Sometimes words are very unnecessary … Such is the case with Glasgow, Scotland musicians Man With Glasses. It’s instrumental music with great feeling … lively melodies and shining guitar licks.
My ear easily picks up traces of electronic music greats in the various tunes — I hear traces of Depeche Mode, Howard Jones, Kraftwerk and others. Each song is spectacular and unique.
“Israel Hands” has almost a tropical vibe, reminiscent of steel drums, then it adds a spot of horns … very lush. “Calcium” has a sing-songy melody (if that’s possible in an instrumental track) with its repeated progressions on different instruments. “Diastema” is wistful and dreamy (more on this track below) and “Biting a Wet Sponge” is like electronic ice cream — delicate, sweet, tasty and exciting.
Ian Beattie, one half of the duo, contacted me to see if I would be interested in helping them reach new fans as they were getting ready to release new material and were anxious to talk about the project. One listen to their work and it was an emphatic yes … so, meet the pair that are Man With Glasses:
Since I basically know nothing beyond where you are from and what you play … Fill in the blanks … Tell me who Man With Glasses is …
I am Ian Beattie and my musical partner is Craig Johnston.We have played together in several bands throughout Scotland-myself as a bassist and Craig as a guitarist — and it seemed that our paths kept crossing. We had become reliable session players throughout the local music scene and gradually built up a chemistry and a respect for each others playing which led us to withdraw from the session work and concentrate on our collective ideas and Man With Glasses was born.
We had a limited budget but wanted a big sound so we borrowed a friends van and embarked on a road trip around Scotland with the aim of accruing used instruments from pawn shops around the country. We returned with four keyboards, three drum machines and countless effects pedals! We locked ourselves away for two weeks at the tail end of last year and wrote and recorded six tracks. We entered into the adventure with no preconceived ideas of genres or styles as we had been tied to the session work for so long. Three of the tracks have been signed to international record labels and we have signed licensing deal also. It has been a fantastic and productive start to our journey. We truly felt we had a blank canvas.
That’s a great story! It’s really cool how it came together. Did you write and record at the same time?
That’s it! After such an inspiring trip we were just pumped and ready to go! Craig is a qualified sound engineer and producer so that made life simple! Well, maybe for me! We have a studio in Craig’s house so as soon as we were set up we just played and played/fantastic not to have time constraints or money issues with regards to hiring personnel to record us. We felt we had everything we needed. We now had a base and the momentum — dived straight in.
We stopped at six tracks as of course they needed reflection and mixing, etc. We developed a strategy of adding to the tracks and then looking back at what wasn’t needed — I know a lot of bands will record and then take a few days to ponder what the track needs — we went with pure emotion and momentum to lose ourselves and give everything to the track at that precise moment and then strip things back-that seemed to work for us — instead of us now wishing we had added something else at the time. We knew we gave everything there and then.
Why Man With Glasses?
We have been asked a few times why we chose the name Man With Glasses. My dad passed away when I was really young and all I now remember is the presence of a Man With Glasses. Anyone who has lost a parent at a young age knows that there is a constant hole or void within yourself without remedy.
Trying to fill this hole can lead a person down many roads and for me, I took solace in listening to and now creating music so I felt it only fitting that this was documented when deciding upon a title for our project. Craig kindly agreed.
I’ve been listening to the tracks on Soundcloud, and just spent some time last night with “Biting A Wet Sponge” — very unique … I hear shades of Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk influences there … Am I right?
I suppose, Rebecca. Thank you. That track really just started as a bass line and took a trip down Electro Avenue. There was no preconceived idea or influence as such. We both have such varied knowledge of music and I guess once the commitment is made to that sound or genre then yeah you want to do it justice-and subconsciously I suppose we knew that it was gonna have that sound and maybe that’s what we aimed for with that one without setting a marker.
So what kind of musical influences do the pair of you have? I am guessing it’s straight across the board with a bit of everything?
Yeah! We love bands like Spacemen 3, Wire Massive attack. Quite dark and emotive although our music is quite uplifting.I tend to bring more of a poppy element to the table.
I have been listening to Elvis a lot lately! That was due to the passing of the great Scotty Moore recently, his guitarist. But there is definitely a deep appreciation of music within ours.
