Exposure: Edgar Prais
- David Pollock
- 9 December 2008
Edgar Prais - Shooting At The Sky
A quintet based in Aberdeen and the nearby village of Oldmeldrum, Edgar Prais - Kristoffer Morgan (vocals, guitar, piano), Steven Pattillo (bass, vocals), Claire Singer (cello, keys, accordion), Christy Keenan (drums, ‘assorted bits and bobs’) and his brother Adam Keenan (guitar, vocals) – make charming and sometimes sky-scraping guitar pop songs. They also have one of the oddest band-naming stories in memory, as Christy Keenan explains. (Note: if your name is Edgar Prais and you’re reading this before the 25th of December, stop now!)
The name, then - where’s it from?
Basically, we met a guy called Edgar Prais (pronounced ‘Praise’) - who is a defence attorney, a QC - and we quite liked him, so we thought we’d start a band in homage. A friend of Steven and I got himself in a wee bit of trouble and ended up in court, and Edgar Prais QC was defending him. He had quite a presence, quite an impact upon us, although the band didn’t exist at this point. So we had the name before we even had the band.
Is he aware that you’re named after him?
He is, he’s actually got the T-shirt. It’s not like he’s a close friend of ours, but he’s been interviewed about this more than we have. We’re always reading quotes from him saying how flattered he is. His daughter Vicky’s been to a couple of our shows, she’s a lovely lady, and his other daughter actually bought him our T-shirt the other week for his Christmas.
So how did you get together, then?
Most of us have been in other bands around Aberdeen, so we just all knew each other through the local scene and started working together through that. At first it was just Kristoffer, Steven and I – we’ve only been a quintet for about six months. Adam’s also in a band called Edison, who have taken a bit of a back seat since Edgar Prais has been doing so well, and Kriss and Steven were in a band called Alyssa’s Wish – I was a fan of theirs’, that’s how I first got to know them both. Claire and I were also in a band called De Barros when we were younger, but we weren’t nearly as well-known as the others.
What was the inspiration to get you started?
Kriss hadn’t even picked up a guitar in 18 months, since the end of Alyssa’s Wish, so primarily it was just to play. And then people kind of caught on to it, which meant it became quick a commitment early on. That was alien to us, because our previous bands had taken years of real graft – before we knew it, people were actually paying to see us. Musically, Kriss is the world’s biggest Bob Dylan fan, and I’m not far behind him. Once you’re a Dylan fan everything else just doesn’t sound so good, you know? Belle and Sebastian, too, they’re another band we both love, and which helped tie us together when we were just getting to know each other.
What’s it like for a young band, being based in Aberdeen?
We were aware early on that we didn’t want to get too entrenched in the Aberdeen scene, which has kind of been the downfall of other bands we’ve been involved in - it can become very easy to stop taking things seriously and just start playing to your family and friends. The city’s been really good to us, but we didn’t want to focus on it too much, seeing as the internet makes it so much easier to become known further afield. Plus our management are very good and on the case, so we’ve toured with Kaiser Chiefs, The Pipettes, The Automatic, The Rifles, Good Shoes, The Noisettes… at least you’re guaranteed a big crowd at these shows, and then hopefully even just a handful of people at each will remember you.
Edgar Prais play the Captain’s Rest, Glasgow, Wed 10 Dec; Snafu, Aberdeen, Thu 11 Dec; Black Stairs, Wick, Fri 12 Dec; The Loft, Forres, Sat 13 Dec; Madhatters, Inverness, Sun 14 Dec; Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, Sat 27 Dec.