10 October 2011

Fresh Meat Monday - Collar Up

Would you care to introduce yourself?

Hello, I’m Stephen McLaren, front man of Collar Up.

How would you describe the music you make?

Piano-led dream-pop, influenced by Beach House, Mercury Rev, Kate Bush, Divine Comedy, Miracle Fortress among many others I guess. Sometimes we’re uplifting, but it isn’t always possible…

How did you start out making music?

I always used to mess about with chord sequences on the piano when I was younger, but I didn’t start writing songs until I was about 21. I guess I didn’t have the confidence to do so before then, but I was quite lucky in that the first song I wrote was quite popular amongst some folk around me at the time. That encouraged me to do more.

What process goes into the way you write songs?

I experiment with chord sequences first of all. The chord sequence has to be interesting to my ear before anything goes on further. Then, I write about whatever is on my mind at the time. If the lyrics and the chords and general feel of the music “fit”, there’s a song. I spend time on the lyrics, and the songs can often (not always) take several months – so, I’m not prolific!

What can people expect from your live shows?

We like to dress well, Nora adds some glamour and class to the band and Stephen Dennis (guitarist) is worth watching just because he is skinnier with each passing gig. We’re very personable, come and speak to us after or before gigs, we like that. The live set is a bit more up-tempo than the recorded songs as people pay more attention to the lyrical content on a recording than in a live gig. Getting the attention of the listener is different in a live gig; we recognise that and our live performance hopefully do keep the mind’s attention.

What are you all listening to at the moment?

Apart from all of the above influences, Cocteau Twins back catalogue is never far away from my ears. I very much enjoyed PJ Harvey’s last album and was lucky enough to have been at the Villager gig earlier in the year. Stephen D likes the last Pheonix album and Nora and I both share a love for Dirty Projectors last album, though we’ve never seen them live.

What can we expect to see/hear from you in 2011?

We’ll be gigging around Edinburgh and beyond promoting our single, “Short Term Memories” (our Monday 26th September) and will hopefully be recording again in due course. Our next set is an acoustic daytime gig at Hair of the Dog Sundays at Red Dog Music on the Grassmarket (Sunday the 25th September) - Sorry guys, Peenko


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