Book Group on changing band names, goNORTH and ‘striking rock poses’
Book Group

On the Radar – No 228: Name changes have always been a common occurrence in music. A whole host of musicians have changed their name to start afresh for a variety of reasons, some mandatory, some out of reinvention. (Snoop Lion’s recent switch from canine to large cat a fine example of the latter.)

Edinburgh’s The Bad Books have ditched their old moniker to be resurrected as Book Group, a subtle collective whose live performances and debut EP ‘Homeward Sound’ has caught the eyes and ears of several taste-makers (they were also one of Radar’s tips for 2013).

They tell Harris Brine about their new identity, their favourite books, and what they’re looking forward to at goNORTH festival this week…

Book Group

Hello Book Group… Now, you were formerly known as The Bad Books. What happened, did Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull send you menacing, threatening emails to break down your doors if you didn’t change the name?

Graeme (Anderson, singer): Yeah Andy and Kevin starting getting in touch. They were fine at first but then they started getting like ‘you better change your name or we are coming to kick your arse’ so we thought we’d better change it. I reckon we could have them though!

I actually never knew that a band called Bad Books existed and it seemed silly to launch an EP under a name that was already out there. I prefer Book Group now.

OK, so new name, new start… For our readers who are not familiar with Book Group, can you introduce the band in your own unique way?

Graeme: I would like to introduce us via the means of charades but that doesn’t come across well in a written interview so I’d probably have to just be boring and tell folk that here is Book Group. Four guys who like to make noise together and strike rock poses.

Michael (Morrison, guitarist): We’re all from previous bands and Book Group is so far a way to exorcise old demons. Graeme sings and brings in various keyed instruments along with his guitar, I just really play guitar over everything, then Scott (Finnigan)’s on bass and Andrew (Brodie)’s on drums. We sort of tenuously knew each other before the band started, but like most bands there’s definitely an element of ‘happy accident’ to the whole thing.

What band are you most envious of and why?

Graeme: The Flaming Lips – they have it all. Top tunes, inflatable balls and animal costumes. They tick all the boxes.

Michael: Right now The National. They’ve made the smallest incremental improvements between each record, without needing to really change their sound or approach since the first EP. To be able to do that and get more and more successful is pretty rare. So yeah, well jealous.

If you were literally part of a book group, what three pieces of literature would you introduce to the group and why?

Graeme: Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers – a simple, gorgeous story. The illustrations he puts with them are great. Espedair Street by Iain Banks – Iain Banks has been a favourite author of mine for years. I did Espedair Street as my RPR for Higher English. History of Scotland by Neil Oliver – I’m fairly ignorant to the history of this country and this book delivered in bite size pieces for me.

Michael: House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski as it’s equal parts terrifying and slacker. Ablutions by Patrick Dewitt as it’s hilarious and unapologetic in its indulgent f***-ups, and Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, as it made me want dress like a pirate, carry a knife and spit in people’s food.

And what books would you burn?

Graeme: Anything by Enid Blyton – so out of date and stuck in a time that is alien for most folk.

Michael: The thousands upon thousands of variations on the ‘this book will change your life/get you laid/make you not fat/earn you more money/help you generally better your life’ theme. They’re poisonous.

So you’re heading up to goNORTH this week… We know you’ll be attending the Plastic Animals show given that you’re friends with them, but who else is worth checking out?

Graeme: Would you believe we are on the same time as Plastic Animals. Gutted!!! Woodenbox are always fab so I would recommend them. Other acts that tickle my fancy are Fake Major and Campfires in Winter. There are a ridiculous amount of top bands though. Thrilled to be involved.

Michael: Roman Nose, Garden of Elks, Hector Bizerk.

Finally, Book Group invent a new genre, and ask two celebrities to come on board to form a new band. What’s the new genre, who are the two celebrities and what will be the new band be called?

Graeme: My celebs would be Brian Blessed (Drums) and Ronnie Brown (he’d play that mad guitar thing that the corries invented). I’d complete the line up and we would be called Beard, Beard, Beard. New genre would be skuzz.

Book Group play Blackfriars in Inverness at 8pm tomorrow (5 June). Their debut EP ‘Homeward Sound’ was released last month and is available on Bandcamp

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