Declan Welsh should have been playing his biggest ever headline set last weekend (8 May), a triumphant hometown show at Glasgow’s SWG3, followed by a UK tour.
That run, and an appearance at TRNSMT on Glasgow Green, has been put off for the time being, but this first Ventures in Lockdown Q&A finds Welsh enjoying his down time, seeing the big picture, and hoping for positive changes for the music industry.
How are you working through it? Are you finding it easy to write? Or difficult?
Well, when you don’t do anything and you write about your own experiences, the hell are you meant to write about the now? I’m also always catching up with myself, so songs from years ago aren’t finished and I find myself working on them as much as new stuff. I’m still writing most days, and I’ve tried my hand at a couple of isolation-y songs. I guess it’s about trying to find what’s universal in this very specific weird situation. Feeling helpless, isolated, scared, alone, trapped, nostalgic, missing people, missing the pub: these are all feelings we will always feel. Except for maybe the pub bit. My songwriting tends to be really misty eyed over that communal drinking with friends thing anyway. Now that’s gone into overdrive.
What are your thoughts on the whole livestream gig scene?
I’ll be honest I do not care about live streamed gigs. A gig’s an experience. It isn’t just watching a band play. It’s about the crowd, the warm expensive bevvy, the dingy venue, the atmosphere, the instruments having a timber and a weight they don’t have on record. It’s an amazing thing. Livestreamed performances do a lot for a lot of people and that’s great. And some of those folk like us so we’ll almost certainly end up doing a couple. Being live on Instagram is weird cos you can’t get a crowd up for it and it’s also not real. It’s like looking in through the glass at someone’s living room. And I have my blinds shut 24/7.
It seems like society might need to change quite a bit in the aftermath of this. Has it made you think about the music industry and how it functions and whether that’s sustainable or justifiable? We really aren’t paid well…
Yeah, we really aren’t and it’s so incredibly precarious. All freelance artists just now are struggling, and we aren’t alone. I also, though, think the whole ‘the world needs music now more than ever’ bullshit is so vacuous. The world needs nurses now more than ever. Your EP is a nice extra but it’s not what the world in a pandemic desperately needs. But then, art is amazing. It’s so brilliant and a world without it is horrible. I guess I just feel guilty and I resent those who lack the self-awareness to feel the same. That’s well snide of me, but I like the Scottish thing of having a healthy amount of self doubt. In terms of moving forward, we have to get some sort of more militaristic union. The MU [Musicians’ Union] are great but they work with the industry. I think we need someone to take on the industry on behalf of artists. Because when money’s tight after this the artists are gonna get even less money. And what’s less than fuck all?
Have you started anything new at this time?
I love cooking so much so I’ve been doing loads of that with my partner. We watched all of Buffy. (Don’t do that! Watch it up to the musical episode in the second last series then bail.) Also all my mates are now on Xbox live 24/7 so I feel like I’m 15 again. I’m even playing Halo 3. But mostly just chilling out, cooking and eating loads.
Has the change of pace made you consider the meaning of productivity?
Yes, 100%! Why do we all have to be constantly doing loads all the time! Why can’t you take a week to yourself, to do fuck all, and enjoy it? We feel so guilty about having free time we have to justify it by booking a holiday or getting rat-arsed. I think after this hopefully people will realise that they have a right to take some time out whenever they feel like it. Be it from creating art, working, studying, whatever it is. My world has become a lot smaller in the last few years and while I love and miss a lot of people you are a happier person with a few very close friends than with 100 people you speak to every fortnight. I also like having a group of friends who outside of the band do not work in music. This is a weird industry and you don’t want to make it your life.
Featured image photo credit: Neelam Khan Vela
Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold by Declan Welsh and The Decadent West is out now. CD and LP on Roughtrade