Strawberry Whiplash is the out and out indie pop goodness of Glasgow songwriter and guitarist Lawrence ‘Laz’ McClusky and magnetic vocalist Sandra. The duo started collaborating in 2008 after discovering a shared love for Glasgow band The Bachelor Pad and took this as a sign to start creating music together. The result is addictive melodies that nod in equal part to C86 fuzz and Phil Spector produced pop.
Strawberry Whiplash released their first EP Who’s in Your Dreams in 2008 on Matinée Recordings and have stayed with the fittingly pop loving California label for subsequent releases, most recently the 7″ Stop, Look and Listen. Matinée Recordings will also bring out the debut Strawberry Whiplash album on 27 March 2012.
The duo seem to be floating slightly under the radar in the Glasgow music scene whilst at the same time having a unique and dedicated devotion to the indie pop genre and are doing this extremely well. I came across Strawberry Whiplash by happy accident and was keen to find out more about the band who make the perfect musical pick me up for any dreary Glasgow day.
DEAD SOUND. Laz, given that you are also a vocalist with Bubblegum Lemonade what’s the main thing you get out of this change in role with Strawberry Whiplash?
LAZ. It’s a thrill to write a song with another voice in mind. I’ll start by recording an acoustic demo with me singing, but when Sandra takes over it really comes alive.
DEAD SOUND. Your name is taken from a combination of the bands Strawberry Switchblade and Meat Whiplash, what is about those bands that you like you much you that wanted to pay tribute to them in this way?
LAZ. We reckon that Since Yesterday and Don’t Slip Up are two of the best Pop recordings ever made. Strawberry Switchblade and Meat Whiplash both took their names from aspects of Glasgow’s Postcard Records scene, we are buying into that tradition. SW could so easily have been called Orange Fire or Juice Engines, ha! Anyway, we have the sweet voice of Strawberry Switchblade and the nihilistic fuzz of Meat Whiplash.
DEAD SOUND. Your music particularly Sandra’s vocals has a sweet 1960′s pop girl group sound, is that that intentional?
LAZ. It’s mainly the 60s via the 80s. Sandra loves Blondie and The Primitives etc, and that’s got to influence her vocal style. I like to create a Phil Spector type wall of Pop, this requires double-tracking the lead vocal and adding a mass of reverb. I also love to double-track all of the guitars too.
DEAD SOUND. I think few Glasgow based bands are currently doing out and out indie pop music, would you agree? What is it that draws you to this genre?
LAZ. There’s lots of Indie and some Pop, but not a lot of actual Indie Pop. I suppose that it is good for a band to have a unique selling point. Indie Pop, for me, has a very strong sense of melody, I think that this a compensation for a lack of accomplished musicianship. Just a theory!
DEAD SOUND. Your music reminds me of groups like The Primitives and Talulah Gosh but are there any bands or experiences that continue to influence your music?
LAZ. I simply love a great song, whatever the genre. I’m also attracted to something with a bit of character or a quirky lyric. Maybe Leonard Cohen’s poetic soul, Brian Wilson’s sense of wonder, Jonathan Richman’s naivety, the sensation of Motown, the primitive beat of the Shop Assistants, Lou Reed constructing his wall of Pop, just for John Cale to rip it apart. I tend to start the song writing process with the songs title and everything develops from there. The title tends to be inspired by something that I’ve noticed in a book or newspaper or something that I have observed as I go about my daily life. On the new album, Everybody’s Texting is about people being pre-occupied with communicating over a virtual network and not engaging with those who are actually around them. I wrote Stop, Look And Listen as I was walking the kids to school one morning, we came up with an accompanying dance for it, there and then, too. Dining Out In Paris And London, which is about a trial separation, is a pun on the Orwell book, he’d be so proud of us, ha!
DEAD SOUND. Your material to date and that of Bubblegum Lemonade has been released on California label Matinee Recordings. How did that come about?
LAZ. Back in the late Noughties, BL then SW posted some MP3s on MySpace and, unwittingly, became part of the flourishing Indie Pop revival. Jimmy from Matinee Recordings set up a MySpace page just to contact us, and offered a contract principally on the strength of Who’s In Your Dreams? and Ten Years Younger. We were a bit shy at first, as we weren’t used to cool people contacting us and offering to put our records out. He was looking for his very own Mary Chain and Shop Assistants and we found our Alan McGee.
DEAD SOUND. Matinee are also releasing the first full-length Strawberry Whiplash record, Hits In The Car what can we expect from the album? When is it released?
LAZ. HITC should be out by the end of March 2012. The music has been the easy bit, but the CD cover has taken a while to put together. HITC is a kind of Progressive Anorak concept album. It’s a mix-tape of our favourite bands presented through a SW filter. It has the narrative curve of a relationship going through the various stages, from the first meeting, etc, to splitting up. From chat-up line to Dear John letter. So, it starts off bright in toneand gets progressively darker as the tracks roll on. The album has the usual influences; The Mary Chain, The Primitives, as well as Astrud Gilberto, MBV, Lush, Spacemen 3 and Mazzy Star.