PRONTO MAMA RELEASE THEIR DEBUT ALBUM 'ANY JOY'
Glasgow's Pronto Mama have released their debut album, Any Joy, today. Over the last few years the band have grown a strong following here in Scotland, this year has saw them suc-
cessfully attain funding from a pledge campaign to fund the mixing and mastering of the album. They headlined the BBC Introducing Stage at the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival in March at a sold out
King Tuts in Glasgow. Things are certainly looking good for the boys from the central belt, we caught up with one
half of the band (Martin Johnston, Ciaran McEneny and Craig McMahon) before
they embark on their UK tour.
How are you feeling prior to releasing your debut album?
Craig: “You go through many stages, recording it then you get the rough mixes back then you talk about what needs to be fixed then by the time it gets to its final form you haven’t really listened to it in an enjoyable way, you’ve only listened to it in an analytical way.”
Martin: “I was dead excited when I heard it and I’m just excited for people to hear it now.”
Craig: “It’s better than anything that we’ve put out before and people seem to like the stuff we’ve done before.”
Ciaran: “It’s a wee step up. It’s a cumulative thing, all our best tunes recorded, mixed well, mastered well, we’re really happy with it.”
Craig: “Some of the tunes on it are five years old, we just haven’t put them on precious EP’s, it’s a nice representation of us.”
You recently ran a pledge campaign for the new album, how was that experience?
Ciaran: “It was cool, the response to it was crazy, we had got up to 25% in the first day and we just sat and watched it grow and grow.”
Martin: “I’m the Facebook guy, we had done this video, the idea initially was really funny but then we thought, ‘aw wait we’re supposed to be this serious band’ and they were like, ‘we can’t put this up’ and I said, ‘please let us put this up, it’ll be so good.’ Ciaran ended up texting me on the day it went out saying, ‘You’re still not right’ it got shared around six hundred times, we’ve never had anything like that.”
From your videos it’s easy to see that you’re really just a bunch of pals who like to play music together. It’s something I think people buy into more than a perfected and polished “brand”. Could you ever see the band changing in that regard?
Martin: “There’s a lot of bands out there who pretend to be something they’re not, I see stuff like that and think, ‘You were definitely at your Gran’s house two days ago, you’re just a normal guy, just the exact same as us.’ I get why bands do that though.”
Craig: “It’s the whole perception thing and if you’re going for that look then it works but it doesn’t really suit us, it would be too forced for us.”
Do you think that taking your time in releasing the album and allowing yourself to make mistakes and learning from experiences is important for bands?
Martin: “Aw f*** aye, like some bands don’t. You’ve got to make those mistakes I think, but we’d spend money on things we didn’t need to spend money on and go to gigs that we really didn’t need to go to.”
Ciaran: “We went to Thurso once because people were like, ‘it’s a wee tiny town, it’s always good, loads of people will be there.’ And we went a ten hour drive and we got there and it was empty. Halfway through the set a guy just came up with a bottle of cider and put it on the stage.”
Martin: “It definitely built us up. If something good comes through, we’re still hesitant until it’s really properly happening…We’ve never really done anything by the book, I know that sounds like a horrible stock answer but this band is a testament to not really going with certain things people do and we’ve learned that way.”
Craig: “I don’t think it’s a conscious thing to steer away from the mainstream. We don’t think about the music in terms of the way it’s viewed, we think about it in terms of the views of the six of us and we argue and agree on stuff, then we let people hear it.”
Can you tell us the story behind the marimba video? It’s a VC favourite.
Ciaran: “I just come up with these mad ideas and I’d asked Craig if he could do something where we can all just play the marimba together.”
Craig: “I was in another band and I’d borrowed their marimba for our recording. We had seen Dutch Uncles play live with an electric marimba and they play facing each other and I thought that was cool. Then I saw another few videos of multiple players playing the marimba and I just thought that could be done. Ciaran had asked if I could make up an arrangement for it, the song was there, it was already written, I just had to find the bottom note and the top note of the marimba and try and find six equal parts in between.”
Ciaran: “We practiced it in Craig’s flat and his flatmate must’ve been in his room pulling out his hair hating all of us.”
Craig: “We didn’t have any good beaters at the time, we were using rock hard drum sticks and it sounded like s***.”
Martin: “It was probably about a three hour rehearsal all in but because we had distributed it between us it looks and sounds complex but if you look at each individual part, it’s pretty easy.”
Ciaran: “We should really be bigging that up and say it was really hard to do.”
Craig: “Aye, it was really difficult, it took ages and it would be really hard to replicate it.”
Can you tell us a bit about the tour coming up?
Ciaran: “We’ve got loads of dates on the tour, it starts on 10th May.”
Martin: “We’ve got some really good support bands, Vegan Leather, MT Doubt, Be Charlotte, St Martens.”
What’s the plan after the tour?
Craig: “After festivals we’ll just need to see how the album does, we keep forgetting no one has actually heard it yet. Because people are so aware of the album because of the pledge you forget that no one has heard it.”
What’s the dream for Pronto Mama?
Ciaran: “I want to headline the Barra’s”
Martin: “I want to sell out and headline the Barra’s…I think if we keep working our arses off we’ll be able to emulate some of our favourite bands, I don’t see why not…We really do work hard, sometimes it might not come across from some bands but I think the bands that do well genuinely work really hard. The bands that last anyway.”
Craig: “Music has always came first before the look or how we’re perceived which is probably why it’s taken so long because we didn’t care about what we looked like or how we were seen.”
Martin: “We’re all working musicians, if we don’t do this band we’re all still going to be working in music but this band is a total labour of love.”
Pronto Mama are: Marc Rooney, Martin Johnston, Michael Griffin, Ciaran McEneny, Craig McMahon & Alex Sharples. For music and tour dates check out: prontomama.com