Less than 3 years after their debut demos and first teaser of their comfy indie rock abilities, Scottish band THE UNION ARES return with their debut full-length “Songs From The North” on their own label Old Man Giles records, strictly no capital letters (UK), Disillusioned Records (UK) and Lilac Sky (Oslo). Today, we’re pleased to give you a special insight into its origins and meaning, as well as the band’s full track by track commentary!
This record began when the Union Ares started about 20 years ago in my Grandmother basement after my first band Kolya stopped playing. Half of the songs were actually demoed before the first incarnation of The Union Ares stopped. It’s a project that has hibernated – but never stopped and is now continuing to evolve. I hope the lyrical essence of the record somehow finds a way to further evolve in the minds of its listeners.
This project with Huw and Iain in Scotland and me in The Netherlands has been a wonderful slow burn. When I contacted them to be a part I’m sure they thought I was crazy. But I showed up to practice in Scotland… again and again and we made this record and even more importantly we became friends. We will keep it up because there are no expectations as to what that means.
The corona is a drag – but it will not stop us.
We hope to play in the UK at the end of the year to help get the word out and have fun. In the meanwhile another Union Ares was born in The Hague and we are busy with the second album – here the virus has slowed us down a bit… but again we’ll get it up and running. The 3 album concept is album one – “songs from the North” – album two “songs from the south” and a third album where all 5 of us play. The Hague based band is with Gaby de Waaij and Mike Bailey.
Basic tracks were recorded by Ross McGowan at his Chime studio in Glasgow Friday – Sunday May 31st – June 2 2019
Overdubs, mixing and mastering were done closer to my home in The Hague – At Holland Spoor studio by Chris Muller. This was slowly done over the summer and fall of 2019.
I started Old Man Giles records to help give this shape and along the way enlisted the help of 3 DIY labels that will help get the word out. Strictly no capital letter (UK), Disillusioned records (UK) and Lilac Sky (Oslo) – anyone that was willing to believe in it were welcome aboard. Will be looking for a US label to do a pressing there.
Track 1 – Day 7
This is about as autobiographical as I get. Literally a day in the life.
Track 2 – The Deluxe House
One of the older ones. What is your deluxe house? What is this deluxe house? There is “a” deluxe house but I would hate to spoil it… a song about wanting something that you may not be able to have.
Track 3 – Crescent
The original Union Ares first practiced in my Grandmothers basement. I guess this one’s about my grandparents that lived in that old house. This was the first “new” Union Ares song that me Huw and Iain finished.
Track 4 – Desert
Another theme of the record is routine. How it can trap you and how it can provide a backdrop of exceeding it and for not settling for the easy way out. I really like LA by the way – just using the cliché of LA that is certainly plastic and lame.
Track 5 – Oubliette
An oubliette is a French jail or torture chamber – like a well. You sit at the bottle and can look up and see the way out – that you can not reach – like a constant full moon.
Track 6 – Untitled
This is also an old song that I wanted to play with the band. Our process – if you can call it that- is that I will give the guys a demo of a song – guitar and vocal only and in the practice space we see how to make it a Union Ares song. With this one we were never quite satisfied. On the Thursday before recording the basic tracks we went into the space to freshen up and try out one last possible solution for this song. We all agreed that the verse was cool – but not much else. So we sort of made it a minimalist outlier on the record that was only finished the night before we recorded it. We tracked it on the first day so that we would remember how it went. Turned out to be one of our favorites.
Track 7 – Where I come from
Another about wanting, and routine, and settling.
Track 8 – First divorce
Another about wanting something you probably are not going to get. Sort of.
Track 9 – Ocean
This is sort of a companion piece to a thematically similar song (that will be part of the second Union Ares record) called “One”. There is a demo and a video for this song that you can check out on my youtube page.
Sort of about the oneness of everything.
Track 10 – The Great Collective / Coda
The great collective is a song of resistance. A fuck you to the complacent and the lazy.
Coda is a mission statement and a question that I hope people have a good answer for.
Current local scene
I’m old and I compare things to what I knew in the scene in Boston and Cambridge Mas. when Kolya was playing and touring. The DIY scene then seemed something more. But as we get out there we are seeing bits of good DIY spirit. I still have faith.
Other band recommendation
We just played with Contractions in Amsterdam. They are French (Lyon –ish) and their new album on ADAGIO 830 is sick. Get it.