Monday, 4 December 2017

Paper Cuts

Yesterday I bought some paper-cut images by Chop Pop who spent two years recreating scenes from Camera Obscura's video for "Let's Get Out Of This Country" in order to create an alternative, paper-cut version:


Some images will be for sale on-line soon. All proceeds go to fund research into Sarcoma.

As I type the second instalment of this will soon be broadcast:


And there are only two episodes left of Best Laid Plans on Channel 4. Yikes.

"The 10th Duke" is another preview track from "Hamilton Mausoleum Suite".


It features a string quartet drawn from the Scottish Festival Orchestra and an opening chord borrowed from Stravinsky:
"Early in the compositional process, Stravinsky devised a chord which stretches from D4 to E5 to A6. One day while he and Dushkin were having lunch in a Paris restaurant, he sketched the chord on a napkin for the violinist, who thought the chord unplayable, to Stravinsky's disappointment. On returning home, however, Dushkin tried it out on his violin and was surprised to discover it was actually quite easy to play." 
This is from Wikipedia but I first read about it in Alex Ross's book "The Rest Is Noise". (Sometimes I like tackling books that are beyond me.)


You can pre-order "Hamilton Mausoleum Suite" here.

And here's a wee stocking-filler idea:



Go see this...

 



Talking of films; idea for entirely fictional domestic film scene:

INTERIOR. DAY. A KITCHEN SOMEWHERE IN GLASGOW, SCOTLAND

 7 YEAR-OLD GIRL:
DADDY YOU SHOULD GO TO THE GYM MORE OFTEN..

47 YEAR-OLD DADDY (WHO NEVER GOES TO ANY GYM):
WHY?

7 YEAR-OLD GIRL:
SO YOU CAN GO ON NINJA WARRIOR UK.

Maybe cut to:

INTERIOR. NIGHT-TIME. 47-YEAR OLD MAN IN WHEELCHAIR, SPECTACLES ASKEW, WEARING AN OXYGEN MASK AND AN ILL-FITTING MUSCLE SHIRT, IS BEING WHISKED DOWN A HOSPITAL CORRIDOR TOWARDS AN EMERGENCY ROOM....

FADE TO BLACK.















Saturday, 25 November 2017

Tune in...

...to BBC One Scotland on Monday (or i-player afterwards) for the start of a three-part history of the Scottish police. And not just because I did the music.


I highly recommend this:



I caught up with James MacMillan and Micky Flanagan (no not in the pub - keep reading) on their respective Desert Island Discs podcasts. Best radio programme ever.

Did I ever mention that time I watched James MacMillan conduct my orchestral arrangement of a tune apparently hailing from St Kilda while Craig Armstrong... - oh I did. (Well. It's not like it happens every day.)

I've discovered Marc Maron's show on Netflix which is extremely groovy.

This week I spoke to some composers at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire. I talked them though my showreel.



No one fell asleep. Go me.

You can still pre-order "Hamilton Mausoleum Suite" here.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Cantata For No Voices

"Cantata For No Voices" is a track from my "Hamilton Mausoleum Suite" which will be released on 26th Jan on CD/LP/Digital. The players are John Davidson (cello), Emma Connell-Smith (viola) and Sharron Griffiths (harp) from the Scottish Festival Orchestra:



On Feb 19th, 2018 there will be a live premiere of the suite - in the Mausoleum itself (yikes!)

Tickets disappeared immediately but if you lost out and you are near Glasgow; on Jan 11th a short film about the project will be shown as part of the Blueprint night of short films at GFT.

You can pre-order the album here.

In other news, "Murder On The Orient Express" was diverting fun. And I dug "Battle Of The Sexes". But way out in front with 2 thumbs, 5 stars and a big wet kiss was:


Even better than the first one. Full of love and fun. We should all be like Paddington. Thank you, Michael Bond.

Armistead Maupin's "Logical Family" doesn't disappoint. Here he is on a brief meeting with Tennessee Williams:

"...so we shared the joint for several minutes, talking about nothing more than the moon in the sky. I did not try to introduce myself or be one of those fans he had fled. I knew he would prefer the kindness of a stranger."


