“Its good to have the idea that I have a band but I still have full control over it, if that makes sense?” Andrew Lindsay smiles, as he takes a sip of his beer in Ottos Bar & Grill on Byres Road. “Im not tied down to needing everyone to be there at all times. If someones not going to be there, then thats fine, it doesnt matter,” he says. In case youre wondering just exactly who Andrew Lindsay is, he is the founding member of Andrew Lindsay and the Coat Hooks, a revolving flock of promising musicians bound together by Glaswegian singer-songwriter Andrew himself. This March witnessed the release of their debut EP The Whittling, an exuberant, harmonious record that has earned a positive reception from critics while helping Andrew develop his own song-writing capabilities as well. Despite the fact that I embarrassingly arrive twenty minutes late and we have to change venues due to an electrical mishap, Andrew is in great spirits, shrugging the hiccups off with an unfeigned smile while excitedly offering to buy me a pint. Over the course of the next hour, he enthusiastically reveals almost everything there is to know about himself, the Coat Hooks, their EP and the dangers of getting to know your favourite artist all too well.
Andrew has been performing within Glasgow for half a decade now, and has experimented with his own solo work as well as being in Guessing Game, a membership where he couldnt envision the possibility of achieving his own song-writing serenity. “When I used to play in Guessing Game it could be a struggle. We were all best friends and into the same stuff, but me and the lead singer, Andrew Thomas, god bless him, wed sometimes disagree on the overall sense of it [their sound],” he says. With the Coat Hooks, he has levels of freedom he didnt possess before, and it is clear that he is revelling in his new-found autonomy. “Ive always had the idea of actually having a band. [Now] I dont need the other band members to write the songs. I write the songs and then can say here you go guys and meet up with certain people individually and go over their parts and then bring them in. If theyre up for playing a gig, play a gig with them,” he grins. Having complete control over songs is clearly an integral ingredient to Andrew, so I ask if he is self-centred in the same fashion that Axl Rose is infamous for. “Well maybe not Axl Rose style. Id need to get some dodgy dreads and make a sub-par album,” he laughs, reassuringly throwing me off-course.
Andrew Lindsay and the Coat Hooks boasts an impressive array of eleven revolving members, with Loch Awes Matthew Healy on lead guitar and Reveriemes Louise Connell providing backing vocals alongside Campbell Miller (Shambles Miller) on The Whittling. Such an expansive collection of members can be both beneficial - in the multi-faceted sound it can produce - and detrimental as well, in the difficulties of gathering everyone together to lay down their part. “Its kind of a loose band, so it was a nightmare for rehearsals. It started off quite well. Me, Matthew and drummer Neil (Campbell) met up a few times, went to the studio, fleshed out a few songs. It looked like it was going to be a couple of weeks to get the EP done, but as the more time passed, it turned out to be a nightmare,” he grimaces. Producing the EP isnt the only aspect in which the Coat Hooks have had difficulties coming together; their gigs have been affected too. “Everyones been busy doing different things. Matthews heavily involved with his band Loch Awe. We just havent had as much time,” he utters helplessly. I suggest that Andrew should arrange a one-off gig, planned long in advance, that would include every single member of the Coat Hooks, and he immediately agrees. “There was tentative plans for that to happen around April but everyone involved is so busy. Its a shame, but Im looking to book gigs for this summer and get as many as we can. I was thinking to book it for late August and get everyone together,“ he shares.
The prospect of all of the Coat Hooks, complete with an assorted range of instruments, being present on the one stage is definitely an exciting one, so I share a tale about The Low Anthems instrumental experimentation I witnessed recently in Amsterdam. Using an hand saw and violin bow to yield credible music is unbelievable enough, but requesting all of the audience phone the person who they had come to the gig with and place it on speakerphone produced an unparalleled, surreal encompassing sound. “I was at the Scotland gig and witnessed the phone thing. It was amazing! I didnt know that kind of thing could happen! I didnt know how they worked that out. Really strange,” he says, puzzled. With instrumental experimentation in mind, I probe to see if he has similar plans for the Coat Hooks. “I think if the opportunity arose then yes, if it benefited the songs,” he smiles, “Im quite into atmosphere, I like a lot of bands like Radiohead where some instruments they use arent easily identifiable”.
