Interview – John Douglas of Trashcan Sinatras + Upcoming Tour Dates

The critically-acclaimed Scotland-based Trashcan Sinatras are embarking on their most extensive U.S. tour in decades. With 30 years together, the band has over 100 songs in their creative arsenal, including their most recently released album in 2016, Wild Pendulum. The quirky, melodic pop band — featuring John Douglas, Stephen Douglas, Paul Livingston and Francis Reader — is excited about getting back on the road to perform special acoustic shows consisting of material from their vast catalog — be they fan or band favorites, deep album cuts or obscure B-sides.

Recently tHeARTofla’s Harriet Kaplan caught up with guitarist John Douglas of the Trashcan Sinatras to discuss the tour in greater detail, along with the meaning, symbolism and the lyrical inspiration that resulted in the content of Wild Pendulum, plus why the LP is their first ‘virtual record’ and much more.

HK: Would you say Wild Pendulum represents the highs and lows of the Trashcan Sinatra’s career over the past 30 years?

JD: No, I would not say that. I would say it was a new step for us — our first “virtual” record. It began and remained, right up until the recording process, a bunch of songs that never saw a rehearsal room, all written and arranged via e-mail, WAV, MP3 and 4, time stretching and key changing software. A far cry from our previous “years of rehearsal, debate and demoing” methods.

HK: What inspired that album title and lyrical content?

JD: The album title came from one of the universes, so far, unexplained phenomena. In the 1970s some East European physicists were analyzing the properties and behavior of the Pendulum. In one experiment it was noted that strange phenomenon occurred…100 pendulums of the same height, weight, etc. were put in a room and each was randomly put into action. What happened after an hour or so was startling; they all gravitated to the same pace and were eventually swinging in unison. The experiment was repeated 100 times and 97 times the same thing happened. The three remaining experiments is where the real mystery lay…99 of the pendulums behaved the same way and moved from chaotic random swinging to unison after an hour, except one wild pendulum remained swinging at its own pace. Slowly, over the next hour, the other 99 pendulums changed their rhythm to match the wild pendulum. This tale appealed as it metaphorically resonated with our wayward path, and the hope that one day others may be tempted to match our cosmic rhythm.

Regarding the lyrical content of the album — it is varied in tone and content and would be hard to sum up without reducing it. I will say that it has our usual wit, quality & depth…if that’s what your looking for.

HK: How is the band able to finance an extensive US through fans ?

JD: We take a gamble…hoping people show up in enough numbers for us to feed the horses.

HK: What kind of undertaking has that been?

JD: Like every bet, it has inherent excitement… some risk, but always a tale to tell at the end. It’s either “Someone’s gotta feed the bookies kids” or “Charlie..!! Champagne right away, I know you’ve been saving it for a holiday.. but.. ”

HK: How excited is the band touring again, especially like this, and what are you all looking forward to the most?

JD: We are all very excited to be touring in this, essentially acoustic, fashion. It’s years since we have played like this and it feels like a fresh start…traveling light with many road lessons learned.

HK: How did you decide to play only acoustically and why?

JD: We discussed how we could use our abilities more often and in a refreshing way. The acoustic route seemed appealing — busking our way through a bunch of shows with our whole catalog to choose from…a tight, mobile unit. No big entourage, no huge overheads, ditching all the pyrotechnics, make up, wardrobe, etc. and stripping it back to the guitars and voices.

HK: Will you switch up the set list every night?

JD: Yes. No two shows the same. Roll up…Roll up…

HK: Do you have particular favorites you individually want on that list and why?

JD: We will be playing songs we have rarely or never played live before — b-sides, album tracks. These are the ones I’m most excited about playing — the shunned ones. I am finding myself being quietly impressed at our way with chords and words over the years, especially true in our quirkier moments. There are one or two tunes that time has been unkind to, but, as we Scots often say, ‘Failure is the manure of success’ and I honor the part they play in our tale. I’ve been going through all of them, on my own, in the house and can’t wait to meet up with my compadres in song to spark them into full bloom.

HK: Will you take audience requests for songs and/or have fans already been clamoring?

JD: Yes…through our social media we are garnering requests for each show and we will honor them as much as we can without turning it into a request show. The bulk of the sets will be chosen by us. The stage is our kingdom. We rule.

HK: Do you think there will be a live acoustic album possibly in the works and a special video?

JD: Yes.

HK: Any plans for that?

JD: Plans are being put in place and we will have an announcement soon on how you can gamble on a pre-order.

HK: What’s next after this extensive US tour?

JD: There will be a period of reflection and hopefully we like the look of what we see. There are new songs already showing up, there are always new songs. They make the decisions, really.

Trashcan Sinatras 2017 Acoustic Tour Dates
Sept 27 Vienna, VA Jammin’ Java Tickets VIP
Sept 28 Asbury Park, NJ The Saint Tickets VIP
Sept 29 Toronto, ON House Party Tickets
Sept 30 Highland Lakes, NJ Seckler Stage Tickets VIP
Oct 1 New York, NY Joe’s Pub Tickets
Oct 3 Somerville, MA Once Ballroom Tickets VIP
Oct 4 New Haven, CT Café Nine Tickets VIP
Oct 5 Rochester, NY Record Archive Tickets VIP
Oct 8 Ferndale, MI Magic Bag Tickets VIP
Oct 9 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall Tickets VIP
Oct 11 Milwaukee, WI Shank Hall Tickets VIP
Oct 12 St. Paul, MN Amsterdam Bar & Hall Tickets VIP
Oct 14 Kansas City, MO Gospel Lounge Tickets VIP
Oct 16 Denver, CO Globe Hall Tickets VIP
Oct 17 Salt Lake City, UT Metro Tickets VIP
Oct 19 Seattle, WA Fremont Abbey Tickets VIP
Oct 20 Portland, OR Dante’s Tickets VIP
Oct 22 Sacramento, CA Harlow’s Tickets VIP
Oct 23 San Francisco, CA The Chapel Tickets VIP
Oct 24 Los Angeles, CA Largo Tickets VIP
Oct 25 Las Vegas, NV House Party Tickets
Oct 27 Houston, TX Rudyard’s Tickets VIP
Oct 28 Dallas, TX House Party Tickets
Oct 29 Austin, TX 3Ten @ ACL Tickets VIP
Oct 31 Nashville, TN Blue Bar Tickets VIP
Nov 1 Atlanta, GA Smith’s Olde Bar Tickets VIP
Nov 2 Charlotte, NC Evening Muse Tickets VIP

Full tour list + more info here

Listen to  ‘Ain’t That Something’ by Trashcan Sinatras from new record, Wild Pendulum: