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Interview: We chat to Glasgow’s Walt Disco about uni drop outs and the 80’s

Pluck Shame’s Charlie Steen from the blood-thirst of the bull-pit into the decadence of the ballroom and you have  Walt Disco’s pirouetting, shirtless, tartan-pant wearing frontman James Potter, whose tremulous, death-on-the-dancefloor, Billy Mackenzie-esque vocal typifies the  glamour and flamboyance of Glasgow’s latest indie proposition. Merging vintage New Romantic/Goth sounds with an up-to-date, guitar-flailing urgency, Walt Disco are a bright and glossy antidote to some of their more dour contemporaries.

On the last leg of their tour with Sports Team, I caught up with the group to discuss their short-lived days at the University of Glasgow, their allegiances to 80s Scottish Post-Punk, and their surprise call-up to play Camden’s Electric Ballroom, with crowd surfs an’ all.

What are you up to these days Are you still students?

James: We all dropped out of uni. I made it to third year, (but its four years in Scotland)

Dave: I made it a year and a half

Finlay: I left school early.

How’s the tour with Sports Team gone, especially your sudden call up to support them at the Electric Ballroom?

James: It’s been absolutely amazing. The crowds have been so good every night, with people wanting to see us! Even people who didn’t know about us were really pleasantly surprised. London was crazy. I was expecting a nice little crowd but they were jumping up and down before we even started!

Finlay: We found out about the London show a day before it happened because the main support dropped out.

Dave: We were running around Glasgow picking up things that we needed and drove down to London. All that stuff we were going to do the next day.

Finlay: The biggest crowd we’d played was 300. That was 1,500.

James: The rep was like “Are you going to get in the crowd at any point and stage dive?” I was like, probably not…

James: Southampton was probably our second favourite. Glasgow was good, because we’re from there. That was a good most pit. People were willing to listen in Nottingham, and enjoyed it. Margate was fun as well, my favourite venue (apart from the Electric Ballroom). [Elsewhere] is owned by this super lovely guy who’s just opened it, and he works 70 hours a week to keep it open, and he’s a care worker. He’s so nice! Sammy he’s called.

Dave: There’s a cool record shop upstairs, a basement venue, the sound was amazing, and everyone was lovely.

James: We’re back on tour in like, a day. We’re going up to Glasgow to record the b-side for our next release. Then going Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham with Black Futures.

Let’s talk about Glasgow. A few of you are from Perth, and you all met around the university. What was it like meeting each other, and starting out as a band as students?

James: When you first go to Uni you’re happy to be nice to everyone. It was nice to meet musicians who were like you and made you feel comfortable. We didn’t really get serious with the band until 6 months ago when Finlay joined. It was just a nice group of pals to have to start playing in Glasgow with. Our first gig was at the students’ union playing a Battle of the Bands. You had to have three songs, so we wrote three songs. We did win, but the competition was other new-starts and metal bands. We’ve played King Tut’s seven times. We played there in January and sold it out.

Is the musical heritage of where you come from important to you? You seem influenced by a lot of Scottish bands, like The Associates and Simple Minds. How did you get into that kind of music?

James: It’s like post-punk, but it’s so melodic and beautiful. It’s not angry, but pretty. We always say that our main influence is 80s post-punk from Scotland. And then modern art bands like St. Vincent.

James: I only heard about The Associates because our manager is friends with best friends with the guitarist’s son. He was “you kind of sound like the Associates” when we were just starting. And then we listened them, and were like “this is us”.. My parents weren’t into that New Romantic stuff. My dad was a bit of a rocker.

Dave: It’s the same with me, my Dad saw Joy Division supporting Buzzcocks back in the day. But all the stuff we used to play in the car would be like Bruce Springstein…

Finlay: I was a bit of a shoegazer.

It’s such a distinctive part of your sound. Was it sound you decided upon as a collective?

Dave: We all had similar tastes in indie before we left home. And then all of our tastes matured at the same time.

James: Calum’s mum and dad were really into that stuff. They were from Perth, so obviously knew about The Associates and the Cocteau Twins and all those bands

Finlay: My Mum was really into all that 4AD stuff.

I wanted to talk about the style of the group and your fashion.

James: I did a campaign for Celine, and walked for them, I got a hoody as my present. I actually don’t have any other hoodies. I wouldn’t say we wear expensive brands. A lot of our stuff is from charity shops, 99p, or from Ebay. If we’re spenny then we go to Vintage Shops.

Finlay: I stole one shirt from an Air B ‘n’ B.

You’ve talked about preferring an androgynous look, exploring stereotypes about masculinity? You talk about this on one of last singles, My Pop Sensibilities, where the “Pop sensibility” in question sounds like a disadvantage.

James: The “Pop Sensibility” is actually everyone’s disadvantage. Everyone has this idea in their heads when they’re growing up to fulfil traditional male and female roles, even when they know that it’s not right anymore. It comes from myself and Hayden, who I wrote the song with, feeling like, when we’re in a relationship with women, we don’t feel comfortable feeling ‘masculine’ when we’re with them, because we’re not masculine people. The “Pop Sensibility” is a metaphor for being told to be ‘normal’, when ‘normal’ is a Disney Princess fantasy. Young males need people to look to when people feel like that. I think it’s important that bands and people in popular culture are open with it.

What’s next for the band?

James: There will be songs coming out. We’ll go into the studio more and write more.

Header Photo by Dougy Hill