By Esmée Colbourne
“The voice gets a bit richer as you get older, which is a nice sound but a byproduct of getting older. You get a bit more bottom end in your voice, which I like,” says Teenage Fanclub frontman Norman Blake. “I’m actually starting to come to terms with my own voice because you listen to it a bit more.” Age is but a number, except when you’re speaking in band years. With 30 years of bandom, and countless other projects under his belt, Blake reminisces about his band’s longevity, separation and what it’s like being a part of other people’s nostalgia.
Teenage Fanclub is the favourite band of your favourite band. A Glaswegian band formed in the late ’80s, they currently have eleven studio albums to their name and are working on new song for their upcoming North America tour, an extension of their Creation Years tour spanning late 2018.
For a time signed to Alan McGee’s label Creation Records, Teenage Fanclub toured with Nirvana, and were contemporaries of bands like The Pastels, Orange Juice, and Calvin Johnson. Blake and his bandmates should have garnered more fame driven success than they have gained. Legends in DIY, Twee and Grunge scenes, this band have out survived the alternative rock and britpop fashions they grew up in; their music is darker and more emotionally complex than ever.
Blake is appreciative of their long timeline of shared band history. “We have got to be appreciative of where we are. To still be able to make albums after all we’ve done, you know we’ve been doing this for 30 years, and we are still able to make music, so we are really fortunate.” In band years Teenage Fanclub is ancient, even if it has had several reiterations of members. Blake agreed it is quite disconcerting to be a part of many people’s pasts, to be an element of nostalgia when he himself, like his bandmates, feel rooted in the present. “We will meet people who come along to shows with their kids and they will say ‘oh yeah I started hearing your music cuz my mum and dad played it when I was a kid and i really liked it’ so they have kind of nostalgic associations with the band…people will come along and tell you stories…about songs that have meaning for them.”
Recently, things have been turbulent for Teenage Fanclub. The Creation Years Tour was an emotional celebration of Teenage Fanclub’s thirty years worth of music, and the exit of Gerry Love, the band’s now former bassist’s, membership. Blake was quick to say that the split was amicable, and that the band’s new members, Welsh musician Euros Childs and Scotsman Dave McGowan (Belle and Sebastian), are meshing well. In fact, Teenage Fanclub is taking inspiration from the change in line up “People bring their styles coming in… Euros is coming in and his voice is very rich so we can explore harmonies …and he’s got a very idiosyncratic keyboard style, so it’s exciting. Of course Dave’s amazing on the bass!”
Blake hopes to put an interesting set together for their upcoming tour and knows everyone is definitely excited for the future. He is celebrating other changes that come with their new music. Expect a solid show that will pay homage to fans that love all iterations of Teenage Fanclub. Norman Blake’s cheery demeanour was lovely and dynamic to engage with. A band rooted in the past present and future, let’s hope Teenage Fanclub’s positivity can be sustained and that they will continue to evolve as musicians.
Teenage Fanclub perform February 21 at the Commodore Ballroom in VancouverMerge Records, Teenage Fanclub, The Creation Years