Teenage Fanclub are finding home and hope to counter loss and anxiety as they travel the Endless Arcade to Leeds gig

Teenage Fanclub: Standing on an Endless Arcade

SCOTTISH indie legends Teenage Fanclub return to Leeds Beckett University tonight for gig number three on their 11-date tour in belated support of tenth studio album Endless Arcade.

Released last April on the Glaswegians’ own label PeMa as the follow-up to 2016’s Here, the songs “walk a beautifully poised line between melancholic and uplifting, infused with simple truths: the importance of home, community and hope, entwined with bittersweet, sometimes darker thoughts of insecurity, anxiety, loss. 

Endless Arcade was almost finished by the time the first Covid lockdown was imposed with its stay-at-home orders. How apt that Norman Blake’s seven-minute Home should open Endless Arcade, albeit that its sentiments were shaped by his experiences stretching back pre-pandemic in his search for what ‘home’ means.

Blake has been living in Canada for the past ten years. “My wife is Canadian, so we moved over there, but we’re now in the process of coming back to Glasgow,” he says.

“We live in Kitchener, about an hour’s drive west of Toronto, but it makes more sense to be over here with the band.

“Over the ten years, I’ve had a nice time over there, making friends travelling around Canada and the USA.”

That said, his sentiments in Home are etched in loss and yearning. “Without going into too much detail, the last 18 months have been challenging for me on an emotional level, but it’s been cathartic channelling some of these feelings and emotions into song,” says Blake.

The poster artwork for Teenage Fanclub’s tour and album, by Huw Evans, aka musician H. Hawkline

Has living in Canada influenced his song-writing. “I don’t think so directly, but I guess you will always be influenced by your surroundings, and every songwriter would say you’re influenced by the songs you hear and the gigs you go to, but thematically it’s the same subjects as always.”

During his time in Canada, Blake has worked with Joe Pernice, frontman of Scud Mountain Boys, Chappaquiddick Skyline and the Pernice Brothers, the duo being joined in The New Mendicants supergroup by The Sadies’ drummer, Mike Belitsky, to release the album Into The Lime in 2014.

“We first met when our bands played a show together in London in 2000. Joe lives in Toronto, so we started working together when I moved there,” says Blake. “It was great doing that because you always pick up bits of technique and he’s a real lyrics guy.”

Blake has contributed Sun Won’t Shine On Me, Warm Embrace, I’m More Inclined, Back In The Day and Living With You alongside Home to Endless Arcade, an album recorded in Clouds Hill Recordings in Hamburg with fellow founder Raymond McGinley, drummer Francis McDonald, bassist Dave McGowan and Welsh musician Euros Childs, featuring on keyboards across an entire Teenage Fanclub album for the first time.

“We were very comfortable with each other in the studio,” says Blake. “I think some of the playing is a bit freer and looser than on recent albums. Dave and Euros’ playing is amazing, and Francis on drums is really swinging. The whole process of making this album was very invigorating. Everyone in the band contributed a lot and the song arrangements came together really quickly. Everything felt fresh.”

A new album is in the making already. “We’ve been in the studio; we’ve come to the realisation that the thing to do before we’re all too knackered is to crack on!”

Norman Blake is 56.

Teenage Fanclub play Leeds Beckett University tonight, supported by Norwegian musicians  Frøkedal & Familien; doors, 7pm.