Retro Video Club


Emerging from the ashes of various bands in the Edinburgh music scene, Retro Video Club first started jamming together in 2015. They did what comes naturally to every fledging band; played a handful of small shows, recorded their first EP and believed that success might just happen overnight. “What’s funny is we thought we were taking the band really seriously,” starts vocalist Liam Allison. “But we were being dead naïve.” After taking some time away to refine their sound, the group released their first proper single in 2017. ‘Psycho’, a rough-and-rowdy slice of indie rock, was instantly picked up and playlisted by Spotify. A week later Retro Video Club (Kieran Burt, Sam McGil, Michael Ward and Liam Allison) played a hometown headline show at the Mash House. The four-piece sold every one of those 200 tickets in advance (something that “just doesn’t happen”) and it was obvious things were starting to change. “It became very apparent that people outside our social circle were listening to our songs. We realised this could be something other than another Edinburgh band. It could go somewhere.” Before that gig, “no one wanted to book us,” explains Liam. The band put up the cash themselves to hire The Mash House and even made their own posters, putting them up all over Edinburgh. “We forged our own path because we had to. It was totally self-sufficient.” They might have stopped going door to door but to this day, the band are just as involved in every decision. Buoyed by the possibility of success, Retro Video Club booked a show at Liquid Rooms, a venue three times bigger than anything they’d done before. “It was a risk, but we sold out that show as well.” A week before they dropped the fuzzy rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Chemistry’ and they just kept levelling up. The 1000 capacity Assembly Rooms and Glasgow’s St Luke’s were quickly crossed off their to-do list alongside more rumbling indie anthems that proved impossible to ignore. Despite this rapid rise through the ranks of Scottish venues, Retro Video Club never felt out of their depth. That same confidence carried them from their first London show as part of a three-way headline show at Bermondsey Social Club to their second, supporting The Hunna at Brixton Academy. “I thought if people heard the songs, they'd get it,” starts Liam. “I don’t want to sound disingenuous by saying I’m surprised by our success, because I wasn’t. I always thought it could happen.” 2019 was the best year yet for the band, and they really started to find their feet. Festivals, support slots and European shows came in thick and fast, and they closed out the year playing to 1000 people at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms. A show at Glasgow’s SWG3 was announced for March 2020, alongside their first headline tour of England. Like most bright young things, COVID stalled Retro Video Club’s momentum but never ones to be defeated, the band turned their attention from stage to studio. “The uncertainty was terrifying” but they quickly adapted. As it stands, they’ve got a year's worth of music ready to go. While earlier material was inspired by Green Day (“The reason I picked up a guitar was because of ‘American Idiot”) The Enemy, The Strokes and early Arctic Monkeys, “the new material is less confined by being a four-piece band. We've held back less,” continues Michael who explains how Retro Video Club “are not just trying to sound like a rock band.” “The lines have been blurred in terms of what a band needs to be. The 1975 have spearheaded that,” starts Liam who listens “to so many styles of music” and believes “you really don’t need to pigeonhole yourself”. He references Kraftwerk, Bruce Springsteen and Cher in the space of a few minutes while the rest of the band make nods to The Killers, Gang of Youths and stadium rock as a whole. “We're just freer and the songs are more interesting because of it. I've always stressed we write pop songs and just dress them up as an indie rock outfit.” All that freedom can be felt across Retro Video Club’s new material. The incendiary ‘Checkmate’ was written after Liam bumped into someone he went to school with and realised “what the fuck are we supposed to talk about now.” The track is about “how things you could relate to back then have no substance now”. Elsewhere, epic stadium rager ‘Cloud Nine’ is “everything you want to say to somebody you don’t speak to anymore” while the emotional ‘Save Me’ was inspired by a friend who was struggling to keep his life on track amidst battles with mental health. "The song is that cry for help.” “I grew up listening to bands that were expressing stories about people like me. I've always wanted to do that as well,” starts Liam. When he gets asked ‘what kind of band are Retro Video Club?’’ his answer is “Well, I just want to tell stories about folk like us. I just want to be a voice for people really.” Believing that bands like Oasis were the common people’s band, Liam “always wanted our music to be that sort of beacon. I want our listeners to know we're all in the same boat here and we’ve been through the same things.” Like a lot of bands from Scotland, there’s pride about where Retro Video Club have come from. Thanks to the success of their fellow countrymen, there’s a confidence about just how far this band can go. They supported The Snuts (a mainstay of Radio 1 and with a recent Number One Album to their name) at their first ever headline show while just a few years ago Kieran was in the audience to watch Lewis Capaldi play to a hundred people in Edinburgh. Now he’s selling out Wembley Arena. “You don’t expect to hear Scottish voices at those places so when you do, it gives you even more belief.” For years Liam was told not to sing in his native accent. No one would like it, he was promised. “Clearly some people do,” he smiles today. When they first started the band, the four friends would tell each other that “if we could just get onstage at Barrowland Ballrooms, it’ll be the best thing in the world.” That dream came true in 2019, when they supported indie legends The Libertines. And what a show it was. During their set, Retro Video Club had the crowd singing every word, climbing on each other’s shoulders and generally ‘aving it. Instead of reflecting on the childhood dream coming true though, “It made you go, this should be our headline show,” grins Kieran. A great live show is something Retro Video Club have always strived for. Every time they walk on stage, they know they’re going up against whoever else their crowd may be seeing that weekend. They’ve funnelled any cash they’ve ever made back into the live experience, always wanting to create more of a spectacle. “We've always thought about how we can fill a stage, so when we get the opportunity to play them, it feels right. I never feel like an imposter. It feels like we belong.” And with these new songs, Retro Video Club finally sound like a band equipped to play the biggest of stages. “We were aiming for the sky, production wise. We've always been proud of our live show and we really do want as much of that to come across in the recording as possible. When you’re writing songs, part of you is always thinking ‘this bit will be so good live’.” With even more to come later this year, the band are determined to push things as far as possible. Instead of celebrating every triumph, Retro Video Club have always been focused on how to do better. How to achieve more. How to reach more people. This new chapter of the band sees them less talk, more action. They know things are only just getting started though. “Unless you want to be frustrated forever, don't join a band,” warns Michael as Liam explains that “irrespective of where we want this band to go, it will never be enough. If we end up playing Wembley Stadium, I’ll be thinking ‘this is great but can we do two nights?’ It’s never going to be enough...but that’s how it has to be.”