We meet in The Bungo which is situated in the Southside just off Pollokshaws Road on Nithsdale Road. It's a lovely little bar that I would highly recommend if you happen to be in the area. It is also dog friendly. As has become the tradition the interview is preceded with a long walk which, as always, was enjoyable. We are also joined by Nigel who is Andrew’s 9 month old Border Collie. Nigel seems overly excitable at times but then again maybe he is just happy to see me.
After over a year of recording and writing the album is finally ready to release. What are Andrew's thoughts on the album?
"I think the album is sounding fantastic. The production on it has been excellent, the musicianship on it has been exceptional. I think after releasing Fragile and it being a little rough around the edges, deliberately so, it was meant to be rough and it was meant to sound sort of rushed. Where as The Avenue was deliberately supposed to sound a lot more polished and a lot more professionally produced and I think we definitely got that sound from it."
Sound wise the songs have changed and progressed. From early live performances to demos to the finished product. The sound of the songs has definitely changed. "I wouldn't go as far to say that it's the sort of sound I had in my head before we went into the recording studio but it surpassed that. I had this sort of sound and idea that it would be really atmospheric and there be lots of elements to it. I didn't foresee what we would get out of it particularly songs like 'Captivated'. I had no idea 'Captivated' would turn out like that and I was so surprised by it in such a good way."
When I first interviewed Andrew he mentioned he had already made plans for his second album and this was before he had even released his first. He also revealed the name 'The Avenue'. So what is the meaning behind the name and why did it stick? "I suppose The Avenue is the same story as Fragile just told from a different point of view or with a different outlook. That story of something starting, being everything you've ever imagined to being the most wonderful experience of your life, to it turning sour. To it turning cold. The Avenue is supposed to kind of represent that a little bit. The Avenue is a place just outside of Stirling where that story started.
Was it always going to be called The Avenue?
"It was a scratch title for it. I could have been swayed on it. My producer Paul certainly had an idea of changing it. We were kind of wracking our brains in terms of how we would imagine it when it came to finishing the album and then doing artwork and stuff. We didn't have any real idea how we were going to image the album and what it was going to look like, and so he suggested changing the name. But I was rather fixed on it. For me it was always going to be The Avenue, and to me the name works for it because it's quite folky in places and it’s got a bit more of a softer feel to it than Fragile ever had. I suppose on the main it was because of the pertinence that place had in forming the songs and in forming the album. It was really important to me that that was recognised."
Often when albums are finished and ready to release there can sometimes be regrets. Whether the artwork isn't right or the track listing should run in a different order. Luckily for Andrew he has no such regrets. "I'm happy with how it all turned out. I don't have any regrets about it, I don't have any regrets about the song choices or any of the production. There's nothing I listen back to and think 'oh that could be better'. It's one of those rare occasions when I've listened back to it and I've thought yeah I'm completely happy with this, I'm completely confident in it and I'm more excited rather than nervous about what people say about it."
A huge difference so far between the release of Fragile and The Avenue is airplay. The Avenue hasn't been released yet and is already picking up some airplay from community stations as well as some prominent radio stations. "The Avenue has not even been release and yet one of the songs has already been played on Radio Scotland. Which is a big thing for me. I didn't get to sleep until two in the morning that night I found out because I was on such a high. I have spoken about it quite a lot on social media, not because I want to brag about it, well I do kind of want to brag about it but just because I'm actually really chuffed." He goes on to say "I was sitting in Sleazy's at the Open Mic night and I got a tweet and it was the first I hear about it, it was about half an hour before the song was about to be played and I got a tweet saying that I was going to be on the same track list as people like; Rachel Sermanni, John Lennon, Duke Special and Rowan Ross. Some really well thought of, well respected song writers and I suppose for one of my songs to be played on that show, particularly that show, The Roddy Hart Show that focused on song writing was a real sense of validation for me as like I might actually be able to do this."
Over the years Black and White Boy has taken many forms. From a three piece folk band to an indie band to Andrew playing solo and now to a 6 piece band. Whatever form Black and White Boy takes it will always been Andrew's project. "I started recording it on my own. Once it was coming to a point where I knew it was nearly there, we were three months away from it being finished I thought I need to now get a band together because I can only play this as a band, I can't get away with playing this solo. So I recruited a band of mainly local song writers who were keen on getting involved. We've been practicing for three months now leading up to the album launch. So we've not got really any excuse for screwing it up. Now that I've said that we'll probably all get drunk before it and we will."
One of the biggest challenges apart from time and money is the pressure Andrew's producer Paul McInally put on him to get the absolute best recordings for the album. "The difficult part was actually being in the studio and me saying to Paul McInally 'I want this to sound amazing, I want this to be produced, I don't want you to just mix and engineer it, I want this to stand up against professional bands.' And be basically said 'Cool I'll do that but I'm gonna push you really hard and you're probably gonna hate me at points.' and sure enough there were days in the studio where it was roasting hot and he made me do the same guitar lines over and over and over again. 45 minutes spent doing a guitar line and he pushed me and that was challenging. There were days where I left the studio and I thought I don't know if I want to do this I don't know if I can handle this. There were times where i didn't have enough money to fund it. I was really running on empty."
Shorty before the release of Andrew's first album Fragile he told me he had a two album plan. After hearing The Avenue I was hoping this is still the case. "Ideally I'd quite like to do a tour in September. I'd quite like to do a Scottish/North of England tour." He goes on to say "I've already ear marked October 2016 to go into the studio again to do the third album which is half written."