Yeah, the songs I’ve heard all seem bright and lively, not dark or moody at all … Elvis has always been a big part of my musical life too. His voice was amazing, he could sing anything! Have you considered having a singer?
No … We wanted to be as true to ourselves as possible. I would say that as guys, we are quite shy, maybe introverted in a way and when we are met with a musical instrument, we seem to feel at home. I guess the extrovert comes out in us therefore we feel there is enough of our personalities within the music without us having to soul search for lyrical content.
There are fantastic bands that give their audience an insight to their love lives or politics, etc. We just feel our storytelling lies within the melodies somehow.
Fair enough, your music does speak volumes! “Diastema” features some cool special effects, primarily being the children’s voices … Tell me about that one. It’s a gentle, easy-flowing song …
Sure. That was a piano and strings part that I had been playing during the mixing of one of the tracks that we felt was finished. Craig was locked away with the headphones on. Upon completion of the mixing, I reluctantly asked Craig to add guitar knowing that he was really looking for a breather. But going back to the momentum we had as a partnership during these sessions he just picked himself up and set us back up for recording again.
I am a massive “Colombo” fan and I always wanted a sample of the late great Peter Falk within one of the tracks. The voice you here at the end is the great man stating “I liked it when they liked me and I liked them,” therefore we felt that a children’s playground at the start seemed to tie in with the innocence of Peter’s statement with regards to how adult relationships or friendships can dissolve.
That’s wonderful. I can just listen to these songs over and over in a loop. They are so much fun. What is your favorite, if you have one?
Thank you. My favorite would be “Israel Hands.” This was our last recording of that session.We were in such a great place together as musicians and friends having recorded the five previous tracks. We were just buzzing about how well things were going and that we finally found our own rhythm both in music and in life as such.
We just started playing this crazy three-part piece on the xylophone and it just grew arms and legs to the point where a trumpet somehow found itself as the main hook. It was such a great day recording this one and the track is currently on rotation on “Caribbean Love FM” — They love it and have played it about 10 times in the last 72 hours! This track will be on a compilation output from a label based in New York mid-August — it will be the lead track on their next chill out CD.
It is a great tune — very popular on Soundcloud too. That’s fantastic to have it get so much airplay. You said three songs were picked up — “Israel Hands” and which others?
Yeah so we had our first release July 22, “Biting a Wet Sponge” via Pink Dolphin Music Ltd. and then we have another actual single release on Aug. 29, via Wold Records based in Norway the label of a fantastic DJ named Wolfson, and of course, the New York compilation in between.
We aim to get back into the studio around October and should have three new tracks ready for an EP release at the start of 2017. Should be a great end to the summer! The single due out on Aug. 29 is named “Narwhal.”
Fantastic. Lol, it’s nothing like the “Narwhal” song I’ve heard, I’m sure! I’m excited to hear it. Do you have any plans to play live?
Well, we were offered to play a festival this year in Scotland-nothing major! But we had to decline on the basis that we simply hadn’t thought that far ahead, Rebecca!
It would be nice and so much fun to play live because as musicians you want to push yourselves and essentially that is part of the job-to perform! We have been blessed with our studio/recording set up although we made huge sacrifices to get to this point. But you cannot just dwell within your comfort zone. Live work may be on the cards after the EP is finalized. Do you know any xylophone/trumpet players and Peter Falk soundalikes!? HA HA — I am sure we could get something organized.
Haha, good one! You may have to use a few sound bites then … It’s great that you were asked, though.
You can find Man With Glasses on Twitter @ManWithGlasses4 , on Facebook at https://soundcloud.com/manwithglasses4 and on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUHmDMoDjiS44CxGK4tN3qg/videos. You can purchase the single “Biting a Wet Sponge” at Amazon at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Biting-Wet-Sponge-Man-Glasses/dp/B01I3DSH5U/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1467916199&sr=1-1-mp3-albums-bar-strip-0&keywords=biting+a+wet+sponge+man+with+glasses&linkCode=ll1&tag=pindolmusltdm-21&linkId=f3c16da5d9a683d84d80d89b9f8f4d72