Scotland's Camera Obscura returns to Pittsburgh Wednesday for the first time since 2009. That was the year when the Scottish indie-pop group hit it big with their album My Maudlin Career, which featured the catchy track "French Navy." Four years later, in 2013, the band released Desire Lines. They are currently touring in support of that album after a brief hiatus caused by two of the bandmembers becoming new parents.
We were at that show four years ago, and we reviewed it too. Check it out: http://www.pghmusicreport.com/2009/07/concert-review-camera-obscura-anni.html
In anticipation of the band's return to Pittsburgh, we had the pleasure of interviewing the band's pianist, Carey Lander. (She's the one on the left in the photo.)
Pittsburgh Music Report: It's been a while since you've toured the States. Is the excitement finally starting to kick in?
Carey Lander: The excitement has been there for ages; the nerves are starting to kick in. Practical worries about equipment and travel. The US is easily one of our favourite places to play though, the people that come to see us are very nice, I love a lot of the scenery and food. I only wish it was a longer tour.
PMR: You'll be playing the same venue here in Pittsburgh, Mr. Smalls, that you played in '09, the final stop on your My Maudlin Career Tour. Any memories from your time here in our city?
CL: I do remember that gig. I had a few friends that lived there then so it was fun to see them and have a drink after the show. I think I remember a surprise radio performance in the morning too that our TM had forgotten about, we had to roll out of bed and hurry unwashed to the station without breakfast. I like your bridges.
PMR: Musically, what's the difference from the band we saw in back in 2009 and the one we'll see next month?
CL: Probably not that different, though obviously we have another album under our belts now and a few years more experience of playing together. We are older, battered and more tired but we do our best.
PMR: It will be over a year since your most recent album came out. Have the songs evolved at all on stage during the time you've been performing them live?
CL: Maybe a little, though most of the evolution happens when you are first arranging them for live performance after recording the album. It's always a bit of a balance when making a record, you don't want to limit yourself and restrict what you put on it, but there's often a niggle in your mind about how you're going to recreate it live. It is hard rehearsing the songs to the point where you don't have constant freak outs about what chord comes next, but apart from the odd slip we should be there now.
PMR: One of the things that impressed our reviewer from your '09 concert was your outfits. He was impressed that the gentlemen all wore vests and the ladies dresses. Will you still be getting dressed up for shows?
CL: Uh oh. The pressure. We give ourselves permission to be a little scruffier these days; [lead singer] Tracyanne was 7 months pregnant on our summer tour last year and comfort was definitely allowed come before fashion. We have always made an effort though, despite how it may finally appear. I always do a lot of panic-shopping before a tour, wondering what on earth to wear.
PMR: We've had a lot of great Scottish bands play Pittsburgh over the past couple years: Mogwai, Twilight Sad, and Frightened Rabbit, to name just a few. Are there any other emerging bands back home that we should be on the lookout for?
CL: Check out Ela Orleans, she's great.
Thanks again to Carey for answering our questions. If you would like to see Carey, and the rest of Camera Obscura, live, consider entering our giveaway. To enter for a chance to win two tickets, simply email your name to firstname.lastname@example.org, and place "camera obscura" in the subject line. We'll announce a winner early Tuesday.
Tickets to the show cost $17 and are available via Ticketweb.
Singer/songwriter Laura Cantrell opens. Cantrell comes to us from New York via Tennessee. She has an excellent voice that matches well with Camera Obscura's indie pop aesthetic. Here she is live:
-- B. Conway