At their last home-town gig at Glasgow’s QMU, Aereogramme thanked their loyal fans in the best way possible, with a magnetic performance of their towering yet melancholic creations, or “greatest hits”, as they introduced them, tongue firmly in cheek. The following week I caught up with singer Craig B, just before the band set off to play a string of European festivals in the run-up to their farewell performance at Connect.
“QMU was the kind of gig I’m gonna remember for the rest of my life,” says Craig. “It was an incredible reaction, we really couldn’t have asked for anything more. It was really touching.”
On that particular night the feeling was mutual, with a packed QMU watching, listening and savouring every intricate programmed beat and shuddering blast of guitar. All those present felt the significance of the night, but not many would have been able to explain why a band of such craft and power could be reaching for the pipe and slippers.
But, as Craig reveals, the end has been nigh for some time: “We knew when we recorded the last album that it either had to step up a level for us to survive or we would have to call it a day. I mean the title [My Heart Has a Wish That You Would Not Go] itself speaks volumes and the whole theme throughout the album is about coming to an end, so we kinda knew it was inevitable. We dealt with this quite a while ago.
“It feels like the right thing to do because I don’t know what else there is to write with Aereogramme,” he adds. “I think we’ve done all we can with this band so everything’s worked out and I’m really glad that we ended on an album that I’m intensely proud of, that’s not just a throwaway album.”
Aereogramme have survived nine years, four albums and two EPs – more than most minor-label Scottish alt-rock bands – yet they never transcended their underground status. Do they feel any bitterness towards the music industry?
“We’ve always felt that we never had the backing we needed to reach a grander audience but at the same time we never created music to cater to that grander audience,” he says. “People need to realise early on why they’re making music because if it’s challenging or difficult it’s rare to make a living off that but if you make really horribly beige, banal music you could probably make a fortune.”
He continues: “I’m very aware that the music we make appeals to a certain amount of people and I think in today’s musical climate a small amount of people just is not enough. I think there used to be a middle ground but I don’t think that middle ground exists anymore, it’s either bands starting out or bands that sell millions. Maybe ten years ago a band like us could have existed for a lot longer but now it’s just way too difficult.”
Craig and his bandmates seem grudgingly content (if such a feeling exists) to call time on Aereogramme, so what does the future hold? “Campbell and Martin work with other bands so they’re going off on tour, Iain makes music for films so he’s got work constantly on and I work in a kid’s home, so to be honest I think we’re gonna concentrate on those things. I’ll always write music, it just depends where I’ll take it once I’ve written it. I don’t think I need any more career out of it so I don’t think there will be any more releasing, but who knows?”
Aereogramme’s swansong at the brand new Connect festival – an alternative to the more, ahem, mainstream festivals of the summer, which takes place in the scenic environs of Loch Fyne – is likely to be another cathartic occasion. How will the band handle the emotion of it all?
“It’s gonna be emotional but unless someone kicks me in the balls I don’t think I’m gonna cry,” Craig laughs. “Connect is gonna be a very personal experience, more so because we’ve been together so long. I respect them all very much and it becomes like a wee family so to put an end to that is a very odd thing.”