Temporarily befuddled by a malady that affected his ability to spell, Peter McGee’s search for a cheeky cabernet led him instead to the dark cabaret of Glasgow band Louise McVey and Cracks in the Concrete. A honest mistake, but one that soon turned into a conversation.
PM: Where did you first start out in music?
GRAEME: For me, it was just playing guitar in lots of average indie bands. I never really got much out of it.
PM: Bands at school?
GRAEME: Not at school, but since then. I’ve been playing with other people, and playing their stuff. I’ve also done spoken word collaborations. Then I bumped into Louise.
LOUISE: I’ve been working with a rock band for a few years since art school, and doing solo stuff as well.
PM: How did you meet?
GRAEME: At Stereo. Some dodgy gig with about 10 people at it.
LOUISE: We became friends, then took part in a jam session.
GRAEME: I’d been jamming with Sven, a mutual friend.
LOUISE: Then I was at a festival, and the band I was with couldn’t do the festival, so I asked Graeme to do something and we threw a set together at short notice.
PM: Louise, I believe you work with ceramics. How did you get into that?
LOUISE: I went to art school and did a degree in it – it was either that or time-based arts. I worked in Austria and Ireland doing workshops and just stuck with it. It’s quite good because I can do music at the same time, and it’s quite a nice contrast to music and to stage work.
PM: Did you have an idol when growing up?
GRAEME: There’s so many people that I like…
PM: Even a favourite album?
GRAEME: It’s not really related to what we’re doing at the moment, but the soundtrack to “Vertigo.” I listen to that a lot, as well as Miles Davis. “Bitches Brew” is a great album.
PM: Would you attribute your passion for the arts to anyone or anything in particular?
LOUISE: Literature is quite a big pull for me, because of the worlds it opens up. It allows your imagination to grow and also allows you to be creative.
GRAEME: I don’t know if I can answer that question.
PM: When did your musical experimentation become Cracks in the Concrete?
GRAEME: I don’t really do stuff as Cracks in the Concrete, I’m just on my tod, though I’ve been collaborating with Louise McVey and Cracks in the Concrete for the past three years.
LOUISE: I decided that – because I’d been in a band for a while and doing other work – that I wanted to keep my name.
PM: So you have Cracks in the Concrete as a separate project?
LOUISE: No, I have Louise McVey and Cracks in the Concrete as the title.
PM: Cracks in the Concrete was taken from a Frank Black song, was it?
GRAEME: It was, from a song called “Calistan.” There’s a line in it talking about “cracks in the concrete”. Plus, there’s the “concrete” experimental genre.
PM: How did you come to find your sound?
LOUISE: It wasn’t contrived or intentional. We started off experimenting with a few different songs and kept throwing songs off the list. Gradually, we realised what we liked. Then the writing got stronger.
PM: A style was developed.
LOUISE: Yes. We’re trying not to be too contrived or predictable.
GRAEME: We’ve heard enough three-chord rock songs.
PM: How would you describe your sound?
GRAEME: “Dark cabaret” – I like that!
PM: There’s an almost theatrical element to your music. Do you recognise this in addition to the literary influence?
LOUISE: Yes, but I suppose literature crosses over into theatre and storytelling anyway.
PM: Are there any bands or artists that grab your attention?
GRAEME: The Cramps, Nick Cave, Erik Satie…
LOUISE: I’m quite enjoying Camille O’Sullivan, but more in a live situation. As a performer, she’s amazing. Also, Kate Bush.
PM: Do you have any gigs lined up?
LOUISE: We have a dark cabaret gig a week today.
PM: Is this something you’ve done before?
LOUISE: No, but a couple of us did work for a trapeze artist at an event recently. This gig is part of Matsuda Cabaret, and it will be at the g2. Should be interesting!
PM: Louise, Graeme, thank you for your time!
Louise McVey and Cracks in the Concrete play Matsuda Cabaret at the Garage, Glasgow on Thursday 15th December 2011.