By John Curley
The release of their atmospheric debut single “Tramlines” has been the highlight of the year for the rising Glasgow-based band Lola in Slacks. Their moody sound has drawn comparisons to the Velvet Underground and Marianne Faithfull. The band celebrated the release of the “Tramlines” single at the end of August with a very-well-received August 28th release party at the CCA in Glasgow.
The band have been receiving a good bit of praise in the Scottish music press. BBC Radio Scotland DJ Billy Sloan said, “‘Tramlines’ is a stunning debut single…Lola in Slacks are the most original group I’ve heard in years. With its perfect blend of pop hooks and underground allure, ‘Tramlines’ deserves to be a massive hit.”
Lola in Slacks are comprised of lead vocalist Lou Reid, lead guitarist Brian McFie, drummer Lesley McLaren, bassist Davy Irwin, rhythm guitarist Martin Stuart Taggart, and pianist Villy Karagouni. (McLaren is also the drummer for Clare Grogan’s Altered Images.)
Reid recently did an e-mail Q&A with GOLDMINE in which she discussed the “Tramlines” single, the formation of the band, the great success of the single release party, and the band’s plans to record an album next year. The Q&A follows:
GOLDMINE: How and when did the band get together?
LOU REID: Lola in Slacks was born in the summer of 2013. Brian, Lesley, and Davy had been playing together as The Scimitars. (GOLDMINE featured The Scimitars in a November 2010 blog item – Ed.) Brian discovered that I was living in Glasgow after some time abroad in my beloved France. We got together and started writing songs, something we had wanted to do for a long time. Brian brought the band together, with his trusty Scimitars already on board. Villy and Martin joined the band a little further down the line.
GM: Who are the band’s influences?
LR: Musically, I am inspired by the work of many. Most notably the vocal prowess and lyrical content of the likes of Piaf, Jacques Brel, Tim Buckley, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Iggy Pop, Serge Gainsbourg, Juliette Greco, Elizabeth Fraser, early Roxy Music.
The songs carry a vivid imagery. That comes from my love of literature and film. “False Lines” (one of the demo tracks) is inspired by the Wim Wender’s classic, Wings of Desire. I think it has a real Blondie feel to it, too. The influences behind the songwriting are definitely a mélange of music, literature, and film.
GM: The “Tramlines” single has received a lot of praise from the Scottish music press. BBC Radio Scotland DJ Billy Sloan said of the single when he debuted it on his program, “A bit of Marianne Faithfull, a bit of the Velvet Underground and Nico, and a bit of a great record.” How does the band feel about this reaction to the single?
LR: Billy has been really supportive of the band from our not-so-distant beginnings. He played our three-track demo on his show a lot and has been playing “Tramlines” since its release on 31st August 2015. We don’t have management, so Billy’s support has been really appreciated. We did a live radio session for him last year. We had a lovely French picnic out on the studio terrace. He was laughing at the picnic basket. He remarked: “Not very rock n roll. I thought you were going to show up with a bunch of transvestites and some wine.”
We have also received luminous reviews by Gus Ironside for Louder than War online magazine, again from the three-track demo to present. It’s lovely that we have a strong document of what we’ve achieved to date.
GM: The band held a single release party at the end of August at the CCA in Glasgow. How did that go?
LR: Quite an occasion! Everything was right. The visuals, the sound, the band, the crowd. It doesn’t always happen like that. The stars were in alignment that evening. The gig was fully attended, too, which was lovely, and we received some great reviews. I wear the dark glasses, so the tears of joy welling up in my eyes weren’t noticeable. You could hear them in my voice, I’m sure. It was a really special evening for us. Playing “Tramlines” live for the crowd was a moment I’ll never forget. There was a lovely sense of achievement in the air, after some pretty colorful ups and downs earlier in the year for the band. We conquered! And what a lovely song to conquer with.
GM: The single has been released as download only. Will there be a physical release?
LR: We would have loved to release the debut single on all formats. Of course, there will be a physical release when the budget allows us to do that. We do plan to re-release “Tramlines” further down the line on vinyl. I feel like she is out there very much alone right now. I hope she’s not perishing cold. It’s amazing how protective you can become over a song. That song is a real celebration of the female spirit.
GM: Are there plans for an album in the works?
LR: We are planning to release our debut album in 2016 and want it to reach as wide an audience as possible, so we’re looking at options.
GM: What are the band’s touring plans?
LR: We would love to venture out on the road. We really need to wait until we have more material released and something bigger to promote.
GM: What is the remainder of 2015 looking like for the band?
LR: We are writing and recording for the remainder of 2015, and will definitely be playing another live show before the year is out.
“Tramlines” was produced by Sandy Jones at Foundry Music Lab In Motherwell, Scotland and is released on Sterogram Recordings. It is available from Amazon and iTunes in the United States.
Lola in Slacks appeared on STV’s The Riverside Show on July 16th, performing “Bisous du Mistral” and “Tramlines.” The performance can be seen on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmRFsbS8ZDA.
A few additional tracks by Lola in Slacks can be heard on their SoundCloud page at https://soundcloud.com/lola-in-slacks.