Published on February 20th, 2017 | by Gareth Allen0
Glasgow’s Dialects are a band with a growing reputation for their live performances, and who will be issuing an eagerly awaited debut album in 2017. They are a hugely talented band, who bring a sharp sense of melody and dynamic experimentation to the world of progressive music. Due to a major train delay Sonic Bandwagon frustratingly missed Dialects set at the Damnation Festival at the end of 2016. However, with thanks to the band and Simon Glacken from I Like Press, we were very pleased to have the opportunity to chat with Conor Anderson and Steven Gillies from the band at the Festival, following their set.
Sonic Bandwagon: We watched the video for ‘Its Not A Ghost …It’s Gravity’ and loved what the band does. How would you describe the music you create, to someone not familiar with it?
Conor: Instrumental progressive music. A mixture of really heavy stuff, technical stuff, and nice ambient moments.
Steven: We get post-rock and math-rock a lot, which are all derived from prog and progressive rock. So as much as we wouldn’t shy away from those labels or genre definitions, we tend to say instrumental progressive rock. It encompasses a lot of stuff.
Conor: A lot of people don’t like those blanket terms post-rock or math-rock but we don’t mind it, as our stuff fits in with that category of music.
Steven: A point of reference.
Conor: So by all means if people want to describe it as that, feel free. However, because the sound has changed so much over the years, we are saying instrumental progressive rock now. That’s the way to go.
Sonic Bandwagon: So what drew you to the type of music you play?
Conor: The first album I ever heard properly. I was listening to terrible dance music when I was younger. That was the thing, there was local dance music in my area; and then my Dad heard me listening to it. So my Dad took a bit of an investment in my musical interests and he gave me ‘Young Team’ by Mogwai. That was the first proper album I ever heard. It was mind-blowing, and then years later I discovered more instrumental bands. The first thing for wanting to do a band like Dialects, I went and saw a band called And So I Watch You From Afar. I had just started in my new job at the time, and the guys were going to this gig; and said we have got a spare ticket, do you want to go? I just stood for the whole set, I didn’t move. I didn’t go into the crowd. I just thought this is incredible. Since then I have gone on and discovered loads of other bands. You (turns to Steven) have had a pretty mixed musical taste over the years. You have quite a broad range of music. All members of the band are listening to a variety of music. Its just settled on this because some of the music I wrote for a previous band went into the EP, and over time we developed the sound off the back of that, which has led us to where we are now.
Sonic Bandwagon: You have touched on this a bit. What are the influences on the band and the music you make?
Conor: For us it’s a case of a mixture of things. There are people in the band that like bands like My Bloody Valentine, And So I Watch You From Afar, Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky. But then there are people that like listening to loads of other stuff like Dillinger Escape Plan, Deftones….quite a wide mixture of influences to be honest.
Steven: Our bass player Ali came up playing drums as his first instrument, and played in a lot of hardcore bands. He is totally excited to be here, as he loves his black metal and death metal. So this totally Ali’s festival (Conor and Steven laugh and smile)! For myself I got into alternative music when I was pretty young, bands like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Jeff Buckley. The Seattle grunge movement I guess, and I then moved on to bands like Tool, A Perfect Circle, Deftones, Oceansize. I have played in a bunch of different styles of bands over the years. I have never really been in two bands that sounded the same. This is the first instrumental band I have done. Conor and I knew each other through the Glasgow music scene with the other band I play in, as Conor’s former band had played shows with us. We played two shows together, and then you guys stopped. We knew each other and we were chatting, and Conor said he was trying to start something new, still instrumental but a bit heavier and dynamic, and he couldn’t really find anyone that was available to do it, or that would be able too. After a couple of months our original drummer and myself, who was also the drummer in my other band as well, went for a jam with Conor and to rehearse some of his ideas, and it went from there. A couple of months after that our bass player Ali, who was my housemate at the time…I just asked, do you know any bass players who might like to do something prog and instrumental. Ali said I’ll do it. That was pretty much it.
Conor: We have said this to a lot of people, its been quite organic every step of the way.
