Scottish party starters Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 have announced their new album ‘The Difficult Number 2’released on 30th April digitally and on special limited-edition vinyl.
Produced by Paul Gallagher – front of house engineer for synth-pop pioneers CHVRCHES – the new album features a whole host of eclectic guests from Larry Love (Alabama 3) to Gavin Mitchell (Still Game), combining a mixture of tried and tested fan favourites with brand new tracks featuring the band’s signature singalong magic. The lead single, G.T., was championed by BBC 6 Music’s Amy Lamé, as was follow-up single Ted Dancin’ which reached No.7 in the Scottish Charts.
Big, warm and immediately uplifting, The Difficult Number 2 was born out of a love for dance music, affirming the eleven-strong outfit as joyful, genre-hopping purveyors of music to move your feet to.
It’s preceded by the EP ‘This Is Your House’ which is out today and features dance music icon Mary Kiani and Dopesick Fly frontman Ant Thomaz and a remix from Micky Modelle
We caught up with John McAlinden, aka The Colonel to hear more…
Where is the band currently based?
We’re like Neapolitan ice cream a mixture of Glasgow , North Lanarkshire and Ayrshire. People can make their own assumptions on which area we consider to be chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.
When was the full band first formed?
It was the 10-year anniversary of our first gig last year, but for a while we were a massive collective sometimes up to 20 bodies, wild but brilliant days. There were points that different people in the band hadn’t met each other until they were onstage playing a gig together. In the last 3 years we’re down to a starting 11 with a couple of subs and it’s the best we’ve sounded , but the collective chaos years were fun.
What influenced the sound of your second album, The Difficult Number 2?
Some songs I can’t pinpoint the exact influences like Ted Dancin and Peace Love & Mustard it’s more about fun happy vibes, community and dancing, but other songs have more obvious influences, part of what we do is to hop in and out of different genres. G.T. – Bowie/The Beatles/Elton John, Cross The Road – Toots and The Maytals/Madness/Road Safety, Funkier Than Funk – James Brown/Funkadelic/INXS, we were lucky 2 of our heroes agreed to sing on the album Mary Kiani who used to sing with TTF and is now based in Australia. We love our dance music , a few of us would go to every night we could in the Arches nightclub in Glasgow and the song This Is Your House name checks all the nights we loved there Colours, Inside Out, Slam, Relief, Pressure , Death Disco. The Arches was a special place. Larry Love from Alabama 3 sings on Country As Muck,(Country As Fuck if you buy the vinyl). Alabama 3 are one of the best bands of all time. Unique bringing Acid House and Country Music together, inspired and inspiring to us.
What inspired the title of the album?
We couldn’t decide on a working title, but I came out with The Difficult Number 2 to the band and they all laughed and liked it, so that stuck. As a band we focused most of our energies on being the best live act we could be and there are so many of us, it can take time to get a consensus or get everyone on board working on songs. It’s taken 7 years to bring out a 2nd album. Other bands have split up , got back together and recorded a 2nd album quicker than it’s taken us to do ours. It’s just seeing the funny side of how shit that is. Most bands 2nd album doesn’t live up to the 1st, but Garry John gaffer from our label Button Up calls it a greatest hits album because half the songs we play live and we know our audience loves them, so I think it’s been worth the wait. We’ve got enough new songs to give folk something fresh and exciting. I also like the fact the word cult is in difficult as we’ve often been accused of being one.
What’s the creative process like for a band of eleven?
Every song is different. My cousin Gary who plays bass , but started on keys then moved to guitar writes 1 classic song a year. Pretty much fully formed other than lyrics and melody and I come up with those. Cross the Road started just as a song I would sing to my kids , but then I came into jamming and the guys were playing a reggae/ska groove and it just fitted well on that. Some songs develop like Disco Colin , that we jammed then played live, but without set parts, but once we’re in the studio recording the brass will spend time working on parts and we all tend to step our game up. This is Your House and We Are The Dinosaurs were fun ones because we developed them further when in recording the album. Gal our producer has loads of amazing synths and drum machines as well as ideas, so we all enjoyed messing about with his gadgets. I write lyrics most days so it’s generally something I’ve been writing about that will make its way into a song if I’ve got a message or idea I want to convey, or just some nonsense or something I find funny that I hope comments with people. If a lyric comes with a melody normally I’m onto a winner.
When was the album recorded and how did you approach the production process?
We recorded it before lockdown over the course of about a year, just occasional weekends and days here and there. Gal who produced it, helped inspire us to try new things and up our game and take the sound to a different level. The band all had input , but by the time we had everything recorded. It would mainly be me , Gal and Disco Colin(Keyboard) sitting listening, bringing things in and out. Doing that as a 3 was a good thing as its democracy in action. My philosophy is to serve the song. If your idea isn’t the best for the song you need to put your ego to the side.
How has a band so renowned for their live shows been coping over lockdown?
We’ve all had our ups and downs , but I think we’re all in a pretty good place at the moment, we’re lucky we all have day jobs so it wasn’t as difficult for us, as other musicians and crew. There are more important things going on and we know when live music returns we’ll be part of bringing happiness to people, so we’re really looking forward to that. As a band that’s been together for a long time it’s probably been a healthy thing to have some space for a while, as we can appreciate each other and what we do collectively more. It’s not how we planned it , but you need to try and take some positives out of negatives if you can.
Where are you most excited to play live when the time comes?
Festivals, festivals , festivals. All the festivals!!! Playground , Belladrum , Party In The Park, Party at The Palace , Lindisfarne and Woodzstock.
What track off the new album are you most excited to play to a live crowd and why?
Ted Dancin’, loads of 6th Dijon have sent us videos of them dancing around their houses to it. Folk are going to go wild for it live. This Is Your House and We Are The Dinosaurs as well, just to see what happens , how the crowds react and what interaction and connection we get with them.
What does the rest of 2021 hold for the Dijon 5?
We were lucky to get some funding from Creative Scotland to do an album launch streaming gig from our spiritual home the Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom, that will go out on the 1st of May. We’re recording in the Barras Market as well as the Ballroom and parts of the building, so will be great for folk to see different bits of the Barras they’ve never seen before, with some history, comedy and usual Dijon visual explosion, because there’s no crowd we’re pulling out all the stops so it’s all singing all dancing, all kicking our own height. After that any live music at all even if that’s playing in peoples gardens.