By Steve Drayton
Soundtrack to a B-Movie includes cello and bass as well as guitars
Going along to see Canadian folksters Woodpigeon recently, another band, Soundtracks for a B-Movie, took to the stage and won the night - and then some.
An eight-piece led by Mick Ross from South Shields, they produced the kind of music that is so easy to get wrong.
Soundtracks for a B-Movie play beautifully orchestrated instrumentals. Three guitars, violin, cello, bass, piano and drums could end up as a horrible mush - under Ross's guidance it was a wonder to behold.
Interest piqued, I contacted Mick to find out more and he turned up looking as every young hipster should - dapper and cool in a well-smart suit.
Turns out he's got more strings to his guitar than just being the leader of a 16-legged epic soundtrack machine. He also plays in the Minotaurs, whose song, Anyone Who Had a Heart, is currently being lauded by The Guardian.
We began by chatting about the Minotaurs, a six-piece outfit, who have already recorded - and binned - an album.
"Two years ago we had a development deal for Fiction Records, but at the time we just weren't ready," Mick explained.
"Anyone Who Had A Heart was going to be released, but they were stringing us along, it ended up coming out on Cabin Boy, locally. Two members left and we just started again.
"It was frustrating - the effort of making an album - but it was partly our fault that it didn't happen. The label wanted us to go one way, we wanted to go another."
The Minotaurs new album was recorded, mixed and produced by Arran Fisher, who recorded the Woodpigeon album, and mastered by the man who worked on the first Arcade Fire album.
Mick said it had refreshed their sound: "He's made us sound raw, like something new, which is what we needed.
"When he gave us notes about our playing, I got a bit of a beating, he was brutal, I'm not used to it! That criticism improved me as a musician and the band's direction as a whole."
Minotaurs put to bed, we moved on to Soundtracks for a B-Movie.
They began life as something for Mick to do, writing and producing in his home studio.
Soundtracks for a B-Movie played live at Cluny 2
"I didn't really have much to do, so I recorded the album in my bedroom," he said. "Never thought I'd play live. I never thought I'd be able to get the musicians together. I'm genuinely flabbergasted by the reaction."
But, despite the positive response, Mick isn't planning any more live outings.
Being the only driver and having band members strewn across the region means getting the eight-piece together is a logistical nightmare.
Mick's last words to me were: "I think if we play live too much it'll bore people."
Not much chance of that!
Since we met, I've heard a rumour that Soundtracks for a B-Movie may well be getting back on stage, so watch this space.
The Minotaurs album will be out early next year.