Ayrshire trio Sucioperro were as impressive as always as they hammered through a heavy but diverse set at Fubar on Friday. Prolific lead songwriter JP Reid is perhaps best known to the mainstream for his work in Marmaduke Duke alongside Biffy Clyro frontman Simon Neil, but this hardworking three piece have earned a steady, cult-like following over the past decade. They've also been playing as a quintet over the past few months, joining forces with The Fire and I.
Air3 asked the band about this, amongst other things, before the Stirling leg of a six date tour that has still managed to include both London and Bathgate.
Air3: Hey, guys. How is everything in the Sucioperro camp? How was England?
Stewart (Guitar/Bass/ Backing Vocals): Great, yeah! England was good fun, and very productive. We managed to sell out the London Barfly for the first time – after years of playing there – so yeah, that was fantastic.
Fergus (Drums/Percussion): The fact that the gig was on a Friday was great too. We had a great turnout, which we're really grateful for. People really made the effort, and brought mates along and stuff. Freeze the Atlantic, who were supporting, were great too.
Air3: This is a shorter tour than what you perhaps usually embark upon. Was it a conscious decision to come to the likes of Stirling and Dunfermline instead of Glasgow for example?
Stewart: I suppose it was to an extent. Having a three week tour was a nice change, and a good way of rounding off the year. We played Glasgow earlier this year, whereas we've not played in Stirling for about three years.
Fergus: Yeah. It's nice to come back up to Stirling, for sure, and we thought we'd save Glasgow this time round. The places we got asked to play in England are venues we love, so we were really happy to play them.
Stewart: To be honest, we get asked to play a lot of places, but it isn't always affordable. It's important that a tour is cost-effective, and the fact that we've been able to play long weekends has been great, because Mondays and Tuesdays aren't always feasible for people.
Air3: You used Pledgemusic [where people can pledge different amounts for different items] for your latest record (The Heartstring and How to Pull It), and admirably donated a cut of the money to Alzheimers Scotland. How and when did you decide to use such a tool?
Fergus: I suppose that the pledge thing came to our attention over time, but it took our manager to really convince us to do it. The album had been finished for a while, so we didn't want people thinking that they'd be funding our production or anything.
Stewart: Or cocaine binges! [laughs] It was a cool way for our fans to get their hands on limited edition stuff etc. It was a neat way of “marketing” too, because it meant that people that follow the band would feel like they were really investing in what we are doing. They're a brilliant fanbase and I feel that it was rewarding for us and the fans. In addition, having some of the funds go to Alzheimers was an extra incentive to do well with it.
Air3: What state do you think Scottish music is currently in? And do you have any advice for upcoming musicians in Scotland?
Stewart: Work hard. And believe in what you are doing. I get the impression that a lot of bands just don't do it for the right reasons.
JP (Lead Vocals/Lead guitar): Absolutely. The reason we still make music is because we love it. We're not necessarily making any money from the venture. The X-Factor generation we live in is very fixated on fame, and it's a cliché, but a lot of bands go into the business with the wrong motivation, and many end up frustrated because they're not at the Foo Fighters' level within a few years! It took a band like Biffy Clyro 15 years to become successful in Europe alone.
Fergus: To answer your first question, Scotland's the same as most places in many respects. There are good bands and bad bands in every scene.
Stewart: Make Sparks are great, they played with us last night in Bathgate. It's great to see bands like Twin Atlantic and The Xcerts making it bigger as well.
Air3: Have you started work on the new album? The new track tonight sounds notably heavy.
JP: It's all written. We just need to learn to play it. I'd say it's going to definitely be our “dirtiest” album yet.
Air3: A return to the heavier style of Pain Agency then?
JP: Not exactly actually. When I say dirty, I don't mean that we've written a metal record or some weird prog album. It's more restrained than that. When you think of hard rock bands playing “dirty” rock riffs, you tend to think of bands like Queens of the Stone Age, and they're definitely notoverly-technical or heavy for the sake of it. The same could even be applied to a trio like Muse.
