red roses for me

A front row seat, well front row bench, at a Looper show, what more could anyone ask for on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Brighton? Organised by Red Roses' very own co-editor Borders Books & Music for 30 minutes or so became a packed crowd of rapt onlookers experiencing first hand the delights of the Looper multimedia creation. Great sound and visuals that added a dimension to the already wonderful songs plus the fact they could leave in the samples not on the album. Judging by the cramped conditions people had to endure at the other in-stores later that week we definitely got the best deal plus the chance to chat to them afterwards and find out they're as cool as you hope they'd be.

So Borders, good thing or bad? Is it destroying the independent book shops?
Karn: No
Ronnie: I think it's a great idea
Stuart: I read somewhere it was helping independent book shops, I don't know why. There was an article in the Mail on Sunday about all the big book shops that are taking off and at the same time independent book shops were having better trade as well because people were getting more interested in reading books.

It seemed like Belle & Sebastian, at least before the last album, were kind of hit and miss. You got together when you could. Is Looper more of a concerted effort for you?
S: Yeah, Karn had a job designing costumes for a while and we couldn't do much then at that time but we've cleared the decks so we don't have anything to do just now except Looper.
R: We've had to really as we said in so many interviews that Looper were really good so we thought we'd better start showing it.

Did the songs from the album evolve over a period of time or was it a case of you thinking I'll sit down and write songs for a Looper album now?
S: It was usually doing them for each show we had coming up and it was over about a year. Actually less than that as I finished it ages ago. I was over about six months really but on and off as I was doing it in-between other things.

Have you already got other stuff written?
S: I've got loads of stuff that I want to write, loads of ideas for music and words that I haven't time to do just now
K: We've got so much on at the moment. Once Stuart has done the songs then I have to do the videos and takes another bunch of time as you can't do them together as I don't really know what the songs going to turn out like.

Is it a case of you getting a set of words and then putting them to music or does it vary?
S: Yeah it's different, sometimes I have a finished story and then I make the music but most of the time I have an idea for a story, make the music and then see how many words I can fit in and write the story round it.

What's it like all working together, like team with your brother and your wife? It's not like seeing each other too much of the time?
K: Not really, everyone does their bit separately and then we bring it all together.
R: We seem to spend less time together than a normal family.

It's not like the situation with a normal band where you have to get together waiting to see what will happen as you have so much of the songs prepared anyway.
S: You can tell we don't rehearse anyway!

The lyrics to at least two of the songs are very personal, what's it like performing them in front of an audience?
S: Not too bad, they're personal at the time but you become quite distanced from them, performing them I just hope everybody's watching the videos not me.

Does it feel weird when you're sitting there and there's big pictures of you up on the screens?
K: I try and look away, the first time I saw all those in that format was the other night at home and I learnt from that to look away.

I guess though if people had just bought the first single or even heard a "Century Of Elvis" they wouldn't necessarily know they were true stories anyway?
S: I do try and write them to sound like fiction so they don't sound too personal really.

What do you think about the fact that the Belle and Sebastian mailing list has brought people together?
S: It's quite crazy, I guess it's happened at the same time as it was happening in general on the Internet. It's good I think as usually it is hard to meet people with the same interests.

How did the deal with Sub Pop in the states come about?
S: I met Jenny from Sub Pop over the Internet as well. I think she e-mailed the Belle And Sebastian site that I was doing at the time and I just got to know her through that. Then she asked us to do the first single through Sub Pop as I've got a clause in my contract with Jeepster that I could record for other labels. I think she asked us, maybe I forced her.

Obviously being Stuart David from Belle And Sebastian has opened some doors and got you some attention but is it also a disadvantage?
S: I think it's that thing where someone has a famous parent, it helps initially but then it gets on your nerves afterwards.
K: I don't think it's ever gonna harm what Looper but it does get really irritating as people are always on about it. Initially that's going to happen but you do hope that eventually it'll be a case of we're Looper not Belle and Sebastian.

I think a problem is that people might for whatever reason hate Belle And Sebastian might not give Looper a hearing.
S: It works both ways I suppose, people may have been interested because of Belle and Sebastian who wouldn't normally listen to Looper but it could also put people off.
K: I think a lot of people are expecting the same thing but they're not getting it.

Was there anyone specifically that has influenced Looper's sound?
S: There was quite a lot at the same time, like David Holmes and Kid Loco, Fatboy Slim and Lionrock which all came out at once. Everyone seemed to be working in the same area.

The Underground poster, how did that happen?
S: We just know the guy that does the underground posters and he promoted the second Looper show and got out name about to other people and recommended us for the Beat Room show we did. I got a real shock when I saw it for the first time as I forgot it was going to be there. I came out of the underground and saw it. It was Ronnie's name I saw first and thought what's all that about?!
R: So you just thought that's really good I wonder who did that?

The Brits, what was your reaction to that? Total shock?
S: It was a real surprise but that was all really. I enjoyed the scandal afterwards.
K: It was good seeing all the funny photographs of Richard.

Looper Live Pictures

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