The MUSIC has changed a bit since Chris Thomson was going to give concerts at the Apollowatch Top of the Pops and play in a punk band at the local scout hall.
“Bowie was my first gig at the Apollo,” he says with a smile.
“I know, it’s quite extraordinary. I think it’s been four nights, and I was there for one of them, row 20, sitting in what looked like a big, old movie theater – which, of course, is what it is. was. It’s a bit unreal to watch it now.
“It was the Apollo at its peak. Those were the days when you sent your money order and prayed. You either got your money order or you got your two tickets.
The music – the industry, the sound, the live scene – has changed, but Chris, frontman of The Bathers, who plays Frets at the Strathaven Hotel on June 17, is actually quite happy with it.
“The longer I’ve been in the business, the more music I’ve made, the more I see the sense of scale has really changed,” he says. “I like the idea of it all being scaled down, actually. The big industrial hangar thing – it’s never been my favorite kind of gig.
“Something like Frets is great – being able to talk to the public, get to know them a bit and make connections, it’s a beautiful thing.”
Chris grew up in Uddingston, where his mother worked as a schoolteacher and his father as a salesman. A musical career was not always in sight.
“When you go back a few generations, there’s music in the family, but not really, not my mom and dad, definitely,” he says.
“I mean, you’re talking about the boy who was notoriously rejected from recorder auditions.”
He laughs: “The teacher asked me to start, and very quickly he said to me ‘okay – see you next…
“Punk was the answer, for me. Anyone could try, so I did, and someone said we should form a band.
After a stint doing local gigs, the band became Friends Again, the highly respected but sadly short-lived 80s pop band consisting of Chris, Paul McGeechan, Neil Cunningham, James Grant and Stuart Kerr.
Hit singles – State of Art, Sunkissed, Honey at the Core – an excellent debut album, Trapped and Unwrapped – and a buzz from the music press that seemed to promise great things to come, weren’t enough to hold them together. , and they separated soon after. the album is out.
James Grant then formed Love and Money, and Chris formed The Bathers, who released their first album, Unusual Ways to Die, in 1987. A second, Sweet Deceit, followed in 1990.
The rest of the story involves superb later albums, including one on which Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins, did backing vocals; a handful of other impressive collaborations, such as Bloomsday, with ex-Commotions Neil Clark and Stephen Irvine; and a few infrequent concerts. In 2020, the Marina label reissued three of The Bathers’ old albums – Sunpowder, Lagoon Blues and Kelvingrove Baby. But overall it’s been a quiet few years.
Life got in the way, says Chris.
“My goal was to be a father and live a life,” he says simply.
“The music has always been there – I kept my hand – but above all for me, improving my piano playing, for example, and building ideas. I liked that.
“Now that the kids are in college, and after college, it’s time to get back to music.”
He smiles: “It’s a bit strange, as if I was in danger of some kind of empty nest syndrome. But it takes so much energy when you have children. It’s a fantastic chapter in my life, but it doesn’t quite fit into a rock and roll lifestyle.
Now fans will be delighted to know that The Bathers are back, with a new album, Sirenesque, about to be released, and plans for more gigs on the horizon.
“It’s pretty exciting,” says Chris.
“We had been close to releasing the album for a while. During the lockdown, I went over some elements of it.”
He stops, with a small laugh. “I realize that we are entering Blue Nile territory here, with the need for perfection, but I am now happy with the shape it has finally taken.
“We hope to release it before the end of the year, logistical problems aside. Even if the physical product is not an option, we can hopefully do something digital, and then maybe vinyl and CDs will follow.
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Chris adds: “That’s another thing that came to mind – I’d rather not have a hundred million CDs gathering dust somewhere.
“It comes down to the scale of things. These big arena shows, even if they were a realistic possibility, appeal to me less and less. I would much rather have a meaningful connection to something like Frets.
“We are aiming to get back to touring. Frets seems like the perfect place to test the waters.