Trashcan Sinatras | In No Hurry

It’s not like a job or anything like that; it’s just like something we’ve always done, and it’s fun.

 
 
Still celebrating their 20th anniversary, Scotland’s Trashcan Sinatras are back with a new live acoustic album, Brel. The Sinatras’ fifth studio release, In the Music, dropped last summer.
The band broke onto the scene with the 1990 release of debut album Cake; a U.S. tour followed the next year, laying the foundation for a Stateside love of their brand of mellow indie-pop.
On the heels of Brel’s release, the band is on an acoustic tour of the United States. Encouraging audience interaction, the Sinatras are asking fans to request songs on their website. As for audience participation, they are also looking for horn players—trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn—to join them in each city.
We recently caught up with guitarist/vocalist John Douglas; he’s joined on the road by Frank Reader (vocals/guitar), Paul Livingston (lead guitar), and Stephen Douglas (percussion/vocals).
 
What goes into the decision to make it an acoustic tour as opposed to an electric tour?
Well, the bass player and the keyboard player are kind of a handful, so we enjoy not bringing those guys and just relaxing.
You’re taking fan requests for this tour. Do you end up just playing what’s requested, or how do you decide what to play?
There’s kind of a core bunch of songs that we play, and then we keep usually like the top requests. Usually there’s quite a lot of requests, but we try and learn two or three of the requests we don’t know very well, because some of them are obscure B-sides.
That makes sense. What about the request for musicians? You’ve specified needing three horn players.
It’s only happened once [so far], but it was great The guys who were playing the trumpets didn’t want to make fools of themselves; they really wanted to make sure they knew what they were doing. At the soundcheck, they just came up and played and they sounded great, so I’m hoping that’s the way they all are.
Outside Scotland, is this the country where you tour the most?
This is definitely where we tour the most. We don’t tour Scotland very often at all. There’s just not as many gigs; here, we can play forever.
So it’s the 20th anniversary of the band. How do you keep going all those years, keep it fresh and exciting?
We really don’t put ourselves under any pressure as far as time constraints go, like we’re never rushing to make a record or anything, so I think that helps. Also, we really love each other. We’ve been through a lot together. It’s not like a job or anything like that; it’s just like something we’ve always done, and it’s fun.
Any plans for the next non-acoustic album?
We’re writing songs, and we are kind of vaguely thinking about what it’s going to be like but, we are a long way off.
There are rumors of your releasing the whole back catalog.
Some people keep saying things like that, and nothing comes of it, so it’s pretty frustrating. I suppose it’s just waiting for us to do something, timing-wise. I have no clue.
You were asked to write a song for Susan Boyle. How did that come about?
That was our publisher in Japan. We wrote the song and they didn’t like it, but we like it a lot.
So you’re going to keep it for yourself?
Oh, definitely.
What about Carly Simon adding backing vocals to your song “Should I Pray?” How did that come about?
We were doing an album at a studio where Carly Simon spent a lot of time; the idea was just that we wanted to meet her. And then we sent her some songs, and she loved this one and she ended up singing on it. Isn’t it surreal? | Laura Hamlett
 
Trashcan Sinatras are in the midst of an 18-city U.S. tour, which finds them playing St. Louis March 24 at The Firebird. A full tour schedule and further information on the band is available on their website.
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