I came out of retirement, dusted down my interview questions and got a slap on the rear for my troubles. Meet the weird and wonderful Mummy Short Arms.
Mummy Short Arms released two singles in 2011, ‘Cigarette Smuggling’ and ‘Change’, which garnered plaudits. Their album Old Jack’s Windowless Playhouse was released on Flowers in the Dustbin in May 2012. Mummy Short Arms are: James Allan (vocals), Stu Brown (guitar), Fraser Gillies (guitar), Cammy Findlay (bass), Craig Brown (rhythm guitar / percussion), Dean McClure (synth), Gary Pinkerton (drums).
SXP: Mummy Short Arms is obviously a play on the unsettling creature, Daddy Long Legs. Why that name? Are any of you scared of Daddy Long Legs? (I am on a ridiculous scale).
Mummy Short Arms: Here is a pic I took of a dead Daddy Long Legs hanging from a lamp outside my flat.
Looks like it died of stupidity. Fraser is scared of Daddy Long Legs. Dean once ate a Daddy Long Legs.
SXP: I love your videos, especially ‘Ghetto Lizard’. Where do the ideas come from? How long does it take to complete a video from the idea to the credits rolling?
Mummy Short Arms: The original idea was to bludgeon a traffic warden to death while wearing penguin suits but we soon realised that a metaphor fuelled dream arrangement would be much more palatable. My intention was to make a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas-esque drug sequence, instead we got a scene that resembled B roll footage from an M.Night Shyamalan film. There was no budget for CGI to accurately depict a talking tree so I bought some Snazzo face paint, got drunk, and poorly mimed the lyrics (in one take) into a video camera and glued a piece of green card to a tree in Glasgow Green. Blackmailed some friends and shot and edited in 2 days.
SXP: Will there be more videos? I do hope so as I think that they’re great even though you say set expectations low.
Mummy Short Arms: Yes there shall be many more to come and hopefully that expectation bar can be raised enough for us to use slow motion effects of flames/ waterdrops and suchlike. Expect a new video by the end of JULY!!
SXP: What’s with the penguin? What does the penguin want?
Mummy Short Arms: I like to think the Penguin is a bit like our version of Brian Jones. He was one of the first to join the band and we keep him there now as a reminder of what he once meant to us.
SXP: ‘Change’ was a corker of a single and really reminds me of the Kings of Leon when they were great back in their ‘Youth and Young Manhood’ days. Is that a fair comparison or does it deserve a slap?
Mummy Short Arms: *An unconvincing ‘Slap’ on the rear*
SXP: You’re from Glasgow. What is the music scene like there at present?
Mummy Short Arms: Pure dead brilliant!!
SXP: There are seven of you and one of me – that makes it Snow White time and you’re my dwarves. Match the dwarf to the band member and why (but don’t fall out over it as I need you to keep making music).
Mummy Short Arms:
Bashful - James – very insecure.
Doc - Stuart - as he is a Dr of European politics.
Dopey - Fraser – he likes the green stuff – And also smokes tonnes of Hash.
Grumpy -Dean (‘cos he's a ray of sunshine).
Happy - Gary (‘cos he saw a giraffe).
Sleepy - Cammy (narcoleptic even after expresso martinis!)
Sneezy – Craigy B (‘cos he has sneezed in the past)
SXP: I am loving the debut album, ‘Old Jack’s Windowless Playhouse’. Why that title and what can people expect listening wise? Some of it is a bit dark, hey?
Mummy Short Arms: We had the completely reasonable idea of having everyone in the band come up with at least 10 potential names for the album. Unfortunately in practice that resulted in us having 70 names, all of which were extremely crude and offensive. We settled on Old Jack’s Windowless Playhouse because it was one of the milder ones (i.e. it only makes an oblique reference to something crude and unpleasant).
SXP: There are lots of you. I have seven siblings and it’s nuts. Is it hard keeping everything civil when you’re all together? Do you have a chill out room where people get sent to if things get out of hand?
Mummy Short Arms: Well we all generally meet prior to rehearsal at the Horseshoe bar to get a couple of brewskis and get fired up. From there we generally insult each other offhandedly and take all of this suppressed anger and insecurities into the studio. Kind of like Fight Club but instead of punches we use C Major. Kicks we replace with F sharps and substitute low blows with D-Minors. The profanity we keep.
SXP: James, I love your voice. Do you have to smoke a lot of cigarettes to get those husky tones or were you born with it?
Mummy Short Arms: Thanks – I have been an asthma sufferer for 24 years. I also enjoy whisky.
SXP: How do you get from a song idea to the finished article? Is it a well thought out process or do you all just throw ideas up in the air and see how it goes? Are there designated roles?
Mummy Short Arms: It generally starts as a scenario – for example let’s take an episode of Sun, Sea and Suspicious Parents. Our two main characters each signify elements of our song structure (verse/chorus). For example - The suspicious parent (quiet and devious) and the pissed up teenager (loud and energetic) would represent our loud/quiet dynamic and as a middle 8 we would use the jeopardy of the situation such as the coming of age trust between parent and sibling or the realisation of the parent that their son is, AND always will be, a Massive Twat. Top 10 hit guaranteed !!
SXP: Is it David Icke* who I can hear at the beginning of ‘Searching for a body’? Why quote Icke? Is he an individual who interests you or did the sentence just fit in with the song?
Mummy Short Arms: I think you’re the first person who’s noticed! He’s interesting in the sense that any man who can give a 140 minute monologue on why the moon is really a hollowed out planetoid full of evil space lizards has to be interesting. He’s a very silly and entertaining man. He’s the uncle every compulsive liar in a school playground wishes they had.
SXP: I read somewhere that you started out as a three piece band doing covers of the likes of the Cranberries? Is this true? I would love a Mummy Short Arms version of ‘Linger’ if it is.
Mummy Short Arms: Well, I wouldn’t say we were a Cranberries cover band as such, it’s more that we only knew how to play three songs and the best of those was Zombie. At that time we used to record things using a mini disc player dangled from a lampshade in Gary (our drummer’s) spare room so I’m not sure you would like to hear it, but I (Stuart) have a copy of that on my Ipod. It sounds a bit like three teenagers playing Zombie by the Cranberries very badly while someone spins a giant barrel full of cutlery next to your ear.
SXP: Are you gigging this year? Are you going to share yourselves with the rest of the map or must we come to you?
Mummy Short Arms: We are currently focussing on writing songs so expect some single releases and all going well a new album to take us into 2014. We should begin gigging in Glasgow at the end of March/April, road test the new tracks and all going well we would hopefully spread across the nation like ash tree disease, perhaps paying London town a visit . Watch this space!
SXP: What’s next musically?
Mummy Short Arms: Well we have just finished recording 2 tracks and have several more in the pipeline so: single releases / gigs / mini tour / festivals / album release / Brit Awards / Europe tour/ US tour / WORLD tour / Grammy Awards / SPLIT UP/ GET BACK together /drummer death / get new drummer / drug overdose –double suicide - Then possibly a solo career. Stay tuned - you wouldn’t want to miss it! Single release will be coming out May/ June – there will be a teaser on our Facebook page shortly to get the juices flowing!
*I should point out that a musical friend who I will not mention (Hi Kev *waves*) spotted the Icke link and pointed it out to me. Anyway catch the brilliant Mummy Short Arms before they become a global success and then die elaborate deaths one by one.