As nice surprises go they don’t come much nicer than this. Glaswegian indie punk legends Bis are set to release a new album in 2018 through the innovative label Last Night From Glasgow. It’ll be the band’s fourth album proper and the first since 2001’s Return to Central. Currently the as yet untitled album is slated for a release in the back half of 2018 with a single in the Spring. Watch this space for more details.
Perhaps best known for a very young appearance on Top of the Pops in the 90’s, Bis were a prime example of the power of the fickle music press of that decade who chewed them up and spat them out. Undeterred, the band released an astonishingly diverse amount of music in a short space of time. Whether it was clattering punk or sparkling electro pop their ability to rigidly implant hooks and choruses into your brain was unquestionable. The subjects DIY bands often write about today? Bis were spitting about these things in the 90’s although they’d just as often be singing about Sweet Shops and 80’s movies as they were about feminism, equality and politics. What marked Bis out as special was what 99% of other bands don’t ever quite capture, the ability to wrap up all this talent and present it as the best time of your life, seeing a band like Bis play is infectious and fun. The way it should be. We spoke to both the band and the label for the latest.
Overblown: It’s been a long, long time, what’s behind the decision to release an album now?
Amanda: I personally regret ever having ‘split’ as bis in 2004. I think we were fed up with the way the music scene had evolved and how we were dismissed and unappreciated within it so just wanted a fresh start. After we ’split’ we still loved working together and still connected so well that we formed Data Panik which had the addition of a bassist and drummer. In hindsight this was another regret as it ended up being more rock in places than I like, but the songs were still bloody good, still so bis, and perhaps just a waste of time that could have been bis time. Overall, I knew that working with John and Steven was something special and something that wasn’t finished. We still had a lot to give, many politics and messages to deliver in our songs, and I still also wanted to be that not-so-typical female face (and body) in a band that would hopefully influence other girls to give music a shot. When we play live people say that we’re unique, stupidly tight and that we mean a lot to them. With comments like that how could we stop bis?
Steven: Awareness of the quick passage of time has probably influenced us in a “now-or-never” fashion. We are, and always have been, a unique proposition and nobody has done what we did any better than us yet – so it’s long overdue that we come back are do whatever that is again. Just because we had our day in the sun 20 years ago doesn’t mean we have nothing left to say, both lyrically and musically. Ambitions change with maturity and goals are set at more realistic levels, so this time we’ll be setting out to enjoy the process without any of the pressures that hung over previous records.
O: What should we expect from the new record?
Amanda: There’s been many ideas floating around for years now. Tons. Some of which excite me greatly and if recorded properly could be really, really good. The response to our new songs when we play live has been tremendous and we even have people singing along already which is rare! I’m not embarrassed of what bis was (maybe some lyrics 20 years ago but hey) and want this album to show what we’ve still got to give. Once again I feel that what we do is what’s missing in the music scene just now, and that this could be the album some people are waiting for.
Steven: There’s a stockpile of riffs, lyrics, half-formed songs and fully fledged songs that we’ve amassed by accident over the last few years. We could try to cover our entire oeuvre in 12 songs, but the chances are this one will be a full-blown pop record. Expect nagging earworm riffs, bleeps and blips, shameless drum machines and choruses that make you want to cuddle a big animal. The good “comeback” album will be the impossible dream no more. Hopefully.
As for the label, Last Night From Glasgow’s membership model makes it unique and it’s first 18 months or so have taken everyone, not least the label themselves, by surprise. Until now the label had mainly been involved with new artists, we asked Ian Smith (co-founder) what the attraction was with Bis. He explained “LNFG was set up to champion deserving causes, artists who simply had to be heard. Yes you are correct that has meant – for the most part – that we have been releasing debut records. However we have always been open to doing something “more established” and its simply a marriage made in heaven. I have personally loved Bis for as long as they have been around, I was there when they had Super Furry Animals support them at Tuts, i was at the last Data Panik show. I actually pled with them to stay together that night, long enough for my (then fiancé) wife to see them live. When the opportunity arose to support one of my all time favourite bands and probably the city’s most famous DIY band then it had to be a Yes. It’s just fabulous news – I cat wait to Tell it to the Kids!”