Every Monday we will be bringing you interviews with unsigned UK or Ireland artists for Independent Music Monday. Recently we caught up with Jonny from Erskine band Pseudo Satellites to find out more…
Who is in the band, how did you meet, where are you from and how did you come up with the band name?
Jonathan [Jonny] Noonan, 26, Vocals / Guitar. Fraser MacDonald, 27, Bass. Liam Noonan, 22, Drums. We’re from Erskine, Scotland – which is just outside of Glasgow.
Pseudo Satellites has been a ‘thing’ since around 2013. Fraser, our previous drummer David McCallum, and I worked together at our local Morrisons when we were at Uni. Once we realised we were all interested in music we decided to play some songs together, and it all spiralled from there. To keep a long story short, in late 2014 David left the band and Liam joined – It was at this point we started to take the band more seriously.
I can’t remember a specific origin of the band name, it sort of just materialised - but it was likely derived from us listening to bands like Muse whose lyrics are heavily influenced by conspiracy. One definition of a pseudo satellite is an object that superficially appears to be a satellite, but is either not, or is used for other (sometimes negative/controlling/spying/generally dodgy) purposes. In retrospect, having a band name that’s difficult to spell is not always ideal – but we’ve stuck with it as it actually reflects a lot of our output as a band, with much of the lyrical content routed in the complications and contradictions of life, particularly how things can appear to be good, bad or indifferent on the surface, but once you really look closely their function or purpose can be quite different.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
Our musical tastes are very varied and change quite dramatically from day to day. My favourite band for a long time were Muse, and there’s no doubt they had a big influence on how I write - in the early days I was even buying shiny shoes and mad clothes to literally try and be Matt Bellamy. In saying that, I think most writers go through a phase of trying to be someone else, to recreate your own version of the songs you love… but it’s something you grow out of as you come into your own style and sound. I think for us we’re now influenced by absolutely everything we hear, good or bad. We all have quite an eclectic music taste, it’s not unusual for me to listen to Architects, followed by some Sinatra, an hour of unsigned bands, into some Ludovico Einaudi. I’m not even slightly ashamed to admit that two of my favourite bands as a child were The Carpenters and Meat Loaf. Fraser and Liam are pretty similar.
How would you describe your sound?
If I was to say who we sound like… If Placebo, Muse, Biffy, QOTSA and Radiohead made a strange and unruly baby… it might sound something like us. We’re a loud rock band, but with a lot of variety in our sound. We range from ambient guitars you might associate with Radiohead, through serious Muse riffage, Biffy-esque chord progressions and that out of time sounding weirdness that Josh Homme likes to throw around! So we cover a lot of bases. Vocally I get likened a lot to Brian Molko from Placebo, my voice has a similar tone, though stylistically I use a larger range and more falsetto in comparison to Brian’s often more spoken style. One thing I really like about our sound is the Bass, Fraser writes awesome melodies that underpin pretty much every song we’ve ever written, which is really cool.
What’s your local music scene like?
We’ve predominantly played in Glasgow, and the scene is spectacular. There are so many amazing bands. It seems music on the big stage is becoming consistently more one-dimensional. The majority of songs in the charts are very ‘samey’ - production line-esque. Glasgow’s completely different to that, with loads of talented bands from almost every genre. There are incredibly talented musicians, some of which make me question why I even bother picking up a guitar sometimes! Like everywhere, there are a few cliques which isn’t something I particularly like - music is for everyone! But on the whole, the music is great.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
We just released our debut album ‘revolt || regress || repeat’ on the 2nd of December! We put it out on vinyl and digitally, so you can check it out however you please! As for our plans, things are getting both complicated and exciting. During the day I’m an Immunologist and am moving to Melbourne for work. So our plans are to set up a tour once I’m over there, and hopefully do something fun like record the second album between two continents!
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
That is an endless list. Right now I think I’d love to collaborate with Nothing But Thieves – they’re awesome, and Conor Mason has that unreal Jeff Buckley-esque voice… I think I’d have to let him do all the singing, but doing something in the studio with them would be smashing.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
I don’t know about funny – we have a lot of fun on stage. Despite being pretty serious and ‘professional’ in the run up to gigs, as soon as we're on that stage all chains are removed. It’s not uncommon for us to have ‘mistake-offs’ in the middle of a set. We’re all pretty critical, so a tiny mistake no one else would hear we hear... and we do enjoy pointing that out to each other. So if you see us playing live looking at each other with a sly smile… that’s probably what just happened… how unprofessional of us!
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about your band?
I’d love the readers to know that Glasgow is an amazing place to listen to music, and if you ever come to town you should head to one of the many awesome venues and check something local out. Out-with that they should know that our album is streaming on all the usual places! And that they should check it out and let us know what they think – we love to chat to new fans of our tunes, so drop us a line and say hello!