The Vaselines were great at the CCA on Saturday, of course. Rock n roll n innuendo.


Here's a new article on William Eggleston.

(Buy me a pint and I'll tell you about the time I met him).

Right - I am away to write some more music for this:





Monday, 30 October 2017

"To Francis from Glasgow..."


On Friday I travelled through to Edinburgh for a Q&A event with the great Armistead Maupin. He was brilliant, of course. Us punters could have listened to his chat all night. When they opened it up to questions I asked, now that he had completed the Tales Of The City novels and written his memoirs, if there were going to be any more stories. He said - yes a contemporary Tales Of The City series had been commission by Netflix and Laura Linney (brilliant in Ozark) would be involved (cheers and claps ensued). I'm in.


When he asked for a selfie how could I refuse. (kidding)

On Sat I saw La Traviata. Another belting Scottish Opera production.

Image result for scottish opera, la traviata

Last week I saw a preview of Downsizing.



High concept - sure (fancy retiring to a community where everyone is 6 inches tall including you?). But also kind of great. Review ends.

On TV I've been digging The End of the F***ing World (Très stylish, snappy and watchable) and also Ken Burns's Vietnam doc on BBC 4 (here's a good New Yorker piece on the man himself).

In other news you can pre-order my "Hamilton Mausoleum Suite" on CD/LP/Download here.



In Music-For-TV-World, 3 episodes of "Best Laid Plans" have been transmitted. 7 more to go. I'm off to compose myself.



Wednesday, 18 October 2017

"A Proud Monument To Wealth"

Thanks to The Skinny Mag for premiering this short film about my "Hamilton Mausoleum Suite".


It was shot by Mark Boggis and directed by Charlie Francis. 


You can pre-order the album on CD, limited heavyweight LP or Digital Download here.

In other news "Best Laid Plans" (for which I provided the music) has just kicked off a 10-week run on Channel 4.
(that's not me in the photo)

I saw a preview of Daphne recently.


I thought it was great - beautifully shot and Emily Beecham was amazing.

I watched the George Michael doc on Chanel 4. He sure entertained a lot of people. His story about the circumstances of his performance at the Freddie Mercury tribute show was pretty incredible.

I've finally cracked this open after putting it off. I'm going to miss these characters...


Keep in touch. x

Monday, 9 October 2017

Hamilton Mausoleum Suite

"Tranquil with blissfully arranged strings and an emotive cinematic lift" (Vents Magazine)


"Sarcophagus" is taken from my new album "Hamilton Mausoleum Suite".

Featuring soloists from the Scottish Festival Orchestra, it will be released on 26th Jan 2018 on LP, CD & Digital.

The musicians are:

Violin – Justine Watts
Violin – Stewart Webster
Viola – Emma Peebles
Cello – John Davidson
Harp – Sharron Griffiths

The music was inspired by - and recorded in - the wonderful mausoleum in Hamilton, Lanarkshire in Scotland.

Alexander the 10th Duke ordered its construction as a family burial vault. He was eventually interred in an Egyptian sarcophagus on plinth in the mausoleum which was finally completed in 1858, several years after Alexander's death.

"Hamilton Mausoleum Suite" can be pre-ordered here.

You can join my mailing list here.




Friday, 22 September 2017

It's September Weekend in Glasgow...



Last night I saw Beethoven's 9th Symphony performed by the BBC SSO at the City Halls in Glasgow. It was amazing.

In another rare live cultural outing I saw the powerful plays "Eve" by Jo Clifford and "Adam" by Frances Poet at the Citizen's Theatre. Yay for the rights of transgenders, asylum-seeking refugees and transgender asylum-seeking refugees - and for skilled playwrights to tell their stories.

Last week I caught "God's Own Country". If James Herriot wrote Brokeback Mountain. Not really. But it was beautiful; skilled, nuanced filmmaking.


This looks interesting from Bob. Speaking of which I caught Paul Greengrass introducing "Forever Young" on Desert Island Discs as a song for parents and their children and...well...let's just say I'm glad I wasn't wearing any mascara.

