The Vaselines’ three point plan for cult success: step one, create some excellent, individual, perfectly of-its-time guitar pop music. Next, split up less than three years later, having released just one album and two EPs and created very few ripples outside your home city of Glasgow. Finally, await the public patronage of just about the biggest rock star in the world, reform to support his band in Edinburgh and watch as his label re-release your back catalogue to a global audience.
The Vaselines’ Eugene Kelly is philosophical about the fact they’ve been touted pretty much since their 1989 split as ‘Kurt Cobain’s favourite band’. ‘We can’t avoid that,’ he says. ‘If it wasn’t for him we’d be just another group who disappeared into obscurity.’ Instead, the link kept their reputation bubbling, even as Kelly went on to front Eugenius/Captain America and begin a solo career, and his partner in the band Frances McKee formed Suckle. At the time any thought of a reformation wasn’t so easy, given that the pair also went out with each other while they were in the Vaselines. ‘But we’d have to meet up to deal with record company things every so often,’ says Kelly, ‘and we would still get on well.’
Now, at long last, their cheekily-titled second album Sex With an X has appeared on Sub Pop, and it’s a complete success in that it sounds just like the Vaselines. This tour in support of it isn’t just an afterthought, with Belle and Sebastian guitarists Bob Kildea and Stevie Jackson and 1990s drummer Michael McGaughrin in the live band, Kelly pointing out ‘we want to at least try and impress.’ And if it goes well? ‘We’re booked up to around the end of the year, and after that ... well, let’s see how it goes.’
Bongo Club, Edinburgh, Wed 15 Sep; Oran Mor, Glasgow, Fri 24 Sep.