Music: Scalping “I don’t know if this band would have existed somewhere else”

by James Hendicott
0 comment

Some bands are distinctly embedded in the place they call home. Scalping, from underrated UK cultural hub Bristol, are one such band. Drawing heavily on the city’s local scene, Scalping fall somewhere between a swirling rock band and an instrumental techno act, drawing influences from scenes like metal-evolved ArcTanGent Festival to the vibrant local dance scene, and dabbling heavily in an artistic side that lights up their live performances. This month, they play their first ever Irish show.

“The songs that we play in our set, 70-80% are different to the recorded versions, especially for album tracks,” Alex Hill, who performs the band’s more electronic angles, explains. “We work out what’s working and not working, usually before we record the album, but as this one was recorded during Covid we did that process in reverse.”

“The show used to be very improvised. Now that we’ve got more recorded songs that people might be familiar with, we do stick closer to the parts and structures. We do push and pull sections that we recorded and move stuff around, but there’s not so much improvising melodies. Before we released the ‘Flood’ EP, we felt like we had the freedom to almost make it up.”

The live set up is, to say the least, propulsive. “Once we start up live, we don’t stop,” Hill explains, “so if something goes wrong or you ruin the flow, you have to save it on the fly. So we have scaled it down, but it’s still there.”

“Bristol is such a small city that you know everyone making music with anything in common with yours,” Hill says. “You end up all being friends. It has benefits and downsides. I don’t know if this band would have existed everywhere else, the majority of the music that influences Scalping, we only discovered by living in Bristol.”

“I mainly listen to pop music and hip-hop, so we’re not pure underground heads, but there’s so much amazing underground stuff, so many labels, that there’s a Bristol sound system that plays so heavily into what we do. Liberty Sounds was a big one for us, even the acts that aren’t from Bristol kind of connect to our sound. We use the city as a lens to feed our music through.”

Perhaps a consequence of the local situation and their distinctive style is Scalping are the only band on their label that are even loosely a rock band. “We’ve always felt like outsiders in the electronic world, so to get the seal of approval from [massive dance label] Fabric was amazing,” Hill says. “We always joke that we’ve tricked them, that we’ve got distorted guitars on a dance label. But it was encouragement that we were doing it right, if there is such a thing.”

“A result of it all is we have a surprisingly diverse fanbase. We get a different audience if we play at 1am at a club, or earlier in the evening. Different types of scenes, wearing different clothes and going for different reasons. We have the 6Music crowd and also the techno crowd. We play 36 hour raves in Utrecht, but also post-metal festivals like ArcTanGent. We love that.”

“The longer we can get away with that, the better. I think in music you’re encouraged to pick a lane. We don’t want to pick a lane.”

Scalping are playing The Workman’s Club, Temple Bar on 22 February, as part of Eastbound Festival.

Related Articles