Moving on, I ask his view on the recent T in the Park announcement, given that his partner Louise Connell, also known as folk singer Reverieme, has been hand-picked to grace the T Break stage. “Im delighted for her,” he beams. Andrew also performs with her live, and is eagerly anticipating the opportunity. His smile widens, and he simply says. “[Im] totally excited. Actually delighted. Its going to be amazing.” Considering that they both collaborate on each others releases, I want to know if they have any plans to collaborate together on a fresh piece of work.”I dont know if wed go well together. We both have different ways of going about song-writing so no I dont see that happening. Writing together may not be our strong point but I suppose we could try!” he says. Now that I know here isnt going to be a Plastic Lindsay Band performing any time soon at T in the Park, I inquire as to who else on the T Break line up he is going to catch when hes there. “Conquering Animal Sound,” he states, “Matthew is quite a fan and recently did a remix of one of their songs.”
I turn my focus back to Andrew Lindsay and the Coat Hooks, and inquire as to the reasoning behind their name. “Theres a lot of local acts out there that are technically good, but they lack hooks, as in good choruses or a really strong melody. I dont mean that as slating a lot of bands [though],” he says. “We were joking saying the idea of a band with hooks in the title, and coat hooks came up and then when I was forming the band to record the EP, I just used the name we came up with”. Strong hooks and a melodic sound have definitely been integral components of The Whittling; songs like The Boat Outside and Very Winged Is both feature sweeping harmonies which leave me in no doubt as to who Andrews main influences are. Idlewild. This in no harm exposes the Coat Hooks as copycats. In fact, they capture something that Idlewild (although some may bitterly disagree) failed to do so entirely; combine said harmonies and astute lyrics with a youthful sentiment and I question him on whether the youthful element was intentional. “No. It wasnt a conscious thing at all,” he says, and before I could even get my words out to compare Idlewilds later release Post-Electric Blues to The Whittling, he jumps in. “One thing thats interesting is that a couple of the reviews have noted that I sound like Idlewild when they were apparently good, up to the Remote Part, when in fact Im more influenced by Idlewilds later albums, Warning/Promises, Make Another World, Post-Electric Blues, that sort of stuff, you know. Obviously Im a huge Idlewild fan so all of their music is in the back of my mind somewhere but my favourite stuff is definitely later stuff, which is interesting. Listen to Warnings/Promises if you havent already done so. Its actually brilliant. Ive always had this thing for albums that are hated amongst fan bases. I just love them, genuinely,” he says.
Ironically, despite there not being a deliberate youthful sound to the EP, there is an intentional concept based on the loss of youth in The Whittling. “Its the idea that as you get older, even if youre still young, things start to get whittled off each year. Theres a line in the song The Whittling that says Alan thinks hes Irish now,/I know the seasons told him how, and that refers to my good friend Allan McKinnon. When I started University he was my sparring partner; wed go out multiple times a week, thick as thieves. Good times. The next year we never seen each other as much. Ever since then, we can never re-attain that era. Slowly, year by year things are getting whittled away. Thats basically the idea of The Whittling,” he notes, before glumly adding, “Its kind of the idea where things change that you never think would change”.
We precede to share bands that we both enjoy, and Andrew mentions the Hold Steady. I immediately ask him about something that had spooked me the day that we had first made contact for the interview. A series of unusual coincidences allowed me to suspect that he had taken the chorus lyrics of Bearded Author from a Hold Steady gig poster (one that resides directly above where I was sitting at the time of his primary email). I investigate purely to settle my own mind, and he leans back in his seat, gasping. “Haha! [The line] hold steady and the winter sleeps was relating to the winter but also the fact that those words were right in front of me on a poster, and I put it in as a cheeky reference to the Hold Steady, because they always used the phrase hold steady on each of their albums. It was a cheeky nod-and-a-wink to the Hold Steady and also to the winter outside with the words winter sleeps (the support on the poster is from Wintersleep). Thats so bizarre that you noticed that. I didnt think anyone ever would ever know and now Im like holy shit, its been unlocked! Its really bizarre!” he says, astonished. So am I.
