Some people will tell you there
are only two types of people in Glasgow: neds and art students. But
listen to that false tale of two cities at your peril, because between
the cracks in that hackneyed picture comes the sound of this city's
finest purveyors of candid indie-pop. The twins that front Wake the
President were brought up on the hard-knock streets of Maryhill but
earned their stripes knocking around the council libraries, drinking
dens and underwear-strewn bed-sits of Glasgow's bohemian West End. To
them, Franz Ferdinand's town of tight-trousered scenesters is as much
an illusion as Glasvegas' city of non educated delinquents with blades.
Theirs is a more complicated picture. Lead singer Erik Sandberg’s
lyrics are inspired by the characters of Glasgow; to him the old men
propping up bars or wandering the streets are the lifeblood of the city.
The songs he sings, melancholy reminiscences of blonde girls from the
past, tales of the deceit and debauchery of the West End, resonate with
the slurred poetry of these men, philosophising over whisky water at
the Ben Nevis. His songs of masturbatory melancholia move from optimism
to despair, querying the existence of love but acknowledging the omnipresence
of desire. Bjorn, his quieter twin, provides the parchment upon which
Erik's witty commentary is scrawled, his guitar-playing channelling
the clang of C86, the fury of Josef K and the jangle of Johnny Marr.
Underneath this thunder, Mark and Scott provide louche basslines and
drums that sound like they could lead an army to battle.
The twins spent several years
running an independent label, Say Dirty, which released critically acclaimed
singles from Endor and Zoey Van Goey and built up a dedicated fanbase
around Scotland. Then, when Wake the President were signed, they began
to win over high-profile supporters, including BBC Radio 2 DJs Stuart
Maconie and Mark Radcliffe. Both of the bands 2008 singles, ‘Remember
Fun?’ and ‘You Can’t Change That Boy’, were voted single of
the week on their show and soon after, they invited the band in for
an exclusive on-air session. In-between all this, Wake the President
have spent time on the dole, sold fruit (and chimpanzee meat, if you
asked nicely enough) on Dalston market and whiled away many hours being
bed-sit pop dreamers.
For comparison's sake, imagine the whimsy of vintage Orange Juice but
with the sordid, brutal honesty of Arab Strap.