Viva Stereo Biography
Viva Stereo were born in Glasgow...
....with the view to making music that would encompass a full weekends ebbs and flows. Saturday nights are important to Viva Stereo but with it comes the Sunday soul searching(not to mention the grim reality of Monday morning and the working week) and the combination of these are what give the 'stereo' sound its dark edges.
They are part of the Fence Collective
The Short of it:
Viva Stereo are a 4 piece Indie-Electronica band based in Scotland: Tim Troup, Doug Hendry, Stuart Gray and Rob McKinlay.
Their line up sometimes includes: Gavin Brown on drums and Derek O’Neill on keys.
The band were formed in 2001 and are part of the Fence Collective. They have released 3 albums through their own Much Better Records label and have collaborated on these albums with King Creosote, Malcolm Middleton, The Pictish Trail, My Latest Novel, Ambrose Tompkins, Onthefly, Odeon Beat Club and Candythief.
Their fourth album, ‘Endure the Dark to See the Stars’ is due to be released through De-Fence Records in 2011.
For more information please check out their official website: www.vivastereo.com
All live bookings should go to vivastereo ‘at’ hotmail.com
The Long of it
Viva Stereo were formed in 2001 by five mates from Glasgow in Scotland. Initially influenced by the likes of The Beta Band, Primal Scream, Spiritualized, Mogwai, Death in Vegas, DJ Shadow, Radiohead and New Order the band aimed to push the boundaries and not just be another indie guitar band. The line up featured Stuart Gray(vocals/Synth), Rob McKinlay(guitars), Tim Troup(bass), Doug Hendry(guitar/synth) and James Archibald(drums).
Their first gig proper was a sold out show at Glasgow’s Nice and Sleazy’s in Feb 2002 where they launched their first EP ‘Try Harder’. The band gigged solidly throughout 2002 building up a reputation of being an exciting live act and playing in most of Glasgow’s smaller venues. A second EP ‘The Last Scene’ was released in August 2002 gaining the band an XFM Artist of the Week, Beat 106 ‘Beatbreaker’ as well as recording a Radio Scotland Live Session for Vic Galloway’s Air programme..
In 2003 Viva Stereo continued playing a busy diary of live gigs which eventually forced drummer James Archibald to quit the band to concentrate on work commitments before the release of the bands third EP ‘Resistance’. The band regrouped as a four piece, focusing on a more electro influence using backing tracks and drum machines to boost their sound. Fence Records artist Onthefly was drafted in to play drums for the odd live gig. The band re-wrote their set, and got rid of many of their older songs to make way for a new heavier live electro direction.
2004 was a busy year for the band, and a year of firsts. In Spring 2004 they released their 4th EP ‘Surface Has Been Scratched’ as well as embarking on their first UK tour. Summer 2004 saw their first festival appearance at Moorfest in Manchester with The Fall and Mr Scruff. Autumn 2004 saw the release of the bands debut album ‘Optimism is Not a Curse’ recorded with Marcus MacKay at Diving Bell in Glasgow. The album featured collaborations with Paul Tierney from Odeon Beat Club, Malcolm Middleton, King Creosote and Pictish Trail. They finished the year with a Radio One Live Session and gigs supporting Puressence, Electrelane and Malcolm Middleton.
In 2005 Viva Stereo played their first ever Fence Records Homegame, and completed another UK tour. This year also saw the start of the ‘geography challenge’ that the band faced with Doug Hendry moving to Manchester leaving the other three in Central Scotland. This didn’t stop the band releasing their second album ‘Patterns of Behaviour’ in late 2005. A much more electro tinged affair than their debut album. This was mainly due to the majority of it being recorded in Rob’s tiny spare room home studio. It featured more collaboration’s this time with The Pictish Trail, Tara Mascara from Language of Flowers and Candyfhief. Stuart also collaborated with dance act Silicone Soul on their album track ‘Poisoner’s Diary’.
First stop in 2006 was a gig at The Fence Records Homegame sharing a Saturday night billing with The Whip. In December 2006 the band released a limited edition album ‘Rarities & Improvements that sold out in two weeks. The album featured unreleased tracks from the bands career to date as well as some brand new material.
2007 was another relatively quiet year on the Viva Stereo front. Firstly Stuart moved down to Leicester and then Rob moving upto Aberdeen meaning that band activity wasn’t a common occurrence. April saw them play their 3rd Homegame on a fairly crazy Sunday night gig. They released 10x10:02, a split EP with Con Brio for De-Fence Records. They also supported Puressence and were special guest support with De Rosa at Arab Straps last ever gig.
2008 The band played yet another Fence Homegame. This time as part of a De-Fence night along with Jon Hopkins, Con-Brio and Onthefly. Their third album ‘Roar Lion Roar’ was released in November 2010 to rave reviews including an album of the week in Scotland on Sunday. The album featured collaborations with Chris Deveney from My Latest Novel, Malcolm Middleton, Candythief, Onthefly and King Creosote. However due to other commitments the band were only able to play three live dates to support the release. Roar Lion Roar was seen as the last chapter in a trilogy of albums. However it did go Top100 in the US Itunes album chart.
