wears the trousers magazine


the hot puppies: hot to trot

interrupting yr broadcast: the hot puppies
originally published on our old website in July 2006

With stamps of approval firmly in place from everyone from the Observer Music Monthly to the NME, Drowned In Sound and (crikey!) Vogue magazine, these glamorous indie pop chameleons have the potential to make it big in 2006. We caught up with their lead singer Becky Newman earlier this month for a wee chat. Rod Thomas and Alan Pedder rushed off an email full of silly questions and it went a little something like this…

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isobel campbell: from gentle waves to broken seas

interrupting yr broadcast: isobel campbell

Musical collaborations, according to Glaswegian songstress Isobel Campbell, are “very much like relationships” and with her latest CD, Ballad Of The Broken Seas, the former Belle & Sebastian cellist has delivered a poetic collection of haunted duets with Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees/Queens Of The Stone Age fame. Reminiscent of classic partnerships past, who were Campbell’s inspirations? “I would have to say I admire Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra very much because of the melancholy sounds they produced,” she says. “When I first listened to ‘Some Velvet Morning’, that was it for me – it was such a wonderful song.” Johnny Cash, Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell are all favourites too, along with Leonard Cohen and even Doctor John.

After two albums fronting The Gentle Waves and a ghostly Billie Holiday covers project with eminent Scottish musician Bill Wells, Isobel released her debut solo album, the acclaimed Amorino, in 2003. The partnership with Mark began shortly afterwards while she was working on some songs for her 2004 EP, Time Is Just The Same. Eugene Kelly, formerly of The Vaselines and Captain America/Eugenius, was drafted in to sing on two tracks, but his voice was too high to carry off his lines in the desolate ‘Why Does My Head Hurt So?’. By coincidence, Isobel’s boyfriend at the time played her one of Lanegan’s justly-lauded solo albums, and Campbell knew that she’d found the voice for her song.

After Isobel sent the track to Lanegan’s label, the singer got in contact while working on his 2004 Mark Lanegan Band album, Bubblegum, crooning the song down the phone to her on their first conversation. They finally met when Queens Of The Stone Age played Glasgow’s Barrowlands that summer, and then again when his band played Scotland with a couple of months later. “When I talked to him I knew immediately I wanted to work with him. He was so positive, so responsive and encouraging. He’d say, ‘I think we can make such a beautiful record’ and it would spur me on. It made me not want to disappoint him. When I’m not on tour I like the quiet life very much. I’m happy in my own company. But it was good to work with Mark because although we were on opposite sides of the world, we were always asking what the other was doing.”

The result is an impressive one, by turns equally raw and soft. Lanegan’s husky drawl contrasts perfectly with Campbell’s angelic vocals. Musically, too, Ballad… clearly demonstrates just how extensive Isobel’s numerous talents are. Asked whether she minds comparisons with saucy letch Serge Gainsbourg and the innocent Jane Birkin, she laughs: “I don’t mind comparisons but at the end of the day it’s me and Mark singing and we created the music for it so we have to be judged on our own merits.”

Luckily, these two talented people have merits aplenty and Ballad… is a successful but certainly bizarre blend of grizzled rock and doe-eyed folk. But Campbell’s plans for the year don’t end there. A new EP, O Love Is Teasin’ has just been released via her website as a prelude to her second solo album, Milkwhite Sheets, which could well be released by the end of the year. Described by Isobel as “delicate and sparse”, the project is a bewitching combination of old folk ballads and new compositions said to be inspired by “magic, fertility, lunar cycles and leading ladies of folk, Jean Ritchie and Shirley Collins.” Writing in her online journal last year, she said she was aiming for an “ancient and earthy” sound. “No matter what age we are born into, the enduring aspects of the human experience will always prevail…” she continued. “And it is my opinion that it is these aspects that are the most joyous.”

Also in the works is a new book about her former band. Although she says that she doesn’t revisit her Belle & Sebastian past too often, she was happy to participate in interviews. “It was a bit bizarre,” she admits. “I was forwarded the rough copy. There were a lot of memories there.”

Helen Ogden
originally published May 22nd, 2006 



mara carlyle: luck be a ukulady

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Saw playing sweetheart opens her baby bloodheart to Rod Thomas.

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carolyn mark: making her mark

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Canada’s queen of barroom country talks drinks, duets and more with Clare Byrne.

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nerina pallot: the emancipation of nini
April 27, 2008, 4:35 pm
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words in edgeways with nerina pallot
“Knitting? It’s my reason for getting out of bed in the morning…”

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rosie thomas: coming up rosie

words in edgeways with rosie thomas
Alan Pedder and Clare Byrne discover why Rosie Thomas is the loveliest woman in music.

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eileen rose: signora storm
April 27, 2008, 4:30 pm
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words in edgeways with eileen rose
Alan Pedder chats backstage with Eileen about politics, religion, lipstick and London.

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