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Q&A with Duglas T Stewart

Ahead of his appearance on Sunday 26th June at Carnival's Tasting Room as part of Cinema in the City, in association with FACT Liverpool, Carnival Ade sat down (remotely) with the wonderful Duglas T Stewart for a wee Q&A. This is part one. Enjoy. 

Question 1 (a two-parter)

Carnival Ade

In an alternate reality, BMX Bandits have opened up a detective agency. As lead super sleuth, Duglas T Stewart needs his perfect foil and a nemesis. There is always an apprentice who is learning the ropes that you will nurture to share your sense of harmony:

Where would your offices be (you can have more than one - every international detective needs multiple bases) and who would you appoint?

Duglas

Well, I have always fancied myself as a sleuth. As it is an alternative reality I like the idea of working in a small village in the tradition of Miss Marple in St. Mary Mead.

A small village you say, there won't be enough crime there but that has never been a problem for fictional detectives. There is a lot lying beneath the surface of small towns.

Maybe I could also take international cases, aboard the orient express, in Tokyo and some tropical Island Paradise.

I think my trusted companion would have to be my real life sidekick Slappy Monkey 🐵. He never lets me down and he could add lighter humorous moments to bloody cases.

Slappy Monkey and Duglas T Stewart
Chloe could also be good going out undercover, a master of disguise, taking on false identities to gather essential information and clues.

Carnival Ade

Thanks for the answer. It certain brought a smile to our faces.

With Slappy Monkey by your side and Chloe undercover, I'm sure you'd be the go to detective agency. The legend of Nessie...solved.

Question 2

Carnival Ade

A TV chat show has coming your way. The format is:

  • warm up comedy act- the audience needs to be geed up from their travels to the show and the disappointment at the lack of confectionary in the foyer
  • Three interviewees of your choice
  • A music act to put the cherry on the top of the show

Who would be in your line-up?

Duglas

Warm up comedy act would be David O'Doherty. I like David O'Doherty, I find him very funny and very likeable. I like his comedy songs. Also David once declared he was a fan of our album Life Goes On.

BMX Bandits Life Goes On album cover by Brian McHenry

Three interviewees would be Richard Osman, Angela Lansbury and Paul McCartney (happy 80th Paul).

Music guest would be Sofie. She is one of my current favourite musicians/ songwriters. I haven't seen her play live and so this would be a good opportunity to make that happen. Have a listen to an example of her music

Question 3

Carnival Ade

Musical mysteries and legends are part of the fabric of our love of the music and the stories behind the songs. You shared the story behind Scar from the wonderful Life Goes On LP, with the audience at Monorail at the launch of the reissue.

Has there been a particular song or a story in music that continues to pique your super sleuth skills (despite the internet's grand offerings)?

Duglas

Alone Again, Naturally by Gilbert O'Sullivan is a big favourite of mine. Gilbert is one of those writers who never likes to talk too much about the inspiration behind his songs. He will say that song and others aren't based on anything that has happened to him but not offer any other clues.

I interviewed Rod Argent, the main songwriter from The Zombies and he was the same. He has intriguing stories in songs but he won't give out any clues to where these ideas came from. And to be honest I am okay with that. Maybe the mystery of not knowing can sometimes be more attractive than the truth.

I seem quite forthcoming up the origins of my songs but it is selective. There are some of mine I would also prefer remain a mystery.

Question 4

Carnival Ade

We have heard that things are going well in the studio. At Carnival HQ we are super excited to hear about the next exciting adventures in sound for the BMX Bandits.

Duglas

We are hoping to start recording our next BMX Bandits album in the next couple of months but we have been doing quite a lot of recording.

Andrew Pattie, who has been playing with us for quite a few years now and I wrote and recorded the soundtrack for an independent feature film called Dreaded Light.

The film is a psychological thriller and something paranormal might be going on. I have wanted to write music for movies for so long.

Since I can remember so much of my favourite music is soundtrack music, from The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, which was on TV when I was little to work by people like Ennio Morricone, Bernard Herrmann and John Barry I always have paid close attention to it.

These people are as big heroes to me and have influenced BMX Bandits as much as anyone in any band.

One of my all time favourite TV shows of all time is the 1970s series of Columbo. There are many reasons why that I love it and that it is one of the greatest TV shows ever and the scoring is really great on those seventies episodes.

People may not notice it but it's working its magic on you as you watch. Check out the music on an episode like Suitable For Framing the next time you watch it, it's really great work.

Question 5

Carnival Ade

How have you coped over the last two years with recording new material and what is it like to be recording, with a hopefully non-interrupted timespan?

Duglas

Working on the soundtrack during lockdown was a good project for the situation. It was possible to work remotely or, when we were allowed, just have two of us working in the room on stuff.

We tend to work quickly, I believe it's better for creativity. But writing film music is different because you write a theme for a scene and then it gets re-edited and then you have to rewrite and rearrange it so it now works for the new cut.

I like sometimes working with just two people in the room, the creativity can be more focussed and with someone like Andrew or Stuart Kidd or David Scott that's possible because they can play pretty much everything and are great harmony singers.

We got to record one full band track recently which is for a various artists compilation. That was fun. A good bit of the track was recorded live and then we recorded some overdubs on it after. The track is a cover version of a song called Horses by Mayo Thompson. I had an idea for an arrangement for it at least a couple of decades ago and we now finally got to bring that idea to life.

To be continued...

Got time for one more?

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