Keeping it in the family - making a scene with A Mild Peril

Wednesday, 28th August 2019, 10:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 28th August 2019, 11:54 am

They do say being in a band can be like family, so perhaps the chaos of a musician’s life is good preparation for settling down with kids. However, as the members of Glasgow-based trio A Mild Peril have found, the urge to make music never goes away.

So when Rowan Smith and Ryan McGinness got chatting about her new drum kit at a beer festival, their former lives around Glasgow’s indie scene immediately came up, and soon they were jamming in a garage with Smith’s toddler Callum chiming in on guitar.

“Fortunately there was someone we’re both good friends with who could play better than a four–year-old,” she laughs.

That was Duncan Robertson, her former bandmate in The Boy Cartographer, a ‘slowcore’ trio whose sound was not too far removed from how A Mild Peril now do. “We were going to be blusey and dirty,” Smith reveals, “but it didn’t work out that way!” Instead, their ‘Ragged Claws’ EP is a short and sweet collection of dreamy pop tunes with Smith also playing ukulele and singing – the trio hoping to secure a new drummer.

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“I’m a dab hand at karaoke, so I’m fine if there’s a TV… but I can’t remember lyrics! With drumming you make it up a lot of it up – I’ve played in bands where the audition was a gig, but you can’t do that when you’re singing!”

For Robertson it’s more relaxed than his time in Dananananaykroyd, where along with bassist McGinness the indie sextet brushed the charts and endured the record label pressure that entails.

“Now it’s like being a teenager again, it’s a hobby band, hanging out with friends... the idea of a recording studio is… not scary, but quite a jump from what we’re doing so far.”

“Everyone’s relaxed,” Smith adds, of their lo-fi studio setup. “You’re not paying £40 an hour, thinking ‘better not mess up this take’. It’s more ‘us’, it can be quite stressful being in a band, people can get really grumpy and argue about silly things, or if you’re just chatting and having a nice time you think ‘we’re paying for this chatting!’”

Happily, their third (absent today) member will keep things in check. “I’ve never been in a band with someone like Ryan,” Smith confesses. "(In previous groups) when a recording was complete it’d be ‘this is the song, don’t touch it!’ and people would go in a quiet huff. Ryan will say ‘we should redo that’, ‘that’s too long’, and he’ll make it better."

“Rowan and I have learned to listen to Ryan,” Robertson adds, “he’s typically right!”

Of course, once their drummer is in place, recording will inevitably lead to live shows. But not too many.

“I’m a home bird,” Smith smiles, “my biggest tour was three gigs in a row (the farewell shows for The Second Hand Marching Band). Glasgow, London and ‘see ya!’”

“I think I romanticised touring the UK so much,” Robertson agrees. “We did it a couple of times, and it’s a lot of fun, but a lot of slogging around – so I got that out of my system.”

And of course, having young families isn’t exactly conducive to the rock’n’roll lifestyle either.

“Music’s just something you make time for,” says Smith, who with her partner employs a ‘token’ system for child-minding purposes. “You get one token, so rehearsals, or to go get drunk, you have to use them sparingly!”

However, neither band member will have any qualms about their offspring getting into music. Smith also has musical roots, a drumming father who roadied for Alice Cooper, her godfather a member of Scottish prog / art rock legends Chou Pahrot.

And Robertson’s son Marshall – named after an amplifier sponsorship deal, he jokes (?) – already has ideas about being in a band. Perhaps unsurprisingly. “There are a lot of instruments around the house – music’s in the air – it’s just a normal thing.”