Alan Bishop – The Red Eyes
2017 was a big year for The Red Eyes. They released their 4th album – the masterpiece that is “Man and Boy” and marked their 20th anniversary with a tremendous gig in Audio playing 2 sets – one with original 90’s line up and their headline “Man and Boy” set. The Red Eyes were joined on the night backed up by Fudgie McFadden’s “Strung Out Nights” and Heavy Drapes, who are due to release their debut album in 2018.
I caught up with Alan Bishop to find out a bit more about his thoughts and experiences of the last 20 years.
20 Years going strong
You celebrated 20 years as a band last year, what have been your highs and lows over that period?
Hi Neil, The first thing is I’m amazed the band is still going after 20 years.
Highs include recording all 4 albums and 2 EP’s. I enjoy the whole recording process and hopefully we’ll do more in the future.
All the great support slots we’ve had with loads of my favourite bands….SLF (9 times – 4 times at Barrowland), Theatre of Hate & Spear of Destiny, UK Subs, 999, Undertones, The Alarm, Goldblade, Sham 69 and loads more.
Playing the Wasted, Nice ‘n’ Sleazy and Rebellion Festivals plus loads of great all-dayers!
Lows include losing band members and struggling to replace them. The last couple of years have been particularly frustrating as hardly played any full band gigs.
Playing at poorly attended gigs particularly if you’ve travelled hundreds of miles can be a bit soul-destroying at times even tho’ the odd gig like these can turn out great.
Tell me about the current Red Eyes line-up.
The Red Eyes 2018 line-up is myself Alan (Vocals / Guitar)…Alex (Lead Guitar / B. Vox)…Brad (Bass)….Jan (Drums).
What changes have you seen over the last 20 years, both from the way music is consumed, but also in the live music circuit (specifically in Scotland/West of Scotland).
What do you make of these changes – positive and negative?
Obviously the whole download culture. I’m just old skool and prefer to have a product in my hand….i.e. vinyl or CD.
The internet is great for advertising gigs now…how the hell we knew what gigs were on pre-internet I’ll never know lol…must have been the music papers only. I actually feel there is more places to play in Glasgow now than before. In the 90’s we struggled to get gigs in Glasgow. We used to book The Halt Bar a lot and put our own gigs on in there (the UK Subs turned up at one of our gigs…was my 31st birthday and played a set in The Halt….great night….Charlie Harper bought me a chocolate cake with candles).
Still no money for bands playing original material so nothing changed there.
I’m in exactly the same place regarding physical product, give my some lovely vinyl anyday or at least a CD. And UK Subs turning up at a gig and playing a set, brilliant. Another highlight I’m sure.
Red Eye Studios
You run/own Red Eye Studios in Clydebank, you must have some idea of the local music scene from the use of the studios. What can you tell us about up and coming acts? Tell us more about the studios and how any budding bands/singers can get in touch to book?
Yeah I’ve now ran and owned Red Eye Studios in Clydebank for nearly 7 years. We have 3 great rehearsal rooms and recording facilities.
The last Red Eyes EP and the album “Man & Boy” were recorded at Red Eye (I get a discount lol).
Studio is open 7 days a week ’til midnight every day. Takes up a lot of my time as I usually work 6 days with only the one day off!!!
There’s been a bit of a change in the bands coming into the studio over the last few years. Less original bands and more Cover / Tribute bands. Not complaining about that, just an observation. Hopefully a few younger bands will start coming in again.
In the past we had a few bands that went on to play T in the Park (Blindfolds & Waiting For Go) but unfortunately they have both split. The rock band Mason Hill are doing really well at the moment and Joe Bone & The Dark Vibes (have always liked what Joe does since first seeing him in We Are Jawbone then The Coffins and now The Dark Vibes). The Ronains are doing great as well.
For anyone looking for rehearsals or recording call us on 0141 951 1554 or message our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/redeyestudios.clydebank/ Thanks for the opportunity for a wee plug Neil.
You’ve released four albums to date, personally I think you have grown with each album. I didn’t think you could surpass “From the Outside In” with tracks like “This is My Life”, but Man and Boy is a masterpiece both musically and lyrically.
Thanks for that. I think every album has been an improvement on the last one. Not just the production but the songwriting and playing as well. I spend more time on lyrics these days and really pleased with Man & Boy. All the reviews have been great so far.
I know you are good friends with fellow punks Hateful, with Alex King playing with The Red Eyes on and off. Hateful released a phenomenal album last year too in “Noize from the Streets”, how do you see the future of punk in Scotland?
In my opinion Hateful are one of the best UK punk bands. How they’re not Rebellion regulars is a mystery. Their albums and live performances are always great. Kev Mac from Hateful played drums on Man & Boy and Alex King has been in The Red Eyes on and off for 10 years (on at the moment).
Like most people I’m enjoying Heavy Drapes and looking forward to their album as the EP is superb. They were our special guests at our 20th Anniversary / Album Launch.
