Interview: Goodbye Mr Mackenzie | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Influential Scottish rockers Goodbye Mr Mackenzie were a rock group formed in Bathgate, near Edinburgh who came to prominence in the late 1980s after releasing two indie label singles before being signed to Capitol Records. They charted in the UK with their debut album, Good Deeds and Dirty Rags, and single, The Rattler, but were then the hindered by record company conflicts and failed to break through outside the UK. However, their legacy continued with Shirley Manson, Martin Metcalfe, Fin Wilson and Derek Kelly forming Angelfish, which Manson left for Garbage in 1994, as well as inspiring a whole new wave of Scottish artists who were inspired by their distinctive sound and exciting live shows.

The band are back on the road to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Good Deeds and Dirty Rags and courtesy of Fast Forward Promotions, will be performing at Westgarth Social Club on Saturday 2nd November. We caught up with lead singer Martin Metcalf to find out more about the band, the album and the upcoming tour.

You’re touring to celebrate the 30th anniversary of your debut album, Good Deeds and Dirty Rags. What does the album mean to you and how did it feel to revisit it?
The album is a defining life moment for me. In those days any musician who managed to have a proper album released felt they’d arrived in one way or another. The fact that it went top 30 was yet another life landmark and I suppose would have cemented the ‘arrived’ metaphor if we’d managed to keep performing at that level. We did some great tours in the Uk & Europe as a direct result of that album and indirectly we did a major tour of the USA and worked with some of our heroes over there when we altered course and recorded the ‘Angelfish’ album. Touring UK, Europe and the USA were all amazing gifts to us. Good Deeds & Dirty Rags kicked everything off so it deserves a bit of thanks which is what it’s been getting with the tour. 

To be perfectly honest I wasn’t excited about revisiting the whole album as we’ve moved on from 80’s subversive pop/rock & as a creative person it’s hard not to be critical of your own work but in the end, we realised that (most of) the songs were really well crafted. There aren’t many moments live where I think this part of the song doesn’t work or that part goes on too long. I think we had a solid grasp of song arrangement back then, so in many ways, I’m proud of how we pulled it together. 

You state that you will be playing the album in its entirety, along with ‘a few extra little treats.’ Can you elaborate any further?
Did we say that? (smiles) The core 10 songs on the vinyl release only lasts 40 minutes so we’ve been cherry-picking some other material. 

It’s been going down a storm in Scotland. We’ve been playing songs that aren’t on the original vinyl version of GDDR so some of the single b sides and extra tracks on EPs. We always tried to make great b-sides and extra tracks, never just dumped the ‘shite’ songs on b-side. Those songs will never see the light of day (laughs).

You have been described as being one of the greatest Scottish Bands. Is there any upcoming Scottish acts that could go on to be greats?
Scotland is always a bit of an Aladdin’s cave even today with the internet… but of course, you should check out all these bands online. To start with our backing vocalist for this tour has a genius album waiting to be released her project is called ‘Siel Lien’. She has a couple of great songs online for the time being.  We’ve worked with a brilliant guy called Calum Easter who is sure to go on to great things. Man Of Moon are another and our friends Run Into The Night are brilliant too. They all have something online for you to give them a listen. 

What’s one of your greatest memories of being in Goodbye Mr. MacKenzie?
I think I touched on them before… but yes, the European & USA tours, seeing the world in a different way than you would by just going on holiday, Working with the Talking Heads on our Angelfish side project. Supporting Blondie on tour in 1990 was a great moment for us  & I almost forgot what a thrill it was hearing our music initially being played on BBC radio one and then all over Scotland’s independent radio stations. Managing to get our videos on prime TV slots. It was a whirlwind and an emotional roller coaster. Being part of a performing troupe … a band is like a family. We made each other laugh and got on our own last nerves. We fell out but there is always a bond. There will always be a strange kind of love there. Shared fun & pain.

What are your plans for the band once the tour is over?
The core of Goodbye Mr Mackenzie is also the core for another band we’ve been working on over the last five years. The Filthy Tongues have two albums out there and we’ll be working on our third. We plan to do a tun of recording in the next 8 months and come back with something astounding. As far as Goodbye Mr Mackenzie goes we don’t have a plan. We’re not saying ‘never again’ but we just haven’t really thought hard about it. We’re too busy enjoying the buzz right now!

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