Teenage Fanclub make their long-awaited return with new album Here on September 9. The Scottish indie veterans, who Kurt Cobain once dubbed “the best band in the world”, will also be touring the UK around this time, and are set to visit Edinburgh’s Liquid Room on September 6.
Here, the Fannies’ tenth album, comes six years after the release of 2010’s hugely-acclaimed Shadows. So what took them so long?
“I find that as you get older, everything expands,” says Gerard Love. “When you start out, the nucleus of the band is so tightly bound, you’re living in each other’s pockets. Later on, you move away from each other and then everything around you – distance and time – just expands. Life gets in the way.”
Agreeing that it does actually feel like ages between records, Raymond McGinley says, “Once you’re a certain way in, the way it works in my experience is once you’re taking a long time making it, you’re going to take a long time to get back out again.”
Shadows came after a five-year gap; this one follows a six-year gap. But that’s not to say the Fannies are winding down.
“Getting back together to work, even after all these years, does feel a lot like coming home,” says Norman Blake. “Thinking about it now, we really should get together a bit more often.”
Here was recorded with the band’s soundman, David Henderson, alongside regular drummer Francis Macdonald and keyboard player Dave McGowan in three distinctly different environments (initially at Vega in rural Provence, then at Raymond’s home in Glasgow before mixing at Clouds Hill in the industrial heart of Hamburg).
“We’ve been working together for a long time; we’ve probably used most of the studios in the UK over the years,” says McGinley. “We’re conscious of not repeating experiences that we’ve had before. For us, it’s about trying to get something new out of each place we go. If you’re always trying to make something original; it makes sense to go on a journey – a physical one – to try to make the record feel different.”
The 12-track Here sees four offerings each by Blake, Love and McGinley. “Lyrically, I think it’s a coincidence that the songs hit on similar themes,” says McGinley. “We all write individually, there’s no formal discussion about what we’re writing. I always like to think anything’s possible when we make a new record but because of who we are and how we work, there’s always going to be a strong continuity.”
Blake pitches in, saying, “Possibly the album seems like it’s all about life because we’re all surprised that we’re still here. Gerry’s not quite 50; both myself and Raymond are now. You do start to focus on mortality a bit more as you get older.”
The last word goes to Love, who says we all fear middle age in our 20s and 30s. “Maybe you can fight it and try to stay as an eternal teenager,” he says. “I like to think that we play to our strengths, to our understanding of life. Folk music, blues, it’s not necessarily made by young people. A lot of music I find myself drawn to is made by people over 40 years old. It might not be on the cover of NME but it can still deliver a truth.”
Teenage Fanclub play Edinburgh’s Liquid Room on September 6. New album Here is released on PeMa via Republic Music on September 9. For full tour dates and to pre-order Here, visit www.teenagefanclub.com