By Nicki Escudero
By Amy Silverman
By Brian Palmer
By Chris Parker
By Troy Farah
By Lauren Wise
By Lauren Wise
Two weeks later another Melody Maker writer was even more direct: Bandwagonesque echoes Chilton's Radio City so closely so many times that...[one] can't help wondering whether these keen young Scots have overstepped the mark where acceptable, even laudable, inspiration becomes wholly criminal plagiarism."
McGinley admits the band considers itself devoted fans of Chilton and company. But he denies it's more than that.
The funny part about the Melody Maker stuff is that Paul Lester didn't even know who Big Star was," McGinley says with a cynical laugh. We spent half the interview telling him about it. Then he turns around and calls them `truly godlike'? It was very bad journalism.
Critics who accuse musicians of ripping off other musicians don't understand about writing songs and making records. It's a subliminal thing. We don't listen to a Big Star record and then say, `Let's do this.' I don't know if anyone does that, really." According to McGinley, the biggest reason TFC sounds like it does is because the group wanted to distance itself both from the house-music-influenced alternative bands from Liverpool and the homegrown white-soul outfits like Wet, Wet, Wet and Deacon Blue.
Let's take the Happy Mondays, for example," McGinley explains. For a long time they were unknown. Then dance music becomes big and they get massively popular. When they came to Glasgow, we went to see them and afterwards we looked at each other and said, `Jesus, they're just pathetic.' That's when we decided to make a straightahead pop-rock record. No one was doing it and it seemed a lot more honest to us." Another controversy surrounding this decidedly noncontroversial pop band was generated by the end of its relationship with Matador Records, the label on which Teenage Fanclub released its first record, A Catholic Education, in 1990.
Teenage Fanclub began in 1986 when McGinley and Norman Blake played guitar in a Glasgow band, the Boy Hairdressers. Adding drummer Brendan O'Hare and bassist Gerard Love, the foursome recorded A Catholic Education with their last 2,000 pounds. Drenched in bluesy, crunchy riffing, Education sounded more like a lost Ten Years After session than the debut of a young Scottish alternative band. Sufficiently impressed, Geffen made an offer the band couldn't refuse. To fulfill its contract with Matador, TFC gave that label a collection of outtakes and sloppy covers they called King. Predictably, Matador balked. The company rightfully charged that the band was saving its first-rate material for its Geffen debut. Matador also sent up the cry that TFC's heart was in its pocket, and that the band had betrayed the indie cause. These accusations didn't elicit much guilt. It's difficult for indie labels, and Matador did give us our chance," McGinley says. But if you want to be in a band and do it all the time, you have to sign with a major. Indies are great, but they're always cash-poor. No one can survive on no money." McGinley says the band members feel a little uncomfortable being well-off in eternally depressed Glasgow. But he also knows that the trick will be to hang onto their money. Like Nirvana, TFC is now faced with the unenviable task of recording a follow-up to a hit album. Trying to equal the success of a record like Bandwagonesque can be stifling. In their own quirky way, though, TFC thinks the problem is licked.
Bands whose first records are big often want to work on the second one for years," McGinley says. They can't finish it because they're so worried. Because the first record is still so alive. That doesn't work for us. We plan to begin recording later this summer. And when we do, it will be with the idea that Bandwagonesque is totally dead.