Saturday, July 13, 2013

Interview with RM Hubbert (7/7/13)

It's been little over seven months since RM Hubbert's last discussion with Muzik Dizcovery, but that period has arguably been the most eventful of his career to date. Along with a domestic relocation, the Glaswegian guitarist has completed work on his third LP, while its predecessor, 2012's Thirteen Lost & Found recently picked up the much-coveted Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award - beating off established critical darlings and all-conquering mainstream titans in the process. With such a surge of activity, now seemed an ideal time to catch up with Hubby, dissecting his thoughts on his new accolade, as well as what he has in store for us when Breaks & Bone is unveiled on September 27...

Hi Hubby. Firstly, congratulations on your SAY Award victory! Obviously music isn't about accolades, but surely this must fill you with pride?

Thank you. Aye, it’s always nice to get recognition for your work. Most of the credit should go to the collaborators in my opinion. The record was shaped by them as much as myself.

Your acceptance speech suggested you weren’t expecting it...

Haha, no, I wasn’t. I was pretty convinced that Django Django or The Twilight Sad were going to win. I wouldn’t have argued if they had.

Did you ever fear that the involvement of last year’s winner Aidan Moffat would count against you?

Not really. The great thing about the SAY Award is that it is judged solely an artistic merit. Me winning is proof enough of that, I think. Thirteen Lost & Found was definitely not the biggest seller on the list.

Can you ever see yourself being mentioned in the same sentence as Emeli Sande and Calvin Harris again?!

Who knows? I wouldn’t have expected it to ever happen 6 months ago. One of the best things that I’ve taken from the whole SAY Award experience is the idea of laying your preconceptions to one side and actually listening to an album with an open mind. I probably wouldn’t have listened to Karine Polwart, Paul Buchanan, Stanley Odd or PAWS otherwise. All of those albums are now favourites of mine. I think that’s a good thing.

You've already said you’re splitting the prize money with your collaborators. How are you planning to use your own share?

It’s already gone! Boring stuff; tax bills, some of my credit card debt, a couch. Not very rock n roll.

Out of interest, which album would you have chosen had you not won?

The Twilight Sad's No One Can Ever Know. Hands down. I love that record.

You often say expressing yourself before an audience acts as a type of therapy. Does this type of recognition have a similar effect?

Not really. It has certainly made me happy but it’s different. Playing live is about connecting with the audience for me. That’s what keeps my mood steady.

The other big news is that your new record is imminent. Did its creation take a little longer than you originally envisaged?

Not really. I started righting again about 6 months after Thirteen Lost & Found came out.  We recorded and mixed it in 7 days, spread out over the last year. Roughly 1 session every 3 months or so.

Did the collaborative process on Thirteen Lost & Found have any lasting effect on your writing for this LP?

Aye, I think so. Certainly for the vocal ones. Doing the collaborations forced me to think about arrangements and spacings in a different way so as to not be too overbearing on the the songs. That certainly carries through to Breaks & Bone.

Your guitar style is entirely self-taught, if I’m not mistaken. Were there any new techniques or innovations you came up with while making this record?

It is. One of the new songs uses a technique called alzapua that I hadn’t used before. It’s a flamenco technique for doing fast triplet strums with your thumb. It gives a very hypnotic effect whilst leaving your other fingers free to pick out melodies. It hurts like fuck though!

Your voice is also going to feature for the first time. Was the process of singing and writing lyrics difficult?

Aye, it was hard. My primary reason for writing music is that I find it very difficult to communicate clearly with words. Adding time, rhythm and rhyming constraints doesn’t make it any easier. I wanted to do it because it was a challenge though. Each record has to be challenge for me otherwise it isn’t worth doing.

To me, your voice appearing on record almost seems like a culmination of the confidence you’ve gained from the past two albums. Is that a fair comment?

I don’t think so. I’ve sang in plenty of bands over the years. The new album, Breaks & Bone, is about letting go of some of my baggage so it seemed natural to be more explicit musically.

Obviously your songs mean a lot to you and have deep, meaningful backstories. Do you like sharing them in album notes etc, or do you prefer to keep them for your live performances? 

First & Last had extensive notes included on each song in the CD and 12” version. Actually, it was originally released as a book with CD. Thirteen Lost & Found was more about the process of reconnecting with my friends through writing with them so the album itself is the document. There are some liner notes in there too though. Breaks & Bone does have liner notes explaining the core concepts but I felt that the lyrics where explicit enough.

Finally, do you think the addition of your own lyrics will make it easier for listeners to connect with those topics?

I’m not sure. Instrumental music has a great advantage in that it’s much easier to imprint your own meaning onto it. But, aye, most people listen to words first. We’ll see.

Once again, thanks so much for you time, and good luck with the new record!



Breaks & Bone is released on September 27. Buy it.

Official website

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