Savage Mansion‘s Craig Angus has much to look forward to with the release of their debut album, Revision Ballads, out this Friday, but he is also having a party to celebrate at Glasgow’s Hug and Pint. He takes a moment out to speak with The Fountain about how he came to meet Andrew, Jamie and Lewis from the band, after Poor Things split as well as the joy he feels working with Lost Map.
TF: You have a new album out very soon, in fact, debut album, what can we expect from this one Craig?
It basically includes songs that were written right at the start of this project, more than three years ago now, from my bedroom in Perth in 2015 right up until we were meant to record. It was all tracked pretty quickly, there was no money that went into the record so we just recorded it live as far as possible over two weekends so it has a pretty raw feel to it. I guess what I hope people take from it is that it is a record with energy, I certainly feel that way about it.
TF: You are originally from Perth but you’re now in the gentrified heart of Battlefield with other members from various other parts of Scotland, how did you originally all meet?
I played in a band called Poor Things for a long time, about seven years, and before that I was at school with those guys and we were in bands at school as well in Perth. We did a lot of stuff, but we weren’t particularly good. We put out an album ourselves a long time ago and it was mostly just stuff we were doing for our own amusement. But we got asked to go play in Shetland at Shetfest, which is a big festival in Lerwick in 2014. We were playing with a bunch of bands from Glasgow so we all got the boat together from Aberdeen and it’s a long journey. It’s crazy, it was all pretty messed up, the gig was pretty mad, there was no-one really from Shetland there. I think there was a handful of people there, most were the bands from Glasgow watching themselves. But then I met these guys from Catholic Action, I’d not seen or heard them before. We just really got on well, I don’t really know what it was and when we got back from Shetland we started hanging out a bit more, and we started doing stuff between our bands
The first Catholic Action release was a tape, but we did a tape with them, a split single, and we did a few shows together. We just all became very good mates so when Poor Things split up I was pretty bummed about that, and it took a bit of encouragement from a couple of those guys telling me to do my own thing, that I didn’t need particularly to have that band, there could be another band. And that was it really, and whenever it came to having people to play on the recordings it made sense to ask them. Taylor, on the other hand, who was the original drummer, was just a guy I had seen play in other bands, and thought was funny, and seemed like a good guy to hang out with, pretty enthusiastic, and I had just been in a band with people who were probably coming to the end of wanting to be in a band anymore. So the idea of being in a band with someone who woke up everyday and had a lust for life was appealing. So that was it. We met through gigs really, from being around at the same shows at the same time, and hitting it off.
Lewis, who plays drums now, I know from performing with Marth Ffion, so it just made sense. He wanted to do it, he’s a good friend and a great drummer so it worked out pretty well.
TF: Titled Revision Ballads, you are releasing this via Lost Map, what have they been like to work with?
Oh they’re great. I mean, I have always been a fan really. I am quite good friends with Susan Bear from Tuff Love and whenever Lost Map started, I remember they were putting out the Tuff Love EPs and I just thought those records were great. The Rozi Plain album, Friends, is great, I really like Monoganon’s stuff, I like the fact that you can’t really predict a Lost Map release, I don’t think there is a defined thing that they put out, they put out a lot of different music. I sent the Savage Mansion stuff over to Johnny thinking it might not be particularly his thing but he has been great, he’s jump on it from the word go. They are really good people, there’s a small team of them, and it’s nice to feel part of that intimate sort of thing. There are no impersonal relationships there, you work with three or four people who after a while you know quite well. It appeals to me working with people that you have a good personal relationship with. I think they are great.
TF: And you all have other projects on the side, as you perform with Martha Ffion’s band and Andrew and Jamie are in Catholic Action, how do you find this impacts on the process of writing and recording?
It doesn’t impact on the process of writing really, I am a bit of a lone wolf in that respect, certainly for this project. After Poor Things splitting up, that was one of the things I had been pushing for a while, I wanted to get another record done. I had so many songs, and it too so long to get anywhere. I was a bit stung by the fact that when that project finished, that I could’ve just been putting stuff out the whole time, off my own back really. I don’t really struggle to write, it’s not all good, don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of material there, so the writing is not affected by it. It is sometimes hard to get together to rehearse and what not. But I think we just have to find ways round it. Everyone plays in multiple bands these days, I don’t really know many people who are involved in this thing that don’t have more than one thing going on. We just went away as Savage Mansion there, as three months ago we were struggling to find the time to work on new songs, and we just battered through everything in the space of a couple of days.
TF: And how was it to record over in Glasgow’s legendary Chem19 Studios?
It was good, it was brilliant. We did the Martha Ffion album there, the January, the year before, and that was really fun, it was a different experience though. We were taking a lot of time over stuff, figuring out specific sounds and working quite slowly whereas whenever we had done Savage Mansion recordings up till then it had been very quick at getting things done and moving on. We weren’t meant to record the album there, it kind of happened by accident. We were going to record with Suze, who had recorded the initial demos and the initial EP, and she suggested that instead of doing it in a room somewhere that we just spend a day or two to dry hire the studio there and do it in a nice place and then Suze had to pull out because she was doing a Pictish Trail tour. We had booked the time anyway and I knew Jamie from doing the Martha Ffion album and he happened to be free the weekend that we wanted to record so I just said let’s do this here with you and it was quite fun because he hadn’t really worked like that before. He is quite a precise guy and very methodical in the way that he does things. So we kind of took him out of his comfort zone a bit in terms of having to just mike up and move on a lot of the time. And it worked out quite well. It’s an amazing studio, it is very well kitted out, everyone whose there are nice people. I’ve spent a lot of time there in the last couple of years. It’s a great place, I would have no reservations about working there at any point.
TF: And there has to be tour to follow up this release, can you tell the Fountain about the gigs that are coming up for Savage Mansion?
We are doing three shows the weekend the album comes out so it’s Thursday 14th February at The Cellar, Friday 15th at The Hug and Pint, which is the album release day. We are playing Dundee the next night at Conroy’s Basement, which we will have a different drummer for. Ryan, the drummer for Catholic Action will be joining us. I think we will also be doing some more shows in May but we are just trying to work that out just now. Maybe some festivals as well.
Revision Ballads is out on Friday 15th February, and the band are performing in Aberdeen’s The Cellar tonight, Glasgow’s Hug and Pint on Friday and Dundee’s Conroy’s Basement on Saturday.