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Scots share the love in Oz

Herman Cornejo in

Fancy Free

was really sick. I’ve never encapsulated it like that before. Every word

of ‘Nobody’s Empire’ means something to me, and it’s something real,

not just made up. Although it’s couched in a metaphor, that song is

absolutely the most personal I’ve ever written.”

The technical process of completing the album wasn’t exactly stress-

free – particularly for someone who is “strong-willed” in the studio (his

words). Murdoch recently tweeted: “Mastering an album is to certain

men what childbirth is to women. I’m afraid I’m one of those men.”

The appointment of producer Ben Allen, a former hip hop engineer,

is perhaps confirmation that the Belles of old – though much beloved

– bear very little resemblance to their current incarnation. “We’ve never

made a record with this kind of sound before,” says drummer Richard


“On the last few albums we’d put in six months of work to get

everything really, really tight, so when we go into the studio, there’s not

really any room for manoeuvre as far as arrangements go – it’s just a

matter of playing the songs right. This time, with ‘Party Line’ and some

of the others, we purposefully left space for Ben to come in and have a


Did that make recording more fun?

“I actually really enjoyed it,” he says. “It was a very different

experience: little short bursts of energy, whereas before we’ve used most

of the day to set up sounds. Ben was slightly different in that we’d come

in at 11am or so and he’d have these sounds worked out. I’d sit down at

the drum kit and we’d do two or three takes over the song and he’d be

like: ‘Right, I’ve got everything I need.’ You’d be kinda like, ‘Erm, should

we not play it 15, 20 times?’ ‘No, I’ve got everything.’ It was quite


Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance

is out 16 January 2015. Belle and

Sebastian play The Tivoli, Fortitude Valley, on 28 January. Tickets

from $79.90 at

or call 136 100. For a sneak

peek behind the scenes in Atlanta where the band worked with Ben

Allen see


oodness, have Belle and Sebastian made a political album? That’s

our first thought on seeing the shot of the band above. They’re

holding the newspapers from the day of the Scottish independence

referendum in case you’re squinting.

We’ve heard four freshly-mastered tracks from upcoming album


In Peacetime Want To Dance

and we prick up our ears at the opening line

of new track ‘Allie’ – “when there’s bombs in the Middle East, you want to

hurt yourself” – while ‘Cat With the Cream’ observes “everybody bet on

the boom and got busted”. Their last studio release, which was way back in

2010, was, to give it its full title,

Belle And SebastianWrite About Love

– is

GIPWTD really Belle and Sebastian Write About Politics?

“I’d say no,” says group frontman Stuart Murdoch ahead of the new

album’s release next month. “Because somebody trying to make a political

record is somebody making a boring record. It’s what people do when

they’ve given up on life and romance. But I think I have become more

aware of the outside world – you start looking around you a bit more when

you’re older. I was interested in similar characters, but perhaps considering

how the political world affects them.”

Lyrically, it’s a lush piano-led gospel-drenched ballad called ‘Nobody’s

Empire’ which is most intriguing. We tentatively ask if the song is about

Murdoch’s long-lasting struggle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (“I clung

to the bed and I clung to the past,” goes one line). Beginning in the late

’80s, it’s an experience he’s previously credited with his first ventures into


“That’s precisely right,” he says. “It’s a strange thing, because I’ve written

songs in the past that have alluded to that period – basically I’ve used that

stuff and leant on it and it’s been cathartic. But I don’t think I just ever

simply sat there and wrote a song which actually describes what happened.

And it surprised me that I did that.

“I’ve been struggling in the last year and the stress of overwork has

actually put my health back quite a bit,” he admits. “It was a particularly

busy time in my life. I got a virus; it took me almost a year to get over that

and get my strength back. It was a mentally trying time: I was back in ME

land again and, almost to comfort myself, I wrote about the first time I

Reprinted with permission from

Glaswegian indie-pop collective Belle and Sebastian

will be in Brisbane to showcase a long-awaited new album.

Will Parkhouse

was one of the first to hear their new sound


| BNE December 2014/January 2015