought that far ahead. It would be nice and so much fun to play live because as musicians you want to push yourselves and essentially performance is part of the job. We have been blessed with our studio/recording set up and although we made huge sacrifices to get to this point, you cannot just dwell within your comfort zone and we will always welcome another challenge just like musical pirates.