The Cinematics (2003-2011) – “Basically everything we did had to be acceptable to American girls”

When a band splits up, their reasons for doing so can vary wildly. Sometimes, however, a band makes no announcement whatsoever, instead choosing to cease all forms of communication and updates, drifting further and further out of public consciousness.

To those fans who had invested time, money and emotional attachment in something that came to an end at an undetermined juncture, such a stance can prove highly frustrating, if not disrespectful.

For most people, The Cinematics are missing rather than presumed dead. The Scottish band’s official homepage optimistically promises “New website coming soon!” and points readers in the direction of a MySpace page which hasn’t been updated since January 2011. At the time of writing, there have been no announcements on The Cinematics’ Twitter or Facebook page to say that they’ve split up, but they did just that several months ago.

When I discovered this by chance during a random conversation at GoNorth, I emailed guitarist and co-songwriter Larry Reid and invited him to meet up for an interview to provide some closure on The Cinematics story – it turned out to be a more intriguing story than I ever imagined.

Larry replaced founder member Ramsay Miller between the release of their debut album A Strange Education (2007) and its follow-up Love And Terror (2009). The rest of the band – Scott Rinning (vocals/guitar), Adam Goemans (bass) and Ross Bonney (drums) – are originally from Dingwall but moved to Glasgow in 2003.

While The Cinematics had a reasonable following in their native Scotland, they enjoyed far greater popularity in the United States and continental Europe which, in turn, was where they decided to do almost all of their touring, prompting the members to relocate to Berlin last year. It was there that the group set about recording the ill-fated third album that eventually killed them. It was to be called Kino, the German word for ‘cinema’, but it remains unreleased and unfinished. What proved to be their last ever gig was at Berlin’s Magnet Club on December 3, 2010.

“We’d been in Berlin for about six months recording our third album and I thought it was going very well,” recalls Larry. “I thought it was sounding like a great piece of art that would have blown people’s heads off when they heard it and they would have had to re-evaluate their perception of the band. Some of the band agreed with me, other members thought it wasn’t really what we were about and wanted to stop recording it. By that, I mean take a break from the band.

“In this day and age, music is so disposable that if you’re not giving your fanbase records or playing shows they’ll move on to someone else. That was my argument – what was the point in taking a break? There would have been no way back.

“We didn’t sit in a room and take a vote on whether we should split the band up – it was more organic than that. I don’t think we’re looking at a ‘Beatles in 1970’ situation. I don’t think there are going to be rooms full of crying girls everywhere.”

Would you say it was more a case of musical differences than personality differences?
“It was,” agrees Larry. “But when musical differences lead to bands splitting up and losing incomes, it becomes personality differences. Being in a band with somebody is very much like being in a relationship. You look back on it with fondness and bitterness in the same way that you look back on an ex-girlfriend.”

Scott during The Cinematics' final gig at Berlin's Magnet Club

The bitterness is understandable. Scott announced that he wanted to scrap the third album on the same day that Larry arrived in Berlin after selling his house in Glasgow and driving his girlfriend and his possessions to the German capital. In that instant, an enviable lifestyle of travelling the world and earning a living from making music was no more.

“We were getting paid a lot of money for going on tour,” says Larry. “The Cinematics had a big fanbase. A small gig for us in Europe or America would have been 300 people. In the big cities like Berlin or Amsterdam we’d play to more than 1,000.

“After we cancelled our recording sessions, Kings Of Leon’s promoter got in contact with us – he wanted us to be the support on their European tour. To walk away from that, or to have to walk away from that… I was raging. A lot of bands get things because record companies pay a lot of money, but that wasn’t the case with this. We’d got that through sheer hard work.”

Larry readily admits he is disillusioned with the music business, with his old band being sued by two different parties for breach of contract.

“You hear stories about how everybody in the music industry is corrupt and how it’s a dirty business, yet when you do get screwed, you’re surprised,” says Larry, shaking his head at his own apparent naivety.

“Since music was made a commodity and people started selling it, artists have been getting ripped off. If we as a band got 10% of every record that we sold, we’d be loaded. But we don’t. iTunes give you pennies. Spotify give you the square root of nothing. People think they’re doing you a favour by legally downloading your music, but the difference between them downloading my music from iTunes and downloading from a torrent is irrelevant to me.”

Quite why The Cinematics’ popularity in Europe and America wasn’t matched in their home country has puzzled many. Larry’s theory is that it has more to do with how the group’s image was originally moulded and their subsequent rapid ascent – a rags to riches tale which he believes doesn’t sit well with the Scottish mindset.

“I can understand it,” says Larry. “The manager found them and told them, ‘The clothes you’re wearing are terrible, get your hair cut and your name’s crap, change that’. He basically created the band, got them endorsement deals with All Saints so they were walking around in trendy clobber, got them accounts at Rainbow Room for trendy haircuts, gave them a stack of records and told them, ‘This is what you’ve got to start listening to’.

“They played a few gigs in Glasgow then went to In The City where TVT Records were desperate to sign a Scottish band in the post-Franz era. They signed them even though they didn’t have a set of their own songs, whisked them off to America and put them in one of the most expensive studios in the world to record an album which cost £100,000. That’s not really the kind of story that Scotland is into.

