With the thirty year anniversary of BMX Bandits‘ Star Wars, Last Night from Glasgow are reissuing the vinyl, with new sleeve artwork, and on Star Wars Day, May 4th. BMX Bandits were formed in 1985 by songwriter and lead vocalist DuglasT Stewart out of the ashes of The Pretty Flowers, a short-lived group that featured Stewart alongside Frances McKee (The Vaselines), Sean Dickson (The Soup Dragons) and Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub). Duglas spoke with The Fountain about the anniversary, the new artwork, the BMX line-up for that pivotal album and the plans to promote it.
TF: So thirty years since the release of Star Wars, that’s exciting?
Yeah it may be thirty years but it’s quite hard to sort of believe. It’s a strange thing, it’s really beautiful but in the same way it sorta makes you think about thirty years ago, favourite pop stars, what myself would’ve been doing thirty years ago, after the initial album. We were old then, how can I be like that? I’m surely just starting a group back then…
TF: It’s amazing how quick these last thirty years have gone, we have certainly felt time go very quickly at the moment. And Past Night From Glasgow are reissuing this album to commemorate the anniversary, what will BMX Bandits be doing to promote this re-release?
Again, we were thinking we would probably do a live show or two especially revolved around the album, but that’s not going to be able to happen. It might be able to happen after, there might be a thing later in the year. More like a 30 years and 6 months anniversary show or something of the release.
I plan to do something and perhaps a couple of the other Bandits on the day but it’s not going to be like tackling the whole album, we might be playing a couple of songs from that but I would rather do a real life gig. For now, on May 4th there will be something but it won’t be a full gig.
TF: And you are releasing this on Star Wars Day, which I presume didn’t exist when it was first released. That’s rather novel?
It’s strange, the title had nothing to do with the movie. It wasn’t because that was a big favourite movie of ours or anything like that. Actually more I guess it was inspired by the double notion of Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars program but also it was about change between the fights bands were having from the music you were making to elevating yourself in some sort of way, or some sort of position. The cover of Star Wars has nothing to do with the film, it’s a picture of a horse that I found in a second-hand store that I really liked and it ended up on the cover. So there is not really a connection to the movies.
May 4th was actually just a gag that Ian from Last Night from Glasgow came up with for the reissue because we couldn’t remember exactly what the release date was. When he made the gag I did like it.
TF: And the sleeve has been tampered with, what can we expect from the new Star Wars vinyl?
Well, the sleeve design is a little bit metaphor for us because the horse picture was originally taken hanging up on my parent’s wall all those years ago and had their wallpaper as a background. My parents are no longer around and that’s no longer our family home and so the picture had to have a new home thirty years later so it is now on a wall with different wallpaper. Everything is fine, it’s still there. When you pull the sleeve out the inner sleeve is the same picture because it is one of those clever die cut sleeves that slides out like it was bag on it’s old wall in 1991. So there is the outer layer with the picture which is the now wallpaper and then you can pull out the sleeve with the picture being on the original wallpaper, like one of those film dissolves with the flashbacks where it goes ripple ripple ripple and there is a time dissolve bringing back old memories. So that kind of warp has happened, it’s a time portal on 1991.
TF: That sounds like it will have a lovely feel to it in terms of the aesthetic. And this is giving you the opportunity to feel nostalgic and re-connect with the original line up of the band? Have you been doing much of that?
It’s funny because already by that point it felt like quite a few line ups that had happened in the band because Norman is still on this album but he wasn’t on this album as much because Teenage Fanclub had released their first album in 1989 or 1990 and suddenly they were spending a lot of time in America as Teenage Fanclub were going through the roof so he’s only on a bunch of tracks. And we brought Eugene Kelly into the band and we had Gordon Keen. Again Gordon Keen had joined the band in 1987 but he wasn’t in the original line-up, as the original guitarist had been Sean Dickson and Jim McCulloch and they both went to concentrate on the Soup Dragons. We got Eugene in as a second guitarist. The Vaselines finished and hadn’t really started a new band yet. A bit part of it I guess was the chemistry of things and I thought Eugene would be a good guy to be in a band with. You know, being in a van driving you around somewhere like Norway or Britain or wherever and having Eugene in that band would probably be fun, so “let’s ask him to join.” Eugene brought something different to it.
Getting back to that thing of have we all been in touch, well yeah to a certain extent but of course we’ve not been able to hang out or anything. I think everybody seems pleased that it is happening. For the BMX Bandits it was a big album, as I think it was the album for the band where we wanted to try and move away from the more indie guitar pop just. A lot of tracks on that album were very different to what other bands would’ve been doing. There’s a sea shanty, there’s some jazzy instrumental stuff, we were also starting to write for other people where someone else was the lead singer and not me. So it was a bit of a turning point, a bit of experimentation, not in a particularly avant-garde way, but a bit of experimentation came in and we became a lot less like a lot of our contemporaries with that album.
Star Wars is available to purchase from Last Night From Glasgow, more info here.