My First Show: Trashcan Sinatras Recall Seeing The Smiths and The Clash For The First Time and Share Memories Of Their Own Debut, Too.
Yes, there's an undeniable influence of The Smiths' in this Glasgow band. But there's also something heavenly sounding that Frank Reader and his bandmates deliver in their music. And, while longtime fans await a box set featuring their back catalog, there's a new live acoustic album called Brel to promote -- which brings the band to The Loft on Friday night on its promotional tour. In advance of that stop, we caught up with the band to ask them about their first show experiences.
Usually for this feature, we only interview one band member. But when the whole band wanted to chime in -- especially about seeing The Smiths, The Jam and The Police -- we weren't going to turn them down. Hit the jump to read their stories.
What was the first show you ever saw? Did your parents take you?
Stephen Douglas (percussion/vocals): The first show I ever saw would be Aladdin at the Gaitey Theatre in Ayr. It was a kids Christmas pantomime organized by Massey Ferguson, the company my dad used to work for. It was great as, on the way home, everyone got a selection box of chocolate (like alcohol for kids). Fantastic!
John Douglas (guitar/vocals): Gary Numan supported by OMD in 1979 at the Glasgow Apollo. My friend's father took me to the show. It was 25 miles out of town and the train fare was out of my range.
Frank Reader (lead vocals/guitar): One Hogmanay, my big sister took me to see The Police play in a hangar just outside of Edinburgh. I was about 15, and the tradition in Scotland of celebrating the new year in your own home with your immediate family was still strictly enforced by my parents, so it was an act of rebellion to risk being out of the house as the bells rang. (It's not often you get to associate Sting with rebellion.) I hardly remember the gig, but I know I was puzzled and surprised by the unimpressively weedy sound. There were many bass guitar solos, much quick dinging on the ride cymbal and strange, puffy guitar effects echoing around. Oh, and a lot of "Eeeeeyoyoyo." I do vividly remember my dad -- who had been waiting for us outside the hall -- driving the 60 miles home at full pelt, darting the car through the freezing fog with his mouth set tight, not saying a word. We made it home in time, though, screeching up to the front door at a quarter to midnight.
Do you remember the first show you saw with your own money?
Stephen Douglas: First gig I paid to see was The Smiths at The Magnum in Irvine in 1985. It's a big sports hall next to the harbor in my hometown. I remember getting soaked by the sea rain with my pal Andy when we bought our tickets at 8 a.m. the day they went on sale. The gig itself was raucous, and I remember Morrissey being quite aloof. But apart from that I don't remember too much. Like most gigs, it passed by in a blur. I'm sure it was still a formative experience though.
Paul Livingston (lead guitar): It was The Smiths in Irvine, 1985. I was 14 and unbelievably excited. I was going to be in the same room as The Smiths! And here they come! I remember thinking that it was very loud. Johnny Marr was brilliant. Morrissey was funny. This was back when the crowd at certain gigs would spit at the band (one of many bad habits left over from punk -- seems strange to think of now, doesn't it?). Anyway, still one of the best gigs I've ever been at.
John Douglas: The Clash in early 1980 on the London Calling tour, Glasgow Apollo.
Frank Reader: I plunked school to go to Glasgow and queue for tickets to see The Jam. They cost about three quid. The gig was at the Apollo Theatre, and, unlike The Police, this three-piece really rocked! The bass was heavy, the guitars were biting and powerful and there was no dinging on the ride cymbal. The crowd jumped up and down on the seats for 90 minutes straight, shaking the whole place and singing every word. I don't think I saw much of the band. I had one eye on the stage and another on the prowling, scary bouncers, who were pulling people down awfully roughly, I thought. I was too scared to stand on my seat until maybe the end of the encore, when I made a series of quick step up and down moves.
What do you remember about the first show you played with The Trashcan Sinatras?
Stephen Douglas: We played with some "alternative" bands, including a psychobilly band called The Stogbags. I was still at school and the gig was in a hotel nearby. I played bass while wearing an overcoat (I think?) and my pal Sooty from school thought we were pretty good... despite the electronic plug-in drum kit.
Paul Livingston: It was in a sooty wee town called Kilwinning. I was very young (16!), and I remember John told me he was 24 -- I could not believe my ears! So old!! I told him if I hadn't made it by the time I was that age, I'd give it up. Hahaha! Little did I know. Hazy memories. We played a Van Morrison song, the drummer played one of those futuristic octagon drum kits (sounded pish, of course), my dad drove the van... and that was it. A star is born! Ha!
John Douglas: I recall Frank showing me the chords to "Sweet Jane" by The Velvet Underground at the side of the stage five minutes before show time.
Frank Reader: I have a memory of a community centre, playing a bass guitar very poorly, but thinking I was playing it very well. There was a bunch of cover songs, starting with The Velvet Underground's "We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together," onto "That's Alright, Mama." There must have been more than that. Anyway, we struggled not to look like we were trying to impress, and I think I stayed indoors for a month afterward.