Today sees the seventh release on my IndieThroughTheLookingGlass label.
I’m delighted to welcome Sons of The Descent‘s wonderful track ‘Physics of Angels‘ to the catalogue.
Sons of the Descent are a Scottish three-piece rich in musical history. Based in Edinburgh and Fife, Hugh Duggie, Stephen Evans and Ian White together bring a touch of independent music royalty.
Ian, from the band is great friends with my brother Tom and we always enjoy talking about music in depth whenever we see each other. Ian and his family were regulars when Danny and I ran the Green Man Festival, it was always lovely to see them and enjoy a catch up.
I’m very excited to say that Grant McPhee director of ‘ Big Gold Dream’ was especially commissioned to produce the ‘Physics of Angels’ video. Grant’s work focusing on Scotland’s post-punk culture was the winner of the Edinburgh International Film Festival Audience Award a couple of years ago.
So, this gives me great pleasure – released today on Indie Through The Looking Glass, ‘Physics of Angels’ Sons of the Descent.
If you buy ‘Physics of Angels’ through the band’s Bandcamp page you get a set of three temporary tattoos including the ‘Physics Of Angels’ cover and two other SOTD tattoos!
Background to Sons of the Descent
As part of Foil, Hugh toured with Moby and The Fall and released music through Mute affiliate 13th Hour Records, Hugh also played on two Lowlife albums.
Foil video shoot
Ian’s band The Wendys were signed to Factory Records by Tony Wilson. Here they are on their signing day with Shaun Ryder’s Dad, Derek!
Here’s a letter Tony wrote after The Wendys finished recording their debut album, ‘Gobbledygook’, released on Factory in 1991.
And Stephen, who performs as electronic artist Bendy Toy, was invited to play T In The Park festival and toured with Faithless.
Bendy Toy at T in the Park.
Together they are the Sons of the Descent.
Their debut album ‘Lazy Glamour’ was released on their own Brawsome Productions, and received extensive national radio plays on BBC 6 and BBC Scotland.
Live, the band have performed at the Shiine On Festival and have already supported The Mekons and A Certain Ratio.
Questions asked by ITTLG
How long have you known each other?
Hugh and Ian
Hugh: I’ve known Ian for over twenty years and Stephen for around 2.
Ian: I met Hugh in the early days of the Wendys, pre-Factory. Probably about ’89. I worked with Stephen in the Media department of a university mid to late 90s. He was doing video graphics stuff and we bonded over music.
At what point did you become conscious of each other’s music?
Hugh: When Ian was in the Wendys, and I was in a band called Lowlife, we shared a rehearsal room at Edinburgh’s Chamber Studios.
The Wendys 1987 Photo by Graham Macindoe
Hugh: I recall Ian playing me some Bendy Toy a couple of years ago when we started talking about doing Live stuff, and really liking it.
Ian: Yes, we shared a rehearsal room with Hugh at Jamie Watson’s Chamber Studios. Where all the Vaseline’s etc. stuff was recorded. But also played on the same bill a few times. I knew Stephen had a DJ history and one day at work he played me some beat laden tracks he had put together on a crazy expensive PC using Cakewalk.
Bendy Toy at T In The Park
Stephen: Ian joined my place of work 25 years ago and used to play me some tapes of his post Factory Wendys LP they were working on.
When did you start playing music together – had any of you worked on anything previously?
Hugh: After the break-up of both our bands in the mid 90’s Ian and I tried to do something together but I ended up in Foil (who Ian still maintains he put me in touch with) on Mute Records, and he went into Management. After that our paths didn’t cross until 2013 when we started doing stuff together again – Lazy Glamour being the result. I met Stephen when Ian recommended him as a Live partner. It all fitted so well we started writing as a three-piece soon after.
Ian: Hugh and I nearly formed something around 93/94 but I had a very young family and he was hungry to get something going. Several people, including me, honest, knew of a band needing a new frontman. That became Foil. Think I suggested to Jamie Watson who already had Hugh in mind. Stephen and I had a project called Johndo Ecosse and played at In The City in 1998.
Didn’t last long other than as a studio project. It morphed into Bendy Toy as a solo project for Stephen. I had a tiny label called Starshaped Records which was a vehicle for a Wendys album release and for a band called Cherryfire Ashes who I managed. We released Bendy Toy’s Fantastic Chicken EP which Steve Lamacq played a LOT!
Stephan Evans, A.K.A. Bendy Toy and Steve Lamacq.
Stephen: Ian and I have been collaborating on and off since we met. We had a 3 piece thing going for Manchester In The City 1998. Then in 2001 I did ITC again solo as Bendy Toy. Ian was kind of managing then. That lasted until about 2004.
Around 2 years ago, Ian and Hugh wanted to play Lazy Glamour live, so asked me to put together the backing/ beats for them. They asked me to join full time after a few gigs… after that we all started writing new material together.
How do you think you have progressed / evolved since ‘Lazy Glamour’
Hugh: The writing process is different now; it maybe took a while to progress as it was a change from Ian and I just exchanging ideas. Now we tend to get loops and ideas from Stephen which we build around, although we still have more ‘organic’ complete song ideas which we write, then take to Stephen to ‘beef up’.
Ian: The big change is a third wheel, sometimes leading and steering, and sometimes at the back for stability and making the music better.