Stewart: It's our most relaxed, fierce and dirty record yet. How's that for a description! Definitely not angry though. Our records are all pretty different to each other, and this one will be no exception.
Air3: When will we get to buy it?
Fergus: Hopefully next year at some point.
Stewart: When we have the money!
Air3: How do you find the time to be so productive? Your most recent singles had five B-sides a piece, and that's not including the new Chemicals EP...
Stewart: We wrote around 30 songs this year, and not all fitted on the record. We're lucky in that JP is very prolific as a songwriter, and we try and use as much as possible. He's usually in the studio for about 14 hours a day, for a month at a time.
JP: There's no real mystery to it. Cigarettes and tea help me function I suppose. I don't throw everything in, mind you. If I think something is crap, it's usually gone by the time we play, and I'm blessed to have a band that plays the music I love.
Air3: You're playing live as a five-piece at the moment, thanks to the additional support of The Fire and I's Gordon and Hooligan. How did that come about?
Stewart: That's a very long story!
JP: The shortest answer is that we talked about having keyboards and more percussion in the band for a while. We all play different parts in the studio anyway, so rather than get a new guitarist, we decided to thicken the band's sound out that way.
Stewart: We've known The Fire and I for a while, so we phoned them up and asked, and they've regretted saying yes ever since!
Fergus: It's a better way of doing it as well. We thought about using backing tracks for a while, but who likes backing tracks?
JP: It's a more unique experience to go see as well, I think. I'm no prodigy, and yet we're often marketed as the “new Biffy” or whatever. Simon's [Neil] one of my favourite songwriters, and we certainly don't want to look like just another rock trio doing the type of thing they do so brilliantly.
Air3: Speaking of Simon, is the final Marmaduke Duke segment going to see the light of the day?
JP: That's the plan. It really depends on when Biffy's label [14th Floor] are ready. It might not be until after Biffy's next record, unless we sneak it out in the new year. Simon's incredible though, he's only been home for a week at a time for about four years, so he'll need some rest.
Air3: Okay, so, you vs. Biffy. Who'd win in a fight?
JP: There's five of us now, and Hooligan's a Mexican wrestler in his spare time! [laughs] Even with Mike Vennart [Biffy's live guitarist], I think we'd still take them.
Fergus: Nobody would want to fight though, except maybe Ben Johnstone. He'd be well up for it!
JP: We're lovers, not fighters.
Air3: Also JP, I should mention the Invisibles project that you've been plugging on Facebook. Could you describe what this has entailed?
JP: I decided to do it on a whim really. Basically, it's a “solo” project that I wanted to undertake in my downtime. I'm nowhere near talented enough to do a Damien Rice-esque acoustic album but I record a lot, often just with a condenser mic in my room or whatever. When recording I began noticing things like a truck driving past being as sonically interesting as what I was doing. That's when I got the idea to ask people to send samples in, and the response was overwhelming. I think I received about 4.4 gig of material in four days, which is just phenomenal. I didn't just want to go “Oh, let's write a song with rain in the back” though. I sub-consciously began to intimately know the different recordings anyway; like the rain in Cologne would sound significantly different to rain in Aldershot, for whatever reason! Some of the pieces were amazing musical pieces as well, but you didn't need to be technical or musical to contribute. That was the beautiful part; you don't need to be Beyoncé or Van Gogh to be a part of it. Making music is a learning curve, it's not about being a genius. So in that sense, Invisibles is a chance to be part of something humbling and rewarding.
Air3: Wow, that's fantastic. To conclude, how would you sum up your sound in three words for Air3 listeners?
Stewart: Super. Effing. Awesome.
Air3: Cheers guys!
Stay updated on Sucioperro at www.sucioperro.com. Details on the Invisibles project at: http://www.facebook.com/invisiblesx