Updated: May 12
Our Scottish correspondent Julia Mason tracks down the Scottish duo and poses the key questions we want answers to.
Googling some band names is going to take a little more digging than others in order to track them down online! MEMES are a case in point.** But I can assure you it is worth the effort. The Glasgow duo formed just two years ago yet already secured a slot at SXSW due to their participation in the Wide Days programme in Scotland. With festivals moving online last year, it perhaps gave participating bands a wider audience.
I had the opportunity to chat to John McLinden of the band about SXSW, that band name and of course the return of gigs.
Welcome MEMES and I have to ask, how did you come up with the band name?
The band is comprised of ME and ME and we are selfish genes, so MEMES was a perfect fit. It's not so simple to find us online with this name though.
MEMES formed in Glasgow in Spring 2019. Could you tell us a little about how you got together? Was it really on a Megabus!
It wasn't really on Megabus that we formed but we do frequent the Megabus if we have to travel for gigs! The beginnings of the band was Paul and myself messing around with some initial ideas and the aim was to recruit a drummer but we decided to just record the first two singles on our own in the meantime. Before we had a chance to think about it, 'Blah Blah Blah' was Steve Lamacq's single of the week on BBC 6 Music, so we had made our bed as a duo with no drummer and we've slept in it ever since.
Debut double A single 'Blah Blah Blah'/'Funny Man' earned you a Steve Lamacq live session on BBC 6 Music. However it was released on Six Tonnes De Chair Records, a French label. How did that come about?
We had self released those tracks ourselves initially and then Laurent from Six Tonnes De Chair contacted us after hearing the track on London based Tuckshop Radio. He felt that the tracks should be released on vinyl and we agreed! Incidentally, the Tuckshop Radio folks run a gig night called Exploding Head Sessions in London and we've been down to play a show for them with Folly Group (who are excellent) and have kept in touch, so we got a lot out of that radio spin!
You describe yourselves as a laptop rock duo. The inspiration for the songs seem to come from social observations. 'Happy Shopper' is a perfect example. Would it be fair to say you use the music and humour to demonstrate just how crazy society is at times?
In some ways, yes. They are supposed to be humorous as you say and observant, basically an audio version of internet memes.
You were one of the Wide Days artists for 2020. Wide Days is an organisation in Scotland which provides a networking opportunity for those in the music industry. However it also gives an opportunity for successful artists to have industry support for a year. Could you give us a little feedback on how it has worked for you?
Wide Days was a great experience for us and we're even more grateful to have been a part of Wide Days last year, given the opportunities available to us when the industry was otherwise locked down. On the back of Wide Days, we are now working with a live agent and management, both very important steps for us.
And you must have been gutted not to get to SXSW in person this year due to the pandemic - you did an online performance. Do you hope to get to Texas in 2022?
Absolutely, we'd love to play SXSW in person. Not sure if you can get a Megabus from Glasgow to Austin though...
With gigs being announced, MEMES have their own shows in the UK plus festival slots and a support with Dublin band Sprints. How do you feel about playing live after such a long time?
We can't wait to play live again, it's a huge part of what we do and there is really no replacement for a live gig with a crowd. We're looking forward to supporting Sprints, that will be a top night. We've both been listening to them a lot and love everything we've heard so far, so it will be great to see them live!
Your more recent singles including 'So What', 'Cheer Up'. 'J.O.B.S.' and 'Oll Korrect' were released through Fierce Panda Records. What are your plans with regards to new music?
We have been working on new tracks and we're finalising them now and aim to start the release process soon. We should have some new music out this year.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, if I looked in your fridge now what would I find?
Happiness, if you drink what's in it...