The Musicians of Bremen are a heavy rock band from Greater Glasgow. Inspired by a shared love of ’80s independent punk and ’90s alternative rock, lifelong friends Fergus Wilkie (guitar, vocals) and Alex Baillie (bass) joined forces many years ago. Following several line-up changes, Donald Crocket (drums) completed the trio in 2013.Since then the group has grown a formidable catalogue of gritty, riff-laden and often unnerving material. With new single, Breathe, out and an LP the band spoke with The Fountain about working hard over lockdown.
TF: You have a new single out, what has the reception been like to Breathe?
Alex: The response has been very enthusiastic and lovely so far, especially to the accompanying YouTube video we put out. So much went into this record, so obviously there’s trepidation before release but overall the response we’ve had has been really heartwarming.
Fergus: We’ve been kicking about the Glasgow scene for quite a while now, but for numerous reasons life has thrown at us this is the first proper single we’ve released. It’s been very encouraging to receive such a positive response.
Donald: I’ve particularly appreciated the kind words that we’ve received from other bands in response to Breathe. Now more than ever we’re living in a time where musicians can draw strength from cooperation and a sense of community. It feels good to operate in a positive atmosphere. That’s something we hope continues as we all look to resume playing gigs, hopefully before too long!
TF: How would you sum up the single in one sentence?
Donald: An aggressively taut, uneasy reflection on the lack of control we have over our own lives.
Fergus: And a good introduction to the themes and dynamic scope developed throughout the album.
TF: What is your plan for the remainder of the year, after this release?
Fergus: Oh we have plenty planned! Our debut album will be out in a matter of weeks. We’re desperate to get this released as it’s been a real labour of love. It was recorded over an eighteen-month period at Gargleblast Studios by renowned producer Andy Miller, who we were absolutely delighted to have at the helm. He really managed to harness and concentrate the performance and sound that we’ve been developing for years, and the end result couldn’t encapsulate us any better. Of course, ideally we’d be gigging the length and breadth of the country to promote it, but under the circumstances we’re in the process of creating content to accompany and complement the album over the coming months. We’ll have plenty to reveal in the near future.
Donald: Once the album’s out, ultimately we just want it to be heard by as many people as possible . Although we’ve been playing shows for years, this is our first official release; so we’ve never really promoted ourselves before. It’s quite an endeavour! Looking ahead, it’s going to feel very gratifying to play shows with a proper body of work behind us.
TF: Where is your favourite venue for playing live, where is the next place you look most forward to gigging?
Alex: There are so many amazing Scottish venues it’s tough to single one out, but I definitely prefer it when the audience is right in your face.
Fergus: We’re extremely fortunate in Glasgow to have numerous venues that offer opportunities to play, but closest to our heart is definitely Bloc+ in the city centre. We’ve played there many times – some absolutely packed nights, some sparse – but it’s their independent attitude as a venue, and value they place on the acts, that really sets them apart. No tickets, no fee, and you get paid regardless. Not many places offer that to unsigned acts. The free pizza alone is worth it.
Donald: I’d like to get out of Glasgow for some shows. And, though I’m not convinced the rest of the band would agree, I think a good deal of our catalogue could be adapted to a semi-acoustic environment. I could see us playing some of these nasty songs at festivals, with a stripped-down arrangement. But that’s not anything like an immediate priority. First we’ll need to meet for a pint, then get in a room and learn how to play all the songs again…
Fergus: Next place we most look forward to playing? We would love nothing more than to take our songs right round the country, to as many tiny, intimate, dingy, dirty bars and clubs as possible. But in terms of ambition? The Barras. There’s never been a Scottish band who’ve not dreamt of stepping out on those worn historic boards. Maybe one day.