Bubblegum Lemonade formed in Glasgow as a vehicle for the indie pop recordings of Lawrence “Laz” McCluskey. Deriving the project’s name from the title of a Mama Cass album, McCluskey’s project is rooted in bubblegum pop and jangly groups like Talulah Gosh and Primal Scream. The first time that I heard one of Laz’s songs, I thought I’d stumbled upon a long-lost C86 band. Much to my delight, Bubblegum Lemonade is new, fresh and always delicious. Krystal talked to Laz about his music.
TDOA: So first, I have to ask, why the name Bubblegum Lemonade?
LM: Gone are the days when you can call your band Sugar or Kitchens Of Distinction, because no one would be able to find you in an on-line search. With this in mind, I took the Bubblegum Lemonade name from part of a Mama Cass solo album ‘Bubblegum, Lemonade And Something For Mama’ which was still quite obscure back then. I thought that Bubblegum Lemonade sounded very Indie Pop and very searchable, should anyone be searching for it. When I statred putting songs up on Myspace I had absolutely no idea that there was an Indie Pop revival gathering momentum, I was just happily ploughing my own furrow.
TDOA: You’re definitely a man of mystery which is rare in this internet age where bands are very “in your face”. What contribution has social media made to Bubblegum Lemonade?
LM: Funnily enough, it has been said that I do look a little bit like Austin Powers, I don’t see it myself, maybe I need glasses, just like Austin, ha!
TDOA: I do have Myspace, Last FM, Soundcloud and Facebook profiles for Bubblegum Lemonade and Strawberry Whiplash and a personal Facebook and Flickr accounts for myself, but I don’t really push their presence, they are there to be found if someone chooses to search for them. These pages are inter-linked, so if somebody finds one, then they can find the rest.
LM: To answer your question, niche taste bands like Bubblegum Lemonade and Strawberry Whiplash, rely largely on personal blogs, Myspace and Facebook as their oxygen of publicity. The C86 bands had fanzines, we now have blogs…and fanzines.
TDOA: So who is Bubblegum Lemonade? What can you tell us about your background? Introduce yourself to our readers.
LM: I work for the Post Office, you might call me a Postie, and I enjoy a quiet life in the suburbs of Glasgow, Scotland.
I’ve been in bands since my teens: The Jaggy Nettles, The Sherbet Fountains, The Stepping Stones and The Search Engines, to name a few. Sandra provides backing vocals and moral support. She enjoys the craft of Needlepoint and watching Mad Men on the TV, often at the same time.
TDOA: You’re also in the band Strawberry Whiplash which is, coincidentally, you and Sandra. Sandra also does backing vocals for Bubblegum Lemonade. Musically speaking, what is the fundamental difference between SW and BG?
LM: Any new song which has a Shop Assistants / Primitives feel goes into the Strawberry Whiplash pile and the ones with a Mary Chain / Velvets / Byrds feel get ear-marked for BubblegumLemonade. The Strawberry Whiplash stuff tends to be sweet and whimsical. BL and SW have separate folders on my desktop, both stuffed with lo-fi MP3 demos. These demos occasionally get moved between the folders. Strawberry Whiplash have just finished recording a song called ‘Everybody’s Texting’, the demo for which had been in the Bubblegum Lemonade folder for about a week until I heard Sandra singing along. If ‘Everybody’s Texting’ doesn’t make the next 7″, it will be on the following album.
TDOA: The 60s are obviously a huge influence on the music of Bubblegum Lemonade. Who is your favourite 60s pop culture icon that isn’t a musician?
LM: I love Andy Warhol, the art that he got his workers to produce for him was exceptional in many ways, but I equally love his pronouncements, he’s very quotable.
TDOA: You’ve been cited as being a big fan of the 12-string Rickenbacker. Where did this fascination begin?
LM: I am a treble lover (or something like that), and the Rick’s have it in spades. As a fan of the Byrds, the Church and Primal Scream I was seduced by its chimes. Also it’s hard to bend the strings on a 12 string, this keeps me away from playing Blues cliches.
Not that you asked, but, I’ve lately become keen on the Fender Jaguar, a surf guitar. It has a ‘cheap’ bridge part on it, which creates a slightly raspy sound, great for New Wave strumming and Beach Boys’ solos. I sometimes double track a solo, playing the same part twice but an octave apart, creating a 12 string effect.
TDOA: As a one man act, what’s the recording process like?
LM: I generally start by noting down a song title, which might eventually lead to a quick basic acoustic / vocal demo, this gets saved to MP3 and stuck in a demo folder on my PC for puture reference. For the actual recordings, I have an six year old version of Cubase (even my software is retro), I think that I have pretty much mastered it and can’t be bothered learning a new one. I start the recording by performing an acoustic / vocals guide track all the way through, then build on top of that, most instrumental parts that I put down will be replaced at least once before it’s finished, it’s a lot like oil painting with each section being covered over ’till it’s about right. I love Spector’s wall of Pop, so I tend to double track everything except the drums and bass. There are two speakers with stereo, so I record a version of each instrument for each speaker. My favourite parts to do are the vocal harmonies and the guitar solos. I can easily spend an hour coming up with a fifteen second guitar solo. What would Warhol say about that?
TDOA: BL’s album artwork definitely has that vibrant, vintage feel. Any plans to translate this feel to a video?
LM: I’m kept busy with creating the music for both my projects, so I’d be best to get one of my video making pals to do this for me. I know that videos are important, but I never get round to setting one up.
TDOA: You’re from Glasgow which has somewhat of a reputation for being supportive of touring bands. Any plans to play some live gigs now that the new album is out?
LM: Funny you should ask, one of the Matinee bands is coming to Glasgow in July, 2011 and BL are lined up to support them, hurrah! All I need to do now is find a band.
TDOA: Any special plans for the future?
LM: Well, there’s the July gig for Bubblegum Lemonade and Sandra and me are currently putting the finishing touches to a Strawberry Whiplash 7″, the lead track will most likely be ‘Stop, Look And Listen’, it’s sweet and whimsical. Later in the year Strawberry Whiplash will release their debut album, provisionally called ‘Hits In The Car’ (see what we did there?) We’ve still got a few songs to write and record, but we are on a roll.
For more information, visit the Bubblegum Lemonade Facebook page.