Sunset Gun Discography

 

Ross Campbell Interview October 2011

Ross agreed to answering my 'anorak' series of questions via email, his comments are listed below. Some really interesting background to the band. Thanks Ross. 

You can view Ross's new website here http://rosscampbellmusic.co.uk/

1. I’ve heard that Louise and Dee were both backing singers for Postcard Records' boss Alan Horne’s band ‘Bourgie Bourgie’. How did you meet up with them and decide to start your own band?

It sounds terrible to say this but I can’t remember how I met the girls for the first time!  I seem to recall, though, that I got a phone call from Elliot Davis who was manager of the band in the early days, asking if I’d be interested in working with the sisters. They had released a mail order cassette of covers which was really quirky, an interesting mix of song choices, which got me intrigued. Also at that %me they wanted someone to write original material with, so I fitted the bill I guess.

2. Where does the name ‘Sunset Gun’ come from? 

I believe it is/was a nautical term.

3. How did you decide on the sound that you wanted and what were your main musical influences?

There was a joke doing the rounds in the city at the time that every band in Glasgow wanted to be either The Velvet Underground or Chic. Clearly we were aspiring to the later. The common thread between us was soul music. I bought the original 12” of the SOS Band’s “Just Be Good To Me” on import from the US months before it came out in the UK and that was a big influence on me. I also loved all the Jam & Lewis productions that were just starting to come out.

4. According to the sleeve notes you wrote all the music and Louise and Dee wrote the lyrics. Is this correct? How did you go about writing the songs? Music first then lyrics or the other way around?

Yes that is correct. I would demo up backing tracks on a TEAC 4--‐Track cassette and give them to the girls to work on. Sometimes I had vocal melody ideas to give them, such as on ‘Company’, ‘Sister’, Stay With Me’ and the early song ‘One Moment’, but often I would give them what was ostensibly a complete track without a topline for them to weave their magic on top.

5. What instruments do you play?

Well keyboards obviously. I started on flute which I hardly ever play now!

6. Which were the first songs that you wrote together and did  you ever record any demo’s?

The first demo was recorded at Castle Sound in Pencaitland with Calum Malcolm. The songs were ‘Stay With Me’, ‘Company’ and ‘Handjive’. This demo got a lot of attention from record companies and was crucial in us signing with a major (CBS), though we nearly went with Kitchenware at one point! After that demo (prior to signing I’m pretty sure) we recorded ‘Be Thankful’ back at Castle Sound with Alan Rankine producing. We demoed every song we wrote together. We always demoed at CaVa, Park Lane or Castle Sound studios.

7. Did you have to perform a lot of gig’s before you got offered your CBS contract? Was Alan not interested in signing you up?

I don’t think Alan was involved in a label at that time, other than  as an artist of course, so no, he never wanted to sign us. We didn’t do that many gigs really. We did have our own club night residency in the then Nightmoves on Sauchiehall Street every Wednesday night. It was like a revue night where we would put bands on (We gave Wet Wet Wet their first gig, if I’m not mistaken) and stand--‐up comedians. Generally they were all people we knew.  It was brilliant fun! We would try new songs out and do covers. I remember doing a version of ‘Tainted Love’ with just me on the piano and Louise singing. She was amazing!

8. Did you have any involvement in deciding who would be in your backing band and who would be your producer? Which producer did you prefer working with, Pete Wingfield or Bob Sergeant or Alan Rankin?

I put the backing band together. I knew Graham Brierton the bassist from Glasgow Schools Orchestra courses. He was at school with Jim Williams the guitarist and knew Gordon Wilson our drummer. Astonishing musicians, all three of them! I personally loved working with Pete Wingfield the most. He had worked on some iconic records which I love and I learned so much from him. He gave all of us space to be expressive and nurtured that. Bob Sargeant was more of an authoritarian figure and wanted everything to be machine--‐like. It was the 80s remember! He was an extremely funny guy though. Alan had a quixotic way of working which was quite trial and error. You always wondered if he knew what he was actually looking for!

9. What memories do you have of recording the singles and album?

Generally really good ones, but one not so. Originally my brother Duncan played drums for us --‐ he was on ‘Be Thankful’, but when we were recording the album version of ‘Company’ with Bob Sargeant, he (Bob) decided that Duncan wasn’t cutting it and he wanted his own guy in. I was in a terrible situation. Wage a war against the producer who was hugely experienced and in a position of great power over us ingenues, or do what he says? There was no Win--‐Win option for me. I still feel guilty about it, even although my bro went on to have a hugely successful career as a kick--‐boxer (3 times world champion). I loved recording with Pete at Chipping Norton Studios. It is a lovely place and we were very well looked--‐after. After dinner we would go back into the studio with a few pints of the local brew Hook Norton and Pete would play. He is the most remarkable Gospel piano player and showed me Hammond techniques (though I’ve still never been able to get close to his phenomenal playing). I also remember Luis Jardim’s amazing percussion at Sarm West, Steve Sidwell hitting impossibly high notes on his trumpet solo for “Stay With Me’, and of course Dee and Beanie’s sublime vocalize at all times....

10. Did you tour at all and did any of the concerts get recorded?

No proper tours, just assorted gigs. None recorded to my knowledge.

11. Of the three singles that you released two of them were cover versions. Why this decision when you had so much material you had written yourselves?

Be Thankful’ was one of the songs the girls did before I came along  and any new material was written and we always loved it. The Bee Gees song, again, the girls had always done. It was and still is common marketing practice to try and break a new band with a cover and I suppose we were no exception.

12. Be Thankful was your first single but it was not included on the album. Why?

I can’t remember the thinking behind that!

13. I have only been able to find a DJ promo of the ‘Sister’ 12”. Was this only ever released as a promo and if so why?

Not sure.

14. Are there any Sunset Gun songs which never got recorded or released?

I’m pretty sure that every song we wrote was at least demoed, if not released. We had plans to do a cover of Elvis Costello’s (he was a fan of the band) ‘Clowntime is Over’ using toy piano, but it never happened.

15. Why did the band not release anything else after ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’? Did you continue writing and performing as a band or did you call it a day?

I think we realized that we wanted to pursue different musical directions by then and the record company were perhaps a bit confused by us.

16. What did you do after the split of Sunset Gun?

I formed the group Wyoming and made another album for CBS which never got released. After that various different things....

 

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