Everett True

The 4-track DIY aesthetic of The McTells

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McTells expecting Joe

The McTells. I haven’t thought about them for years. I used to love their scratchy, fragile, poignant, personal music. They always seemed like scurrying little creatures bringing light to the deepest shadows. 

They were never ones to blow their own trumpet: big into cassette culture, homemade sleeves and the idea that music should be made for yourself and your friends, and not for monetary gain – they released many seven-inch records and cassettes, most on their own Bi-Joopiter label. There was a memorable concert played in a village hall in Hertfordshire (I believe) – The McTells, myself (The Legend!) and Beat Happening … a dream line-up, leastways from where I’m looking from. The sort of show you hold up as one of the 10 Best in your lifetime (for its camaraderie, great party music, sense of belonging), if you have any sense whatsoever. The more I think about The McTells, more I miss ‘em. I once saw Happy Mondays support ‘em in a London pub – the ensuing review saw my first use of the word ‘grunge’. Not to describe The McTells, though – they played a cute garage rumble that was far closer to my beloved Rough Trade DIY pioneers than any mean overloading amplifier.

According to Trouser Press, The McTells’ early work held “a British mirror up to Australia’s Cannanes, minus the anguish”. Yeah. I get that. Like Swell Maps, only even more so.

McTells press cuttings

In the last year, a weird coincidence happened. First up, I was applying to take a PhD (in the changing role of the taste-maker music critic in web 2.0 environments) in Brisbane, and someone suggested that Paul Rixon (the former singer with The McTells) could act as a UK referee for me, as he’s now something high up in academia. So I asked him, he did and I was accepted. Sweet! Then, someone emailed me out of the blue and asked if I had any leads to … um … The McTells cos they wanted to run a feature on them.

And I did! Hence the following interview conducted with Paul in March 2009.

I use a 4-track recorder to this very day. Email me if you’d like to hear some of the results.

(continues overleaf)

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3 Responses to The 4-track DIY aesthetic of The McTells

  1. Andy 'A Fog of Ideas' March 20, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Hey, I hope this is ok to post, I’ve scanned the full article on The McTells that includes Everett’s interview with Paul here:


    Also included is ‘an appreciation’ by Crayola from Sarandon, interviews with the band and other eminent persons and some summing up remarks from Daniel Treacy

    This originally appeared in ‘A Fog of Ideas, Number Two’ that I put out in July 2010

  2. Everett True March 20, 2012 at 8:08 am

    The above blog entry (A Fog Of Ideas) is heartily recommended.

  3. Wally March 20, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for this article and links – Love the McTells and have managed to gather some of their fine releases over the years. They still sound fresh and exciting – timeless music indeed!

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