Stuart Murdoch and Isobel Campbell shy away from travelling


y me to Dunoon

After years of sporadic, shambling performances BELLE AND SEBASTIAN are about to embark on their first regular full UK tour. Well, fairly regular. Words: Mark Robertson Photos: Jason Cranwell

icture the scene: legions of llat-hed lorries in shining

hlack and chrome rolling into town. laden with

colossal PA speakers and Marshall stacks. Burly roadics in cut-olil‘ .\’1otorhead T-shirts and workie‘s hum Wranglers wrestle with flight cases and scal‘l‘olding. This is the rock hand on tour.

All right. all right. mayhe it‘s not quite lil‘e on the road with Belle And Sehastian. hut you get the idea. And it‘s worth making a fuss. Alter all. this. the band‘s lirst ever grand scale l’K tour. is a milestone.

'lt’s a hit more like a travelling circus really.‘ says trumpeter .\lick (‘ooke. setting me straight. as he phones in l’rom Belle And Sehastian‘s practice space where they’re secreted away. rigorously rehearsing.

Yes. the hand. who have won Brit Awards and released

lour critically acclaimed alhums. are linally getting off their

scrawny arses to play more than a few gigs at once. 'We

managed to play ahout seven in a row on the east coast ol‘

.‘\merica.' (‘ooke says. ‘But we didn't even play all the gigs hecause Isohel was ill.. he concedes sheepishly.

llardly workshy l‘ops. however. Belle And Sehastian have spouted l'orth onto vinyl with stunning regularity since the release of 'li'gcrmilk ~ their now legendary dehut alhum in IWo. (iigs. hy contrast. have heen sporadic. Since the release ol‘ their last alhum Iii/(l Your Ham/s ('lu'ltl l'nu llii/k like xl l’mmul last summer. they have made only a handful of live appearances.

The hand. although they would deny it. have stoically refused to play the music indUstry game: l‘rontman Stuart Murdoch (tip until very recently) avoiding interviews. the press photos without any members of the hand in them and.

most significantly. their resistance to trek round the world for

months on end. plugging the records with gig al'ter gig. These

are all indicators ol‘ a hand hellhent on doing exactly as they please. .-\nd. well. good on .em for it: too many are willing to


‘We will have done away with the four-hour soundchecks

that we’ve

endured before.’

slog their guts out striving tor a tenth ol' the l‘ollowing Belle And Sehastian have huilt up in their live-year existence.

But the question on every impatient Belle And Sehastian fan‘s lips is what took you so hloody long'.’ Mick (’ooke is happy to elucidate. ‘lip until now. us playing live has heen a hit ol~ a nightmare. This time round we‘ve got the crew that we need and we‘re going to push the hoat out a wee hit. We will have done away with the Tour-hour soundchecks that we‘ve endured hel‘ore.’

Belle And Sehastian gigs have always heen unpredictahlc all'airs with a shamholic edge that could descend quickly into chaos. A perfect example was the impromptu show they played for singer Stuart Murdoch‘s l'ailcd election campaign for rectorship ol' (ilasgow l'niversity. ‘That wasn‘t so much a gig as a cohhled together mess.‘ says ('ooke. ‘We threw it together at the last minute. so we were quite surprised when people expected it to he a proper show. And we were like. “Oh shit. We were just having a laugh here. give us a hreak. please".'

('ooke is heing hard on the group. Sure. there were a few l‘alse starts and a cover ol' ‘Sympathy For The Devil which was more reminiscent ol a fifth year school hand than the Rolling Stones at their most satanic hut. despite only a few days' notice. the charm and swagger in their songs still shone through.

Alter the strains and pressures ol‘ making I'D/(l Your Hands . . . protracted recording and re—recording. members (ill on side project sojourns ~ all appears to he rosy in the house of Belle And Sebastian. ‘lt‘s the most exciting time to he pan ol' the hand. there‘s loads happening. although we don‘t have many lirm plansf says (‘ooke. L'pcoming. there's a Peel session. a possihle lil’ in the autumn and the release of the soundtrack to the new Todd ‘lluppinms' Solond/ lilm. Storytelling. which they recorded in l‘ehruary and have tentatively scheduled for a September release.

Now. as the hand prepare for two already sold-out dates at the Barrowland. there‘s a tang of expectation in the air. ('ooke is optimistic: ’l suppose there is expectation on our part as much as anyone‘s. Most importantly we know what we can achieve. so we have those ambitions to live up to. And l think we can. We‘re also getting a lull string section in. which is not