Six Glasgow musicians filtering their obsessions into collective frenzy
A driver stands totally naked with a shirt on his head and trousers around his ankles, two brothers wrestle on a plush red velvet sofa with one strangling the other, a bemused venue steward stands beside them looking dead at the camera, whilst others around them present a variety of looks amongst discarded wine glasses. “Yeah, that is a problematic photo,” says Golden Teacher’s Sam Bellacosa of a particularly drunken evening at the end of a tour in the Champagne region of France. “Maybe it’s a little too tongue in cheek.”
Aside from looking like some sort of LSD-induced nativity scene gone wrong, this backstage photo in circulation of the group somehow feels emblematic of the group as a whole: busy, chaotic, fun, animated and intriguing. Golden Teacher have been making some of the most heady, immersive and eclectic dance music to come out of Scotland in recent years. They are a six-piece group that dance around genres seamlessly, hurling out ESG-like disco-tinged grooves one minute, agitated no wave the next. Then there’re nods to industrial or house music, winks to dub and dancehall, always under the full embrace of jilted rhythms and complete experimentation.
Having released a series of 12”s and EPs on labels such as Optimo over the years, the group finally just released their debut LP, ‘No Luscious Life’, one of 2017’s true underground gems. Catching up with Bellacosa in Glasgow, the group haven’t even had time to let the release of the album sink in because they have been split between other projects and stretched out across different continents. They also consists of brothers Laurie and Oliver Pitt, Cassie Oji, Charles Lavenac and Richard McMaster, who between them all are in enough different bands and projects to fill their own festival line-up. Such projects include L.A.P.S, Silk Cut and Blue Sabbath Black Fiji. “In an ideal world we’d be touring this record right now,” Bellacosa says, “but we’d have to work an enormous amount to get into the tight grooves of that record – to get back into the collective frenzy of that moment.”
The collective frenzy that makes up the record, and indeed the band, is one that comes from funnelling a huge amount into it. The group are voracious consumers of music and this is very much a head band. “We’re into music in various ways,” Bellacosa tells me. “Be it collectorship, scholarship or creating and authorship – in all senses we’re obsessed with music. It’s about music for posterity, getting as much out there as possible.”
What gives the group this sense of idiosyncrasy is the smashing together of ideas, and of styles and of amorphous roles. “I was drawn to how zealous everybody is with what they do,” Bellacosa says of the group’s ability to move around. “A lot of what the band was about was each member really trying to formalise what their role was rather than what their instrument was. It was less what do you play in the band and more about what am I as a musician, and I think for the six of us it was about having the belief in being able to call yourself a musician and not necessarily be an instrumentalist in any way. That’s a very punk approach, I guess, but that term has become a little Xeroxed now. The whole thing is about a wolfish abandon. Like a pack of wild animals loaded with abandon and improvisation. I’ve now come to know these guys as not just people but unique geniuses and I say that as someone who has a bit of a bugbear about the term unique.”