We interviewed a couple of jokesters by the names of Scott Rough and Carl Marah at a pub in Edinburgh amidst all the chaos that is the Fringe Festival. They’re the rhythm and lead guitarists for the 60’s-inspired rock ‘n’ roll band Logan’s Close. They were really fun to chat with. You could easily tell that this is a band rooted in a close-knit friendship and a mutual love and respect for the music. They’re just a couple of young lads trying to play some tunes and have a good time!
Uri: I’d like to start with the city that we’re currently in. What would you say is the biggest misconception people have of edinburgh?
Scott: Probably that there’s no music scene. With Glasgow, obviously they’ve got a bigger music scene because it’s a bigger place. But then people just think that Edinburgh is shit and the crowds are going to be weak and not dance and just stand there.
But that’s a Glasgow-Edinburgh thing. That’s a misconception within Scotland. I don’t know about a global misconception.
Carl: A global misconception is the classic stereotype of beer, haggis, partying and all that.
S: They expect a music show to be a ginger guy playing a bagpipe.
C: And then you have the Fringe, which is the best thing ever.
S: You know it’s the third biggest festival of any kind in the world? It’s because it runs for so long and there’s so many things happening with it. I think the Olympics are bigger because the sheer mass of the Olympics.
C: And the Winter Olympics.
But yeah, it’s such a huge thing that happens here. We’re so lucky to be a part of it and live here and experience it for free. So many people travel here for it.
U: So what is the musical community like then?
C: It could be better. There aren’t enough actual music venues. There’s Stramash. It’s an all-year place. It’s a reformed church, and it’s now just bands, bands, bands every night. It’s super cool.
S: And it’s free to get in.
C: Free entry. They pay all the bands. It’s totally the way it should be. But other than that, there aren’t any stages for unsigned bands. There’s Usher Hall for huge touring bands. Maybe the Liquid Room is another venue where bigger bands play. But that’s kind of it.
S: There should be more venues, but I think it’s more of an attitude. There just aren’t that many people making music. I mean, everybody knows each other. We pretty much know most people from the scene in various bands.
C: But that’s natural. You play music for a while, and you get to know everybody.
S: It’s just that it’s a small city.
C: And everybody’s all in one place. You quickly learn the faces.
U: You guys have a very particular sound. How does it fit into the rest of the community?
C: It doesn’t. The thing is that when we wanted to form the band, we really liked that kind of music, and we were thinking, “Oh, it would be so good to see a band like that in Edinburgh. But there isn’t anything like that here. Oh, we’ll do it.”
S: When we hear about a band playing blues, we get excited, because we’re not a blues band, but it’s definitely a huge influence.
C: If it’s not synth pop, acoustic, bar stuff, singer-songwriter things–there’s not a lot of stuff that works. I just think we’re different aesthetically.
S: We’re so different, y’know?
C: We’re so unique.
S: Soooo against the grain.
U: So what are the other bands you play with like?
S: If it’s not a bluesy band, it’s probably psychedelic. So it’s like going from the roots of where we’re from in the blues to a mixture of that and psychedelia. We’re sort of in the middle of them. There are good bands on both sides. There are bands we like, like Miracle Glass Company.
C: They’re like a Cream rock ‘n’ roll kind of band.
S: Their harmonies are on point. So it’s quite good, because we have friends, but it’s not like we all play the same shit. Our friends in Black Cat Bone play heavy blues. But there’s no one doing exactly what we’re doing, there’s nobody doing exactly what they’re doing.
C: And that’s good, because when you go to a gig, you get to hear a bunch of different styles rather than hearing three indie bands playing post-Oasis stuff.
S: That’s another big thing. Everything is either synth pop or Noel Gallagher wannabes.
U: Outside of Fringe, is there usually a lot of support for music in the city?
C: You kind of really have to drag people out to these things. There isn’t much of a culture gig here.
S: People are up for it, but it doesn’t happen that frequently.
