Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009

10/06/2019

Trashcan Sinatras' "One Night, Two Albums" Tour at The White Eagle this Tuesday, October 8th

By ANA AMMANN //  The Trashcan Sinatras’ North American "One Night, Two Albums" acoustic tour (performing A Happy Pocket and Weightlifting in their entirety) comes to Portland’s White Eagle Saloon on Tuesday, October 8th, 8pm.

Celebrated for their enchanting melodies, heartfelt songwriting and creative turn of phrase, Scottish band The Trashcan Sinatras began as Brit-pop darlings of the last millennium and both the band and their music have endured these past 30-years. 

In 1990, their debut studio album Cake released to critical acclaim, with song “Only Tongue Can Tell” garnering a spot on the U.S. Modern Rock Top 10 chart.  Their videos were an MTV staple and the band was elevated to cult status when Beavis & Butthead watched a clip of their video “Hayfever” in an episode of B&B.

Cult-like is also a fitting way to describe their dedicated and passionate following who do not miss an opportunity to turn out when the band goes on tour. The past three years have offered unique opportunities for fans to relive their favorite songs from the past, with many shows often selling out to hear lead singer Frank Reader’s gorgeous vocals, lead guitarist Paul Livingston’s sublime playing and John Douglas’ magical harmonies and enchanting storytelling.

The Trashcan Sinatras are returning to North America in their three-piece acoustic lineup to reprise their “One Night, Two Albums” tour concept. In 2018, the trio’s tour featured the band’s first two albums, Cake and I’ve Seen Everything, while this year’s shows continue with albums three and four – A Happy Pocket and Weightlifting.

I sat down to talk with guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, John Douglas, in San Juan Capistrano on the first night of their thirty-city tour. We discussed first night nerves, new material and the stories behind some of the songs the band will be performing.

Do you get nervous the first night of a tour, or is this old hat?

There’s always a bit of nerves the first night of a tour, you want to make sure things go well, but they’re outbalanced by experience. 

I hear new music is in the works, what can you tell us about that?

We’re all constantly working on material, really. At the moment we are working on songs and hope to have something for next year. We’re excited about it.

How has your songwriting process evolved from the early days?

In some ways it’s a lot easier than it was. It used to be that life was so busy you might only get to rehearse or listen to each other a couple of nights a week.

The big thing is finding space. I’ve always found if I can find space in the day, ideas will arrive. The things that have changed over the years are more lyrically than anything. You pass through a lot of stuff in your life, and things happen to you, so there’s a lot more on the menu to write about. That’s the interesting thing because when you look back over the years there are different journeys that the lyrics go through.

Process wise, we all write on our own, then once we’ve got something that we’re happy with, whether it’s a finished song or an idea, we share it around. That’s when things can become interesting. Someone will add something or suggest a shift and then it starts to sound like a Traschcan song. The process is both individual and collective.  Between Skype, Facebook and mp3 files, there is just a constant flow and we are always evaluating what each other is saying.

The band will be performing Weightlifting in its entirety on this tour.  What was your world like when you wrote it in the early 2000’s?

We were at quite a low ebb when a lot of the songs on Weightlifting were written. Sometimes when you are writing, you don’t notice it at the time, but when you look back, you realize, “I was just talking to myself there.”

The songs are about the underdogs of the world, people who don’t really have a chance. But the message is, if you can get through and persevere in life, you can reach a good place and things will be alright in the long run. Even if things don’t look very good, there is always light over the horizon, hang in there.

Watch “All the Dark Horses” from Weightlifiting

You will also be playing all the songs from 1996’s A Happy Pocket.  Tell me, who are Phil and Joe in “Twisted and Bent”?

(Ed. note: Correction, we were advised that the song actually refers to Joe, not Jill as originally written.)

Phil and Jill are an amalgam of people that we knew and situations back then. I wasn’t heavily involved in this one, Paul came up with a lot of that, and Frank too.

At the time, we lived in a small town called Kilmarnock in Scotland. When we weren’t on the road or in serious relationships, we were out on the town and getting to know the characters and the various places to go to – or avoid!

There were a lot of songs written about local characters. You might change a name here and there, mix two or three of them up in a song, or put them in a situation they weren’t actually in, but could easily have been.

In that era there was a number of character studies and enjoying when someone was being a bit out of the ordinary. It’s nice to put that down in song.

Watch “Twisted and Bent” from A Happy Pocket

 

What do you consider to be top songs for an essentials TCS playlist?

Obscurity Knocks has a lot of melodic gifts in it and a kind of joyous sound. I think we can do a joyous sound and a melancholic one, and a mixture of them both. Weightlifting is another. Now and then we write songs I consider to be like cuddles or hugs, if you need somebody to just give you a bit of support. We write songs that attempt to capture that.

There is a song we are playing tonight that we haven’t played in a while, called “Usually” that I love.  I was telling you about characters, so this one comes to mind. 

One of the things I noticed in our town, was there were a lot of thrift shops. These thrift shops were always staffed by older ladies - widows generally - that were on their own, because where we live men tend to die first.

One day we went in and there was an old guy working there and I thought, “Well that’s unusual.” And with that, this song arrived about an older fella missing his girl who wasn’t around anymore, which is unusual for our town, because it’s the older ladies that usually survive relationships. And the widows, they’ve got a nice support system, but for an older guy, he was a bit on his own.

She went first - you're unusual

Buy your clothes from widows now

So you dress unusually

But usually, she'd be buying clothes for you 

She went first - that's unusual

You stand apart at the bar now

Drinking the usual

but usually, she'd be buying those for you

The tour will be stopping in Portland, OR on Tuesday, October 8th, what do you look forward to when you tour the Northwest?

Because I’m from Scotland, I love the sea breeze and proper weather. It’s great to arrive in a place where there is a bit of breeze and dampness in the air after driving through dry places like Arizona and the California desert.  When you get inside, you treasure being inside. 

* * * 

See the Trashcan Sinatras this Tuesday, October 8th , 8 p.m. at The White Eagle in Portland, OR. 21+ Tickets $25 advance, $30 day of show. VIP Meet & Greet tickets available.

 

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