Is it easy to explain the writing / creating progress?
Hugh: No…it’s like waiting on buses. Sometimes I’ll sit for ages with my guitar or listening to tunes in my head and hate everything I hear/do. Then a bunch of really good ideas will come along out of the ether. Seemingly from nowhere. The best ones are always the ones that sound so natural you think you must have heard it before. They almost write themselves.
Ian: Lazy Glamour was very organic in the main although a few songs were maybe 90% Hugh and some were 90% me but always embellished by the other. For the track Charisma I had a single guitar part and a single lyric line and Hugh turned it into a full song. He is great at visualising something from very little input. For the next album we have a mix of approaches a few like Lazy Glamour but with Stephen adding/changing the beats. Others like Physics have started as a musical root from Stephen, been restructured and had vocals and guitars added. I’m liking the mix of approaches.
Stephen: I’m very loop/groove/bass orientated, so come up with sequences, grooves, basslines and send them over to the others. They often come back with singing and guitars added, then I’ll add a bit more, or the others will add more and it goes back and forward until we decide we have to meet up to lock it all down properly in the Hithut (my studio space) or rehearsal room. Or Ian and Hugh kick things off with beats or guitars and I add stuff and it goes back and forward that way too. Sometimes fully formed songs, other-times a groove. There is also a load of older stuff that each of us has in our digital drawers that we bring back and listen again to see if new life can be breathed into them and we all add something new to those. That’s how Physics of Angels came about.
‘Physics of Angels’ is a brilliant track. Are you happy to discuss it’s meaning?
Hugh: I never write ‘political’ lyrics, and I hope the lyrics to PoA are suitably vague; it’s a psych-dance track and people shouldn’t feel they’re being hit over the head with some ‘message’. However it all just came from a general feeling of disgust and helplessness I was feeling at the time with the Middle Eastern situation. I’m quite a politically motivated person, I just never put it in lyrics. Personal politics maybe; the elevation of everyday personal relationships. Just not this kind of thing normally.
Ian: I just assumed it was a rampant rant against corporate warmongering murderous b@st@rds, but I’m prepared to be wrong.
It’s a wonderful psychedelic, groovy piece of music. It reminds me of late baggy, World of Twist – is that fair?
Hugh: This track was very much something Stephen had put together, and which I just added lyrics and a melody to, and Ian some swirling guitar. Then the three of us began ‘editing’ to what it’s become now. It was already pretty psychedelic before that, so hopefully what we’ve done has only enhanced it.
Ian: I think we try to get some psychedelia into most of our tracks either in production or feel. Don’t always succeed but I’ll have that. Stoners love our stuff, allegedly. The Wendys’ first tour manager also worked with World Of Twist. Met a couple of them at the Columbia in London when we were on tour. Baggy was always such a loose term anyway… I’ll get me coat…
Stephen: I’m surprised at the baggy comparison, but then again, I loved World of Twist and was fully immersed in clubbing and the music of the baggy era. Hugh and Ian were doing big things with their bands during that time too, so maybe the influence of those times, into this song has been subconscious from all three of us. I’m very proud for it to be described as psychedelic though. As well as being a huge 60’s psych fan, I think that was our end intention when mixing it.
World of Twist – were from Hulme, Cheshire and formed in 1985.
How do you know Grant McPhee – how did it come about that he directed the video?
Ian: My friend Bruce Naughton made a low budget vampire movie called Blood Junkies twenty odd years ago which was never released. It was set in Muirhouse in Edinburgh (area with the toilet scene in Trainspotting). Grant organised a showing of the film at the CCA in Glasgow a few months ago with Q and A after. I got speaking to him and we had a lengthy music chat. I sent him a link to POA and he suggested making a video for it… which he did! Lovely and talented man. Stephen’s nephew Sam is doing a media production course and helped out with the shoot. Grant was great with him.
‘ Big Gold Dream’, Grant’s work focusing on Scotland’s post-punk culture was the winner of the Edinburgh International Film Festival Audience Award.
What equipment do each of you use – studio / live?
As little as possible. Italia Modena six-string for studio and live, with a Danelectro gain/distortion pedal and a very cheap delay pedal. I also have an old ’78 USA Tele which I used all the time in Foil, and an Ibanez Artcore semi-acoustic; but the Modena has a great jazzy tone and stage sound so I tend just to use it all the time.
Ian: Fender Tele ‘79 (Old Blue), Shergold Masquerader, Revelation RJT60 and 60/12, Yamaha SA30T, Laney VC30, Boss Space Echo, Boss ME70. For recording we use a mix of Logic, Ableton and Reason but always end up in ProTools now. Interfaces are Digidesign and Focusrite.
Roland MC 909 sequencer/sampler workstation
Roland TR9 drum machine
Roland Mx1 Digital performance mixer
M Audio Keyboard
Arturia micro brute
Korg Volca Beats
Korg Volca Keys
Korg Volca Bass
Yamaha RX5 drum machine
Alesis hr16 drum machine
Ableton Live 9
Anything else you’d like to add?
Live feels good now and we have a strong live set. We plan on getting out around the country in Autumn/Winter. Anyone who wants us to play get in touch.
Jo: Thanks very much, and happy release day! X