CENTURY THIRTEEN (from l-r): Scott Macleod (vocals/guitar), Kevin McGuire (guitar/vocals), Lewis Harwood (drums), Dale Gardner (bass)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Since forming in 2014, Scottish four-piece Century Thirteen have amassed a devoted following north of Hadrian’s Wall with three well-received EPs and a series of high-energy live performances, aided by a strong DIY work ethic, as well as a distinctive, upbeat mix of alternative rock and pop-punk.
This July, the Glaswegian collective will be bringing out their self-titled debut album, and they recently took the time to chat with me about that, their journey up to now, and a little about the band’s future aims.
How did the band form?
KEVIN McGUIRE (guitar/vocals): The band came together after jamming a few times – Scott was an old friend of mine, and we had been in a band together in the past.
I was in a band with Lewis, our drummer, that had just ended due to one of the members calling it a day, so we were looking to start a new band at that point.
After Scott joined, we put out an advert for a bassist, which Dale answered, and within a month, we were a brand new band working on songs.
How did the name Century Thirteen come about?
KEVIN: The band name is a combination of things; the number thirteen being known as an unlucky number, and a century being a time period that takes a long time to happen, so basically, the band name is about having bad luck for a long period of time.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
KEVIN: My approach is different to most – I start writing my vocal melodies first, and then add guitar and music afterwards.
SCOTT MACLEOD (vocals/guitar): I’m kind of the opposite, as I usually come up with the music and structure first, and then work out the lyrics and vocal melodies at the end.
KEVIN: We all come up with ideas, and then work together as a band to finish the complete songs.
DALE GARDNER (bass): When it comes to writing new songs, I will always play roots notes to get a feel for them, then once I have that learned, I’ll see what sort of bass lines I can come up with that fit in with the guitar, but also creating parts that stand out as well, rather than just mirroring the guitar, which means that each instrument is playing a unique part that makes it stand out.
What inspires the band lyrically?
KEVIN: I am inspired by great storytelling and songs I can sing along to, so I try and create songs that have a story to them.
SCOTT: I like to write in a way that the meaning might not be immediately clear, and the lyrics could be taken a few different ways. I’ve always enjoyed songs where the lyrics are quite ambiguous, but at the same time, like Kevin, I like a good chorus that you can sing along to!
I read a lot of books and comics, and I’m a big gamer too, so that can sometimes come across in the way I write, putting characters into different scenarios sometimes.
This July, you will be bringing out your self-titled debut album. How has the recording process been for that?
KEVIN: The recording process took almost a year, we managed to take our time, so we could really get the best out of the songs that we had written. It was a very different approach – in the past, we had created the music ourselves, and it helped so much having someone else guide us to make the best record possible.
SCOTT: We had previously recorded all our material ourselves, so it was good to work with Andy in the studio, and it meant that this time, I was able to focus on my playing and not have to worry about doing all of the recording and mixing.
I think it benefited the songs to have another set of ears there to throw in some suggestions and new ideas as well!
DALE: The recording process was lots of fun and it also felt like I managed to enhance my knowledge as well. It brought me back to my roots, doing bass parts that I feel could stand out. Three of my top fave songs to play are on this album!
And how will it be different to the three EPs that the band have released up to now?
DALE: The songs on the album sound like a step forward, with us taking a more mature approach, but at the same time, we still stick to what people will know us best for, which is the energy that we bring into the songs.
Each song stands out in its unique own way, as some songs will have that pop-punk feel to them, with others having a more heavier alternative rock sound, along with some fast-paced tracks as well.
SCOTT: I think the sound on the album is much more varied, with it being a full album, it meant that there was more room to explore some different sounds, but it’s still full of songs that get stuck in your head! I think it’s definitely a more refined sound than the previous EPs.
You have amassed a solid fan base across your native Scotland with a series of highly energetic live performances. How is the experience, for you all, of playing on stage?
DALE: I love the adrenaline from live performances. Also, each live performance brings different experiences, especially depending on who in the audience is watching you. It’s always fun to get to translate what we have done in the studio into a live gig stituation.
And the band also regularly play shows raising awareness for such causes as cancer research and mental health. Do you all personally think that other bands/artists out there should be doing more of what you’re doing?
KEVIN: Absolutely, I feel the more openness about mental health the better, it can help people not feel so alone if they’re struggling. It’s important that everyone knows there are people and groups there to help.
I recommend all bands get involved, some way or another, to raise money for charities or raise awareness – these things matter. People matter and improving life matters.
SCOTT: Mental health awareness is something that I feel strongly about, it’s something that affects so many people, but there’s still a huge stigma attached to it, that means people feel like they can’t talk about it or get the right help when they need it.
We’ve all been through, or know someone who’s going through, various mental health issues, and the biggest problem is this idea that it’s something to be ashamed of.
The more openness there is about issues like that, the more that stigma gets broken down, and if there’s anything I can do to help break that down, I want to try to help.
This summer, you have a few shows lined up. At this time, can the band say anything more on them at all?
KEVIN: This summer, we have two hometown gigs, one supporting Take Today for their brand new EP launch, and the other is playing a gig with two touring bands, Edenthorn and Twister, and we are really excited for both.
No festivals confirmed yet, but it is something that we want to do very much, however, it’s a case of finding the right fit for our band, and that’s what we want to do.
And finally, what is the band’s long-term aim?
DALE: To play great festivals, to continue writing songs that get bigger and better than the last ones, and also to have the opportunity to open up for bands who have inspired us would be so amazing to achieve!
KEVIN: I agree with Dale, more exposure and more music reaching more people, and to play Rebellion in Blackpool, Teddy Rocks in Blandford, and the Slam Dunk festivals would be ace as well.
Thank you for taking the time to interview us, and I hope you enjoy our new album!
CENTURY THIRTEEN’S SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM WILL BE RELEASED ON JULY 13.
YOU CAN FIND OUT MORE INFO ABOUT THIS, AND THE BAND, HERE.