We move on, and Andrew reveals his intention to record a second EP. He is working with The Whittling producer David Anderson once again, and is focusing on changing the direction of the sound. “I think that with the next EP were going to record later in the year is going to be a lot more based on atmosphere and layers. I see it being more expansive but still driving songs almost. The other day I was finishing up a song which is definitely going to be on [it]. The Whittlings quite straightforward from start to finish and the new one is going to be more expansive,” he says, animated. I ask if he will be changing the themes present within his first EP. “I think The Whittling had a clear theme running throughout it, there are a lot of songs that worry about getting older and being so young. The next EP, I can see similar themes coming up but not to the same degree. I dont know exactly what the lyrics will entail right now but as far as the sound goes it will be bigger, and more epic. I can see it in my head being a bigger piece, a bigger hole. Im quite excited,” he says. The Coat Hooks sound is not the only thing he is planning on expanding; he is aiming to increase the amount of members as well. “Its just a case of me getting who I know who are good at their instruments and asking them if they want to join on the songs. Thats basically what happened last time and it was great fun. That again, but with extra people.”
With the second EP in the pipeline and several gigs announced, including one at King Tuts on July 28th, Andrew has a very busy latter part of the year. However, this has not deterred him from planning to collaborate with Matthew Healy on a joint solo EP which will be available for free. “Were both big fans of Meursalt. Theyve got an incredible EP called Nothing Broke and me and Matthew had both been listening to it around the same time. We were both like we should do an EP in the vein of that stripped back, almost ethereal kind of autumnal sound,” he says, stopping to sip his hardly touched pint, before continuing “One of us joked that we should out-Meursault Meursault, and we just decided then and there to do an acoustic, stripped back rough and ready EP under both our names and bung it out there for free!”
I briefly move onto Andrews song-writing process, in which he says that he picks up his guitar and things just come together, before closing the interview with a final question; seeing as his band are entitled Andrew Lindsay and the Coat Hooks, who in the music industry would they like to hang up to dry? He instantly laughs, and with a cheeky glint in his eye leans forward, almost like he already knows how to answer the question. “There was a random incident with one of my favourite artists, Ryan Adams. I used to write for Stereokill and I covered Ryan Adams and the Cardinals a lot because Im a huge fan ,and I still am. Ryan Adams started posting in his own forums, and it was proven to be him. It was all these little juicy morsels, you know, what he had been up to, what was coming up, reasons behind breaking up the Cardinals. I took his posts and collected them into an archive because it was really hard to find them in the forums. It was so the fans could read them, and I got an email from that forum saying I was breaking copyright and to take them down. I thought fair enough but I didnt think think I was breaking copyright on a public forum. I took it down anyway, and I had been interviewing his band-mates from the Cardinals at the same time, and I put up the interviews, they were really extensive interviews and really popular in the forums. Ryan Adams posted in the forums in response and completely blasted our site for no real reason and he deleted all his posts! He basically ripping into us because we didnt have advertising, and disagreed with what Cardinals pedal steel guitarist John Graboff was saying in the interview. He was quite bitter about that and took it out on me and the site, and it was really immature and embarrassing. I couldnt eat that night, I was stunned, I was like holy shit, this is one of my favourite artists laying into me for no real reason!” He breaks off, with a disappointed look on his face. I ask him if Ryan Adams music is now tainted as a result of the surprisingly immature behaviour. “Yeah, thats the thing, it has! I still love his music and Im going to see him a few weeks. Thats the weird thing, I know hes always been shit with the press but I didnt ever think Id be on the receiving end of it. Its tough! I can never listen to him in that same way again. Still love him, but theres that kinda your a dick now with him, which is a shame,” he concedes.
We wrap up the interview and continue to talk about Adams outbursts and share music stories. Andrew pulls out a pristine physical copy of The Whittling, and offers me it. When I ask him to sign it, he smiles and dutifully does. At the ripe age of 22, he is not only adept at song-writing, writing lyrics and pissing off Ryan Adams, but at conducting himself in a very professional and sensible manner, which is unfortunately not too common in the music industry today. It is clear that The Whittling has provided another platform for his songs to develop into more intricate, multi-faceted numbers, and the sense of vigorous youth that resonates within his music mirrors his own personality. Despite this youthful aspect, he displays a maturity that can only come with foreseeing his own future, something that can only come when youve thought about it extensively; a process of metaphysical exertion that implies higher-than-average intelligence .The freedom he enjoys with the Coat Hooks is essential for his song-writing, but I cant help but wonder that if he allowed someone else to embrace his songs just as fervently as he does, his songs would improve even further.
When asked what his favourite lyric was, he immediately responds. “On Frightened Rabbits second album, the song I Feel Better has the line now Im free in parenthesis. I absolutely love that line. The idea of you being free but your still locked in by something, youll never truly be free, you know?” he says. I, personally, cant help but see the irony in his response.