C: It’s funny, because Fringe is this amazing time for everybody, but then as soon as it ends, there’s just this vacuum and it feels empty–back to normal.
U: How would you describe Edinburgh in one word or one sentence?
U: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
S: It’s a good thing. It’s old and pretty. It’s lovely.
C: Old, compact, and pretty.
S: But that’s not one word, though.
U: It’s okay, I said one word or a sentence.
S: Oh. I just went with old.
C: It’s super nice to look at. We don’t even appreciate it enough because we’re from here, but everybody you meet tells you it’s the most beautiful city.
S: You do have moments where if you catch it in the right light and you’re walking down the street, it’s just fucking beautiful.
C: Everything is just right in the middle. Everything you could want to see is in walking distance, pretty much. You’ve got Arthur’s Seat, this big giant hill right in the middle to look at–
S: You’ve got Logan’s Close, which are great.
C: Logan’s Close is a great band to go see. Recommend it highly!
It’s a nice place to go out. It’s not a huge scary city, like London or something. London is too big. It takes ages to really get to know. But here, you meet people, make friends, go out and see each other. It’s got a good balance for a city.
U: The last thing I’ll have to ask about is the food, because I quite enjoy food. We actually just had our first serving of haggis. It didn’t look like what I thought it’d look like. It was like a three-layered…thing.
S: Was it white, and then orange?
S: Haggis, neeps, and tatties.
C: Haggis, turnips, and potatoes.
S: Neeps, for me, I could do without them. I could fucking go with a bowl of tatties with a huge lump of haggis on tops. Neeps, I feel are too sweet.
U: I thought it was all delicious.
S: You fucking better have!
U: I was actually nervous to eat it based on the description, but it was amazing! I finished a quarter of my sister’s after! Now is there a variation on haggis?
S: There’s deep fried haggis.
C: When you said Scottish food, we were just thinking fried things.
S: Literally when you said Scottish food, the first thing we were thinking was fried haggis. Deep fried and battered.
C: You’ve seen the deep fried Mars bar, right? It’s so tender. It’s really nice.
S: It’s good in moderation. A half Mars bar is good for me. Can you eat a full one.
C: No, half is good for me. Share it. With ice cream.
U: In Toronto every Summer we have this thing called the Ex. It’s like a carnival. They’ve done the deep fried Mars bar, but the one thing I don’t think I’d ever try was deep fried butter.
S: And you’re supposed to eat that?
U: People eat it up.
S: I mean, I could maybe go for it if you had the deep fried butter and then a huge pile of tatties.
C: Always bring it back to the tatties.
S: Think about it. If you drop that into a tatty, and then melt everything and break up the tatty. But why the fuck would you eat butter?
C: Maybe deep fried mashed tatties.
S: Get a full tatty, carve a bit of it out, put maybe beans inside, seal it back up, deep fried that shit, and take it out.
U: I think you’ve got something there.
S: And you gotta have some coleslaw, but it can’t be cold.
C: Deep fried coleslaw. Nice.
U: And on that note, let’s switch now to the music! What got you to pick up an instrument in the first place?
S: Each otherrrr.
C: I think there was just a lot of music in our house growing up. Mom and dad were always playing stuff, so there was always an interest there. My brother bought a guitar and we all started playing with it. I was the only one that stuck with it. I wanted to be a guitarist. And then as you do it, you sort of try to start writing songs, and that’s just a whole new thing of technicality. Trying to be creative as well is hard. And it takes a long time to really get into it, but just having music around is what got me into it.
S: There was always music in my house as well, and I was always trying to sing and mimic as much as I could. My dad bought me a guitar when I was too young. I tried, but I didn’t care because I was shit at it. Then I went to guitar lessons in P7 for a while and tried to learn chords and Beatles songs. Then once I had that shit, I got kind of more interested. And then we started playing together and I started writing music.
U: Do you remember the first song you wrote? Either individually or as a band?
