Sunday, June 26, 2005

belle & sebastian's stevie jackson talks about his first - part two

That the recording of Tigermilk, Belle & Sebastian’s first album, “went well” is a bit of an understatement. A thousand vinyl copies were pressed and, after just a wee bit of radio airplay, snapped up in short order. The record has since been re-issued on CD but original discs, when found, go for the equivalent of a small mortgage payment.

The release party for Tigermilk was the first indication, for Jackson at least, that Belle & Sebastian could draw an audience.

“You know,” he says, “usually people just turn up to drink free booze, but people were kind of interested. There was a pile of records on the wall, you know, and I just remember everybody grabbing one. You know, people making a mad rush for them. And that kind of gave me a feeling, well, people kind of like this record.”

Which is not to say that Belle & Sebastian’s seemingly meteoric rise has, in fact, been meteoric, or that the band has always played to large crowds. There have always been crowds, but many times it’s been relative to how small a venue the band played. Like a friend’s bedroom for the group’s very first performance.

“Everybody piled in there,” Jackson says, “and, you know, it was a small audience obviously but it was pretty captive. And it was great, you know.”

Next came gigs outside of Glasgow.

“Our first London show was the place called the Borderline. It’s quite a good venue. It’s the kind of place where old country bands would play, you know, coming from America. It’s a fair-sized place, maybe a few hundred or whatever. I remember turning up there, and you couldn’t move. It was really jam-packed, you know. That was amazing.”

Named after a French children’s television show about a boy and his dog, the likewise nectareous Belle & Sebastian was formed in early 1996 by two the Stuarts – Murdoch who still leads the group, and David who left sometime between the band’s fourth album, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant, and the fifth, Storytelling.

Those records, for obvious reasons, are not among Jackson’s favorites.

“I think by the time we got to Boy with the Arab Strap and Fold Your Hands Child,” Jackson says, “we were in disarray and unfocused and just a mess. A lot of like personal problems, you know, in our band relations. I think after the initial buzz there was a realization that we didn’t actually know each other and we had to learn how to play together and all that kind of stuff.”

belle & sebastian's stevie jackson - part one
belle & sebastian's stevie jackson - part three

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