Reaction, The Zips and Fire Exit always great! My mate Alan Kyle’s band Blacklist are one to watch as they’re barely a year old but have an EP already (Alan was the original guitarist in The Red Eyes).
New bands forming all the time so things seem quite healthy. I don’t get to many gigs now due to working at the studio.
Man and Boy
I know most bands will say their current album is their best/favourite, is this the same for you? What are your favourite tracks from Man and Boy and tell me a bit about the story behind the songs?
Yeah I do think Man & Boy is the best thing we’ve done but I still like the other albums. I’d like to get the first 2 albums mastered properly which would make a huge difference to how they sound. That’s the only disappointing thing about the early albums…the sound!
I like all the songs but probably the title track “Man & Boy”, “Nowhere Boy” and “The Man Who Thinks He’s God” are my favourites.
The title track is about my Dad who unfortunately passed away when I was 18 (he was only 43) so just about how much he has missed out on things particularly in my life. “Nowhere Boy” is really about coming to terms with reaching 50…dunno why…mid life crisis probably lol.
The song “No More Tears For Daddy” at the end of the album probably throws a few people and I think it was a brave move to put it on the album. I’m glad we did as everything has been positive about that particular song. I’ve played it for years in my solo acoustic set and wasn’t sure if it would “fit” on a Red Eyes album. Alex King did a great job with the string arrangement. The song was about British troops who’d died in Afghanistan being paraded in their coffins in the village of Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire so family members and the public could pay their respects. You would see young children there who’d just lost their Fathers and it seems such a waste of life, as all war is. They’ve now stopped the parades, think the last one was 2011.
The Red Eyes in 2018
What is next for The Red Eyes? I know you already have some gigs lined up for 2018 – a Glasgow pre-Damned show in Audio and also a great line up towards the end of the year in Manchester including UK Subs and Loaded 44.
Sunday 28th January – Damned pre-show in Audio, Glasgow in the afternoon – Free Entry!
Saturday 24th February – Shugfest 2 at Audio, Glasgow.
Friday 13th April – McChuills – gig for my 50th with support tbc.
Got a gig at the Dreadnought in Bathgate – 2 dayer 28th / 29th September – day we play tbc.
Sunday 2nd December – Star & Garter with UK Subs, Loaded 44 & Benefit State
Man and Boy review
The Red Eyes masterpiece. An album packed full of massive tunes and thought-provoking lyrics. Alan Bishop is one of Scotland’s strongest songwriters and the album demonstrates all that is good about the punk/alternative music scene in Scotland.
Previous album “From the Outside In” was in itself an incredible work including what was my favourite Red Eyes tune to date, “This is My Life”, with Man and Boy, Alan and co. have surpassed themselves.
The Red Eyes have a classic late 70’s punk guitar sound that is distinctly theirs and has been honed over their 4 albums. This album a splendid assortment of songs relating to relationships and all aspects of the human condition. Including the family dynamics of the aforementioned “Man and Boy” and “No More Tears for Daddy” two of the strongest tracks which bookend the album. Both songs have a similar, but different, theme and are also musically very different.
“Man and Boy” is one of the most personal songs on the album (see Alan’s interview), along with “Nowhere Boy”, with a chorus that is both emotive and musically stirring.
“Face the Truth” touches on father/son relations again, this time mentioning the passing down of behaviours from father to son. The song tackles the age-old problem about religious bigotry, especially linked to football in the West of Scotland, and asks why this is still a problem in the 21st Century as no-one seems to want to tackle it head on.
The album mixes songs with the full on harmonious guitar, bass and drums assault of the eardrums you may associate with late 70’s punk including shades of SLF and the Buzzcocks, with more melancholic numbers bringing acoustic guitars in the mix. “You Fade Away” starts with a delicate acoustic intro which is maintained throughout the song which then builds up layers around the melody creating a strongly touching song. Similarly more human relations are tackled in “Friday Girl” with a melancholic acoustic intro that soon bursts to life
Like many Red Eyes songs of old, there are a heap of songs with great arrangements, lyrics and refrains. “The Man Who Thinks He’s God” is no different and has you singing along to the chorus and the outro nod to Joy Division. Similarly the 2 minute fast paced, in your face “Regrets” starts by paraphrasing “My Way” but changes the age-old line to too MANY to mention and with the chant of all those wasted days, wasted years, wasted nights and wasted tears it is a full pelt statement of remorse for the all that squandered time.
Tear-jerking album closer “No More Tears for Daddy” complete with keyboard and strings is different from the rest of the album but no less potent for that. In fact, the song is potentially more potent because of the lack of guitars and possibly the most compelling song on the album. Alan’s voice is commanding and filled with anguish. When the song ends with sombre voices singing the refrain which segues into the Last Post, the full weight of the song is cemented.
An outstanding collection of songs covering all of the vagaries of life.
The Red Eyes – Man and Boy is available now from bandcamp as are previous albums and the “You Sold Yourself E.P.”
The band is also on Facebook