The Big Figure
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The Big Figure

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF
Band Alternative Pop

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Scotland’s music scene continues to shine and one band that has managed to quickly make an impression with some of the major players in the industry is The Big Figure.

After years of mastering their art in successful covers bands, songwriters Sam West and Calum McCann joined forces in 2011 to form The Big Figure.

2011 was indeed a Big year for the lads as not only did they release their debut album, Laugh Like Clowns, they also toured with musical royalty – Jools Holland.

Fresh from a string of UK festival dates, the hardworking group are set to head back into the studio to work on their next record.

They are also getting ready to unleash their sounds on Scottish audiences, with a hotly anticipated tour later this year.

But first, the kind hearted boys are giving up their time to bring a touch of musical magic to an extra special STV Appeal event.

Sam said: “We’re really looking forward to playing at the STV Champions night and giving something back for the Appeal.”

The lads will then take themselves off to their secret studio in the borders, to work on their new tracks.

Following that, a tour of Canada is on the cards – safe to say The Big Figure have a bright future ahead.

MUSIC TO MY EARS
•Check out more about The Big Figure and their tour dates here
•Find out more about the STV Appeal

- STV


THE BIG FIGURE: Laugh Like Clowns.Glasgow schoolfriends Sam West and Calum McCann started their musical lives as blues band The Fortunate Sons who went on to tour the world. They seem to have discovered unrequited indie rock yearnings – hence the name change – and so this sets off in a totally new direction with the first couple of tracks sure to go down a storm at any half-decent music festival due to their organic sense of urgency. They’re off somewhere fast. But as the album unwinds, so does the consistency as things take a very different and sometimes even obscure turn. At one point you wonder if they’re metamorphosising into what Bruce Springsteen would have sounded like if he hailed from Glasgow.
- Huddersfield Examiner


Big Figure send in the clowns as their debut
Published on 26 Aug 2011


Jonathan Geddes

Most bands play their debut gigs in front of a few friends and family members.

But Glasgow duo Big Figure found themselves taking their first bow in front of thousands – as the handpicked support to piano king Jools Holland.

The band, which consists of school friends Sam West and Calum McCann, travelled to the Ragley Hall country estate in Warwickshire several weeks ago, for their first ever gig.

“We weren’t actually nervous when we were playing as we’ve done big gigs before in other bands,” recalls Calum, the guitarist in the outfit.

“But on the drive there we were thinking ‘this is untested, there’s a lot of things that go very wrong’. But it did go well, so there was a lot of enthusiasm afterwards.”

The two-piece, who went to Williamwood High School, in Clarkston, are experienced gigging hands.

They’ve been playing in local blues-rock outfit the Fortunate Sons for the past several years, getting the chance to tour across Europe and even play at Glastonbury in 2009.

But now they’ve placed that group on the back burner, so they can focus on the catchy stylings of their newest band.

The decision to form Big Figure came at the turn of the year, and they’ll launch their debut album, Laugh Like Clowns, on Sunday night at the Buff Club.

“A the start of the year Sam and I decided that the new songs we’d written didn’t suit the Americana remit of the Fortunate Sons,” says Calum.

“So we had this new stuff written, and from there Sam and I built a studio, recorded it in two weeks and did it all ourselves.

“This stuff is pretty eclectic. I remember writing the first two songs in one day, playing them that night and knowing straight away things would need to change and it wasn’t going to work in the same way as before.”

He’s not kidding about the group doing it all themselves.

The record’s not only self-financed and self-produced, but it was recorded above the Bath Street venue they’re playing this weekend, in a room the duo actually hammered into shape.

“We built the studio quite literally,” explains Calum.

“We had the hammers out, building sound-proof boxes. From there it was doing the album and booking gigs ourselves and that’s the way it’s got to be.”

“If bands have willpower, and self-belief, they can make things happen,” says Sam, expanding on the idea.

