Anna, Callum, Alan and Nick are the four Scotts that make up the fantastic Blood Relatives. We here at the Swill were lucky enough to score an interview with the band channeled through lead singer Anna. Their music is infectious, their lyrics witty and their accents terrific. Make sure to mark October 28th in your calendar as that’s when Deerheart, their debut album, is set to come out. Read below to find out why this band is dead hip and what that hell that even means.
SM: Blood Relatives, a four piece, used to be Kitty The Lion, a five piece. You’ve previously said that your line-up and sound changed over the years and you wanted a new name to reflect that. What specifically about those two things brought about the change?
BR: In our original incarnation we had more of a folky vibe, with upright bass and mandolin in the mix. Our guitar player at the time, Sorren Maclean has lots of folk connections so I suppose that all lent to a more folky sound overall. Sorren became too busy to play with us anymore (he tours with Roddy Woomble of Idlewild) so gradually we moved to a more traditional rock set up: we ditched the mandolin and brought in keys. It wasn’t difficult as such, just a natural progression. But I don’t think we view our current instrumentation as finalised either, in that we intend to keep changing things up as we write more.
We also felt that it would be a good idea to change the name because we had started writing together as a band more than we had before. Previously I (Anna) had written songs and the boys put their instruments to them, whereas we wrote the new music collectively. So I suppose we wanted the name to indicate that we are a group, rather than making it all about me!
SM: Is there anything beyond the music that we can hear that separates Kitty The Lion from Blood Relatives. An ideology or goal perhaps?
BR: Yeah, just like I mentioned above, that it’s not my project anymore, it’s ours. We’re all invested in it now, and feel responsible for making it work.
SM: With the formation of Blood Relatives are you guys happy to be rid of reading about yourselves in context to witty animal references or do you kind of miss it?
BR: Well I love a pun, so I am a little bit sad to see the back of that. There’s still a bit of scope for puns with the new name though! I hope…!
SM: On your labels bio page for it says you have a uniquely Scottish sense of humor. What exactly is a Scottish sense of humor? What makes it uniquely Scottish?
BR: The Scottish sense of humour is generally very dry, and self-deprecating. I suppose there’s a stoicism in the Scottish temperament, and a kind of bleakness, that’s perhaps born from our rubbish weather and what we Scots would describe as ‘Wee-Man Syndrome’: i.e. a deep-rooted sense of inferiority.
Expressing yourself in Scotland is generally not done without the aid of alcohol, so humour is used as a way of making communicating less awkward, or to protect you from revealing too much of yourself. I suppose that’s maybe why there are so many Scottish bands and songwriters, because we can express ourselves with the armour of music.
I use some Scottish colloquialisms in my lyrics, for example, Scottish people use the word ‘dead’ to mean ‘really’, so if you are ‘dead nice’ you’re ‘really nice’. So the song ‘Dead Hip’ is a little joke about trying to act cool (‘dead hip’) and my having an actual sore joint. So it’ll be interesting to see how these little Scottish-isms translate outside of the country!
SM: Is the same thing that creates a Scottish sense of humor the same thing that unites Scottish music?
BR: Yeah I suppose it must be. Scottish weather definitely plays a big part in it, because when it’s pissing down with rain outside, there’s not much better to do than make up some songs moaning about how grey everything is. So maybe that’s why Scotland is so prolific with music. If we had to option to go and hang out on a beach instead then we’d probably take it!
SM: It seems you guys have been touring like mad lately. Along the way, perhaps even dating back to when you were starting up has there been a particular gig that sticks out that you’ll never forget for one reason or another?
BR: We played at T in the Park (Scotland’s biggest music festival) a couple of ago, and that still sticks in my mind, largely because of how nervous I felt! Ordinarily if I feel nervous, it wears off a couple of songs into the set, but at that show I remember feeling absolutely terrified during the whole set, and for it taking a good few hours for me to fully calm down after!
My favourite shows to play have been the ones with loads of our friends there, dancing and singing along and generally making us feel loved. We played at a small boutique festival this year where the audience was made up pretty much entirely of our pals, who danced around in the mud in front of the stage, getting absolutely filthy. And we spent the rest of the night drinking Scottish cider in a forest. Bliss.
SM: What can we expect from the upcoming album, Deerheart?
BR: There are lots of animals in there: deer and a malicious crow, some underwater creatures and some fowl. There’s also lots of dismembered body parts floating around: hearts, cheeks, hips, bones and flesh. There are songs about aging, some about family resemblance, about body image and feeling insecure. But most of all we hope there are some genuine earworms, because catchy is what we aim for.
SM: Are those traits particularly prominent on the track, Deerheart? Why did you name the album after this specific track?
BR: Deerheart was the song that we felt really typified our new sound, and our new direction, so that’s why we named the album after it. It’s also one of our favourites to play live, because it has a lot of energy.
SM: Completely selfishly speaking has there been any talk of a potential U.S. tour?
BR: Mm, we don’t have any plans as yet to come over the pond, but we’d LOVE to! We’ve only played a handful of shows outside of Scotland at this stage, so we’d love to go to Europe too. Or anywhere that’ll have us really!
SM: Granted it’s very early, you haven’t even released your debut album yet, but as of now when you look back at your time with Blood Relatives how will you guys define if you’ve been successful or not?
BR: Hmm, that’s an interesting question! As corny as it sounds, just now we are in the band because it’s fun and we love doing it. We are all genuine pals and have a total blast on tour together. It would be really nice to be able to make a living from the band, but I suppose what we really want is to make credible and enjoyable music together. Having made the album is an achievement in itself I suppose, because we are all proud of it. Now we just need to wait and see if anyone else likes it!
Bonus: A little something extra for your eyes.