In the second part of the interview, I asked Hubby about the Glasgow DIY scene and the gigs in the Kazoo club. He helped Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand) organise the now famous nights. These gigs featured some of the best young bands from Scotland, including members of Belle & Sebastian, Mogwai, the Delgados and more. I also asked him about his most recent album ‘Breaks and Bones’ and his forthcoming release, and Scottish Independence of course!
When did you meet Alex Kapranos?
I don’t really know, 23 years ago? We knew each other in our late teens. We started playing in bands together and used to go to clubs together. Our first bands shared a drummer and then I joined his band.
When you were organising gigs in the Kazoo club, did you realise it was the start of something special?
No, in Glasgow at the time it was difficult to get a gig if you weren’t doing covers or hard rock. It was mostly to Alex’s credit, not mine. The Kazoo club ended up being this place that all the freaks could go and play.
It’s a pretty impressive line up of freaks!
Yeah, definitely, it was because there wasn’t really anywhere else to play. There was a whole lot of shite that played there also. (laughs) And a lot of the time it was crap, but that was because we were young and learning and it gave us a chance to get better. We all played in each others bands. I played most weeks there because you’d get free beer. The ideology of the Kazoo club was that anyone could play there as long as they weren’t morally offensive.
How did you define morally offensive?
Well, you know, racist or sexist. We’d let anyone play. The people that would come back were the people that were interested in this community and this collaborative thing going on.
Your album ‘Breaks & Bone’ is just you and a guitar?
Literally it’s just me and a guitar. The only thing we edited was one synthesizer overdub. After ‘Thirteen lost and found’ my marriage ended around that time and I toured for quite a while. By the time I came to make Breaks and Bone I had been using live performance as a type of therapy for a few years at that point, and It helped, it really had helped. I was starting to feel that it wasn’t the best idea in the world to leave my mental health in the arms of an audience each night. And I remembered a piece of advice I’d been given several times by therapists and councilors after my parents had died, that was to write them a letter. If you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye you should write them a letter and say all things you didn’t get to say, and the idea is that it gives you a sense of closure, and brings a finality to it. It’s an exercise that I’d never managed to do, I’d never managed to go through with it. So I thought that in the spirit of wanting to do it musically, it might be an idea to write a song for each of my parents, and release as a 7″ and that would be like my equivalent of writing those letters. I wanted to have lyrics on those songs as I wanted a sense of finality.
I actually went away and made that 7″ and then I realised I wasn’t quite ready to post that letter, to actually put it out there. I decided to take a year to get to the point of being ready for it, and in the process I made a record about being ready to let go and being ready to move on and be happy, to let myself be happy. So that’s what Breaking Bones is, it’s a document of that year, just leading to a point where I can let go of it.
It’s also the reason why there’s vocals on that album for the first time, they have a very definite purpose and point, the words give a finality that theoretically let me go and open up to do something else.
And there’s a new album ‘Ampersand Extras’ in October?
Yes, it’s a collection of a load of stuff we recorded over the three albums, but the reason they didn’t go on any of the main albums was thematically they were wrong. It’s mostly kind of happier pieces, that weren’t really fucking depressing (laughs). Listening back to it, I like the idea of the albums being documents of my life at certain points. While these songs are representative of my life, they tended to represent the funny little parts, you know, the parts that aren’t about mental health. The bits of life that are kind of nice, there are songs about my dog, songs about the DIY scene in Glasgow and the old days. There’s one that I wrote as a lullaby after my best Friend had his first kid. The times where I used music for good instead of selfish reasons. I thought it would make a nice collection. I always like the idea of the RM Hubbert thing being really honest. These are the last remnants of those three albums and I thought it would be weird not to have them out there.
And lastly, Scottish nationalism, where do you stand?
I’m very, very pro-independence, so I’m very happy to talk about it. It’s interesting you said Scottish Nationalism, it’s not about nationalism for us, it’s about self determination. It’s nothing to do with nationalism, certainly for the people I know and for me personally. For me, it’s about the fact that since the second world war, the Scottish vote has not have changed any national election in the UK had it been taken out.
They are two very distinct nations, with different views and perspectives on the world.
Yes, and to be honest, it’s not even the difference between Scottish people and the rest, it’s the difference between politicians in Westminster and people north of the border. Elections are decided by who votes for what in the South East of the country, so it’s hardly surprising that politicians have no interest in what other people have to say. Independence for me is about self determination, it’s about having control over who governs the people.
So, I’m looking forward to seeing you live on the 18th in the Workman’s club.
Yes, and I’ll have voted about four hours previous to the gig. The vote is the same day and my London based agent has already got an earful for this one!
We wish him well on the referendum and the gig on the 18th!