2014 Artist Survey: The Vaselines Interview | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2014 Artist Survey: The Vaselines

Frances McKee on Ebola, Quirky Merchandise, the Ice Bucket Challenge, Fans, and the First Album She Bought

Jan 08, 2015 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar’s 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Ought, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman’s Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

Here are some answers from Frances McKee of The Vaselines.

Top 3 Albums of 2014

I don’t tend to buy new releases that often, as I really don’t keep “up to date” on things,

but my top three are:

1. The Pictish Trail: Secret Sounds Vol. 1 & 2

2. Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems

3. Edwyn Collins: Understated

What was the highlight of 2014 for either you personally or for the band?

I suppose finally releasing V for Vaselines.

What was the low point of 2014 for you?

I suppose releasing V for Vaselines.

What are your hopes and plans for 2015?

To earn enough money to feed my children. World peace and eternal sunshine except on days when I have to work indoors.

U2’s new album was downloaded for free into millions of users’ iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?

I think if you like music enough you will buy it, you don’t need a marketing ploy. Quite frankly, that puts me off.

Did you take part in the ice bucket challenge? If not, why not? Grimes declined due to animal testing issues, was the grief she got for that deserved?

No, I didn’t. It was for cancer research, wasn’t it? There is, in fact, a cure for cancer, but the drug industry keeps this knowledge suppressed because cancer therapy is a huge money-making machine. Cancer drugs are the antithesis of health and I would not wish to knowingly promote this vicious industry. [Editor note: It was actually for ALS, not cancer.]

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri opened up a new national dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. Do you think anything will actually change because of it?

Of course not, don’t be stupid. Nothing ever changes.

What’s your craziest theory for what happened to the missing Malaysian Air flight?

I actually think it has flown into the Bermuda Triangle or some other black hole.

Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them “hillbillies” for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

Respect? That is something you earn. It cannot be demanded. It is very annoying as a member of the audience to hear another band’s music bleed into the sound, so equally annoying if you are the artist. I say it’s unfair to name-call your audience, but what were they doing that was so bad? I’m not here to judge unless I know every detail.

“Weird Al” Yankovic was back in a big way this year. If he were to lampoon any one of your songs, which one would you want it to be? What would the “Weird Al” version’s lyrics be about?

I have no idea who this man is or what “lampoon” means.

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?

Let anyone dare criticize. I will sit on their face.

What’s the most uplifting or heartwarming fan interaction you’ve ever had?

I meet a lot of fans when I sell T-shirts. I love them all equally, especially the good-looking ones.

What’s the topic no one asks you about in interviews that you wish they would? Conversely, if you could get journalists to stop asking you one question, which would it be?

I am very interested in health and nutrition but you have already veered towards my specialist subject (see above). The one question I would like them to stop asking would be about the demise of The Vaselines.

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you’re now a successful musician?

I actually do not view myself as a successful musician! And I don’t hang onto the past. No grudges, ha ha.

What was the first album you bought and do you still enjoy listening to it now?

It was probably [Soft Cell’s] Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. Yes, I still love it.

Which subject do you wish you paid more attention to in school?


Both Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman died in 2014. Did either death deeply affect you and do you find it strange to grieve for a stranger? Which celebrity’s death in your lifetime has most affected you?

The death of Lou Reed has probably affected me the most.

What responsibility does the international community have to help the African nations dealing with the Ebola outbreak?

We have a responsibility to stop sending vaccines to these countries. There needs to be a more cohesive way of bringing sanitation and food to these communities, something that will improve health, not undermine it.

Which well-known filmmaker would you most like to direct one of your music videos?

Whoever it was that directed the Carry On films.

More and more big artists are putting out surprise albums (Thom Yorke, Beyoncé, U2) with little to no advance warning. Does this make it harder for more medium-sized artists to compete, ones who abide by more traditional announcement, promotion, and release patterns?

It is almost impossible for medium-sized artists anyway.

Given the choice, would you like to be immortal?


What was your most disastrous haircut experience?

A perm.

In which instance did you most sell out and compromise your music?

Don’t think I have.

What’s the biggest misconception your fans have about you?

That I like Eugene [bandmate Eugene Kelly].

What quirky piece of band merchandise would you most like to produce for sale to your fans?

I would like to sell the Wanky, an intimate handkerchief for those moments alone.

Do you ever long for the days before the Internet and cell phones? If so, what do you think has been the worst side effect of those technologies?

Having to answer long email interviews…

Which 2014 song most got on your nerves?

Anything by Elbow.

Do you have any other thoughts about 2014 (such as on the World Cup, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, immigration reform, the failed Scottish Independence Referendum, ISIS, Winter Olympics, celebrity nude photo hacks, etc.) or the state of the music industry?

Okay, there is no music industry. And Scottish politics will never be the same again.



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September 26th 2015

I don’t know but I definitly feel ya!!! What’s worse thuogh is AFTER Christmas and you hear a Christmas song or see Christmas stuff at the store!!! GAG ME!!!

July 14th 2016

Ann-oAbove—Eggsactly!And there is also the matter of self-censorship to ensure that you will keep getting the call to carry the water regardless how many inauthenticity holes there are in your bucket..