Talking of songs I am running an evening class in Songwriting at Glasgow University from Sept 28th. For those whop have never written a song, want to write better songs, or want to get different perspectives on songwriting. Info and registration here.

Tinkety-tonk, old fruit, and down with the nazis!




Wednesday, 13 September 2017

"My Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock..."

Robert Forster was brilliant at Monorail last week promoting the wonderful "Grant And I".


As a birthday treat, for one night only, I visited Blackpool (blame Alan Bennet and The League Of Gentlemen).
They don't write them like that anymore.


The illuminations were on as were the World Fireworks Competition (I caught Poland's entry). I went up the Tower and ate fish and chips. There were ads for Duncan "chase me"  Norvelle,  Paper Lace and Cannon & Ball.

And that were that.

I recently provided the 'music' for an Old Spice ad. Never got to meet Von Miller though...


I saw Detroit and God's Own Country (subtle, effective use of music in the soundtrack) and would recommend both.

Now to give Funland a go...


Ta-ra.


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Excessive Rewards

I keep listening to this....


I have decided that Roger Moore was my favourite Bond.


Glad I finally saw "The Beat That My Heart Skipped".

This is a powerful film...


Randy Newman's "Dark Matter" would be a brilliant return to form if he wasn't always on form. Here's a very good podcast interview.

And here is a wee piece that I heard and dug recently; by Maestro Bernstein:


Meanwhile among the higher echelons of musical culture, I liked this tweet about my music for Cash Trapped...


Apparently Bill Eggleston is releasing an album of music.

I met him once in Memphis. Here I am smiling through my terror...


And I'll leave it there. As Master Sun says, "Excessive rewards are a sign of desperation."

Monday, 21 August 2017

Réjouissant! (cheerful)

"Bonjour" was reviewed on this French blog thus:

FRANCIS MACDONALD AND HARRY PYE – SYMPATHY FOR JEAN-LUC GODARD
Francis Macdonald n’est pas que le batteur des légendaires Teenage FanClub , outre ses apparitions avec Bmx Bandits , il compose également des musiques de film et de documentaires pour la télévision et s’est même fendu d’un album de musique classique.
Bonjour , son dernier projet en date est un album composé et interprété avec Harry Pye , artiste touche à tout , chroniqueur , organisateur d’exhibitions et peintre lui-même.
L’album est composé de 10 morceaux  pour la plupart chantés par Francis (Harry intervient sur 3 pièces musicales sur lesquelles il parle de … peinture évidemment). Un album qui chronique la vie , l’art , la perte , l’humour où l’on croise Mondrian , Freud , Mike Love et Jean-Luc Godard ! Réjouissant !
 And now for Google Translate:
Francis Macdonald is not only the drummer of the legendary Teenage FanClub, besides his appearances with Bmx Bandits, he also composes film and documentary music for television and even split from a classical music album.
Hello, his latest project is an album composed and performed with Harry Pye, artist with everything, columnist, exhibition organizer and painter himself.
The album is composed of 10 songs mostly sung by Francis (Harry intervenes on 3 musical pieces about which he talks about ... painting obviously). An album that chronicles life, art, loss, humor where one meets Mondrian, Freud, Mike Love and Jean-Luc Godard! cheerful!
Me and Harry in the gutter, looking at the stars.
Buy it here.
Elsewhere - I enjoyed "England Is Mine". Not everyone loves it and it could easily have gone wrong in different ways, but I settled into it and it pulled me along.

I'm stalling reading "The Days of Anna Madrigal" - I don't want to bid farewell to the Barbary Lane crew just yet. After rewatching this I'm dipping in to Untold Stories...

The very first opera I attended was La Bohème staged by Opera Bohemia in St John's Renfield Church in Glasgow. I was back last night for their production ofThe Pearl Fishers which was grrreat.

I liked this Bruce Forsyth anecdote.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Big in Serbia


Now, I'm not really one to self-promote (*reader splutters mouthful of tea down their front and into their lap*), but I was sent a translation of some praise for "Bonjour" from an on-line radio DJ in Serbia that I thought I might share...



