INTERVIEW: Belle And Sebastian | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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On Thursday 22nd March indie institution Belle And Sebastian return to Sage Gateshead as part of their global tour. The band are now 22 years into a fruitful career and, after the release of three EPs over the winter, show no signs of letting up. Keyboardist Chris Geddes chatted to me about the past, present and future of the band: “We definitely still get excited recording together. There’s a moment when someone comes into the recording studio with something new to figure out – that’s exciting, and I think it will be as long as people want to stay doing it. You don’t consciously try to stay excited, you just are and you keep going.”

Formed in 1996 by Stuart Murdoch and Stuart David, the initial days were a process in finding the balance in sound and group. Geddes joined early and has been a mainstay. “I think a lot of it was about buying into [Stuart Murdoch’s] vision for the band. It’s a process. We had no idea it would go on for 20 years.”

The band are survivors, outlasting their contemporaries in the short life world of music. Belle and Sebastian are also a band which transcend generations; the kind you discover in your formative years when you shake off the bad taste. To categorise them as a ‘Dad band’ would be for lack of an appreciation for their universality. As Geddes puts it: “I think it’s probably the whole package; the melodies, the point of views in the music. At the end of the day there’s that kind of positive feeling in some of the songs that people respond to. It’s an inclusive worldview.” They’re a band beyond demarcated categories, defined by their own style.

There’s an awareness that every time you record you’re adding to a big pile of millions of other records, but you do it because it’s a process that gets you out of bed in the morning

20 years is a long time to tour but, as Geddes points out, new music is the key to making it exciting, and in turn that unites the band in performance. Each crowd is different and needs won over. Off the back of three EP compilation How To Solve Our Human Problems the band are approaching their tenth studio album, but they’re not yet ready to consider their place in music history, still seeing themselves as outsiders even with their longevity. “I don’t think I could fully explain it. If you look at it objectively: we get mainstream coverage, we’ve played all the festivals – in some instances we are almost deluding ourselves. I guess we’re asking if we’re just a band who never had a hit! It’s just a feeling, and it’s not a bad feeling – it keeps you going, even if it disintegrates upon close inspection.”

Two decades deep, Belle And Sebastian are still carving out their niche in the music world. They’re throwbacks; music enthusiasts who make art out of necessity not delusions of grandeur. “I think we feel fortunate to be in the middle where we’re making a living, but it’s also an internal thing. There’s an awareness that every time you record you’re adding to a big pile of millions of other records, but you do it because it’s a process that gets you out of bed in the morning.” Here’s to 20 more.

Belle And Sebastian play Sage Gateshead on Thursday 22nd March.

 

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