INTERVIEW: Baby Strange

Ahead of the release of their debut album, Want It Need It, next month on September 2, Gigslutz caught up with Baby Strange at Y Not Festival to chat about their album, touring and everything Baby Strange.

The band formed back in the summer of 2012 because they were “bored with what was happening around Scotland and the UK as a whole. We wanted to start something that felt exciting to us, and starting a band did the trick!”

“Connaire [McCann], and I met at a music group when we were 13/14 in Glasgow,” frontman Johnny Madden begins. “It’s called Beatroute and is a place where kids can go and learn instruments, and form bands. Obviously, Connaire and Aidan [McCann] are brothers, so they’ve known each other since birth!”

Hearing their music and then learning their name would make any music fan confused with Baby Strange’s punk-rock songs and T. Rex’s infamous glam rock.

“We came up with the name when drunk at a pub one night,” they explain. “We were going to call the band Strange Baby at first, but then we changed it last minute. A few weeks later someone told us there’s actually a T. Rex song called that so we were like ‘oh really?! Thank god it’s not a shit band!’”

Their sound is something that has stayed consistent since their beginnings. From ‘Pure Evil’ to ‘Want It Need It’, their dirty, grunge-esque punk style has always stuck.

“It just came about when we started. We wanted to be direct to get ourselves excited in [the music], even if it we weren’t a band then,” Connaire begins before Johnny adds. “Most bands we listen to are pretty direct anyway so that was going to come across no matter what. It also just happens that that’s the way we write songs; they’re in your face and don’t mess about.”

Their sound may have been there from the beginning, but a lot has changed over the past four years, with a joint chorus of “I hope we sound a lot fucking better” almost instantly as asked.

They continue: “We play better and as a live band we’re better! I think our sound is a lot dirtier, and sounds more alive and loud. Part of starting a band, getting better and finding people you can work with to get what you have in mind can take a while sometimes.”

It may have taken four years for the trio to prepare for the release of their debut album, Want It Need It, next month but finding the right people is something Baby Strange definitely did when meeting the people behind Ignition Records.

“They came to see us at our first headline show in London at the Tipsy in Dalston,” they start. “We kept in contact since and did a single with them. It worked out nicely! We like the team that work there and we like the way they run the label so we thought they’d be the perfect label to do the record with.”

The album track listing features a mix of new and old, but with a heavy weighting on the older, already known tracks, the band made sure to give them a fresh appearance for the record.

“We went back and rerecorded ‘Distance Yourself’, ‘Pure Evil’ and ‘Friend’ from scratch and it sounds much better,” Connaire says. “As we’ve been a band for four years now, we still want our first album to feel like our first album. We had those early songs there so stuck to that first batch! We have got lots more songs.”

Johnny continues: “there’s a temptation to write more good songs. You think ‘let’s just scrap all the old ones’, but you’ve got to stick to your guns and put the record out that people might have liked three years ago when they first heard you. That’s more important to get done, and then we can move onto something else.”

The album doesn’t just feature the old notorious tracks we’ve become accustomed to in their live sets though, it also offers up some “even older ones that no one has ever heard”, as Johnny adds, “we’ve tried to bring some old ones back to life and it’s worked pretty well for us!”

This summer has seen the band play shows with This Feeling and Jack Rocks at numerous festivals including Y Not, Truck and Tramlines. Though the prominent thing for Johnny is “the loads of free Jack Daniels”, he does admit after a push that “they’re all really lovely people!”.

“Festivals are nice as you get to see loads of friends playing,” he continues. “Tour is a bit stricter and more heavy going than a festival. This is more like a party that you need to work for! We just play for half an hour and then get straight back to the party.”

With summer and the festival parties sadly coming to an end, the next thing post album release for Baby Strange is their headline tour in September.

“We actually wish we toured more,” they all admit. “We thrive on playing live and we feel like we don’t tour enough. The more shows we do, the happier we are!”

“I’m really looking forward to the tour in September though,” Johnny adds. “We’ll have the album out so we can be like ‘here are the songs and learn them all, not just the spaced-out tracks on Spotify’. It’ll be a full body of work that people can learn, love and enjoy!”

“Once the album goes multi-platinum, we’ll be fine,” Connaire jokes before Aidan and Johnny agree: “yeah it’ll be fucking easy man!”

The end of this year sees the band co-headline a huge hometown show at the 1,300 capacity O2 ABC in Glasgow on December 16 with White, and when asked how they’re feeling we just get a simple “fucking wow”. They continue: “we’ve been going to that venue since we’ve been young, so to be headlining it is a bit of a dream. It’s massive!”

Though all the other bands on the bill (White, The Ninth Wave and The Cut) might be pals of Baby Strange, they didn’t get themselves there with just friendship. As Connaire explains, “I wouldn’t do it if they rubbish, I’d only do it if they were good! It’s not like we’re giving them a free pass.”

“If we felt that what was happening in Glasgow wasn’t strong then we wouldn’t invite these bands along. I think that us and White doing this show is a statement more than anything on what Scottish music is doing right now.”

Baby Strange’s debut album ‘Want It Need It’ will be released on September 2 via Ignition Records, and is available to pre-order here.
They will also be heading on tour next month; all details can be found here.
Check out our favourite 12 acts from this year’s Y Not Festival (including Baby Strange) here!

Becky Rogers