Frances plays drums on TFC, Harry is visual artist. One wrote the music, the other lyrics. Together, they recorded an album “Bonjour” which was released in March. It opens with hit “I Feel Like a Record That’s Scratched”, and it describes the very same feeling I felt in life so many times. And the song doesn’t sound any less spectacular than title. There’s also songs about Frank Sinatra on Capri, about Beach Boys’ Mike Love and couple of spoken word tunes. But now I wanna talk about some other song. Their tribute to great director Jean Luc Godard titled “Sympathy For Jean-Luc Godard” date back from the 2014, but I’ve discovered it recently. Since then, I am playing it for more that 10 times a day. And I can’t get enough. What a fucking hit! While I listen to it, I see Anna Karina in white shirt, on the coast of some small town on the south of France, as she’s dangling her legs across the sky while she’s sitting on some isolated bench, feeling sad that summer is passing by. I can se Jean Paul Belmondo as he calmly smokes cigarette next to a broken car, while he’s waiting for a friend to come and pick him up, so the can go back in Paris. I see Jean Seburg in blue-white striped t-shirt, as she’s drinking coffee on some porch, while laughing like crazy about something. I see Brigitte Bardot, as she’s sleeping naked, while open book lays across her breasts. And I also can see all those summers that brought me and took from me all those things that made me the man I am today, with everything I love and hate about myself. This song is reward for thousands of average albums that went through my ears. It’s the needle in the hay. Because of songs like this one I am listening to music. I know that people usually don’t click on links with songs they are not familiar with, but please, make an exception this time. Je n'aime pas monsieur Guy Ritchie His work means nothing to me Je n'aime pas David Cronenberg “Videodrome” just got a minus


Aww. Go buy it.

Meanwhile, providing the music for a primetime ITV quiz show and then following viewers' tweets can be an emotional rollercoaster ride...











In other news - this is a grim, powerful doc that puts first world problems into perspective.

I thought Okja was kind of a hoot. Made me think of the original Willy Wonka film for some reason.

Ozark continues to be great.


I've booked to see the brilliant Armistead Maupin in Edinburgh in October (whoop!)


I am also going to see the great Robert Forster in Monorail in September (wey-hey!)

Oh and I'll be running a block of Songwriting Classes at Glasgow University from the end of Sept - 2 hours per week for 10 weeks. Tell your aspiring songwriter pals.

And finally, Esther...

I am not going to post the link but if you are on twitter and you like creepy ghost stories you might look for the story concerning "Dear David". But if you don't like creepy ghost stories, I wouldn't recommend it.

Right - I need to go and practise my ukulele.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Such posing, such loud talk, such vulgarity...

If you missed "Orkney - When The Boat Comes In" (a gem of a doc to have worked on), some of you can catch up here.

Also, Cash Trapped is back (Hans Zimmer worked on Blockbusters you know) and, because I provided the music, a small person in my family got into the spirit to support a couple of the players:

Talking of Hans Zimmer (I should've been a DJ) I've heard some criticism of Dunkirk but I thought it was amazing. I loved the structure and the show-don't-tell approach and the way the soundtrack worked, and lots more.

Dear Billy Sloan & Roddy Hart - thanks to both of you for playing this song on your respective BBC Radio Scotland shows:



Ian Rankin tweeted that he bought the album, which was nice.



We've had a few reviews for "Bonjour" now:

  • “Odd but good” 4 stars (Mojo)
  • “An eccentric treasure” (The Arts Desk)
  • "A thoughtful collaboration with Macdonald providing the elegant soundtrack to Pye's lyrics on art appreciation, nostalgic reminisces and the simple pleasures." (The Scotsman)
  • "Punky vignettes, fusing spoken word with classic pop, easy listening and more” (CLASH magazine)
  • “A work of art.” (Is This Music)
  • “Wonderfully quirky” (Flux magazine)
Makes you want to buy it, right? Links to order it here.

I am giving Ozark on Netflix a spin.

Watched good ol' "Way Out West" for  the first time in yonks.

