Straight Outta Drongan: An Echo Valley Interview

Ayrshire band Echo Valley tell all from Limmy jokes to the challenges of musical image

It’s a Thursday night and as most people are heading home from uni and college to get ready for student nights out, I’m sitting at a bar table with Liam and Shaun McCluskey. The bar, to be specific, is none other than Glasgow’s very own Firewater which couldn’t be more fitting seeing as the brothers are two thirds of Echo Valley, a punk rock band from Ayrshire that have went through a bit of a hectic year. Not only did they play in France and go one member down after they parted ways with their drummer but 2015 saw the band get rid of their old sound after years of touring and EPs. Liam got his point across simply, saying “people would always go aw they are like Arctic Monkeys and even though it is a nice comparison, we don’t want to fucking sound like Arctic Monkeys”.

The Echo Valley boys can also add a career changing gig to their list of 2015 accomplishments when they supported Peace at King Tuts earlier this year. Both Liam and Shaun couldn’t have been more happy with how the gig went and when we discuss dream acts they’d want to discuss, the name Peace pops it head amongst Pixies and FIDLAR. “With a band like them, they’re fresh and current and most importantly a great bunch of guys”.

“Too many bands that try and follow a check-list like aw let’s go get photos taken in a field with grass up to our baws and we’ll look dead deep and cool.”

It became more and more clear to me as we talked about the band’s career that they don’t just stand out on sound alone. “We are just boys from Drongan who managed to get lucky, we just take things as they come” Shaun said before pausing as the Stone Roses came on and immediately singing along which brought to mind something he said earlier about how to stand out in an over saturated genre: just be yourself. Whether him and Liam were referring to Limmy sketches, swearing about Radio 2 (“We don’t give a fuck about them, BBC are Tories anyway”) or fanboying about Foo Fighters, it was clear that they weren’t censoring themselves to be more appealing, something that isn’t often seen nowadays as Liam points out. “There are too many bands that try and follow a check-list like aw let’s go get photos taken in a field with grass up to our baws and we’ll look dead deep and cool”, something that’s even more hilarious when you realise Echo Valley’s first photo-shoot as a 3-piece band was in a passport booth in Sainsbury’s.

Not only do they know their music, they’re even more opinionated on how it’s distributed. “Once the new EP comes out (TBA) we are going to put it on Spotify but the statistics are everywhere showing how little money artists generate from being played. Soundcloud is the only one we use and we do not receive any payment from that.” I’m also told that there’s currently a case going through the courts just now addressing how Soundcloud makes money through advertisements and gives none to their artists, adding fire to the polarising topic of music streaming.

“Fuck the BBC, they’re Tories anyway.”

While Liam and Shaun both remain relatively positive when discussing this, mentioning how as promoters it makes it even more easy to share music, as soon as the topic of touting comes along the two can’t wait to get their say about it. Their three minute, non stop ramble about it addresses the rarely mentioned fact that most second hand ticket sites are owned by companies like Ticketmaster who save tickets for themselves to sell them on for a profit as well as highlighting the way U2 manage to tackle this issue. In a room full of intoxicated folk downing 89p vodkas, the band’s in-depth knowledge and awareness of how the industry works in regards to touting, contracts and streaming creates the perfect contrast.

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It can be difficult to tell when an artist is in it for the money or the art. At the end of this 40 minute talk with the Echo Valley boys, it’s as clear as day that music is more important to them than anything.”I don’t do what I do to get airplay for a few minutes and cry about it when I don’t” Liam says, unsubtly digging into Sandi Thom. “I do it cause I love making and playing music.” We all yapped away for ages about our favourite albums of 2015 (Fatherson and Kendrick getting a shout out), listing off countless names as if it was a dissertation.

As I head off, I remember what Shaun mentioned: Be yourself unless you’re a dick. Whilst it’s hard for me to put down into words what Echo Valley are, they’re them. And come the 8th of January at King Tuts, they’ll be unstoppable.

Cheers to Shaun and Liam for letting me interview them and thanks to you for reading all the way to the end. You can find the link to Echo Valley’s Facebook here.

Big love, Liam x

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