Tuesday, 27 April 2010

An Interview with Duglas T Stewart

Duglas T Stewart is the lead singer and head honcho of Glasgow hipsters BMX Bandits.

BMX Bandits have been making whimsical, sublime, romantic and emotional pop music since the mid-'80s.

Mr Stewart is one of the most important figures in Scottish pop music of the last thirty years. An inspiration to and influence on people from Kurt Cobain and every single member of every single group to emerge from Glasgow since 1986. His love of music is well known and his influence on music is undeniable but what about the movies?

I managed to secure a few moments of Mr Stewarts time and asked him to tell me what songs of his he would choose to be the music of the opening and closing credits of the film of his life.

"If BMX Bandits tracks were to be used I think I'd have The Sailor's Song (from My Chain) as the opening theme as it says a lot about my romantic nature and about longing for love to come and rescue/save me. Also although it has a sad side to it, it is very much a song of hope. I think the end theme should either be I'm Still Hungry (also from My Chain) or E102 (The Rise and Fall of the BMX Bandits). I can imagine quite a lot of stuff in the film might be seen as sad or mildly tragic but in the end there is always hope. I'm still hungry for life and for love and for music and also I believe in trying to go forward. I'd like people to leave the cinema feeling better, feeling their is hope ... not feeling defeated."

Listening to that answer I'm reminded of that wonderful Oscar Wilde line; "Nothing should be beyond hope, life IS hope". Even when there is an element of tragedy in the songs you write I always feel that there is something hopeful in the music. Hope (as another Scottish band put it) is important. What about music from other people for your films soundtrack?

"Generally I prefer movie music that is scored by people like Ennio Morricone or Bernard Herrmann to soundtracks made up of collected songs. Some directors do that sort of thing very effectively like Scorsese or Tarantino but if BMX Bandits wasn't being used I'd like to have Ennio Morricone score the movie. A theme a bit like his main theme for Il Grande Silenzio for would be good fror the opener. I think the great beauty in its sadness would be right and the opening scene would be of me walking down the Great Western Road in Glasgow late at night. The streets would be covered in snow and deserted except for me and it would be snowing still. You wouldn't know where I was going. For the close something lighter and again more hopeful and sensual like Metti Una Sera a Cena. The last scene would be me getting into bed alone as the theme played in the background and I would be lying there with no real expression until it got to the bit at roughly 3.05 where the vocal lifts off and at that point my eyes would close, it would cut to black and the titles would role."

We need to find a writer and a director for this film, it already sounds amazing. If you could make a film about any one of the fabulous bands to have emerged from Glasgow over the years (and that's not easy for me to say given my status as an Edinburger) who would it be and who would you cast?

"To be honest I really think it would be BMX Bandits and not just because we could do with the promotion. I think our story could be the one with most drama including heartbreak, sex, violence, abuse, abduction, jail scenes and also it would feature a lot of the other key Glasgow bands in the story. Obviously there's been a lot of members (25) so I'll give you just a few casting suggestions:

Rhys Ifans as Duglas
Ewan McGreggor as Norman Blake
Talulah Riley as Rachel Allison
Robert Downey Jnr as David Scott
Tom Hanks as Francis Macdonald"

Now I know that this film has to be made. Tom Hanks as Francis MacDonald...it's the role of a lifetime and the one that would surely bag Hanks that elusive third best actor Oscar.

I had a huge crush on a girl at school called Emma. I used to sit with her outside of school and wait for her mum to pick her up. Eventually I plucked up the courage to ask her out. We went to the cinema and to my annoyance I can't remember what we saw. We didn't sit in the back row and we only ever went on one more date (a recurring theme in my love life) but can you remember the first time you took a girl to the pictures and what you saw?

"The first time i took a girl to the pictures was Frances McKee (the Vaselines). I was 16 and she was 15. We went to see An American Werewolf in London. I warned her before that I wasn't good with blood and guts but I think she thought that I was joking. Anyway the combination of nerves and the gore got to be too much for me and I started to feel really faint and unwell. It ended up with Frances having to almost carry me out of the cinema about one third of the way into the movie and take me for a cup of tea so that I could recover. She was very kind about it. Since then I've seen way more violent and gory stuff and been okay. I think it was really nerves that got to me. We didn't sit up the back, so we had a long walk up the aisle when I was feeling bad and had to leave."

It's annoying that my first date wasn't with a member of The Vaselines but then again I'm no Duglas T Stewart so a date with Frances McKee would have been wasted on me. What about the first time you went to the cinema at all, can you remember that as clearly?

"My first trip to the cinema was a double bill of Tom Thumb and The Wizard of Oz. I really like Terry Thomas and Peter Sellers as the villains in Tom Thumb but The Wizard of Oz was on a different level. It was so magical, so other worldly. It's still a big favorite of mine."

Through your lyrics and the answers to my questions it seems you are a lovely man, a romantic even but surely there must be a dark Duglas lurking inside you somewhere? If you were to be a villain from the history of cinema who would it be?

"I think I'd be Frankenstein's monster. He doesn't mean to leave a path of chaos and destrucion behind him or cause such terror, he can't help it, it's just the way he was made."

You are a key part of the cultural history of Glasgow and so is the Glasgow Film Theatre. If you were to find yourself trapped inside the GFT forever what film would you want to find playing on loop?

"Well my all time favorite movie is "Les Parapluies de Cherbourg" but if it was playing in a loop I'd be in a mess. I actually got to introduce a screening of it at the GFT, which was one of my greatest thrills ever but on a loop I'd go for another a Jacques Demy film, "Les Demoiselles de Rochefort". It looks so beautiful, is so joyful, I love the Michel Legrand music and the wonderful on screen magic between real life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac."

At the end of this interview Duglas left me with this parting comment;

"I hope those answers are good for you."

On behalf of everyone reading this Duglas I feel pretty confident in saying that, yes, those answers were good for us.

Thank you so much...for the music, for the lyrics and for your thoughts today.

1 comment:

  1. good to hear you saying such nice things about douglas and his music. the thought of ewan mcgregor playing norman blake will keep me warm at night for a while.

    interesting musical choices for the film. not the 'kylies got a crush on us'/'serious drugs' medley that many would have expected.