Long distance in Stereo

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When Stuart Gray helped out some pals in a band in the early 1990s by ferrying them around Falkirk he didn’t imagine he’d be making a rather longer journey north almost 20 years on to play a gig at Glasgow’s ABC venue.

“I was one of the only folk with my own car,” he says of the driving duties he took on for the band that Doug Hendry started with Gav Brown. Stuart joined on vocals, and departing drummer Jamie Archibald recommended alongside Tim Troup and Rob McKinlay on bass and guitar.”

Thus, Viva Stereo were born in 2001, though their first live show wasn’t until February 18, 2002.

Ten years on, they mark a decade of music-making this Saturday (18th) - despite the fact that the band, originally based in Larbert and Edinburgh, are now further scattered.

With Stuart now in Leicester, inevitably, band rehearsals aren’t easy.

“It’s a bit tough to be honest,” he admits. “We tend to get together and get a set sorted out - record the practice and do our own practising at home.”

“For recording we definitely have adapted to using the internet with tracks being sent between us to add bits to,” he explains. “The rest of the band are a bit closer together than me so they’ve been getting together and then I come up when I can and play catch up!”

Despite these logistic difficulties, the band still managed to release their fourth album ‘Endure the Dark To See The Stars’ last year, via Gav Brown’s De-fence label - and Gav will guest on drums at Saturday’s show.

Although still enjoying making music, the band have no major ambitions now. “It’s definitely a labour of love,” says Stuart. “We all have other commitments with family, work and of course the distance. We’re likely to keep things simple with more EPs and singles rather than albums and more one off-gigs rather than tours.”

Which is different from ten years ago. “When Arab Strap came along we all started to think we could take things a bit more seriously as they did pretty well for themselves,” Stuart admits.

“We’re all still good friends with Malcolm (Middleton) - he somehow supported us at our first ever gig which was pretty bizarre looking back.

“But it’s weird how things turn out!”