2009 Although family life and the geographical issues took centre stage, Viva Stereo still managed to release a mini album ‘Viva Fence’, to co-incide with a Saturday night headline appearance at the 2009 Homegame alongside Olo Worms and Onthefly. Despite the lack of practice the band felt this was potentially one of the best gigs they’d done. Certainly the best atmosphere. However this was seen as the ultimate ‘drawing a line under things’ and it was time to move on. No more gigs throughout 2009 but the band started work on their new album at Chem19 in November 2009, recording a song with Ambrose Tompkins main man Rob Waddington with Paul Savage at the controls. The bands new sound is more ‘song based’ with Gavin ‘Onthefly’ Brown becoming more or less a full-time member and the band drafting in Derek O’Neill on keyboards for studio recordings and possibly live dates in the future.
2010 The band lay low writing brand new material. No gigs at all throughout this year but plenty of activity in the studio as the new album ‘Endure the Dark to See the Stars’ takes shape. Recording continued at Diving Bell with Marcus MacKay with a release date planned for April 2011. The band still live in different parts of the UK. Stuart still in Leicester, Tim in Edinburgh, Doug in Glasgow(but working 4 days in Manchester!) and Rob living in Glen Coe. However they have adapted to these issues and are able to function and continue into their 10th year together. In December 2010 the band will release a Free Digital Download Only single ‘Endure the Dark to See the Stars’ featuring guest vocals from Rob Waddington from Ambrose Tompkins.
2011 Viva Stereo will release 4th album ‘Endure the Dark to See the Stars’ on De-Fence Records.
“Viva Stereo. Who dey? Well, I'm sure they're sick of hearing about it, but they're part of the Fence Collective. That'll be the people who gave us King Creosote, Lone Pigeon, James Yorkston... basically, if you've been to the Greenman Festival, chances are, you'll have seen a Fence act at some point. So with that in mind, Viva Stereo are a folky outfit eh? A bit weird and downbeat? Not so. This is the new sound of Disco-Dole... as 'Roar Lion Roar' is an electronic LP that harks back to a time when New Order made creepy records and Es hadn't breached Britain's coastline. This is the sound of disco, as visioned in a Scottish living room, amongst discarded Pot Noodles and fag-butts...
Now, if this is the electronic sound of Life in a Scotch Living Room, you'd be forgiven for thinking that 'Roar Lion Roar' is a depressing affair. It ain't so. There's no hiding from the fact that this album isn't a barrel of laughs... it's not Friday night out, punching the air dancefloor anthems... but rather, walking home from a house party at 7am, hangover imminent, bleary eyed and day-old socks. It's the sound of the fun you've had, a drunk brain trying to work out what just happened. It's getting in with eyes like p*ss-holes in the snow, making one last brew and rolling one last cigarette before your body just gives up.
Such is the slight chill that surrounds this LP, you can help yourself in conjuring up images of piles of washing up, coppering up to get some milk and a chippy tea. It's not squalor, but you could do with tidying up a bit. Of course, this does sound rather depressing, but rather than getting down in the mouth about the state you’re in, this feels more like a soundtrack to your years gone-by. There's a mid-to-late '80s feel... or maybe the feeling of shared accommodation at Uni... and gawd knows, enough people had fun back then.
Each electronic locked groove is accompanied by walls of reverbed guitar, that feel like shoegaze, without the devastating wall crumbling volume. This is drugs 'n' cheap cans devoured by a long fringe, staring into the light of a mouldy, empty fridge. It's really rather cool.
There's guest vocalists on this LP, including Malcolm Middleton, someone called Candythief, King Creosote adds some accordion too. 'Last Living Hope', with vox by Chris Deveney of My Latest Novel, gives a browbeaten trek into town with Nick Cave feel. Fact is, 'Roar Lion Roar' is a panoramic, cinematic outing from start to close. Instead of grand orchestrations, it's a no-fi indie film, following a buncha degenerates in Aberdeen, all making the best of things in Thatcher's Britain. The more you listen to this album, the more it reveals itself to you in the detail. It really is a cracking LP, one for the realist, one for the existentialist... one for the fan of the post-dole cheque hangover... – Album Review Electric Roulette
“Fence Collective mainstays Viva Stereo are stretched to the limits by personal circumstances: with members scattered from Aberdeen to Leicester, it's a wonder they can get it together enough to record, never mind create an album that provides such an honest snapshot of their current psyche as Roar Lion Roar, their third effort. The inevitable Friday night out with the same friends at the same places is the album's loose theme, and its kitsch digital instrumentation seems like an affectionate jab at the music that soundtracks nights in a faceless everypub. The thin anti-vocals are straitjacketed by ticky machine rhythms and synth buzzes, inescapably catchy in their clicky repetition, and the strings and waves of feedback squall which envelop them. Viva Stereo have an ability to find the beauty in the banal which lends Roar Lion Roar its own remarkable quality”. - The Skinny
