h

Teenage Fanclub rock on after the departure of a core band member

Since their inception, there have been three sole constants of Teenage Fanclub: vocalist/guitarist Norman Blake, lead guitarist Raymond McGinley and bassist Gerard Love. 

The trio all wrote songs for the band, shared vocals and served as the creative engine room of the entire Teenage Fanclub sound. It came as a shock to many, then, to hear that Love was to depart from the band entirely at the end of 2018. A massive 25-song set at London’s Electric Ballroom this past November served as Love’s swansong, bringing a bittersweet ending to an era of one of power-pop’s true survivors.

“It probably sounds bad to say it went really well, but it honestly did,” says McGinley from his home in Glasgow. “The whole series of shows was fantastic – it was essentially a playthrough of all the material we put out when we were on Creation Records. Not only were they Gerry’s last shows, but we also had our old drummers Brendan [O’Haire] and Paul [Quinn] joining us. 

“There were seven of us, which was interesting enough as it is. It felt like Spinal Tap. We had a lot of songs to learn, so it wasn’t like we were being mournful or overly sanctimonious about it all.”

It may be a tough-love way of putting it, but McGinley explains that the scale of these shows – extensive, career-spanning, aimed at the die-hard fans – was about as fitting a send-off for Love as could have ever been planned by the band themselves. 

“We were still working together right up until the end,” he says. “It wasn’t one of those sudden things where you look around on stage and someone’s not there anymore. We wanted the shows to be the best they could be, regardless of whether Gerry was going or not, and they ended up all good in the end.”

As Teenage Fanclub enter their 30th year as a band, they’ve officially reshuffled the line-up to accommodate for Love’s departure. Dave McGowan, who joined the band as a keyboardist and guitarist back in 2004, has moved over to bass. Meanwhile, Welsh singer-songwriter Euros Childs has officially joined the band as its new keyboardist. 

The new-look Fanclub are currently in rehearsals ahead of their 2019 world tour, which will no doubt see them delving into the archives yet again to pull further from their extensive back-catalogue. “There are definitely points of listening back to older songs and having absolutely no idea how to play them,” says McGinley.

“For whatever reason, that starts to change when you actually pick up the guitar itself. The fingers have that muscle memory, and they’re able to go to those chord shapes as you try and play along. Once you’re back on track, it’s actually surprising how much easier it ends up being than you thought it was going to be. There are a lot of interesting challenges when it comes to delving into your body of work like that – it’s a lot of effort to go to, but it ends up being quite the experience.”

As to whether the efforts put towards this retrospective could potentially influence the creative direction of where Teenage Fanclub may head next musically, McGinley is inclined to agree. “One thing I did notice is that back in the ‘90s, we were putting out albums every one or two years,” he says. “These days, it’s more like every five. I’d like to get back to some sort of happy medium – every three years, maybe?”

Before we get to that, of course, there’s the matter of Teenage Fanclub’s 2019 tour – which, indeed, will see them return to Australia next month. McGinley lights up when talking about playing in Australia: “We’re all really looking forward to it,” he says. “It’s going to be the proper start to what we’re hoping is going to be a really busy, really productive year for us.”

Teenage Fanclub play The Corner on Tuesday February 12 (sold out) and Wednesday February 13. Tickets via the Frontier Touring website.