Interview: Lomond Campbell – 'One of the records was a swap for a bottle of whisky in a St Petersburg shady joint'
Lomond Campbell and Kwaing Creasite take off on tour with the Moon Hop DJs
Roaring day-glo sonic gospel from the twin outposts of Crail and the Highlands, Triassic Tusk is a new-sprung record imprint, wax emporium and arcane pop collective. Helmed by FOUND's flamenco-folk romeo Ziggy 'Lomond' Campbell, and far-flung disco diviner 'Whisky' Stephen Marshall – aka the Moon Hop DJs – the label has just released the superlative (and super-hot) Screamers, Bangers and Cosmic Synths compilation. Vinyl offerings from Campbell, King Creosote, The Sexual Objects, Withered Hand, Jo Foster and myriad surprises are in the works.
Little wonder Triassic Tusk's hirsute proprietors are wired (for sound). 'We recently had a launch party in Crail,' says Campbell. 'Stephen's usually a Pina Colada kind of guy, but that night he was swigging a 1976 Hine cognac straight from the bottle.' Things did not end well. 'Then the police came.'
Triassic Tusk – so-called after a line in a poem by Neu Reekie's Michael Pedersen ('Highland Koo') – came about as much by accident as design. 'It was all a bit unfocused really,' muses Campbell. 'Originally we just wanted to make a one-off compilation of the records we played at our Moon Hop nights to help promote the club. Then Stephen bought Marshmallow,' he says of The Sexual Objects' unfeasibly rare second album. [The Fire Engines' Davy Henderson and co pressed only one copy of the record, which they sold to the highest bidder on eBay – along with its recording rights.] 'Then somehow we convinced Withered Hand, King Creosote and Jo Foster to cover each others' music. Then I recorded a new album. All of a sudden we had a label.'
Their first vinyl release – Screamers, Bangers and Cosmic Synths – sold out in no time, and cries for a repress are as loud and far-reaching as the record's kaleidoscopic sounds. From kosmische psychedelia and rare African disco, to jazz freak-outs, vintage space disco and minimal electro-funk, each track is hard-to-find, obscure and brilliant – not least Steve Monite's 1984 Nigerian disco jam 'Only You', the original vinyl version of which changes hands for nigh-on two thousand pounds.
The compilation is testament to Marshall's herculean record collection, wild air miles and impeccable taste. 'I've had some of these records for 20-odd years,' he says of the tracks he licensed for the LP. 'When you're collecting records you don't always know how difficult to find they are, but you've always got to assume you'll never find them again. I've been fortunate enough to spend a fair amount of my life visiting different countries and making time to dig for records when I've been there. One of the records was a swap for a bottle of whisky in a St Petersburg shady joint. Another was found on a beach in Ghana. I found one down a side-street in Bangkok. All of them were tested on the Moon Hop dance-floor. Not all of them had folk dancing, but they seemed to want to live together.'
There are plans afoot for a seven-inch series ('Tiny Vinyls'), an album in a whisky bottle, and a pop-up club night called Porpoise Corpus (among others) – but next up, it's the gorgeous debut solo LP from Lomond Campbell, Black River Promise – all burnished-folk psalms, eddying strings and Takoma-inspired guitar mantras. It's launched this month with a Scottish tour in cahoots with the Moon Hop DJs and Kwaing Creasite (any resemblance to King Creosote is entirely intentional, for it is he).
'I started inadvertently writing Black River Promise when I moved to the Highlands a couple of years ago,' Campbell recalls. 'There was no electricity or water to begin with as the building had been dormant for seven years, so there was fuck-all to do except play acoustic guitar. I played loads of long-form, open-tuning finger picking – I mean, for days – just to amuse myself until the electricity was switched on. This turned in to songs, which I recorded fairly hastily in single takes. I let Pete Harvey [King Creosote, Modern Studies] hear them, just to give him an idea of what I was writing, and he came back to me with these amazing, spiralling string arrangements. So we just went with it.
'Musically, I was trying to make the album sound like the Highlands in autumn,' continues Campbell. 'At the time, I was working in a job where I'd be overseas for weeks on end, then come back and try to make sense of home life, before heading off again. That puts you in this perpetual no man's land state of mind. So lyrically, it's mostly about that, with loads of Highland imagery. I'm still getting used to living up here, but at least now I have a decent axe,' he shrugs. 'It's sharp as fuck.' The same could be said for Triassic Tusk.
Hug and Pint, Glasgow, 16th November; Heart of Hawick, Hawick, 17th November; Happiness Hotel, Edinburgh, 18th November; Lemon Tree, Aberdeen (also with RM Hubbert and Yip Man), 19th November; Sailing Club, St Andrews, 20th November