"Although I’ve been pretty busy making art for the last 20 years I’ve never stopped making music. I guess I feel like Art has been my main job so that always generates a lot of frontal lobe activity, worrying, getting it right, thinking of the consequences, considering the contexts, talking to students about it later on my teaching gig at the art school. This is often exciting and dynamic but it always starts with thinking. Starting with music allows me to indulge my intuitive sense, to creep up on things from a more peripheral route, an elliptical meander. Beginning with abstract noodling, unformed chords and la la la words and a ‘waiting to see what happens’ attitude takes you to a different place, by another route. For better or worse I never allow myself to do this in Art. So I’m always recording, messing about, putting songs together for one thing or another.
So a few months ago Ainslie and Lauren at The Duchy asked me to do a show. It’s always great to be asked, so thank you both. It was kind of short notice and this was good, no messing about, no time for fifty different ideas - so I thought it would be a good time to put a few of these songs I’d been recording together, make a current selection and to build a show around it, activating the songs with a visual dynamic in the exhibition and to make the album a physical thing and to launch it at the show. This site reflects that journey into “I Tried to Give Up Drinking With Guitars Instead of God”.
Thanks to my friend Dave Dunbar for helping me sonically along the way and to Kenny Macleod for mastering it from a diverse bunch of audio mixes and to Eileen Daily for editing the Orkney Song video for me."
To view 30 min video of interview with Cedric Tai click here.
Ross Sinclair’s first band was called Gods for all Occasions, circa ‘84/85, whose main claim to fame was that it featured his pal Neil Menzies and Raymond McGinlay, later of Teenage Fanclub; otherwise there wasn’t much to write home about. They really weren’t so hot, and Sinclair was writing many of the songs and singing them – go figure. While that band was still going Sinclair joined a fledgling incarnation of The Soup Dragons. He played drums and stayed for 5 years performing on dozens of records and playing hundreds of gigs from the very first, supporting Primal Scream at the legendary ‘Splash One’ club in Glasgow to one of his last supporting Jesus and Mary Chain at the Brixton Academy (maybe not such a big journey right enough) There were many gigs and various performances in-between at such venues as Glastonbury (1987) and numerous euro tours, festivals and tours of the toilet circuit and beyond. In the end he got tired of arguing with Sean the singer(don’t worry they made up) over drum machines and the new ‘dance’ direction and left in early 1990, to complete his studies at Glasgow School of Art. He left with the gear he happened to have at home – It was only Half a Drum Kit. This was the inspiration for one of the songs on the record. A couple of months later the band recorded a cover version of the Rolling Stones, “I’m Free” and were on Top of the Pops. They went on to sell half a million albums in the States. Oops.
Since 1990 Sinclair has worked as an artist, showing all over the world working in various galleries and museums, making hundreds of exhibitions at home and abroad. He has been the recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Award, The Arendt Oetker Atelier Stipendium, and the Baloise “Statements” prize at the Basel Art Fair as well as numerous awards from the Scottish Arts Council. His work is in various public and private collections.
Now he has made a new record, I Tried to Give Up Drinking with Guitars instead of God, his first proper album, since ‘This is our Art’, the first Soup Dragons album in 1988 and the first where he has written, performed and recorded all the material himself.
This could be a contender for two records – the longest span of time between albums (25 years) and the oldest geezer to have a debut solo album (46 years)
While most artist’s debut albums are concerned with chasing girls and getting high, Sinclair’s’ is focussed on the pressing concerns of being an old parent, nuclear bombs in submarines near his home on the Clyde, the ever present spectre of alcoholism, falling out of artistic vogue, worrying that you might be only average after all, and deciding whether or not to get married to your long term partner…and other such critical concerns.
I guess that’s what floats to the surface when you make your debut solo album at 46.