Guest Column – Batteries ‘I AM A BATTERY’

Batteries Sci Fi Steven bis

Been there, seen it, done it. Batteries can lay claim to that through a colourful history with Glasgow DIY pop terrors bis. We’ve been (over)blown away by the new self-titled album by Batteries which, twenty years on, has Sci-Fi Steven sounding as fresh and vital as ever. So what gives? Where does this music come from? Why? No better way to explain than straight from the (sparkle)horse’s mouth. We welcome Steven to the pages of Overblown. Here’s a lesson in desire and determination.


“Why Do We Care?”

It is a patronising question often asked of musicians of a certain vintage and heritage – “Why do you still make music?”. As if it should be enough to reflect on work made any number of years ago and say, “That was pretty good”. A musician’s, like a politician’s, work should never be done. These landscapes constantly morph provoking fresh inspiration, fear and rage in equal amounts. Giving up is for quitters like Tony Blair. Continuing on in the face of indifference is for idiots like me. That is why you may, or may not, have a copy of the album “Batteries” by Batteries in your (legal or otherwise) possession. It is my first entirely solo venture, I played all the bits and pieces and tried really hard to make the drums sound like real drums. Sorry if I’ve broken the third wall here.

“Fast Songs”

Not to play the boring-boring, “feel sorry for me” card too readily, but my spare time is limited these days. This is mostly due to record labels and those dreaded general public people forgetting to pay me the going rate for a song-writing genius, although some blame must lay at the feet of my children and also my misguided venture into pub landlording (an elaborate scheme to be able to pay less for alcohol – thereby in theory freeing up the cash to pay for my iMac). Despite this, forced creation is a strangely liberating thing. No longer can I spend an entire afternoon footering with a synth to get precisely the correct sound, now I create an album’s entire sonic palette during nap-times. So, “Batteries” is the sound of decisions being made quickly – pontification is the enemy of creation.


“Is This Efficient Living?”

It is an irony not lost on me that I have roughly the same music-making budget as I had 20 years ago when bis would save up money from working in record shops and supermarkets (or if you were John Disco, pocket money) to translate our lo-fi 4-track recordings into semi-respectable studio recordings. The “Disco Nation 45” single cost about £130 to record, the Batteries album a fraction of that unless you count expenditure on caffeine-based products. It is perhaps surprising that the neighbours didn’t call out the police during the vocal recording, praise the bis millions for that double-glazing, and that my eldest daughters aren’t sick of “Frozen” yet despite having to watch it endlessly during Daddy time*. Despite the endless (payment-free) options of the musical diaspora, mostly made by cack-handed earless fools, I still have the drive to make others listen to the music I’m making when it would be so much easier to keep it for my own amusement. Driven equally by my disgust of the vast majority of music I hear and the joy of hearing the kind of new invigorating sounds that momentarily make me put down my Devo records. I can’t quite bring myself to moan from the sidelines yet.

“Happy Ending”

Anyway, enough classically Scottish self-abasement. I have made a record that I think you might like**. This record, to me, is a purging of pent-up frustration soundtracked by a reconnection to the awkward joys of getting the notes slightly wrong on a synthesiser and handling a guitar like a loose firework. You might say it’s just a bunch of pop songs. That’s fine. I just hope that someone, somewhere thinks it’s the best thing they’ve heard for a while. Let me assure that person that there will be more. This idiot isn’t giving up yet.

P.S. The keen-eyed/old among you may have noticed I’ve used song titles by the band Compulsion for paragraph headers. I liked them, but they gave up.

*I consider myself a good parent, and my daughters are my biggest fans. They have to be – I only play my own tunes in the car.
** At this point I should say something along the lines of “And I don’t give a singular fuck if you don’t”, but I’ll just sheepishly announce that there will eventually be another bis record that you might prefer.

The self-titled debut album by Batteries is released by Do Yourself In on 7th August. To order the CD or the delicious 180g White Vinyl click right here.

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