“The opening track builds up, getting quite rocking, and now I am starting to get into it, settling into an easy to listen to groove, with a big wall of sound swirling above me. Nice. Now that I've figured out that I quite like where they're coming from, I can get on with enjoying the music. It's all kind of shambling, hapless stuff, kind of like how life is for so many. It doesn't really know where it's going and neither do I, and due to that fact I can "dig". Some of the electronic stuff is not so much to my tastes, "This Is Not An Exit" is all thumpy beats and god knows I detest the sound of thumpy bass coming through my walls so why would I want it in my own fucking lounge or headphones? Skip that one, and other tracks where the bass intrudes a bit too much. You don't need it. But I am definitely giving thumbs up to the almost shoegazey drift though that they can belt out from time to time, it's like a big hazy fog of tipsy confusion. And "Pariah State" and "Night Owl" are a big, bouncy, miserable electro-pop monsters, like if Antarctica weren't so serious. And Scottish. Right good uns. So eventually I have discovered that I rather like this. It makes me wonder who sent it though and why they guessed that we wouldn't just pan it. Clearly someone is reading really closely and knows me better than I do, or alternatively they sent this to every single person in the world hoping that someone would be happy to scribble a few positive words on some god forsaken backwater of the internet. Good work, Viva Stereo!” Collective Zine
“SOMETIMES the best part of a bag of salt and vinegar crisps is the crushed fragments in the bottom corner: the stuff you need to lick your fi nger to get out. Viva Stereo's third album, Roar Lion Roar, is like that, but for crisps read a good chunk of alternative Scottish music over the last 10 years. The tasty morsels on offer include a hint of Edinburgh whimsters Ballboy on the catchy Knee High Boots, a good dash of the electronica familiar to anybody who has been in The Arches over the last five years, and a healthy dose of Falkirk miserablists Arab Strap, with their guitarist Malcolm Middleton making a cameo on The Seaward. As a record, it's all over the place - one minute throbbing like the dark corner of a favourite nightclub, the next transported to the East Neuk of Fife, where only Presbyterian guilt beats knitted woolly jumpers in the fashion stakes. On the whole, it's well worth poking your finger into a crinkly bag for.” The Sunday Herald
“‘Roar Lion Roar’ is the third of Viva Stereo’s albums proper (ignoring the remixes and unreleased b-sides of ‘Rarities and Improvements’) and sees the four constituent band members slung across the UK in different cities. Rather than using this geographical disparity as an excuse to call it a day, in ‘Roar Lion Roar’ it feels like each band member is given the room to push their own ideas further than before and each set of songs sits adjacent to each other with mixed success. For instance opener ‘Another Night Out’ and ‘War Paint’ tread familiar territory with their electro indie take on the futilities of Saturday nights out, getting drunk and doing it all again. By contrast, ‘This is Not an Exit’ is far more brooding with guest vocalist Diana de Cabarrus taking centre stage. There’s a similar gravitas to ‘Everything Goes Wrong’ where this time de Cabarrus’ vocal forms a poignant backing vocal to Stuart Grey’s lead.
There are strong performances to the end with ‘The Seaward’ – a gentle shantyish type song with the lilting vocals of fellow Fence Collective member Malcolm Middleton. And final track ‘Suffocation’ finishes off the album brilliantly bringing together some fizzing samples with a subtly building live sound – the hallmarks of a Viva Stereo live performance. So I’d take issue with the press release assertion that this is the band’s most cohesive record to date – it lacks the overall atmosphere of debut ‘Optimism is Not a Curse’. Instead I’d say it’s more an interesting collection of curios that each have a little something to offer in their own right without relying too much on the others.” - Tasty Fanzine
"with two adrenaline fuelled guitars, this is like Hallelujah pre-Factory played on PCP. The grind of the electronic drums and sequencing is pumped up to hell, by the pulsing bass and Primal vocals and searing guitars. When the whole thing reaches its climax, its a testament that Viva Stereo have got you there, one exciting step after another." Live Review Manchester Music.co.uk
"their vertiginous jams are bolstered with cosmic loops and samples, space-walking in similar orbits as Death In Vegas and Primal Scream with all the adrenalised assurance of a band who've suddenly discovered their forte" The Metro
"Sounding like the bastard love child of Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie and Death In Vegas' Richard Fearless, Viva Stereo are cooking up quite a sound" Leeds Music Scene
"a strutting mass of sneering proto punk / psyche robotics replete with grind like menacing electronics and heavy duty fearsome hook laden riffs, think Darklands era Jesus and Mary Chain" Losing Today Fanzine
"Exterminator era Primal Scream basslines, twinned with Cooper Temple Clause styled mad electronic pulses, Viva Stereos sound is really refreshing, drawing you in with riotous and fiery vocals, then chewing you up with monstrous guitar parts" High Voltage Fanzine
"This is the sound of a band making music they believe in and it's good enough to take a chance on. Viva Viva Stereo indeed". Lost Music Fanzine
"It's rare to find such versatility and inventiveness in one album. Even rarer to come across a band brave enough to break out of media-imposed boundaries and take their music wherever it needs to go. Highly, highly recommended". -Contact Music
"Viva Stereo are probably Glasgow’s best-kept secret" -Tangents Fanzine
"Innovation is dead, thank God for bands that recycle good old ideas and make them transcendent thank God for Viva Stereo" Logo Magazine