An enthusiastic crowd welcomed The Mirror Trap this Friday night at The Doghouse for the launch of their second EP, The Visible Hand. Lead singer and bassist, Gary, caught up with Creative Dundee in the run up to their launch, and gave us a sneaky preview of the record and some chat about life as a Dundee musician.
Since November 2009 Gary, Mickey, Paul and Paul have worked like Trojans to bring their music to the masses. Whilst touring with their first album, The last Great Melodrama, they supported both Placebo and The View. To top that off, they reached a real milestone in any Scottish band’s journey, to play T in The Park for the very first time.“We pulled in good crowd, played out of our skins and actually had people singing along to our songs. It was a completely surreal experience all round.
Live performances are only half the story. When not out gigging, they are working hard to stir up interest in their EP online and in the media. For this latest recording, the band launched a mysterious cult like twitter campaign featuring the usual whereabouts of a legion of black fingered hands, and some ominous sounding posters. The hand features on all the current Mirror Trap merch from bags to t-shirts, designed by local designer and girlfriend in chief. “You need to work hard, insanely hard, and be different, try new things and make yourself stand out, suffer for your art.” On one hand the digital age has opened opportunities for the band; you can record a record with only a mic and a pc, and have instant access to fans willing to drum up support for you through twitter or Facebook. On the other hand, there are so many bands with the same tools available, standing out in an over saturated music market becomes ever more difficult.
Like most creative people, the necessary day jobs take up more time and energy than they would like, but rather than dwell on the hard times, they take direct inspiration from all that they see wrong in the world and expel their frustration on stage. “There are few things in this dull old life that can get your mind going, I’ve always loved bands that don’t shy away from the social, cultural and political issues that effect us every day.” The Smiths, Public Enemy and Gang of Four are just a few bands they admire for their critical observations of the world. It seems to The Mirror Trap that too few bands today write with any real conviction. “The current route to success from most bands seems to be to keep their head down, say nothing, try not to offend any potential sales market hope to make a nice solid career for themselves. It’s all unimaginably beige.” Gary’s writing works to address feminism, class, and our dire economic circumstance head on. The overriding theme they tell me is that of frustration with the world and their place within it. “..If you can take influence from your surroundings instead of letting them beat you then you are surely on to a winner.”
They feel this record is a big step on from their debut last year. The sheer number of gigs played since then, coupled with a slower, more critical creative process has ensured tracks are incubated and nourished for months in the rehearsal studio, before playing them live, let alone recording them. “We have been writing with a live head on, so whether or not a song would make an audience go mental has been a high priority.” From the reaction of the crowd on Friday, it looks like they are onto a winner in this respect.
Whilst they had no problem filling the Doghouse this week, it’s not that easy every gig or for every band. Gary certainly isn’t the first person I have heard say that Dundee has a bit of a poor record in when it comes to supporting live musicians. He highlighted that, for a city with such a huge student population, it’s difficult to get them to see beyond the union.
Regardless, loyal fans and friends will continue to help these guys on their way. The band gave a shout out to a few people who are of great support to them and lots of other local bands. Photographer, Daisy Dundee, former manager of the view, Grant Dickson, Graeme Watts at Seagate Studios and Dave Neil at Non Zeros, formerly Dexters, Castle Street, who is putting his new stamp on this established venue
Although Gary’s view on Dundee is that it is, physically and musically, a pretty bleak place to be at the moment, he does see opportunity in this. “I think there is a real creative freedom in coming from Dundee. When there is a scene going on you have to adhere to the rules of that scene to be a part of it. Dundee has no real thriving scene whatsoever, this might make it harder to fill a venue, but the bands themselves are free to do whatever the hell they like.” A few years ago a good proportion of the music scene and young gig goers were enthralled by the success of The View, haircuts and all. Today, in contrast to this, bands appear have the confidence to celebrate their difference from one another, rather than their similarities. “So now the lunatics are taking over the asylum. From our own unhinged take on rock n roll, to the carnival madness of Mass Consensus, Cha Cha Heels burlesque theatre or the doom of Vladimir there are so many weird and wonderful bands starting to make a name for themselves.”
The album is available here to download and online streaming
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