Belle and Sebastian Talk New Album, ‘Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance’ + More
Only a month out from the release of Belle and Sebastian’s ninth album, ‘Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance,’ the seven-piece outfit from Glasgow sat down to talk to the Guardian about the band’s origins, their aspirations to be the Velvet Underground, the Rolling Stones and Abba, and the reality of their perception as a beloved twee-pop classic.
“[A reporter] was talking about corduroy and twee,” guitarist Stevie Jackson recounted from a previous interview. “It was like, ‘God, this is from the ‘90s!' Are we still perceived like that?”
“I think Stuart [Murdoch] wanted to be more successful,” Jackson continued. “He didn’t understand the concept of the zeitgeist. You only get one chance and you have to grab it. It bugged me for ages that we didn’t take advantage of it at all.”
“Stevie wants to be in the Velvet Underground, Bob [Kildea] wants to be in the Rolling Stones and I want to be in Abba, but we’re probably more like the Grateful frigging Dead,” Murdoch concedes. “We just trundle along. But we amuse ourselves.”
In his late teens, the Belle and Sebastian frontman suffered from myalgic encephalomyelitis -- also known as chronic fatigue syndrome -- during which time he wrote his first song. After recuperating and heading off to school, Murdoch formed the band for a college project and tasked it with recording their 1996 debut, ‘Tigermilk.’
As Belle and Sebastian regrouped to start work on ‘Girls In Peacetime,’ the Glaswegian singer-songwriter relapsed. He says his second experience with the illness helped him write a song once again, ‘Nobody’s Empire,’ which will appear on the upcoming album. (Take a listen to it in the video above.)
“There’s a year of my life bottled into every line,” Murdoch said. “When I wrote it, I was fighting the same demons. I wrote the song to cheer myself up.”
“I wanted to write my own ‘glorious’ -- in inverted commas -- history,” he added. “I want to walk out of this room and be a normal person. I want to go on tour with the band. All of this is a day-to-day battle, so it was absolutely real for me, writing that.”
Grab ‘Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance’ when it arrives in the U.S. on Jan. 20. You can also see Murdoch’s directorial debut, ‘God Help the Girl,’ which is out now.
Exclusive Video: Stuart Murdoch Discusses Soundtrack for 'God Help the Girl'