Stiff Little Fingers – Across The Ocean

Stiff Little Fingers

Soundwave was a chance for a lot of fans to get reacquainted with the Stiff Little Fingers but it is even better now as the band returns to Australia for their own headline tour. There has been plenty going on with crowd funding exceeding expectations to support the release of their tenth studio album No Going Back and now their live album to commemorate playing twenty years straight on St Patrick’s Day at Glasgow’s infamous Barrowland. Across The Ocean spoke to front man Jake Burns about the upcoming tour.

stiff little fingers promo

You must be looking forward to getting some Australian sunshine on this upcoming tour?

Yes, yes, it certainly isn’t going to hurt that’s for sure. I’ve heard about the hot weather! Thanks for making me jealous, better than loads of snow.

Have you been over the moon with another successful Pledge Music campaign for the live album release? Does the power of the internet continue to amaze you?

I’m continually amazed by our audience and reaching the target so quickly. Like I said they’re more like a bunch of soccer supporters, it’s like we’re their team and they’re sticking with us which is hugely flattering. I think we’re constantly amazed by it.

The result is amazing especially in this climate of fans not buying albums like they used. Do you take a lot of heart from that?

Yeah, absolutely! Not so much with the live album because it is celebrating the twenty fifth St Patricks gig at Glasgow’s Barrowlands and people know what they’re going to get. It’s Stiff Little Fingers live but the last studio album No Going Back was a real leap of faith on their part because basically what you’re doing is pre-ordering the record and we hadn’t recorded the damn thing. Normally if you’re buying a record you would of have heard a few tracks of it. That was a huge leap of faith particularly being thirty nine years in to our career and people still caring about what we do.

Does this give you the energy and confidence to push on and recording another album knowing that there’s still plenty of interest out there?

It does, the music business has changed completely compared to when we first started doing it. Making records was about getting your name out there and now it’s more about making an album to so that a band can promote and support a tour. I know a lot of bands that don’t see the point of making records anymore because people don’t buy them anymore. It more or less is a promotional tour. To have our audience back us to this degree is something I can’t thank them enough.

To be playing an infamous venue like Glasgow’s Barrowland every year for twenty five years to celebrate St Patrick’s day is an amazing achievement? 

It is, we kind of got in to it through the backdoor on that one simply because twenty five years ago The Pogues used to play the Barrowland. One year for whatever reason they simply couldn’t make it and we got a call from the promoter asking if we could step in like a substitute. It worked so well that we haven’t given it back.

Do you say to the promoter see you next year or something like that after each show?

Something like that! The promoter said that as far as I’m concerned it’s yours for as long as you want it. We build our entire year around this and it does feel a bit like Christmas for us. Everything is built around this date in the calendar and at least on this date we know exactly where we’re going to be.

Does the Barrowland hold special significance for Stiff Little Fingers considering the history of the venue and who has played there before?

Yeah, the place is legendary and this ballroom is as iconic as some of the bands that have played there. The way it was built and the way the stage is positioned it feels like the whole building would bounce up and down and forwards during the show. There’s plenty of history about the venue even boasting its own serial killer which saw the venue closed down as there was a guy who went by the name of Bible John, I don’t think he was ever caught, anyway there would be stories of people who would never be seen again.

Did that create a bit of pressure trying to get the show on tape as best as you can given that it was also going to be released on DVD also?

That’s the thing, thanks’ for reminding me! All you can hope for is that it goes as well as possible. If something like the power fails half way through or someone can’t do the show because of food poisoning it basically goes out the window. It does have that element but I think that also adds to it as well. It doesn’t concern me too much and it hasn’t gone wrong so far in thirty nine years. Having said that, it probably will be the year that it does go wrong.

Does require a lot more planning and maybe having a plan B to fall back on?

The whole idea of the live album is to give an accurate description of what it actually is and as much as humanly possible we have to stick to what we would do in our show. In a way I would rather not know the positions of the cameras and just get up there and play rather than the temptation of playing to the cameras. At the end of the day there is two thousand people in there who have paid to be entertained not there to see a movie. There is no plan B but just worrying about what we’re going to sound like and just get up there and do my job.

Soundwave was a great taster but how will you be approaching the Australian tour and trying to fit everything in without playing for five hours?

Soundwave was great and I think before that we only ever got to Sydney and Melbourne. That’s a long way to come and play two shows. This time we’re going right around the country, right round the outskirts as there’s desert right through the centre isn’t there? [Pretty much]. It is nice to be going back and playing full shows and we’re very much looking forward to it particularly the hot weather. I live in Chicago and it is snowing and when we head back to the UK it will be wet. Australia is the carrot at the end of the stick with sunshine at the end of the tour.

Given that there’s plenty on your plate at the moment has there been any thought given to another album?

Believe or not that’s the sixty four thousand dollar question given that the last one did so well. It continues to sell and it got really great reviews. To me I was quite surprised at this stage in my career to be still receiving great reviews was flattering. We’re pretty much on tour for most of the year and we’ve seen a lot of airports. We finished recording the last album on February fifth 2014 and I flew from Los Angeles back to Chicago basically to do my laundry, repack my bags and then on February fourteenth back on a plane to New Zealand to start touring the record. It wasn’t actually officially out until June. To actually have the time to sit down and write songs has been a bit of a problem but I have a little bit of time at the moment. I have some ideas, I have some ideas!

Rob Lyon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Lyon has been writing about all things music for well over ten years in Adelaide clocking up more live shows each year seeing the best going round.

Whether it is rummaging through vinyl at record stores such as Clarity and Title finding hidden gems to scouring the internet to find that album by the next big thing or chasing bands to get that elusive autograph and photo his passion is music all the way.
Rob Lyon

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