One thing that strikes me straight away is Andrew's brutal honesty. Especially to almost a complete stranger. Whether it's fucked up relationships, alcoholism, dealing with anxiety or coming to terms
with the loss of a loved one. “I wouldn’t say that the album is typically singer/songwriter. I suppose if you looked at it in terms of themes and genres. The central themes of the album being things like bereavement, infidelity, breakdown of relationships and alcohol abuse. There’s a bit in it which seems to be about wandering about Glasgow kind of lost.” Drunk wanderings through Glasgow at night is something all too familiar. “Feeling a bit lost and having gone through quite a tough couple of years I just spent a lot of time going out drinking on my own and wandering around Glasgow city centre and the Southside.” He continues “It’s not 11 acoustic tracks. It’s not stripped back really. There are songs that are, but mainly it sounds more like a band album.”
After listening to the album a couple of times as some form of research I quickly realise you need to be in a certain mood to properly enjoy the album or fully absorb everything. In some places it can be quite difficult to listen to. Straight away I can hear similarities with Jeff Buckley. “Having listened to a lot of Jeff Buckley. His albums aren’t stripped back, they are quite full on. And a lot of Ryan Adams particularly ‘Love Is Hell’ which feels like a band album. Actually 'Love is Hell' was kind of the template for the album. I wanted it to sound like that. I wanted it to sound really dark, really bleak, really miserable and I wanted it to represent what that past couple of years had been like to go through. And I think the end result of that is actually quite accurate. Having listened back to the album thinking actually that is pretty much how I wanted it to sound.”
“It is bleak and it is miserable there’s not a single happy song on the album.” Something which might put some people off but personally I find it appealing. “I didn’t want it to be a happy album. It’s not been a happy two or three years. In all honesty, it’s been quite a miserable two or three years. I wanted at least that part to be quite honest.” He goes on to say “I think what comes across in the album certainly what I hope comes across in the album is actually for the past two or three years I’ve been quite a miserable, arrogant, arsehole of a guy to be around, that I hurt lots of people and I’ve been really selfish about a lot of stuff. But I didn’t really realise that until I listened back to the album and sort of had a bit of a rude awakening.”
When he started writing songs Andrew tells me how the song writing process was hard work “I probably started seriously writing songs maybe about 2008. I played the guitar before that anyway and I tried to write songs but they were terrible, really bad. I just wasn’t a good enough guitarist. I didn’t feel I was a good enough guitarist to write anything that had any real catchiness to it. I hadn’t really found my voice in terms of singing.” He goes on to explain how he had to work on his confidence “Working on my self-belief in terms of if you belt it out and it doesn’t go right it’s not that a big deal the worlds not going to spin off its axis if I sing out of tune.” Although he found it tough writing songs he knew it was something he had to persevere with “I thought I’ve got an option: I can either just quit, give up even thinking about doing my own music or I can just work much harder getting better, persevere with it and I suppose I thought quitting’s not really an option for me because I just wouldn’t ever allowed myself to do it. I’m not going to be dramatic and say I’m compelled to write music because I’m not but I would feel a big gap in my life if I didn’t do it.”
“I started fancying a girl and what do you do to get her on your side? Well, you write songs for her.” Something which many of us can relate to. I’m sure it’s the reason many guys pick up a guitar. “This girl
inspired me a lot to write. She eventually became my girlfriend after a three month affair. Which is what ‘My Heart Will Wait’ is about. It’s about having an affair with someone. I was single at the time, she wasn’t but we became very close and we slipped up and that kind of dragged on for three months before we were actually able to become official. Not my proudest moment but it dug up a lot of stuff and it inspired me to write.”
Another theme which runs throughout the album is regret. “I’m of a very negative disposition, far too introspective, very reflective and very retrospective in how I look at things. I always look at the past as being the best times, I never look forward to thinking the best times are ahead I always look back on them and I always feel nostalgic about them. It’s always filled with regrets cause almost unfailingly I will fuck up somewhere I seem to be pre-programmed to fucking up. And I did. I fucked up more than once and so that’s why there’s all these songs about regret in the past and making apologies. I suppose ‘Fragile’ has a bit of a feeling in terms of it’s quite angry and there are some quite angry songs on there. Particularly ‘Silence On The Streets’. It’s a very very angry, bitter song and it hints towards infidelity, it hints towards that I’ve been cheated on by someone and in reality it didn’t happen. It was just a case I was really angry with my ex. Things had deteriorated to the point where we didn’t even talk anymore.”
As the conversation develops and not how I expected I feel it is best to sit back and listen. This was quite difficult to do sometimes. “Back in 2011 a relative of mine passed away, someone who I was very close too. I had never dealt with bereavement before ever in any real shape or form. I found it incredibly difficult. It was incredibly difficult for my ex because she had to watch me go through it, basically tearing myself to pieces, massive existential crises, theological debates going on in my head constantly. I’m an atheist but I come from a catholic background and so there comes this crisis and all the catholic guilt. Also trying to come to terms with this idea, you know as an atheist, I believe I will never see this person again. I don’t believe in heaven. I don’t believe in the afterlife. I don’t believe in any of that. As far as I’m concerned I will never see them again and that breaks my heart and it’s something I think about most days and that kills me.” He continues “I wrote a song for her about three or four days after her funeral ‘Thorn In Your Side’.
“The last songs on the album we’re written in the autumn of 2012 and they kind of show me being lost. ‘The City Sleeps’ is about me wandering around Glasgow not having a clue drunk.” The last 3 songs on the album we’re a particular highlight for me “’27’ is a song about bereavement and losing someone. Really morbid lyrics in that song, really quite dark. ‘Out On My Own’ is the oldest song on the album actually that was written quite a while ago, again quite a dark song. I was drunk when I wrote that song. I had a few too many pints of Guinness and had maybe made a bit of an arse of myself in front of a barmaid. ‘In The Dark’ was the song I wrote for my ex begging her to take me back, first time round when I knew I fucked up and I was begging her to take me back, and it worked on that occasion.”
“The point of the album I suppose is to come across as an arrogant prick. As an admission that I was like that for quite some time and I don’t want to be like that anymore. I’ve faced up to my short comings I hope and my demons and I don’t drink anymore. That was something which was doing a lot of damage to me. I don’t even drink coffee really anymore because too much caffeine was making me anxious. I’ve had to make a couple of lifestyle changes to deal with that side of things. I’m not teetotal and I dare say when I launch the album in September I’ll have a beer to celebrate it.”
Fragile is released on September 28th. The album launch gig is at The Glad Café also on the 28th and entry is free.