I briefly managed an unsigned band in my student days, when I would spend my evenings scouring the internet for A&R contacts at every label under the sun and emailing them demo tracks, praying for any kind of response.
More often that not it was a fruitless pursuit since many A&Rs had (and still have) a policy of refusing to listen to unsolicited submissions. While it might seem counter-productive for a professional talent spotter to wilfully ignore talent, there was an apparent method in the madness. There simply weren’t enough hours in the day for these people to listen to everything they got sent so, instead, they depended on word-of-mouth and recommendations from peers to ensure they didn’t miss out on the Next Big Thing.
So what if the Next Big Thing was trying to reach out to them? Tough luck, really. The logic the A&R abided by was that if a band was worthy enough of a record deal then word would, sure as fate, get to them one way or another.
This, at least, was how things worked in the days before music blogs. Ironically, I’m now on the receiving end, trying to figure out the fairest way to process the 200 emails that land in The Pop Cop inbox every week.
I’m not an enthusiast of lengthy biogs which might explain my intrigue in an email that arrived in March 2012 that told me absolutely nothing about the band or their music, contained the message “Kick those heavy boots off, lie down & press play”, and directed me to a dazzling song (Ember) that sounded a lot like The Smiths. I’ve since had a dozen emails from the band, Glasgow-based Father Sculptor, but I still have no idea who is sending them, though I suspect it might be their bassist since he used to write to me on behalf of his previous band, Johnny Reb.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking their evasiveness is to deflect attention from any sort of lethargy. Father Sculptor – made up of Thomas David Hall (vocals), Joseph Bucklow (guitar), Felix Bucklow (drums), Philip Hunter (bass) and Matthew Mellor (keyboard) - spent the summer releasing a new song every fortnight, which they’ve just compiled into one downloadable record called VI. While it’s unlikely they’d regard it as a proper album, its seven tracks (the inclusion of previously unreleased instrumental Interlude explains the potentially misleading title) make it eligible, and maybe even a dark horse, for next year’s SAY Award.
Given the Morrissey/Smiths likeness, their decision to relocate from Glasgow to Manchester in 2013 is either an inspired or ill-advised one. You never know, their debut EP, which will be released by Oslo-based label Splendour next year, might herald a radical change in direction. Either way, what they do now they do exceptionally well.
December 17, George Square, Glasgow (free)
December 21, Art School, Glasgow (tickets)