"Making Tracks" (Source: Unknown)

Artist: Teenage Fanclub
Project: Untitled
Tentative Release Date: April 95

It seems like no one this relaxed could play music so polished. Onstage, Teenage Fanclub cracks jokes between songs until your sides split - or at least theirs do, as their thick Scottish brogue doesn't always translate well through a microphone to a loud audience.
Then, suddenly, they launch into a song, and their dense Nirvana-esque noise hits you in the solar plexus and wah-wahs off into a Beatles-like ditty. Even though they're so tight they can stop and start on a dime, they get so carried away onstage that they sometimes forget to sing. But in the studio everything is different. In the studio, they are all fun.
The day I visited them at work in Los Angeles they were mixing, rather than recording, but still, shouldn't they have been worried? Bogged down by crucial artistic decisions? I was struck by the number of jokes they could make up abou the El Pollo Loco down the street.
"I shouldn't be eating beans from a styrofoam cup," TFC's Norman Blake tells the room at large. "This is beans, isn't it?"
"Looks like a cup of tear," says Raymond McGinley.
I try to start an interview. The Roxy was sold out the night before, and I wonder are the crowds different in other countries? Bigger? Smaller?
"No," Norman quips. "They're about the same height."
Okay. I can play that. TFC doesn't much want to talk about music right now. When they play it, they play it well, and when they're not doing it, they seem not to talk about it. We careen through subjects wildly, each subject with a lifetime of approximately three sentences.
"Sasquatch is on the cover of our next album," Norman says. "It's an exclusive photo. National Enquirer wanted it, but we had more money.
"Yes," Raymond adds, "and the photo was taken by the Bionic Man."
They get a little more serious about the British music press, but only fleetingly. "Major magazines come out weekly there, so it's easy to become famous very quickly," Raymond admits.
"We used to be rather harsh on the press, but we just don't care anymore. We just don't read it," Norman says. I actually believe him.
We talk about being famous and I sense a poignancy they may not even be aware of. I mean, I'm sure they didn't mean to get all serious on me. "In Japan, we were treated just like the Beatles," Brendan O'Hare says incredulously.
"We just like to play music, sleep, drink tea, and read the paper in bed on Sunday mornings," Gerry Love says.
"It's true. We don't have a lot to say," Raymond adds. "We like taking photographs of our girlfriends, playing the guitar, a good bottle of wine, good food, and a good long lie-in Sunday morning, giant teacups with giant saucers, toast, and marmalade."
"I like to go to my parent's house on Sundays and make plaster casts of their feet," claims Norman. I still might believe him.
And did I hear them mention LA's famous Canter's Restaurant on stage last night? "Oh, yes," they say. "Our good friend Rodney Bingenheimer eats dinner there," they tell me. "A Scottish woman works there."
"We went there and I got a hat," Norman goes on. "Well...it was hanging from the back of a chair and so...I got a hat from there."
"And I got a jacket," Raymond chirps.
"And I got a purse," Gerry says.
"Yes, I got a Canter's wallet," Brendan finishes. Much laughter. No more interview.
Finally during the mixing process itself, I notice a funny thing. While Norman and Brendan play soccer in the studio, in the mixing room Raymond is sitting very still over the board with producer David Bianco. "This is Raymond's song," Gerry whispers to me. Raymond doesn't hear us. David watches Raymond. I watch the set of his shoulders from the back of the room. Gerry has his eyes closed. They aren't joking anymore.
Then I hear Norman shout from the other room. "Darryl Gates? Aye, I loved her in Splash!"

Liz Stephens