S: I wrote a really shit one that didn’t have any words when I was young on my dad’s guitar. It had loads of side effects. I was really young. I had this guitar, and I got a pick, and I used to run it along the E and go, “We have a problem!” It was kind of experimental music. That was my first song.
C: There’s also “His name is John–”
Both: He likes to go swimming on a Sundaaay.
S: That was my second number.
U: And a star was born.
S: But I think the first song I can remember is “She.”
C: We wrote this song more of as in-joke between us. It makes us remember how bad we were at the start. We’ve actually progressed somewhat.
U: How did the band come together? And how have you evolved?
C: We all went o the same school, so we already knew each other–in a way. Towards the end of school, maybe just before I graduated high school, we sort of began to have this friendship circulating around. Listening to records and that. Old 60’s music. We’d go over to our drummer Mikey’s house, and he had this stereo. We’d drink and listen to tunes. It was a good way of becoming comfortable singing in front of each other. At first, he was fine, but me and Mikey weren’t as comfortable doing it like that out in the open. Listening and singing to harmonies and trying to work out harmonies to the songs was a good way of getting comfortable with that kind of thing.
So we started doing that and thinking, “Oh there should be a band that plays the stuff we like and plays in Edinburgh. Oh, wait. Guitar, guitar, drums…hmmm…”
Then there was this woman–she was a promoter–she was really good at helping people from Dunbar, which is a town just outside of Edinburgh. She’d help people at the start get gigs and that, no matter how good they are. She was like, “Boys, boys! I’ve manage to convince a strip club to let you play your music! Would you like to have a slot at the strip club?”
We were like, “YES. That’s our first gig, for sure. That’s how we’re going to start this band.”
Then we saw our P.E. teacher there! It was so funny! What are you doing here?!
S: Randy bugger!
C: He must’ve been mortified to see us there.
U: Was he your current teacher at the time?
S: We’d just graduated. And he actually called Mikey, our drummer, a cunt that night. They went to America together on a school trip.
C: No, it was just them. A romantic weekend together.
S: And then he says to Mikey, “You were a total cunt in America.”
WHAT? You’re in a strip club, you dirty bastard.
U: That is an awesome way to start out.
S: I always sort of forget that was our first gig. We played four songs. Was it four covers?
U: And how would you say the band has changed since that infamous first gig? Actually, wait. How did that first gig even go?
C: It was good.
S: Black Cat Bone was playing there as well. That’s how we know them.
C: I think we were bad.
S: We were shit.
C: Maybe just the fact that we were enjoying what we were doing so much helped other people enjoy it more.
S: I was really nervous.
C: I remember everybody dancing to it and having a good time. It wasn’t super busy, but everybody that was there was into it.
I think we were just finding our feet a bit in the first gigs, trying to work out where we were going. We spent the first year as a band with no bassist. Then in the next year, we went through two or three bassists. A couple months with one guy, then trying to find somebody who was more of our friend. A couple months of him. Then somebody who was more of a machine, somebody who was more of a balance. We have Ollie now, and he’s a total class act. He’s a cool guy.
S: He’s only about seven years old, but he’s amazing. He plays a fretless bass and everything. I don’t know if you’ve seen any pictures of the band, but he’s the baby of the band.
U: He was your George.
C: Exactly! Young boy!
S: Don’t you just always want to kiss his head? It’s weird, this only happened the last few gigs, but I always just want to–“come here.”
C: I guess the difference now is we have more musical experience, and we know what sounds good and what doesn’t sound good. I hope.
S: I think a big difference as well is knowing that people are actually interested, and knowing for a fact that you have fans. That changes everything.
C: Yeah, knowing that we’ve grown into a band that has a following, we know we’re doing something right.
S: For ages, we were just playing gigs and we thought it was going to shit because no one likes us. And it’s going to sound shit because we don’t have a bassist. It’s just going to be shit. You go into it defeated. But now we go in, they pay us, we fucking sell out places, and it’s overwhelming for us. That changes things. It makes it more serious.
