The Delgados, although never all that big over here, were one of the best bands to emerge from Scotland's vibrant music scene in the early ‘90s.
The band mixed poppy melodies and modern rock and roll to create something infectious. And The Delgados were dedicated to the Glasgow scene, launching Chemikal Underground, a label that nurtured the sounds of Scotland, discovering Mogwai, Bis and Arab Strap, to name just a few.
The band broke up last year and singer Emma Pollock has a solo CD, "Watch the Fireworks," which arrived via 4AD Records in September. Now, Pollock is touring the U.S. and plays at The Pabst Theater on Wednesday, Oct. 17 opening for The New Pornographers.
We asked Pollock a few questions about the record and about the tour. Here's what she had to say:
OMC: The Delgados were poppy, but this record seems poppier than ever. Was that a conscious decision or a reflection of your mood or tastes?
EP: Probably a reflection of my optimism with making a fresh start. There are a few darker songs though -- "The Optimist," "Fortune" and "This Rope's Getting Tighter" -- that are more about how I was feeling immediately after The Delgados broke up.
OMC: How did you write it? Did you sit down and say I've got to write 11 songs or had you been working more slowly, over time?
EP: I had some songs already, as I tend to have ideas knock around my head all the time, but I just kept writing over 2005 until I felt ready to go into rehearsals with the band. I tried to write without any specific style in mind because that always results in more eclectic songs and arrangements. I was writing at the piano as well as the guitar a lot of the time, too.
OMC: After a decade with the band is it hard to distance yourself from it in order to focus on your own identity? Or is that not really an issue?
EP: I'm not thinking about the history too much just now. People might be surprised I don't play any Delgados songs but I feel it's important to establish brand new material right now and not rely on past songs that weren't written to be played by me alone but with me in The Delgados.
OMC: Did you feel more pressure on this record since it's got your name on it alone?
EP: Yes I do feel more pressure but I'm gradually getting used to it. Getting reviews in is hard. The highs are higher and the lows lower.
OMC: I know you didn't really come from a pop music background before you were in the band, but once you started, did you ever picture yourself out there doing it on your own?
EP: Never, to be honest. I don't take any of this for granted and only ever consider one album at a time. In fact I would go so far to say that with every album I've ever written there's been reason to consider it could be the last so I've always put a lot in to it.
OMC: What about on stage, are you comfortable as a "solo" performer?
EP: I still have a band with me so I do feel comfortable with it although I know now the focus is different. It's not so far removed though. I still had to front The Delgados with Alun (Woodward) and there was a certain responsibility there, too. I'm really loving playing live right now -- I have a great band touring with me.
OMC: What are the shows like?
EP: (It's) quite a dynamic sound but not overly complex. Only four of us on stage.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.