“It’s liberating not having powers that be trying to push us in certain directions. If you’re not prepared to embrace that then you can get dispirited.

“You need to take responsibility for a lot more things to survive making music. We don’t want to work nine to five jobs, and that’s up to us.”

They’ve certainly made a good start with their latest project.

Clowns is a fine record, full of good tunes like recent single Cherry Blossom, letting Sam’s rich voice and Calum’s jangling guitar work come to the fore.

Sam’s voice is particularly powerful, but his classical training sets him at odds with many other local vocalists, especially as he makes no effort to sing with a Glasgow twang, as so many of his contemporaries do.

“We’ve had criticism in the past because Sam doesn’t sing in a broad Scottish accent, but Sam’s parents are English and he comes with a very different approach,” argues Calum.

“He uses his voice as an instrument. I think that criticism of the accent is unfair and it’s a very limited approach to music, but you can’t let that affect you.

“To limit everything to a fairly twee Scottish accent just seems silly.”

Accent or not, they’ve proved a hit with plenty of others.

Their album was mastered by the Blue Nile’s Calum Malcolm, while their shows with Jools Holland went down so well they’ve been asked to support the former Squeeze keyboardist on several shows this winter, including two nights at the Armadillo in December.

And the band were praised by the man himself at the summer shows.

“Jools was quite an elusive guy,” recalls Calum, with a laugh.

“At some of the gigs he turned up about ten minutes before he was supposed to play, went on and then escaped out to his car straight after.

“We did speak to him though, and he was very complimentary about us. There were members of his band who were very nice too, so from that perspective everyone behind the scenes seemed to support us.”

Accepting the Jools gigs, which they got thanks to simply passing a CD on to the right people, meant they had less time to work in the studio, though. And that wasn’t their only problem.

“We ended up doing 15-hour days up there,” recalls Sam.

“And it’s on top of a kitchen, so the average temperature was about 30 degrees. It’s T-shirt and shorts weather there, so we had to close our eyes and pretend we were in a Barbados studio!” - Evening Times


Discography

Laugh Like Clowns (2011)
Creatures (Due for release summer 2012)

Photos

Bio

Songwriting duo Sam West and Calum McCann started 2011 without an album, a band or a name. By the end of a whirlwind year, a band called The Big Figure had released its debut album 'Laugh Like Clowns' (Rolling Records), toured the UK with Jools Holland and received plaudits from various national radio stations and publications.
Singer Sam recalls "It's been a crazy time. We were asked to go on tour with Jools and his band but we didnt have any songs recorded or anyone to play on them. We managed to record the album in just over two weeks with an impromptu lineup, had it pressed, then we went straight out on tour!"
Winding the clock forward to 2012 the duo are on course to release their next album 'Creatures' in the summer. With a now established lineup, the Big Figure draw on their influences in pop, alt rock, world and electronica to create a hybrid that is the sonic equivelent of Glasgow's sparkling city lights reflecting on the River Clyde at night.
The Big Figure have arrived at their sound by keeping a real DIY ethic- having built their own studio in the city centre to rehearse and record in. Left to their own creative devices, the Big Figure have developed and honed their music however they saw fit.
Guitarist Calum explains "Since high school, Sam and I have been making our living playing music together in different bands and projects and we have always kept playing and learning new things. The new Big Figure stuff has been the most challenging but also the most fun to work on so far."
The stories in 'Creatures' are all personal stories and observations about people and life, the hardships and the struggle, but also a celebration of these human uncertanties through music. Creatures is an album perfectly balanced with catchy singles such as 'Overboard' and 'Testify' and album tracks such as the heartachingly beautiful 'Silent place.' A self penned humanist hymn about a soldier's inner turmoil following a return home from a tour of duty. Singer Sam West's voice evokes a beautiful hybrid of operatic, Buckleyesque pop that sits on top of a band that has drawn comparisons with the likes of Talking Heads, The Police, REM and The Blue Nile.