Blues Rock band St. Dukes meet with me on a rooftop terrace at Glasgow’s Ashton Lane. After only being together since January this year, St. Dukes are setting up to be the next big band to come out from Glasgow, with a high demand of gigs and their first television appearance last week on The Riverside Show. Of the two hours I spend with the band, I love every bit of it. Flippant and humorous answers to questions reminiscent of early Beatles interviews. Friendly banter amongst each other and the people around them. Sensational detail into their answers so much so you would feel like you have known them since the beginning. So please meet, St. Dukes.
The band consisting of Lewis Douglas (lyrics, lead guitar), Sarah Connor (lyrics, guitar), Fraser Hamilton on Bass, and Max Orr on drums. Originally all in other bands, St. Dukes is the creation of a jam session that was proposed early this year. Lewis and Norman were working together on a delta-blues project but did not have the drive to push through with it and felt it was lacking something. Lewis was asked into another band at one point by Sarah Connor (not from The Terminator), which he turned down. He later invited Sarah to jam with himself and Norman.
An old band member of Sarah and Lewis’, Max Orr, was then brought in to bring drums to the mix as they felt drums would make their music more lively and enjoyable at gigs. Craig was then brought in for bass (which he learned to play just to be in St. Dukes). All members were in other bands at this point but these were dissolved so they could focus on St. Dukes. Lewis refers to the combination of artists as, “almost like your Glaswegian super group“! Not only as a band but as friends, they bounce off each other brilliantly with sensation “band-ter” and a camaraderie that is missing from most bands. They are focused but on the other hand, don’t take themselves too seriously.
The Music and Influences Behind it
In songwriting, each member brings their own thing to the process so they all have different opinions of what their main influences are. The only inspiration they seem to agree on is Current Swell, which is met with an uproar of laughter and jokes at the expense of the indie rock band which makes me only assume that this is some inside joke that I am yet to get to. Norman’s main inspiration for the band is the Blues artist Little Walter, whose most notable instruments were harmonica and guitar, which is noticeable in his own style with the band.
Sarah and Lewis, the main songwriters for the band, both agree that Johnny Cash is big inspiration along with The White Stripes blues work, Sea Sick Steve and The Beatles. “Every band is going to say that The Beatles is their inspiration really, but I can’t deny that it is one of mines“, Sarah Connor adds. John Bonham being one of Max’s idols, his main inspiration to the drums is Led Zeppelin, but mostly the Jimi Hendrix experience drummer, Mitch Mitchell with his rock-jazz combination.
This mix of influences is brought together in a sensational way, and works incredibly well bringing their influences into their own individual styles, which each member has worked on in previous bands. As for their genre, they cannot decide on a set genre, so they are toying with the idea of making their own along the lines of “blues-rock-folk and a little bit o’ techno“. Their songs all tell stories that are either personal to the band in one way or another or anecdotal by their very nature.
Lewis and Sarah are the main writers and bounce off well with each other in the process, and don’t feel that this will ever change too much. “There’s a lot of relatable stuff. It’s things that have either happened to us or we know it has happened to someone, our music is fun and we have fun making up a story. With blues music you have a story but it is negative but with the country side of it you get a witty interesting story“, Lewis states. Max adds to this by saying, “we do have a lot of story telling songs in the pipelines which we do enjoy… It’s a good form of music as you get a good experience from it and it’s enjoyable to listen to. Stories are always good to do“.
As a band, their topics and content will remain the same, with the band refusing to change their music to fit new audiences, declaring that they will always write about things that are currently happening in their lives. Sarah comments on this saying, “if our music does change it is only because our surroundings and events are changing in our lives and that is what we will be aiming to write about and that will be the main thing on our mind“. Out of the 100 songs the band currently have, they are playing only nine songs as part of their set list to get the name out there and give people an impression of what is to come.
Access To The Music
“Come to the gig I suppose!“, is the joke response from banjoist Norman, but there are demos on Soundcloud just now and an EP being recorded soon at Gorbal Sound. However, if you are looking to see the band themselves, they do have upcoming gigs in Glasgow and Edinburgh with a wider area planned. They play at ‘Wicked In The Roud’ at Wild Cabaret in Glasgow on October 27 and at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh on the 20th of November.
As for the future of the 5-piece band, it is looking very promising. With a large and ever growing fan base and immense attention on the band right now, in my opinion, it won’t be long until we are lifting St. Dukes CD’s off the shelf or putting them in our iTunes carts (by choice however, and not forced upon you). A highly recommended band and if you are near by for any of their future performances, make the time to enjoy the Rock-Blues sound of St. Dukes live.