Not just another trendy band, Teenage Fanclub goes for content

May 15, 1992|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

It's official: Teenage Fanclub are hot.

Need proof? Check the pages of the recent Rolling Stone "Hot Issue," wherein this Glaswegian quartet is ranked right up there with shamanism, Treadwall exercisers and actress Sharon Stone.

This being one of the most coveted rankings in the hierarchy of hype, most musicians would give their right arm -- or, at least, their publicist's right arm -- to be proclaimed this year's "Hot Band." But ask Fanclub guitarist Raymond McGinley if it's cool to be hot, and he just laughs.

"I don't know," he says from a tour stop in Nashville, his soft-spoken burr barely a whisper across the phone lines. "I don't think any of us pay much attention to it, really."

It's just as well, though, because when the band does think about it, attaining this sort of media-sanctioned hipness seems more ironic than flattering.

Teenage Fanclub couldn't care less about being hip, cool, trendy or hot. Indeed, as McGinley points out, the title of the group's current album is a deliberate jibe at the music industry's star-making machinery.

"We called the LP 'Bandwagonesque' as a joke," he says. "Just because of the way bands are hyped -- saying 'This band is

really new and exciting,' or whatever. We called the LP 'Bandwagonesque' because we felt that it was like everything you've ever heard before. It's no big deal."

McGinley credits the band's lack of trend-consciousness to its having come up in Glasgow, Scotland, where the music scene's emphasis is on content, not packaging. "In Glasgow, if you start a band which is some big fashion thing, or one of these bands with loads of attitudes and no musical content, you'd be ridiculed," he says.

"Whereas there's lots of those bands coming from London, and the south of England. They're basically like a fashion thing; it's not really just about people in a band to make music and write songs or whatever."

Even if the members of Teenage Fanclub weren't born to be trendy, that hasn't kept trendiness from being thrust upon them. "We did just start a band and made music, which is a bit more honest than the usual thing which goes on in Britain," he says. "We've gone with it regardless of trends, you know?

"But the British music press, they'll manage to give you some sort of image even if you don't consciously try to project one. It's just one of the big things that the British music press always wants; they form an image of you, or get themselves an angle on you, in terms of your attitudes, and how cool or not cool you are."

This band couldn't care less about cool, though. What concerns Teenage Fanclub are songs, first and foremost. "That's our emphasis," says McGinley. "We do like pop music. We don't think that's a bad word."

Nor does he have any time for those critics who carp about his band sounding too conventionally melodic.

"I think a lot of bands won't let themselves do the obvious things sometimes, when that's really what they should do," he says. "They think, 'I can't do that, because it isn't cool; that will sound obviously poppy if I sing this properly and try to do it melodically. Instead of doing that, I'll try and make it sound a bit hard, so that I don't lose my street credibility.' "

McGinley laughs at that thinking, and adds, "We don't really worry about that at all. We just go for it."

Teenage Fanclub

When: May 18 at 8 p.m.

Where: Hammerjacks.

Tickets: $7.50.

Call: (410) 695-7625 for information, (410) 481-7328 for tickets.

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