Sonic Bandwagon: That was the term that came into my head as you described the development of the band.
Conor: There has been no set plan. Nobody sat down and said lets do a band like this. It was just a case of Steve and Johnny our old drummer being kind enough to hear my ideas, and help me with it, and steer me in the right direction of asking some people. But then later down the line Steve and Johnny offered to do it and came on board, and then Ali a little while later. Over time it’s become something very cool, an interesting project.
Sonic Bandwagon: We were really sorry to have missed your set, as the train delay coming down from Scotland held us up. How did it feel playing on stage at the Damnation Festival today?
Steven: Really good. To be on first at 1pm in the afternoon, there is always a chance that you will be playing to 35/40 people. But not here, it was packed, really busy.
Sonic Bandwagon: That’s fantastic.
Steven: Yeah, the crowd was really responsive. Although in this years line up they do have the post-rock/ambient bands like Cult of Luna and Bossk. I think we are the most different I guess.
Conor: There have always been bands like us in that kind of scene. Every year at Damnation there seems to be maybe one or two bands like us that play, like last year with Mono. So for us to be that band this year. Nowhere near as big as those acts when they played Damnation before us. That’s been really cool. Because people always have a bit of appreciation for a band like us, and to then come out and see us. That was wicked, I really enjoyed it.
Steven: A lot of people were coming up to us at the merch table and chatting. Generally I find that people that are into alternative music are a bit more open minded, and that people that are into left field like black metal and death metal, tend to listen to everything, through from classical to the heavier stuff. Which is great. So we feel pretty appreciated, it’s been awesome.
Sonic Bandwagon: That’s our sense of Damnation, that people are willing to take risks, to try something new.
Steven: It’s all left field and experimental, so people are quite receptive to checking out and hearing a band they have never heard of or seen before.
Conor: I really like the genuine vibe of this festival. People are mapping out with their planners how their day looks. Shall we go and see this, shall we see that. There was a great conversation, where one guy was trying to convince his mate to go and see Employed to Serve, and I chimed in as I had just come from seeing them side stage. I said definitely go see them, there will be 10 minutes left. The guy had never seen them before; he was going to have a great time.
Sonic Bandwagon: What are your plans for recording and gigs, if people want to hear and see more of you?
Conor: Currently we have just recorded an album. Its all mixed and mastered, its all done. We have one more show to round up the year, an all day thing in Sheffield called Made. We are just mapping out how next year looks. We don’t have any specifics we can say just yet. Just now we are talking to people about the album, to booking agents and labels. We have just changed hands management wise, so we are planning out how next year looks and how we can capitalise on what we have done this year, and hopefully do bigger and better stuff.
Steven: Full length album at some point, and there might be a release before it. Hopefully we will play overseas a couple of times. We were in Canada, which was amazing, and got to play Toronto for Canadian Music Week.
Conor: We plan to go on a tour further afield. We have now done four runs of the UK, and whilst that’s quite a small number, we want to do as much as we can when we can. We will still do some stuff in the UK, but hopefully also go further afield and see some new places.
Steven: We want to reach places that not every band necessarily thinks of going too. For example in Toronto, people were coming up to us and saying, I have never heard anything like that before, it was awesome.
Conor: A lot of bands on this circuit will tour the UK relentlessly and then when they think they are ready will make the jump to Europe and they do a European tour. We just don’t believe in that, we are up for whatever opportunities come our way. So when Canada came up, it wasn’t even a discussion, it was we are going, that’s it! We are taking that mindset forward and thinking what can we do that’s different, where can we go.
Sonic Bandwagon: It feels a really distinctive approach.
Steven: If we get the opportunity to go back to Canada, to do a United States tour, to go to Japan or China. Absolutely.
Conor: If people in that place are willing to invest in you, they like your music and want to bring you over…what’s stopping you is our approach!
Sonic Bandwagon: Thanks guys.
Dialects are a band once heard; you will absolutely want to stay with their music. We here at Sonic are really looking forward in 2017 to hearing their first full album.
Photograph by Gareth Allen