“I’m making it sound something it’s not. This is not the bitter rant of somebody after a band breaks up. They were a brilliant band. Scott is a better singer than any other Scottish singer I can think of and he’s got a star quality. Ross and Adam, the rhythm section, were phenomenal, which was why we were such a brilliant live band. They got where they got because they were talented, but I sometimes think the Scottish music scene is inversely snobby about natural talent. They like people with beards who don’t know that many guitar chords. I’m a bit like that myself so I understand that.”

Larry has stepped into the role of frontman for his new project, Laurence And The Slab Boys, a more shoegazing proposition than his old band, with dark, restless atmospherics.

“A lot of labels have been in contact and are really interested in it but I don’t anticipate playing to over 1,000 people with Laurence And The Slab Boys any time soon,” he admits. “I wouldn’t call it a vanity project – I’m not really in a position to do that – but it’s closer to the music I like.

“It was strange, there wasn’t a whole lot that united The Cinematics musically. The only band all four of us were into was Radiohead, and even then we were into different periods of Radiohead. When I was writing for The Cinematics, our record company insisted the songs sounded good on the radio, so it was like, ‘I might need to take that line out, I might need to change this, we might need to put a third chorus in’. Basically everything we did had to be acceptable to American girls.”

The Cinematics – Chase

Laurence And The Slab Boys – Space Dream #1

Laurence And The Slab Boys are on Soundcloud, Facebook and Twitter

14 Responses to “The Cinematics (2003-2011) – “Basically everything we did had to be acceptable to American girls””

  1. Kowalskiy Says:

    July 26th, 2011 at 08:35

    Maybe no rooms full of girls in tears, but there’s an office with a 20-something guy. ‘Tis a sad day, though Larry’s new album is outstanding!

  2. Fife Says:

    July 26th, 2011 at 14:29

    ‘I sometimes think the Scottish music scene is inversely snobby about natural talent. They like people with beards who don’t know that many guitar chords’ Mr Reid has hit the nail on the head! Great article.

  3. Martimcfly Says:

    July 27th, 2011 at 16:32

    Must be said having heard the laurence and the slabboys record, why could the cinematics not made a record anything like that before, a end has indeed a start

  4. Kevin Harper Says:

    July 28th, 2011 at 11:38

    Brilliant article. Larry sounds like a nice guy. I listened to his track totally expecting it to be shite, and was very pleasantly surprised. As for his theory about why the cinematics didn’t take off in Scotland, again, totally agree. Its a shame him and the rest of the band are caught up in music industry crap and litigation, it does make you wonder if all that shit’s even worth trying to ‘make it’ in music. You write songs about an ex girlfriend or your favourite pub, and if all goes ‘well’ you could less than 10% of the money said song makes, and also possibly sued by cunts in suits from halfway across the world… it’s utterly ludicrous when you think about it.

  5. Johnny F. Says:

    July 28th, 2011 at 11:58

    Maybe a wee bit harsh to call them “disrespectful” for not announcing their split to the world. If your band has just broken up then maybe you wouldn’t feel like rehashing it all. I liked but never loved cinematics. The boy’s new stuff sounds very good tho.

  6. Parzival Says:

    July 31st, 2011 at 16:39

    @ Kowalskiy – Just right. Maybe no rooms full of girls in tears, but there’s a room with a boy beeing a bit depressed knowing the favourite band of his youth split up..

  7. Harry Says:

    August 3rd, 2011 at 13:53

    This is just really bad news. They were great…

  8. Frank Says:

    September 5th, 2011 at 21:45

    I just stumbled over the band yesterday, thinking I’d found my new favorite band. :-(

  9. Marie M Says:

    October 7th, 2011 at 18:03

    when I heard the second album I new, to my dismay, that the cinematics were finished, it was less than mediocre. So I must conclude that the writing was on the wall on Ramsays exit from the band

  10. NYB Says:

    October 8th, 2011 at 11:52

    Considering the first Cinematics album (before he joined the Cinematics) gave Larry the fan base that he has been paying for his tins of beans over the last few years, he shouldn’t be so harsh on something that plucked him from the obscurity of Glasgow’s toilet circuit.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    October 22nd, 2011 at 06:13

    I am so very sad the Cinematics are over.. But I’m also glad to see Larry doing this new project. I will be watching/listening intently.

  12. Alice Says:

    February 13th, 2012 at 12:05

    I for one was pretty damn depressed when I read on Wikipedia in December or something that they had split up. It was such a great band! :( Love The Cinematics. I can understand the split now, reading this. It was so sudden though. :( I’ll keep listening till I’m well into my 60s! haha

  13. Gilzow Says:

    February 13th, 2012 at 18:14

    Why do the best bands always seem to break up, yet the crappy ones keep putting out album after album after album? Love what I’m hearing so far on Laurence And The Slab Boys soundcloud page. Looking forward to the album.

  14. Kafka_b Says:

    November 19th, 2012 at 18:16

    I found this band today, and I’ve just knew that they already split up….so sad to hear that news. Cinematic’s music is amazing. great. gorgeous. It’s really sad.

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