C: Trying to write interesting songs with cool ideas thrown in there. Still trying to maintain that sound we had and push it in a more modern way as well. We’re not just a 60’s tribute band.
U: Having that 60’s influence, playing the Cavern Club must have been ridiculous. How did that come about? How did that feel?
C: The first time was in the back room, not the actual Beatles stage. We were supporting this guy, Martin Stephenson. He was randomly in Dunbar, this tiny fishing town that we’re from. He walked into this even tinier record shop there, and they happened to have our record playing. He asked what band was playing, and they said it’s this band from Dunbar. We got a message on Facebook, “Hey boys! Do you wanna play the Cavern Club?” Yes we do!
S: He was like, “I’ve got this interesting offer for you guys if you want to take it.” Yeah, we’ll check our schedules…
C: We got such good feedback from that when we played. So many people came up to us.
S: One guy said he loved me more than his son. He was a fucking freak.
C: I bet his son didn’t enjoy that.
But the second time was part of the IPO Festival that they have there every year. International Pop Overthrow. They have bands from Europe and all over the place. We were on the bill for that. We got a really good slot. Again, seeing the stage, being on the stage, it was so nice. Aspirations, you know? Life goal achieved.
S: Standing pissed on the balcony in Dunbar just chatting from such a young age.
C: At Mikey’s house, “Imagine playing the Cavern Club.” Fast forward three years, and there it is. That’s cool.
S: Everybody there is so keen for any kind of music. As soon as you get to Liverpool, you get this kind of vibe that everyone is excited to just be there.
U: It’s holy ground.
S: Yeah. Liverpudlians are cool. Good place and nice people.
U: So what does the future hold? What happens after Fringe?
C: Strip club tour.
S: Play squash.
C: We’ll probably play more cities–with maybe some squash in between.
S: We had a plan to play squash together for ages.
C: It never happened. But we had a plan to go running as well. I turned up at his door in my shorts, and he didn’t show.
S: No, no, no. He showed up at my door, and I didn’t show up this one time. I felt bad. So then I show up at his place with my fucking running shoes on and my trackies on.
Scott’s girlfriend: You don’t have running shoes.
S: I did at the time, motherfucka! I went up to his room and he was in bed. I was like, “Carl, come on. Let’s go.” And he says he can’t.
C: Yeah, but you started it.
S: I mean, I didn’t actually go for a run.
C: That kind of stifled it. I actually went for the run; he didn’t.
S: You barely ran!
C: It still counts.
S: Fuck off! He ran like three minutes from our house.
C: It’s three minutes more than you.
U: You guys need to coordinate better with your phones next time.
C: So yeah, running and squash. As for the
U: Do you have a favourite song that you like to play?
C: That’s a good question. Maybe “Baby, Please Don’t Go.” We do a cover of the song.
S: I get to shout, “1, 2, 3, 4” and it makes me feel really good.
C: It’s a rough song, and it’s a heavy song for us.
S: But what about our songs?
U: Is there a song that’s close to your heart above all the other songs?
C: I still really enjoy the song that we released, “Kitty Cat.” We always start our shows with it. I don’t know if the other guys are as into playing it, but we’re so good at it. We know every second of it, so there’s no pressure. Playing the song and knowing it so well, knocking it out, it’s just a really good way to start a gig.
U: It’s like second nature.
C: Yeah, and it’s really upbeat. What about you?
S: Maybe “Mine All Mine,” just because it’s usually the last song we play and it’s so explosive. And because it’s the last one we play, the crowds get really into it.
C: They go for that one last dance.
S: It’s just a fun rockin’ tune.
C: All of our songs are really fun. It’s not all about musical accuracy and all that. We’re just having fun. That translates well to the crowd.
S: Yeah, looking like you’re having fun and having good banter. Not taking yourself too seriously.
C: That’s missing from a lot of bands. A lot of bands play really well, but there’s no chemistry.
S: They’re just boring as fuck. Just smile and be friendly at people. Enjoy it.