The first two BMX Bandits album recorded in 1989 and 1991 are undoubted highlights of the Scottish indie scene. In fact, THE indie scene! Not only have the Bandits inspired later practitioners like Belle & Sebastian and Comet Gain, they virtually laid the foundations for that very melodic vein of Scottish pop that is now loved the world over.
To mark the innovative band’s 25th anniversary, their first two albums (not available on CD for over 10 years) have not only been expanded and remastered but also offer major insights from Duglas T. Stewart.
C86 was recorded shortly after debut single ‘E102’, in the same studio as Teenage Fanclub's A Catholic Education. (as the indiely educated amongst you will know, the two bands shared members in Norman Blake and Francis Macdonald). The C86 phrase had been invented by the NME as the title to their genre defining C86 cassette. This included music by jangly indie stalwarts Primal Scream, The Mighty Lemon Drops and The Wedding Present. Oddly the paper turned down any involvement from The BMX Bandits... thus three years later they wittily christened their debut album C86 with a defiant, or more like chirpy, finger in the air. Further still, by the time of the album’s 1989 release the Bandits were being called C86 in a somewhat negative manner. Clearly the title worked on many levels. Of this Duglas says, “I saw it as ironic and provocative. I'd heard a story that Richard Hell used to walk around New York in the mid-70s wearing a T-shirt with a target on it and the slogan "Please Kill Me". For me our choice of title was like us holding up a target to those who might want to shoot us down.” The end result was “an electric set that ranged from the rumbustuous 'Right Across The Street', through the bossanova swing of 'Rimbaud And Me' to the ironic folknik hoedown of the title track. Such performances were a cheeky riposte to those eager to pigeon-hole the group.”
Follow up album Star Wars marked the arrival of Eugene Kelly (The Vaselines) in the group's line up. Teenage Fanclub had become a huge concern and Norman and Francis at this time needed to focus on their own band. Star Wars was a far more sophisticated album than its predecessor, which saw Duglas’s songs and musical leanings moving further away from his contemporaries. In a word, this is music that is: INNOCENT! To this day its influence can still be heard in a legion of new indie bands, and the record’s sunshine kissed inspirations echo loudly around the catacombs of the mind. The highlights included the lovely ‘Extraordinary', a moving version of 'Green Grow The Rushes' and the haunting title track which merged a call to arms chorus with a Brian Wilson-styled melody.
The BMX Bandits are currently writing new material and preparing for a number of concerts in light of the quarter centenary. To interview Duglas please contact No Other.