THERE has always been more to the BMX Bandits than just sunshine.
“I bumped into a guy last year who introduced himself by saying ‘I once threw a pint glass at you in Aberdeen in the 80s’,” recalls Duglas T Stewart, the band’s central figure.
“He said that he felt a bit bad about it now but he was just so confused at seeing us that he didn’t know what to do. There’s something quite nice about how we get such a warm feeling from people nowadays. It wasn’t like we were controversial back then, we just didn’t act like macho men or hedonistic rockers, and I had the punk rock thing of liking that people felt threatened by us.”
Duglas and the many, many others who have formed part of the Bandits over the years have always kept that outsider element, even as they became well known faces in Scottish indie music.
Their latest release, BMX Bandits Forever, has both a defiant title and typically charming guitar pop tunes, along with a few varied covers, of the Beach Boys, Scottish singing sisters the McKinleys and a take on Somewhere, from the musical West Side Story.
It is also an album some fans of the band doubted would appear. Two years ago Duglas spoke about mental health issues he was having, including self-harm. All of that has been poured into the new record, with a darkness underneath the melodies.
The singer is, however, in fine spirits when we talk.
“I’m really good at the moment,” he says.
“One has to be realistic – I’m in a delightful place partly because we have this record that sounds beautiful. We came through some difficult times and there’s a feeling of ‘we made it, we’re still alive!’ I’m very fortunate compared to some people, because a lot of my mental health issues are very influenced by what’s going on around me.
“Some people, no matter how many blessings are going on around them, will have the same ongoing struggles but I’m quite fortunate that when all is right in my world I can be a happy soul.”
Over the years the Bandits roster has changed and varied. Some have left, some have returned to the fold, and Duglas is always at the centre, even though he no longer lives inBellshill, the area that was associated with the group for so many years, instead living in the South Side.
His love of un-distilled pop music remains. Currently his main collaborators include Stuart Kidd and Chloe Philip, of the band TeenCanteen, and they worked quickly on recording songs, trying to capture as much emotion as possible.
“I’ve always liked stories in cinema where people go on a journey through darkness and into the light, like Night of the Hunter or the Wizard of Oz,” says Duglas.
“These characters are often children and I’ve always got a childlike nature to me too, so it’s about as long as they keep moving forward then no matter how much the forces of darkness try to get them then they’ll make it to the other end. This record felt a bit like that. It’s about getting support and love from people, who helped me make this, and then coming out the other side.”
The band will bring the album to St Luke’s on Saturday night, along with plenty of old favourites. Support on the night comes from emerging Glasgow group Spinning Coin, something that won’t surprise anyone who knows Duglas, as he regularly champions new local music.
“It’s funny, because I’ll bump into people from the same era as me and they’ll say ‘ah, there’s nothing exciting out there’,” he says.
“I’m like, are you crazy, have you lost your ears? There’s as much great music coming out of the Glasgow scene as there’s ever been – there’s Spinning Coin, Happy Meals, Honey and Herbs and Sacred Paws. I just think this is an amazing time for bands in Glasgow.”
Being seen as an elder statesman on the local scene, however, is something he blanches at.
“It’s strange, because in many ways I still feel like I’m a kid. I feel like I’m quite good at what I do, but I still don’t understand how music works so it’s all playful to me. It doesn’t matter if we bring out a Eurodisco track and it flops and everyone laughs at it, because with BMX Bandits we have the freedom to do whatever we want to do.”
BMX Bandits, St Luke’s, Saturday, £16, 7pm