Interview: Pop Goes The Revolution

Posted on February 25, 2011


This is the second in a series of interviews with the people behind podcasts and radio shows that are championing grassroots music.

There are some great shows out there that play the best music around, give a great level of exposure to artists, and bring some quality chat for our entertainment.

This week it is Subcity stalwarts, Pop Goes The Revolution.

Listen to the recent Funeral Special episode

Would you care to introduce the team behind the show?

Pop Goes The Revolution is presenters George and Nikki and producer, Caroline.

What can we expect to hear on the Pop Goes The Revolution Playlist?

For the most part we play a lot of unsigned music. We tend to play a lot of stuff from the rest of the UK though, and stretch beyond just the Scottish scene. Bit of a logistical nightmare at times. Tends to mean a lot, and we mean a lot, of bandcamp and myspace and soundcloud trawling. It’s hard to find routes into unsigned music outside of your own city, but when you come across something really good from Bristol or Plymouth or wherever it’s worth it. On top of the unsigned stuff, there’s a few bits and pieces where we break away from that and play some self-indulgent classics.

The show has been running for a while now, how did it get started? and how has it evolved?

The show was largely based upon petty music arguments between Nikki and George. We used to do a good job of isolating friends at dinner and things by talking about music and fashion and film, and basically trying to get one up on each other.

George was already at the station writing cynical music reviews, so we applied for this show that was going to be a pop culture review show – discussing various things, and in between playing music that wasn’t part of the cultural mainstream. The show started back in 2008.

Quickly we discovered that the little known music we did know about was just scratching the surface, and the deeper we dug the more great music we discovered. So kind of rapidly it became this hunt to find unknown music from wherever we could find it. At the time there weren’t many other unsigned shows on the station. Obviously since then the likes of Vile Arts, Define Pop, Foreign Thoughts, Initial Itch and others have all joined the station. So it’s more crowded these days.

The show kept going and slowly building up. Although after a while we found that we’d kind of reached the limit of what we could do with two people. Then in September last year Caroline joined the show and from there the things kind of exploded and allowed us to expand PGTR in the way we wanted to.

What features can we expect on the show?

There’s a few features we run regularly on the show. Our main feature has always been Nikki’s News which is a weekly guide to what’s happening in Glasgow. It’s the main part of the show where we stop focusing on the music and talk about fashion, film and all the other aspects of culture that often get a little left out.

Nikki’s Nostalgia (we have a passion for alliteration) is a song from way back in the day. The idea of A Saving Grace is that Nikki tries to find a tune that’s popular and bought by normal people who George doesn’t hate. She usually fails.

The guest list for the show has been great, who has impressed? and who would you love to get on the show?

There have been some great people in the past. The LaFontaines and De Jour were great when they came on. Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers were brilliant as well. We’ve had some great stuff from people like writer Christopher Guttierez and Gmbh as well. There’s plenty of people we’d love to get on though, especially from further afield. We’d love to do things with the likes of Rosie Jones, Max Raptor and many others.

Which bands from the Scottish music scene are you recommending to folk at the moment?

We have a list of bands who we call the ‘house bands’. There all the bands that have been on the show. They’d be top of our list. So that’s LaFontaines, Washington Irving, Young Aviators, Skinny Villains, Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers, Endor, White Heath, Tango In The Attic, Cancel The Astronauts. There’s loads others we’re fans of though: We See Lights, Over The Wall, Admiral Fallow. Relatively new ones like Miniature Dinosaurs we’ll be keeping an eye on too. If we had to pick a couple though, I would say Cancel The Astronauts and Young Aviators are the two who are most worth keeping an eye on this year, who maybe aren’t being watched quite as much.

The recent PGTR Session sounded great, what can you tell folk about the event?

Last summer Endor and Cancel The Astronauts both had releases. They were both fantastic, and maybe deserved more attention than they got. When we came back in September we played little else. So we got in touch with the bands and got chatting to them, and after lots of friendly chat and a great deal of flattery, both bands agreed to come in and do a session.

We’d always wanted to do full band sessions in the past, but due to the equipment Subcity had at the time, and us being all shy, we couldn’t really do it until recently. But we got everything together, and spent a couple of months planning the event and getting everyone excited by it. Then a week before it we got an email from Endor saying they couldn’t do a full band session. Something about one of them having a real job and employment and things.

however CTA had been relying on Endor bringing the drum kit. So all of a sudden we didn’t have a session. We sat down and had some emergency panic meetings and delved through lists of bands, and realised there were actually some amazing bands we had never even played on the show. So we decided to try to get hold of a band we had overlooked. In the end we accidentally ended up with two – White Heath and Tango In The Attic.

The thing sounded amazing. All four bands pulled off blinding sets. We have out 11 songs from the session via the Subcity Podcast section, which people can still get. It was a fantastic day though. Some brilliant banter from White Heath and Cancel The Astronauts, some loud thrashing from Tango In The Attic which shook the 19th century building pretty hard, and the intimate solo Endor set. Probably the most fun and most stress we’ve experienced doing PGTR. It sounded great going out, and I think the wider world was unaware of the panic that was had putting it together – that was until we just confessed to it all just there.

And, Pop Goes The Revolution Live is almost upon us, what’s happening there? and what can we expect from the night?

We had this structure in our minds. The basic principles of which is that all profits go directly to the bands and PGTR makes no money, that we weren’t just going to rely on the bands promoting the gigs themselves, most of all we wanted to do something special with touring acts.

Most touring acts get a pretty raw deal in Glasgow (unless you’re a well-known band – but we’re talking small unsigned lots here.) Most of the time they get put on early, get paid poorly. So for each gig we’re going to have some special guests. We’re going to pay for them to come up from wherever, and play a special gig for us. Most these bands will have never played Glasgow before or played once or twice – certainly people won’t have had a regular chance to see them.

The first gig is this duet group from England. Way back in October we played this woman called Natalie Holmes and a bit of hype was created round this album she released called Shooting Zombies. We got in touch and she told us to check out the guy she plays with called Tom Clarke. We did and decided he was awesome too. Over the next few months we continued to play stuff from both of them and basically continue ranting about how good their music was. So we thought we’d launch the night with them.

They seem to fit the PGTR ethos. They’re complete unknowns, they’ve never even been to Scotland let alone played here. They don’t have a following, and there’s no expectation and hype, yet they’re this undiscovered gem of raw musical talent. They’re both very young and writing brilliant music, with lyrics and musicianship you’d expect to see in much more experienced musicians. So we’re really excited to see what they do with their first Scottish gig. They seem really excited by it as well – that said they haven’t had to spend 11 hours in a Megabus yet.

However loads of people seem to keep thinking we know them, or they’re from round here and they just don’t know about them. Just for clarification we literally found them on the internet, stumbled across a rarely played album on Bandcamp and decided to invite them from Bristol and Leamington Spa to Glasgow… as you do.

On top of the touring guys we’ve got some brilliant local acts as well. White Heath who were great at the PGTR Session are coming back. And also Mitchell Museum and We See Lights who we’ve both been playing since our first series back in 2008, are playing. So we’re all really excited. It’s on the 3rd March at Captain’s Rest.

We’re also going to be releasing a few exclusive bits and pieces on Facebook as teasers in the coming weeks. But that’s secret.

A random question from Foreign Thoughts: Would you rather get eaten by a bear or a shark?

Shark… definitely shark.

You can listen to Pop Goes The Revolution live every Friday 5-7pm, and again afterwards by going to their website.

You can also catch up with them on the interweb:



Make sure you get along to Pop Goes The Revolution Live, it’s going to be a cracking night, and let them know you’re coming on the events page.

Posted in: Interviews