Teenage Fanclub
Geffen Press Release

Norman Blake (vocals/guitar)
Raymond McGinley (vocals/guitar)
Gerard Love (vocals/bass)
Paul Quinn (drums)


For a band as direct and unassuming as Teenage Fanclub, the Scottish group possesses more than its share of contradictions: pop melodies, jangly guitars and Sixties harmonies, yet a punk attitude; clever Iyrics yet emotionally accessible; a fun-loving quartet yet serious about being musical craftsmen. It's only appropriate then that the band's latest album, Grand Prix (which has nothing whatsoever to do with auto racing--in fact, none of the bandmembers even drive), was the last album to be recorded at the legendary studio The Manor, from whose bowels came both Never Mind The Bollocks and Tubular Bells.

With Teenage Fanclub, what meets the ear is more important than anything else. "It's easy to make a record that's hard to listen to," says Raymond McGinley. "Our goal is to make records that won't make us want to cringe later." With Grand Prix, the band's fourth album and third on DGC Records (produced by David Bianco, who's worked with Mick Jagger, Tom Petty, Henry Rollins, and Frank Black among others), Teenage Fanclub feels that once again it's succeeded.

Says Norman Blake, "When you begin, your influences become the basis but we've been together quite a long time now and have evolved our own sound. We feel more confident, feel better about singing and as musicians. We've played with Nirvana and Neil Young, big stadiums and tiny clubs. We've learned how to get the sounds we like."

Teenage Fanclub gamered more than a little attention with its lavishly-praised major label debut Bandwagonesque (1991), which followed its equally impressive indie launch the previous year, A Catholic Education. Still, McGinley admits, "We didn't quite know what was going on. We were doing 'Saturday Night Live' but hadn't delivered the goods by our own standards yet."

After 1993's Thirteen, the band's experience finally caught up with its talent. "When you accept things is when you grow up," suggests Gerard Love. "For once, we accepted that we had to work to achieve what we wanted. What's strange is that we never actually discussed this but we all realized it at the same time."

The 'we' changed once touring for Thirteen was completed in March 1994 and new drummer Paul Quinn replaced Brendan O'Hare. A week later, they began rehearsals for Grand Prix.

"Before," says Love, "we would rehearse a bit, but then muddle through in the studio." Thirteen was recorded with two weeks rehearsal and eight months in studio. Grand Prix was five months preparation and five weeks of recording at The Manor, a 13th-century house-turned-studio in rural Oxfordshire, England, in August and September (it's since shut down). There were few overdubs as the basic tracks were recorded live and the vocals mostly added the same day.

"We like music that's honest and direct," McGinley continues. "Pop music is not about tremendous sophistication. For us, it's more about doing the simple thing. There's not any 'Should we do that?' We don't worry if it's noisy enough or fast or slow. We just focus on the details of what we're doing and forget the second-guessing."

The result is spirited, witty and, perhaps surprising to some, emotionally revealing. Grand Prix abounds with songs about relationships, from the Sixties pop of "About You" to "Don't Look Back" and its account of someone in love with the past who can't move forward; from "Tears" (complete with piano, strings, and horns), about the nervous breakdown of a friend, to "I'll Make It Clear" and "Verisimilitude."

"Love songs oflen have the appearance of being honest but aren't really," says McGinley. 'Verisimilitude' is a song about wanting to write a love song that's honest, rather than just appearing that way." That honesty is crucial to the band, adds Blake: "It's scary to be that frank. The songs are about what happens in our personal lives. They're pretty obvious." A whimsical touch remains, such as a song titled "Neil Jung," but, he explains, "It has nothing to do with the psychoanalyst or Neil Young. It's about a friend who was having a relationship with a crazy woman."

On the album, Teenage Fanclub looks at love without cynicism, a perhaps unfashionable stance in these gloomy times. Counters Blake, "Some songwriters are professional nihilists. I like the other side of life. I'm going to enjoy life."

McGinley agrees: "We're not going to change for fashion. There's no attempt to come across as anything but who we are. It's not moody equals serious, laughter equals light." That, says Love, "is a hard concept to get across to the music press in the U.K., where some bands base their careers on their haircut. But you can always tell if they put forward an attitude that's not theirs." As for Teenage Fanclub, chimes in Blake, "People accept us on face value. There's a sense that they know us, we're not separate and idolized. There's a personality about us but there's also more than one side to it."

In the late Eighties, Blake was a member of Glasgow's BMX Bandits when he met McGinley in a club. Together they started the Boy Hairdressers (named afler an unpublished play by Joe Orton). When that group split up, the two kept jamming in Blake's bedroom in the East Glassky suburb of Bellshill as Blake worked in a music shop and McGinley graduated from the University of Glasgow with an engineering degree.

Deciding to form another band, they recruited the rhythm section of Love--who had recently picked up the bass after playing guitar and was about to graduate from the University of Strathclyde with a degree in urban planning -- and O'Hare. But, unlike other new groups, rather than making an imagemaking single, Teenage Fanclub debuted with an entire album. "We never took the business seriously but we are serious about what we do, without over- intellectualizing it," says Blake. "We want to be known as skillful songwriters who write albums as wholes--rather than release a couple of good tracks and have the rest sound dodgy."

A Catholic Education was recorded in seven days on a $3,000 budget and released in the U.S. on indie label Matador. The single "Everything Flows" cracked the indie Top 15 and the album made the Top Three. With its first London gig at the University of London Union, Teenage Fanclub became a musical sensation. New York and the New Music Seminar in the summer of 1990 were next. At CBGB's, the band played its first big U.S. show to critical adulation and also met ex-Dinosaur Jr. member and current Gumball leader Don Fleming. With him, the band recorded "God Knows It's True" b/w "So Far Gone" and its demolition derby version of "The Ballad Of John And Yoko." Released that winter in the U.K., the single won rave reviews and a #1 slot atop the indie charts.

In 1991, the band signed to DGC and recorded Bandwagonesque in Liverpool, with Fleming once again manning the boards. The single "Starsign" b/w "Heavy Metal 6" (or, on some, Madonna's "Like A Virgin") went Top 40 and Teenage Fanclub performed at the Reading Festival followed by a tour of the U.K. In America, the album, which Spin called "the best record white people have made this year," rose high on the alternative charts.

Then came Thirteen. Love believes the album was too adventurous. The bandmembers were fatigued from touring, and recording in Glasgow didn't help either--"we were too close to our own beds. Instead of it being 'let's make a record,' it became 'well, we have to finish what we started."

With the end of the tour, O'Hare exited. Enter Quinn. Actually he wasn't new to them. He'd briefly been a member of the Boy Hairdressers and had known Blake since they were 13 years old--and McGinley nearly as long. For the past five years, he'd been playing with another band quite unlike Teenage Fanclub. "There was a lot of programming and sequencers used live," says Quinn. "That's one thing that always struck me about Teenage Fanclub when I wasn't in the band: the honesty in the songwriting."

Because he came from the same neighborhood and was already familiar to the other members, no period of adjustment was required. "Everybody's focused and we all get on with each other. It's a good feeling to know that four people from the working class are still friends and making music together."

In many ways, Teenage Fanclub is as simple as that. As they sing on Grand Prix:

I don't need an attitude
Rebellion is platitude
I only hope the verse is good
I hate verisimilitude.