March 2nd sees the release of the debut album by The Mind Sweepers.
Based in Dumfries the four piece band has undergone a number of line-up changes over the last few years built around the core of singer/songwriter Paul Winter and drummer Bryn Thorburn. The current band also comprises John Mcinally- Guitar and Backing Vocals and Mark Jardine – Bass and Backing Vocals.
As well as the core members of the band other musicians appear – Win Liv Shak provides vocals and keyboards, Owen Fielding provides keyboards and harmonium and Al Price plays harmonica. The allbum was recorded and produced at Unit 7 studio Bladnoch , Wigtown , Dumfries and Galloway.
“States of Mind” offers a broad palette of styles moving from psychedelic grooves, via folk-rock into blues rock and should gain the band more followers.
We asked the band a few questions in preparation for the release of the album although bassist Jardine was extraordinarily reticent….
What bands were you in previously?
Bryn : The Garden Shed (mid 80s) ……..Dumfries based post-punk…Roger and Caz went on to form AC Acoustics in Glasgow. Lung….Manchester late 80s with Vicky MIddles on bass. Spacehopper….. 1991- 1998 Glasgow based Art Noise Terrorists( self proclaimed)…Signed to the Newly Formed Creeping Bent Records. Gram Solo……2002- 2005 Edinburgh psychedelic groovers. Currently also the main man behind The Screaming Love Collective…..A Psychedelic Post-Punk Dark Disco Groove Sensation.
Paul : I got a band together in the mid-90s, The Comedown, we rehearsed for 6 months, played one gig, then disbanded. I then sang blues with a loose collective for a while, before moving into the singer/songwriter role for about a decade.
John : No past bands only jamming with some lads playing indie/madchester covers in 1990/91.
Bryn : My biggest influence as a drummer is John Densmore of The Doors.
Musically…..PIL, The Fall, Joy Division, Crass, Northern Soul, Neu, Can, Krautrock in general, KLF, Scars, Josef K, NomeansNo, US Hardcore, Long Fin Killie. (Glasgow early 90s). I could go on and on.
Paul : My influences are right across the board. Anywhere from early Elton John, to John Martyn, Pink Floyd to Bob Dylan. I’ve never had the money to buy a digital radio, so I’ve kinda missed the Radio 6 vibe. I’ve always found listening to other music kind of dilutes originality, and rarely hear anything ‘new’ that blows me away, with the exception of Doves, I love Doves.
John : The Byrds.. Hendrix.. Stone Roses.. 60’s psychedelia and soul.. The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Current album listening?
Bryn : Snapped Ankles – Come Play The Trees.
Paul : Well I just moved into a new flat and got my turntable in operation for the first time in over 10 years, so i’m currently reliving old vinyl. ‘Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy’ by Elton.
John : The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour
The mix of styles on the album?
Bryn : Yeah a very mixed bunch of styles……as you can see from the answers above we are all into different styles of music and don’t want to tied down to a particular type, but we like to think that we can put our own sound on whatever style we are playing , so you’d know it was The Mind Sweepers.
Paul : Variance? Why not? I’ve found throughout my years of listening to albums that some bands end-up sounding ‘samey’, and you’re hard-pressed to even know the difference between certain tracks. In my view the vocals, and lead guitar, are what put the stamp on a band’s sound, obviously the rhythm section add to this, but to me it doesn’t matter what ‘type’ of song we’ve written, if it’s us playing it then it’s the Sweeper’s sound. I don’t think an album should be staid and stuck in a groove that repeats for an hour, with only tempo and lyrics changing. The Mind Sweepers are a sum total of all our parts. We can all play, and we’re all capable of original input, so why not go with that and see where it takes us. ‘States of Mind’ is the result of that ethos, and we’re quite proud of it.
John : The changes in line-up have definitely evoked a more psychedelic sound to the band
On the face of it, just the looking at some of the song titles there appears to be a nautical theme across the album?
Paul : My auld man was a sailor in the Royal Navy, and ended-up being a diver on cruisers. As a wee boy it was always my intention to join up and follow in his footsteps, but these hopes were dashed when I found out I was colourblind. Fast forward 20-odd years and it’s a motif that’s stuck with me. ‘Any Port in a Storm’ isn’t really about the sea, it’s about the beer-goggle ‘honey’ ye pull at midnight. ‘Taken by the Tide’ was an address to a female in my life as to whether I was actually any good to be around in the long run. (I wasn’t!) ‘Cast Away’ is a play on words , and not really nautical in all honesty. Had it been spelled as one word it would have taken on another meaning, and that’s why I named it as two separate words, to avoid that. ‘Nose Deep in the Sand’? ‘Sand’, in this instance, is what I thought a friend of mine called cocaine when he was on the phone, and it summed-up the getting ‘on it’ even when you were broke on the dole. Turns out I was completely wrong however, ‘sand’ was his toe-rag code for ‘cash’, but it’s interchangeable with regard to the rest of the lyrics, so it stayed, and it’s a good title too!
Ambitions? What’s next for the band? The making of the album?
Bryn : As a band we’d like to be able to make a living out of this….when me and Paul got together the plan was that it was self funding , and so far we have been able to keep to that, we have been able to fund the album through gigs . Of course we’d like to be a successful recording band touring the world but we are realists and will enjoy it while it lasts.
The album has taken 3 years and several line up changes to get to a position of recording our debut. This album is mostly a collection of songs written by Paul over the years that we’ve taken from being acoustic open mic songs that he would perform on his own , to them being full band multi-layered songs with honest lyrics about our everyday lives….I think that’s a very big part of the songs , that they are honest and raw, emotions laid bare for all to see….songs about one night stands , drinking too much, nights out on the town, broken dreams and life being unemployed.
Paul : All the lads in the Sweepers do ‘normal’ work, and I know for one that I’d be lying if I said I was happy at my age grafting my bollocks off emptying bins! It would be paradise to actually be able to jack the day job and be able to sit in my flat writing new material, but I’m a realist, and getting picked-up by a major record label isn’t something that generally happens to middle-aged men from market towns in south west Scotland. Nah, we just wanna build on our first album, keep getting gigs, and write the follow-up for ‘States of Mind’. Not too tall an order in all honesty, we’re just taking it one step at a time and keeping it realistic.
‘States of Mind’ is basically a collection of older material, all songs written by myself, except ‘Threesome’, which was written in 20 minutes at rehearsals by myself, John, and Bryn, hence why it’s called ‘Threesome’. Obviously we’re hoping it’s well-received, because that would give us the impetus to do another, but we’re all fully aware that ‘making it’ in the music business is as much about luck as it is artistic ability. We’ll see how it goes, and hope for the best. We’ve got a good producer, we’ve got a good band, we’ve got a cracking wee label to put it out on, and we’re all good mates. It’s a good mix, and there’s no reason we can’t keep at it.
John : To write new material and record it. Keep on having fun and enjoy it.
Recording the album was a fantastic experience. Great fun working and recording with Hughie in a very chilled out relaxed environment