THE story of the Trashcan Sinatras is a complicated one: the record label highs and lows, the celebrated appearances at big festivals, a duet with Carly Simon and a tour with Radiohead, as well as bankruptcy, studio closures, serious illness, the challenge of transatlantic song-writing and a peripheral rotation of essential musicians working alongside the core of a group who have been together for over 30 years. Not for nothing did their fourth album Weightlifting contain a song with the lyrics "It’s a miracle we try anything at all."

Over the years the band has amassed a compact but brilliant body of work. There were just six studio albums, including 1993's I’ve Seen Everything, which was recently voted Number 2 in The Herald's countdown of Scotland's greatest albums, and twice as many singles, with the most recent, Wild Pendulum, a still-fresh two years old.

Every one of those albums oozes tuneage, melody and the world-weary uplifting melancholy that has come to define the band. Now based between California (original members Frank Reader and Paul Livingston) and the West of Scotland (Davy Hughes and brothers John and Stephen Douglas), their songs come no longer from the ragged sessions they were involved in long ago in Irvine’s Castlepark Community Centre.

“As part of a youth project,” explains Frank, “we got together to entertain the rest of the group by banging dust bins and whistling down plastic tubes, while singing The Lady Is A Tramp. We called ourselves Trashcan Sinatras and it just sort of stuck. We’ve grown into the name – I think it reflects our punky struggles to achieve sophistication.”

Nowadays they achieve that sophistication by sending digital ideas over the ether rather than down plastic tubes. The band email fragments of tunes to one another and they’ll be chopped, changed and channelled before slowly creaking into life as an actual living and breathing song. It’s a long process, one that their dedicated fan base has grown used to. And good things come to those who wait.

“We recorded Wild Pendulum in 2015, having worked on writing it for 3-4 years before that. The album was funded by a Pledge Music campaign. Crowd-funding is probably the only way we could have made another record, and thankfully, there’s still enough interest in us out there to bump the fund up to a point where we could afford to make the kind of record we had in mind. This was the third album we’ve funded ourselves, and it feels good to be in control.

"More recently, crowd funding has allowed us to produce a live DVD and accompanying acoustic album. For bands such as us, it’s the way to go. Maybe if I’ve just watched a documentary on The Eagles or Queen I might think, 'It’d be nice to have a couple of aeroplanes…', but that wears off pretty quickly. It’s good where we are - like a halfway point between being signed to a book publisher and putting out vanity publishing. I’m not sure in which direction we’re travelling, though.”

Wild Pendulum is melodically rich but sonically unlike any other previous Trashcans’ records. As always, the clever wordplay is still there, and the tunes reveal greater things with each listen. The guitars though have grown more into their role as soundscape architects, providing aural colour rather than hooks and riffs.

“We already had a fairly well-developed idea of the kind of sound and atmosphere we wanted to create for Wild Pendulum, which is not usually how it works with us - at least not for a whole album. We’d written a lot of the songs with Simon Dine [Paul Weller’s musical director of choice in recent times] who’s been a pal for many years, and we’d put up a lot of the sonic scenery with him before shipping the wobbly set over to Omaha to Mike, who, with his tasteful sensibility, really pulled the production together.”

A three-piece Trashcan Sinatras have just finished touring the US and Canada, where they toured a set comprising solely the songs on their first two albums. They’re back in the UK as a full band in July, supporting Del Amitri around the country, including Edinburgh Castle and the Barrowlands as well as playing a few headline slots of their own. For more information, visit

Craig McAllister