Glaswegian misery punks on their new record, optimism and hangovers
By James Rundle
Still recovering from a show they played the night before, Goodbye Blue Monday is in a rough shape. After a five-hour drive from Inverness and a 15-minute sprint to make it back home for this interview, guitarist and singer Graham Lough is visibly sweating. His fellow guitarist, Sean Barnold, is still missing in action.
“I haven’t even had a coffee today, I’ve been too hungover,” Lough said. It sets a pattern for the rest of the conversation.
It should be an exciting time for the band, self-described as purveyors of misery punk from Scotland’s second city. For the uninitiated, imagine Brooklyn’s Tired Radio with Glaswegian brogues, a penchant for swearing, and a bit more menace to their songwriting, and you’re on the right track.
But if Anthony Truzzolino’s New York outfit embodies the dark thoughts on the way back home after the bar has closed, Goodbye Blue Monday is the pissed-off walk to it at the start of the night, road rocket in hand.
After years of EPs and short releases, the band is preparing for the release of ‘Let’s Go Goodbye Blue Monday,’ their freshman LP, being put out through Dundee-based DIY punk label Make-That-A-Take Records on March 14.
A glance at the tracklisting gives a fair sense of what the listener is in for, with songs titled ‘I’m Old & I’m Fat & I Still Hate Myself,’ along with ‘I’m A Fucking Coward & My Anxiety Is Breaking Me.’ That’s about as positive as it gets, although the nihilism in the lyrical content belies the exceptional craftsmanship at play.
Lough and Barnold’s guitars alternate between crushing power-chord riffs and indie-infused lead lines, laid under snarling vocals that switch effortlessly between screamed catharsis and harmonized confessions, pleas for direction and redemption. Bassist Ross Gammie and drummer Alberto Morillas Bravo provide a deceptively complex rhythm and low end that drives the van all the way home.
It’s also unexpected. Short vocal skits mix with traditional three-minute punk anthems, until ‘Hara-Kiri,’ a 17-minute monster containing so many parts that it broke the recording engineer’s software at first.
“I think Hara-Kiri’s the only one that I was proper like… well, obviously, you’ve got to structure something like that,” Lough said.
Some songs, such as ‘Blue Skies & Dark Spells,’ have existed in demo form for over five years, but the band readily acknowledges that their inconsistency has been their worst enemy.
“We really are a really shit band, we’ve not practiced since April last year,” Lough said. As if on cue, a text from Barnold arrives – he’s just popped to the store to get a bottle of sparkling water, and possibly a chocolate bar. He’ll be here soon.
To record the album, Goodbye Blue Monday finally booked 10 days at Edinburgh’s Tonegarden Studios May 2022, but needed an additional stint in August after a series of self-inflicted mishaps related to “a few pints at lunch” once they were done tracking drums on the second day.
“I feel like I never want to do an album again, I know I should be pleased and stuff, but really, I’m so tired now… oh, here’s Barnold,” Lough said, as his guitarist joined the call.
He’s in bed, and quickly dozes off as Lough recounts the band’s recording history, having heard the story “a million times.”
The band released a video for the first single on the record, ‘Meet My Avatar,’ in February. Shows are planned to support the release, but as with all things Goodbye Blue Monday, much is still up in the air.
“We stopped for a cigarette on the way down the road [from Inverness] and [Lough said] ‘shall we go on tour in July or something?’ Then [bassist] Gammie says, ‘read the fucking room like’,” Barnold said.