And now a few words from Tom Baker:

"I was led to Maud's table, she had a permanent place there, and the waiter laid me out for her, covering me with a napkin as big as a sheet. For a moment I thought he was going to shave me. He merely offered my a menu as big as a Monopoly board. And the wine! The smoked salmon! The quality of the glassware! I glanced around me and saw all those famous faces. I was the only one there I'd never heard of. Such posing, such loud talk, such vulgarity. I was completely at home."



Tuesday, 25 July 2017

"Odd but good"

Teenage Fanclub played the Deer Shed festival in Thirsk in Yorkshire last week.

soundcheck
It was a nice way to round out the long bout of touring since the release "Here".

gig
I exchanged nods with John Shuttleworth and contemplated buying a cigar box guitar. Twas a very family-friendly affair. Someone told me the punters were 45% children. Gotta get the next generation of music fans on message...

Meanwhile in Bonjour Land avec Harry Pye; Mojo gave us 4 stars and called our album "odd but good"...


...so Vic Reeves rushed out a bought a copy...

Bonjour, Vic.
...and so did Peter Blake
Bonjour, Peter.
There's a wee promo film here.

You can order a signed Bonjour on CD or LP here.

It's also on Amazon, Spotify and i-tunes (links here) - and all good music shops, of course...

In other news I liked The Big Sick...




If you are in Glasgow and find yourself at Chelsea Market (someone was treating me) I recommend the halibut. (All together now - "That piece of halibut was good enough for...")

A propos of nothing a wee Alex Chilton memory came into my head today. I was once talking to him about all the different strings he had to his bow - solo stuff, Big Star reunion, Boxtops, producing, etc. and he said, "Yeah - a friend of mine once told me, 'You're the only person I know with fame and fortune to fall back on'".

Tune in to BBC One next Monday 31st July for "Orkney - When The Boat Comes In" - a wee gem of a doc for which I was chuffed to provide the music.

Oh! and "Cash Trapped" is back next Monday too. It was fun working on the music for that. But no - I'm afraid I still never got to meet Bradley...


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Salut?

I've got a new party trick to practise.

Harry Pye recently blogged about reactions to our "old-fashioned...delightful...quirky" album "Bonjour" here.

Our album in Tokyo earlier this year
Links to order a signed LP or CD or (download or stream or whatever) here.

Vic Reeves loves it so much he was prepared to hold it for  couple of seconds while someone took his photo.

Recent films wot I seen and enjoyed:




Teenage Fanclub play Deer Shed Festival this week. Yay.

If you missed Sue Perkins on Desert Island Discs, I can recommend it.



Friday, 7 July 2017

Bonjour!

At long last - Bonjour is released today...


...on i-tunes, Spotify, Amazon and all good record shops in UK/Europe.

I signed some CDs & LPs for Monorail Music in Glasgow today.



Here's a wee promo film about "Bonjour".

And here are some videos of tracks:




100% Art pop guaranteed. All deals are final.

I just got back from a few days on Islay. Nice to get a bit of this...



If you haven't got your copy of The Next Big Thing yet, you'd better be quick.

I'm digging Tom Baker's autobiography - he's been a monk and a solider and is just about to start acting.

on

Friday, 23 June 2017

"An eccentric treasure for those who like this sort of thing"


So I went to London for meetings...


...culture...





...cuisine...

The best hake and cauliflower gratin in Soho... 

The best pollo alla milanese in Soho
...and to get my portrait painted with Harry Pye (read Harry's blog here)...



Here is a new video by Gordon Beswick for "We Love Mike Love"...



And here's what The Arts Desk has to say about "Bonjour" - our new album, released July 7th via Republic of Music distribution:

Francis Macdonald & Harry Pye Bonjour (Shoeshine/Republic of Music): 

"...a funny record, in both senses; old-fashioned, poignant, likeable and offbeat. Macdonald is a dab hand with sweet melodic easy-listening indie numbers such as “Isle of Capri”, “Paul In Vauxhall” and the Beach Boys parody “Mike Love Fan Club”, while Pye contributes spoken word anecdotes that are perfectly written, clumsily delivered and gripping, especially “I Made Him Smile”, his account of the two times he met Lucian Freud. An eccentric treasure for those who like this sort of thing."

You can order it here...