First roll of the dice at Port Sulphur

Tuesday, 3rd July 2018, 10:28 am
Updated Thursday, 25th October 2018, 12:07 pm

When you make a record featuring a glittering array of Scottish musical talent you should be on a sure-fire winner.

So when Douglas MacIntyre called on a mix of indie names from legendary bands like Orange Juice, Suicide and Subway Sect for his new album, he decided to shake things up a little. Literally.

The guitarist – and now producer – is a man of many talents. As well as running the Music Business course at Glasgow’s Riverside College, he will be a familiar face to many as something of a guitar-for-hire, having backed up the likes of Lloyd Cole, as well as The Bathers and Future Pilot AKA.

And his long career – his ‘own’ bands include The Secret Goldfish – has expanded his book of contacts. However, most of the contributions to his Port Sulphur project come from his Creeping Bent record label, established over two decades ago.

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“It’s nice working with good like-minded people, all on the same page,” he says of the new album.“I’d have found it difficult to approach people if I’d not worked with them before. But they all understood the vision I had for individual tracks, and executed everything as I hoped – brilliantly.”

The debut album ‘Paranoic Critical’ includes a couple of artists no longer with us – Alan Vega of US electronic punk pioneers Suicide, plus Leith-born poet Jock Scott. But they were very much willing participants in the project – which, it transpires, has been brewing away for quite a few years.

“It was all old bits of music I’d started and abandoned at various times,” MacIntyre reveals. “I was about todelete them but listened to them again and thought ‘they’re not that bad’ – then I started to think ‘that’d work really well with (Fire Engines) singer DavyHenderson’, etc.”

However, it’s almost as that was too straightforward...

Roll the dice

“The idea was taken from the Luke Rhinehart novel ‘The Diceman’ – you have to follow the instructions of the dice, so the roll perhaps tells you to put a guitar in that section... I also took a lot from Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies (a similar idea using a deck of cards).

“It helped create spontaneity,” he explains,”and got it kick started – if I hadn’t followed that process then I’d not have got some interesting ideas.”

This even extended to doing the recordings in one take. “I was less precious about the vocals,” he points out, “but they were all one take anyway – there’s just a great feeling for all the vocals.

This array of talent also includes Orange Juice’s James Kirk and Katy Lironi from The Secret Goldfish – all under the Port Sulphur banner.

But we have to ask the dull question: where did the band’s intriguing name come from, as Googling leads us to a town in Louisiana.

It turns out again MacIntyre has been casting his net far and wide.

“It’s from a James Elroy book ‘The Cold Six Thousand’, he smiles. “Like everything else, all ideas are stolen”.