Port Sulphur – Q+A With Douglas MacIntyre

Masterminded by Creeping Bent boss Douglas MacIntyre, Port Sulphur’s debut album, Paranoic Critical is released on the 6th June.

It would be slightly biased to review this as it features around a third of the cast of Big Gold Dream, has co-producer Erik Sandberg on the front cover and Douglas has been an incredible supporter of us since day 1.

Instead of a review we decided to have a little chat with Douglas on all things Port Sulphur.

But we can say it is however fantastic, futuristic, fresh, and very much unlike what you would expect. And it definitely should be your next purchase.

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 What is Port Sulphur – is it a band or a name you work under?

PORT SULPHUR IS EFFECTIVELY AN UMBRELLA UNDER WHICH I WORK. THE ALBUM FEATURES SEVERAL COLLABORATIONS, AND WAS DEFINITELY COMPOSED UNDER FILMIC PRETENCES.

 

After the Fast Boys single, was there always the plan for this to be an album?

YES, AFTER RECORDING FAST BOYS & FACTORY GIRLS I CONTINUED ASSEMBLING PIECES FROM ABANDONED IDEAS I’D FOUND ON AN OLD HARD DRIVE. RANDOM NOTES WAS THE GUIDING PRINCIPLE, AND THE TRACKS WERE CONSTRUCTED CONCEPTUALLY, FREE FROM AUTHENTICITY BUT IMPROVISED AND SPONTANEOUS.

 

Other than the time taken up by playing with almost every other band in Scotland, why so long to do your own album?

THE IDEA OF DOING MY OWN ALBUM NEVER APPEALED, AND TO BE HONEST, WORKING WITH DAVY HENDERSON IN THE SEXUAL OBJECTS AND THE NECTARINE NO9 WAS AND IS SUCH A FULFILLING EXPERIENCE – AND A TOTAL GAS. IT’S ALSO ENJOYABLE DOING SESSIONS OR GIGS WITH DISPARATE ARTISTS; LLOYD COLE, FUTURE PILOT AKA, VIC GODARD, WHOEVER – IT’S ALL GOOD.

 

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From the other bands you’ve been part of I was expecting a vintage ‘elder statesman of Scottish Indie’ sound but was very pleasantly surprised to hear a really fresh sound, with a lot of interesting influences – Neu, Eno, Post-Punk, VU, vintage electronics etc. Was it conscious to try something different, or the unexpected?

THE AURAL TEMPLATE FOR THE ALBUM WAS ENO, PARTICULARLY HERE COME THE WARM JETS AND HIS COLLABORATION WITH BOWIE – LOW. IT ALL CAME QUITE NATURALLY WITH SOME TRACKS MUTATING SUBSTANTIALLY FROM THEIR ORIGINAL FORM. AN EXAMPLE OF THIS WOULD BE ‘ORIENT EXPRESS’, WHICH WAS WRITTEN WITH JAMES KIRK. THE INITIAL TRACK I SENT JAMES WAS ELECTRONIC, ALMOST LIKE FACTORY-ERA NEW ORDER. BUT AFTER JAMES HAD WORKED ON THE TRACK IT STARTED TO FEEL MORE LIKE ORANGE JUICE, ESPECIALLY ONCE JAMES RECORDED HIS GUITARS AND VOCALS. KEN MCCLUSKEY’S HARMONICA AND ANDY ALSTON’S ACCORDION GAVE THE TRACK ANOTHER FRESH TWIST.

 

 

With the inclusion of some fantastic but sadly no longer with us contributors, the album appears to have been recorded over a number of years but it still manages to maintain an incredible cohesion. This is especially surprising considering the amount of guests appearing. How did you achieve this without it sounding like a compilation?

THE ALBUM WAS EFFECTIVELY RECORDED OVER 20 ODD YEARS, ON AND OFF, NOT DISSIMILAR TO PRODUCING A FILM. IT’S ESPECIALLY POIGNANT HEARING JOCK AND ALAN VEGA’S VOICES ON THE ALBUM. MOST OF THE MUSICIANS ON ‘PARANOIC CRITICAL’ HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH CREEPING BENT OVER THE YEARS, WHICH I THINK ADDED TO THE ALBUM’S SONIC COHESION.

 

What made you decide to choose the specific musicians for each track. Was it something that you thought ‘this might need Vic Godard’ as you had a specific sound, or did that sound come from having them?

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THE TRACKS EVOLVED AS PIECES, AND AS THE FEEL OF EACH TRACK CAME TOGETHER I APPROACHED THE  COMPONENT PARTS AS SHORT FILMS, THE TRACKS SUGGESTED DIFFERENT MUSICIANS AND WRITERS TO ME, SO I APPROACHED THE MUSICIANS.  

Do you see collaborators like instruments, or does it come from something other than that?

