Scotland - Full Moon 90 - 02/06/04
- an interview with Jim McCulloch
Welcome to Green Pepperland
In certain circles, Jim McCulloch is what you call a legend. The guitarist from Scotland has been
involved in the music buisness for almost twenty years, being a member of the original line-up
of C-86 stars The BMX Bandits, enjoying chart success with the Soup Dragons and being ciminally
overlooked with his last band Superstar. Recently, Jim finished his first solo album under the
new name Green Peppers. Titled Joni's Garden the album signals a departure of sorts from
the sound of his previous bands. It's a very song based album, with a folk flavor and some dream
pop elements, too and it features guest appearances from the likes of Alan Hutchison, Jim Gash,
Joe McAlinden, David Scott and fromer Belle & Sebastian member Isobel Campbell. Currently, Jim is
looking for a label / licensing deal to put out the album - record company people please take
Luna Kafé: What's it like to be Jim McCulloch in the year 2004?
Jim: "2004 is like any other year-full of possibilities. My wife Marie and I are going to
have our first child in may, if all things go to plan. On a musical front I have a finished an
album which will hopefully be released, and I have started to play live again, on my own and with
other people as well."
LK: Are there many things in your long career you feel you have missed out on?
JM: "I think career is too strong a word for what I've done! I've spent most of my time playing
guitar for other songwriters to help them realise their dreams, I've played all over the world and
helped make some wonderful music on the way."
LK: Does it still feel weird to have made a solo album or do you think: I should have
done this years ago?
JM: "To be honest, I don't think I was ready to make a solo album years ago - it's only in
the last few years I've been happy and confident in my own songwrititng abilities."
LK: Your albums sounds quite different to the music you have played over the years -
does that mean you had to make a lot of compromises before?
JM: "The people I've made records with, we all basically grew up together, and so were listening
to the same things generally. It's only as you get older you develop your own path, and so perhaps
compromises were made because being in a band is to be part of a group, with four opinions on how
things are done. Eventually, three of those opinions will be compromised. With Green Peppers, it's
me in the driving seat. There had been a period around 2000/2001 when I had done nothing to do with
music at all,and I realised I missed performing and recording."
LK: How do you approach your songwriting these days?
JM: "Some songs write themselves, and others you have to work at. If I've got a recording
session looming, I like to have at least the structure and lyrics in place, and if there is time
in the studio I like to experiment with the instrumentation. Most enjoyable!"
LK: So far, Green Peppers is a solo project, but you're looking for people to join
you for the ride - any "requirements"?
JM: "I guess enthusiasm for for the song is the biggest requirement. I love working with
folk who can think fast and have imagination and flair."
LK: The album has a very nice intimate feel to it...
JM: "I definately wanted an 'intimate' feel, and as the sessions progressed from what was
a solo album in all senses (that is, I played and sang all the music), to a group effort, I wanted
to retain an atmosphere of togetherness and closeness, as these songs were my first introduction
to the world. I think using acoustic instruments brings you outside of the pop/rock mainstream into
a place where time is pretty much irrelevant, really. The beauty of the melody should shine through,
and though it can be frightening when you expose yourself lyrically, it is rather cathartic. The
songs are very personal and so the things I was trying to say were very straightforward and direct
for the most part."
LK: The Glasgow scene seems to be a very tight-knit community, at least from an outsider's
point of view..?
JM: "I can only speak from my own experience, but on the whole I think Glasgow's community
of musicians is very supportive of each other, and I think being involved in it for so long does
mean I have a lot of people I can go to for help or advice. There are perhaps three generations
of musicians, and I guess I'm in the middle, so working with older and younger is very satisfying."
LK: A lot of people have no clue who you are until the Soup Dragons are mentioned -
a blessing or a curse?
JM: "There's no point in denying the past. I wouldn't be here now without what has gone before.
You have to remember that I was in the Soup Dragons from 1985 to 1991, so I feel a bit detached
from that time."
LK: Which records from your own back catalog are the most underrated in your opinion?
JM: "I really loved the 1st Soup Dragon album This Is Our Art, we were so young and
just stuffed that album with ideas - it wasn't always successful but we had a great time making it.
I guess Palm Tree by Superstar is a great more "mature" album. It was my friend Joe McAlinden's
vision, but musically it was very much a group effort."
LK: Is there anything left we should not forget to mention?
JM: "There's a track on my album called "I Get It!" which will be on a Marina Records compilation
which comes out quite soon, so people can check that out until my album comes out... Or
go for some tantalising snatches of music from the album."
Copyright © 2004 Carsten Wohlfeld