Would you care to introduce yourself?
Hi. My name’s Lyn Ralph and I sing and play bass in His Name Is Codeine, a trio from Elgin in the north east of Scotland. The band is completed by Marc Roy (guitars and vocals) and Mark Simpson (guitars and vocals).
How would you describe the music you make?
We were once described as a Scottish Velvet Underground having a cup of tea with the Jesus and Mary Chain and The Raveonettes, which is in the right ball park. If I had to describe our music I would say it is hypnotic, dark, intense, sometimes noisy and always melodic. There are comparisons you can draw but I like to think it comes out the other end sounding like His Name Is Codeine.
How did you start out making music?
I bought an electric guitar when I was 17 after I got really into The Beatles, The Stones, The Doors and British guitar music like Ride and Spiritualized, and decided I wanted to learn. I then saved for a drum machine and a four track, and I used to write and record songs in my bedroom, that thankfully no one ever heard. Coming from Elgin, it’s pretty hard to get a band together but I met our guitarist Mark (Simpson) and we would record songs at his house. We had a band for a while and we did pretty well, but it fell apart when I moved to Glasgow. When I returned home we started playing around with some songs with Marc (Roy) and after recording some of the songs I’d written, we started live rehearsals and His Name Is Codeine was born in April 2010.
What process goes into the way you write songs?
I usually write songs by picking up the acoustic and seeing what comes out, the lyrics and the music normally come together. Though lately I’ve taken to writing to a drum beat and a bass line, just recording a basic loop and writing the lyrics on top. My guitar skills are limited so using different ways to come up with ideas can be good for inspiration. Once I’ve got the basics of a new song recorded, I’ll get the guys involved and see what they can come up with. It’s normally Marc who will come up with the main guitar part and then the other Mark will come in and bolster what’s already there. Though there are times it works the other way around. The only time we’ve worked differently is for ’Before The Apple Fell’, where Marc wrote the music and I wrote the words, and it’s been our most successful song to date so maybe we should try that more often!
What can people expect from your live shows?
Our live shows can be pretty intense. I mean, we are no different on stage than we are in rehearsals as we are not the kind of band that can turn on a switch and feel it. We aren’t really in it for posturing on stage, so it’s all completely real. We just let the music do the talking. Because we don’t have a drummer at the moment it’s just the three of us along the front and when we are all singing it can be quite powerful. We use a looper pedal for the drums which is really hypnotic and allows us to lock into a groove, while the two guitarists paint the picture of the song. Marc has a multitude of effects pedals which define the sound of each song, while the other Mark is more about the fuzz and distortion, so it can get pretty noisy at times. There’s a definite rawness to our live performances that is worth seeing, if the feedback we get is anything to go by!
What are you all listening to at the moment?
Marc’s really into bands like Dead Skeletons, Spiritualized, Singapore Sling and The Warlocks, while the other Mark is a big fan of Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers and Captain Beefheart. I absolutely love Neil Young, The Black Angels and Gram Parsons, so they are never far from the stereo, while the last album I bought was The Lost Rivers ’Sin and Lostness’. The encouraging thing for us at the moment, is that there are a lot of bands on the go in the UK worth listening to. Bands like Cult Of Dom Keller, Helicon, 93MillionMilesFromTheSun, The Lucid Dream and The Underground Youth are all examples of hard working bands making things happen for themselves.
What can we expect to see/hear from you in the future?
We have just finished supporting Doncaster shoegazers 93MillionMilesFromTheSun on their Scottish dates, which went really well for us. With the type of music we make, it’s so important for us to put ourselves in front of the right kind of people. We got an amazing reception in Glasgow, which was only our second gig in the city (our first saw us sandwiched between two covers bands!) and we have got some loyal fans in Aberdeen, who have made things worthwhile in the tough times. We started work on recording our album in July, and we’ve been sidetracked preparing for these gigs, so we will get back to that this week. We are not putting a timescale on the album because we want it to be as good as we can make it. We return to Aberdeen on Friday 9th November to play with ambient shoegazers Seas, Starry and we are delighted to be playing with Manchester’s fantastic Underground Youth in Glasgow in January.