IT KINDA FEELS A BIT HITCHCOCKIAN DESCRIBING THE COLLABORATORS AS BEING LIKE INSTRUMENTS (THOUGH I’D DRAW THE LINE AT CALLING THE PARTICIPANTS ‘CATTLE’!!).  THE MUSICIANS WERE THE KEY CONTRIBUTORS TO EACH TRACK, I WAS EXTREMELY LUCKY TO BE ABLE TO CALL ON SUCH AN ARRAY OF TALENT.

When we first met during the BGD film, unlike with other filmmakers there was no ‘I need to see your CV’ etc before you offered your help, it was just ‘OK, let’s do this’ which I found really motivating and is something I’ve tried to take into my own filmmaking. I find this attitude really refreshing. Is this a specific musician thing which you take into your work, or is it something more personal? Was there an element of this in your own collaborations with the album?

FOR ME, I LIKE TO WORK WITH AS MANY ARTISTS / MUSICIANS FROM A VARIETY OF DISCIPLINES. WORKING WITH MUSICIANS WITH RAW TALENT AND NO DISCERNIBLE C.V. CAN BE MORE REWARDING, BUT EQUALLY, WORKING WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS AN ESTEEMED C.V., FOR EXAMPLE GARETH SAGER, IS A CREATIVE TURN ON. 

 

With modern technology, and your own skill you could conceivably have made the entire album yourself. What made you choose to collaborate?

THE CREATIVE ENERGY FROM WORKING WITH OTHERS WAS THE POINT OF THIS ALBUM. HOWEVER, THAT’S NOT TO SAY THE NEXT PORT SULPHUR ALBUM WOULD BE MADE ENTIRELY BY MYSELF.

 

How did you work with the musicians in your collaboration? What was the typical process of a song. Did you start and bring someone in to finish, or jam from the start?

THERE WAS NO JAMMING!!  THE COLLABORATIONS WERE GENERALLY CONDUCTED WITH ME DIRECTING. BUT OF COURSE, EACH OF THE COLLABORATORS CHANGED THE NATURE OF THE SONGS.

 

It’s clear that this is very much your own album and voice, how did you achieve this with so much collaboration?

I THINK HAVING A CLEAR VISION OF THE DIRECTION OF THE ALBUM, HELPED CREATE MY STAMP ON THE ALBUM. WE WERE COLLECTIVELY AIMING FOR THE SAME END POINT WITH EACH TRACK, AND THE COLLABORATORS WERE VERY MUCH INTEGRAL TO THE PORT SULPHUR AESTHETIC.

 

Will there be more from Port Sulphur? (hopefully the answer is yes)

YES

 

Who would you like to work with on the next one?

 I PLAYED GUITAR FOR JAH WOBBLE RECENTLY, HIS PLAYING ON THE FIRST TWO PIL ALBUMS WAS MASSIVELY IMPORTANT TO ME IN MY UNDERSTANDING OF THE POSSIBILITIES OF MUSIC. THE NEXT RECORDINGS MAY BE MORE INSTRUMENTAL IN NATURE, CONTINUING THE LINES OF THE INSTRUMENTAL TRACKS ON SIDE ONE OF LOW…  UPBEAT, BUT SKEWED.

 

And what is next for Creeping Bent?

NEXT UP IS THE FINAL PART OF GARETH SAGER’S CREEPING BENT TRILOGY. AN ALBUM OF FRENETIC AVANT-PUNK/FUNK CALLED ‘JUICY RIVERS’ WILL BE RELEASED IN AUTUMN, UNDER HIS NEW GROUPING – GARETH SAGER & THE HUNGRY GHOSTS.  THERE ARE PLANS FOR AN ARTICLE 58 COMPENDIUM, A NEW ALBUM BY THE SECRET GOLDFISH, AND A FEW OTHER IDEAS ARE BREWING AWAY.

 

Lastly,  any plans to release/record Jazzateers ’69?  That was a great gig at the Jazz festival a couple of years back. Would love to hear that again.

I WISH THE JAZZATEERS’69 SET AT VIC GODARD’S CLUB LEFT NIGHT IN THE CCA HAD BEEN RECORDED, IT WAS A SPECIAL SET AND PERFORMANCE. JAZZATEERS’ LAST RECORDINGS, WITH MATTHEW WILCOX ON VOCALS, WILL BE RELEASED AT SOME POINT – ‘BLOOD IS SWEETER THAN HONEY’. I MET MATTHEW RECENTLY TO DIG THROUGH THE ARCHIVE, THE TRACKS SOUND GREAT, AND IT WOULD COMPLETE AND CLOSE THE JAZZATEERS’ STORY. 

 

You can purchase the album here.  at the Bandcam page.

Or visit the Creepin Bent page here.

 

 

 



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