Q: Hi! Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the title of your album, “Endless Sunset Oblivion”?
Well, I’d been working on the music for a new song (at the beginning of the first lockdown, so it was steering me towards big feelings from moment one…) and as I built it up, it was becoming more and more epic sounding. I took a walk one evening and looked behind me to find a gorgeous sunset behind me. I stopped (actually in the middle of the road – don’t try this at home, kids) and took a picture of it with my phone. The photo didn’t really come out, so I took another from the side of the road – still distinctly average… but it marked the memory and when I returned home, the lyrics started flowing for this new song.
I was imagining the end of the world, as a burning sunset – feelings of despair but also, somehow a beautiful calm.
They say your life flashes before your eyes in the moment before you die, so ‘Endless Sunset Oblivion’, track one, is that moment – the rest of the songs on the record representing memories… snapshots of life – love, regret, grief etc.
Q: How would you describe the overall sound and theme of “Endless Sunset Oblivion”?
A: I think it’s pretty epic sounding – certainly not small in its ambition. As I began to piece the songs together, it became obvious that I was building something existential, and I didn’t fight it. It’s how I was feeling, so I let the songs take me wherever they needed to go.
I love working on textures and building the layers in songs, taking them to higher and higher emotional places. With this album, the layers often ended up inspiring the theme of the songs.
I started writing a novel around the same themes, early into the process of writing the album – telling the story that seemed to form around it. The ideas grew more and more from there and the two became intrinsically linked. The novel is still in progress but gave way to the new one man play I’m currently performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The show features songs from the album and tells the story of the novel. There are also others ideas/formats in the pipeline, so the sound and now this wider theme are pretty massive!
Q: “Talk About Anything” is a beautiful blend of dreamy rock and psychedelic pop. What was the creative process like for this song?
A: That is kind – thank you very much! ‘Talk About Anything’ was born from the verse riff. That guitar line came to me when I was playing around with another idea and all of a sudden it took over. When I came up with the ‘get out’ into the chorus, it all came together pretty quickly and when that chorus landed in my head, I couldn’t get it out for some time, haha!
I wanted to focus it on the mental health debate but voice the side that no-one seems to pay attention to – the friends/loved ones that are trying to help.
The song twists and turns, just as our minds do… and the gear changes in it represent different stages of progress – the verse is the root cause, the chorus is the olive branch offer of help/support and the post-chorus is the feeling of freedom that can come from talking… about anything you need/want to.
Q: How has your band’s background and experience influenced the music on this album?
A: I definitely wanted these songs to be more immediate than what had come before… Catchier, more memorable.
As it was just Rod (producer) and I in the studio, due to Covid restrictions, I was essentially the band on this album – in many ways a shame, missing out on that connection but also making the process a lot more simple and streamlined.
I just wanted to do the best I possibly could with these songs, in the circumstances… and I’m really happy with how they all turned out.
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of creating “Endless Sunset Oblivion”?
A: The most challenging part of making this record was definitely waiting for opportunities to record, amid all of the pandemic protocols/changes. It ended up being pretty stop/start, with a lot of the parts being recorded at home. This actually afforded me some great opportunities though, like inviting some old friends in to record drums, remotely – Scott Kelman (in Aberdeen, from The Little Kicks) and Jonny Scott (in Glasgow, from Chvrches/The Kills) and when we were finally able/allowed to have The Cairn String Quartet in the studio, it felt pretty monumental…
As a result, it’s definitely an album I will never forget making…
Q: Can you share some memorable moments from your time touring with artists like Snow Patrol, Augustana, and Idlewild?
A: I will never forget walking out on to my first stadium stage, at Killarney SummerFest in Ireland, thanks to Snow Patrol. There were 27,000 people there and I still look back at it as the best day of my life, performing alongside Snow Patrol, Bell X-1 and many more Irish greats!
Playing a sold out Barrowlands is the dream for any Scottish musician and I was very lucky to do that at a young age, thanks to Idlewild. That whole tour (their first ‘Greatest Hits’ tour) was a really exciting time, travelling the country with them and The Twilight Sad – a real privilege. I remember getting stopped by police after the Inverness show… mainly because we were travelling in a van held together with gaffa tape (not even joking). Ended up converting the police into fans of the band!
Q: How do you feel your music has evolved since your debut album, “Everything Viewed Backwards Through The Rearviewmirror”?
A: I think there is a lot more experience, both in music and life, in this new record. My ability to talk about personal subject matters and attempt to turn the bad into beautiful has definitely been honed, from where I was with the first album. I also think that these new songs are more immediate – more hooks and definitely stronger writing, in my opinion. Onwards and upwards, always.
Q: What can fans expect from your live performances, especially during the album launch shows in Glasgow and Edinburgh?
A: Definitely expect smiling. We’ve been so looking forward to these shows – to give the album the release it deserves and get back out there, onstage. We’re over the moon to be back.
Q: How do you approach blending different genres and textures in your music to create a fresh and exciting sound?
A: I start by taking a simple idea – normally a chord progression – and slowly adding parts to it, building it up. I’m all about the textures, so I will work on guitars first, then bass, synth, organ, bells… who knows! An idea for a beat/rhythm might strike me and I’ll run with it… You just have to go with what the song demands – that is the most exciting and fulfilling way to work… and there’s plenty more fun in store!
Q: What are your future plans for The Lonely Together, and what can fans look forward to in the coming months?
A: I’m heading over to the states again for an extended period of time, working on music and playing some shows. I’m looking forward to working with my old friend Bobby MacIntyre (The Twilight Singers/Lucinda Williams) on a side project of ours and also working by myself on new songs for the next TLT record. The aim is to be back out, playing shows on my return – before the end of the year. I also have a book to finish, centred around ‘Endless Sunset Oblivion’, so there is a lot to keep me going. Gigs, gigs, gigs is a priority though. We’ll be seeing you soon!