A Conversation With Golden Grrrls’ Ruari MacLean

It’s been a wild year for Golden Grrrls. The Glasgow/London-based outfit released a romping self-titled debut album via Slumberland Records (U.S.) and Night School (UK), toured Stateside for the first time (a feat they never thought they’d achieve), and filmed a music video for the album’s single, “Take Your Time.” 

What began as a bedroom guitar experiment has become larger than founder Ruari MacLean could ever imagine, and with every passing day the band is receiving more attention. The guitarist/vocalist was nice enough to chat with me about signing a record deal, the surreal feeling of finally touring the States, and what Glasgow bands we should have on our radar.

Katrina Nattress: This project began as a bedroom guitar experiment. How did it develop into a fully formed band?

Ruari MacLean: Our friends in Glasgow used to put on cool DIY shows. They heard some recordings and asked if we’d play. The band didn’t exist at that point – Eilidh and I started playing together just to do that show really.

KN: Did you all play in bands before Golden Grrrls?

RM: Yeah we’ve played in bands of various types for a number of years – Eilidh and I in Glasgow and Rachel in London. We met Rachel through playing with another of her bands, Trash Kit, and asked her to play with us when our previous guitar player Lorna left the band to move away from the UK.

KN: All three of you share vocal duties and each instrument plays a prominent role in your songs. Is there a primary songwriter or is it more collaborative?

RM: It’s collaborative. We’re not a jam band or anything but everyone is free to make their own call on what they want to play on each song.

KN: Take me through your writing/recording process.

RM: We live in different cities, so that can make things more challenging. Usually Rachel and I work on ideas together as we both live in London, then we all meet up, practice, and work on vocals together. We try and record live as much as possible and, I guess as a result of becoming a little more confident, have tried to experiment with ideas when we’ve actually gone in to record.

KN: You recently released your debut album on Slumberland Records, which is one of my favorite labels. What made you decide to sign with them?

RM: I was pretty much sorted out between Mike at Slumberland and Michael who runs our UK label Night School. They’d been in contact about a split 7″ we did with Sea Lions, who are also on Slumberland. Michael sent Mike the record when we’d finished it and he offered to put it out in the US which was amazing. We’re all really proud to be on the label!

KN: How does it feel to have a full-length album under your belts?

RM: Yeah its been really good, we didn’t really know what to expect and having it come out on Slumberland meant that probably a lot more people heard it than we initially expected when we were recording it. We’ve done a couple of tours since the record came out and it’s all been really fun. Getting to tour in the U.S. was amazing, something I never thought we’d get to do. That’s definitely been my highlight.


KN: You’re from Glasgow—a city with a booming music scene—what are some up-and-coming bands we should have on our radar?


RM: There’s some great bands in Glasgow at the moment. Some of my favorites are Aggi Doom, Palms, Divorce, Flo and Spicey, Muscles of Joy and Sacred Paws, which is another band that Eilidh and Rachel play together in.

KN: Who are some of your musical heroes?


RM: That’s a hard question to answer, I don’t really know if I’m totally comfortable with the whole ‘hero worship’ thing to be honest [laughs], but I feel inspired by Stirling Morrison, Arthur Russell, Neil Young, The Feelies, Chris Knox, Tom Petty, The Clean, and loads more beyond that.

KN: What’s next for Golden Grrrls?


RM: Hopefully record over the summer, then more touring in the autumn, hopefully in some exciting places we’ve never been to before!


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