Free music (that you can pay for) #1: Grip Is Slipping

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, allow me to introduce DMGM: poppy rock music and rocky pop music from Scotland. Yep, it’s me and David, and we’ve been working on this stuff for ages. I mean it: some of the vocals are older than my daughter.

The embedded audio in this post is from Bandcamp, where you can buy individual tracks or the entire album for whatever price you choose (including free if you so wish, although Bandcamp only offers a limited number of downloads per month so you might need to move quickly if you want freebies). We’re on Soundcloud too, and the music should appear in your favourite streaming music service and/or MP3 download shop over the next few days.

This is the opening track, Grip is Slipping. It started off with me messing around and sticking unlikely things together – in this case, human beatboxing and pedal steel guitar (sorry to disappoint, but the beatbox isn’t me: that’s just one reason why we don’t have any plans to play live) – and turned into something quite odd. Musically we’re having quite a lot of fun here: the massed backing vocals make me think of old Hollywood musicals, the half-spoken backing vocals are a deliberate homage to Frankie Goes To Hollywood (specifically their massively underrated Liverpool album), and the bass line makes me think of an enormous elastic band. It’s a big bouncy beast of a song, sad lyrics set to a Godzilla stomp.

Get the impression I like this one?

I know I’m usually self-deprecating to the point where I’ll claim everything I’ve ever done is rubbish, but I’m really proud of these songs: David and I have worked really hard on them and put our hearts and souls into the music, and I’d be very grateful to anyone who can help get the music to more people. If you like what you hear I’d appreciate it if you could share the songs with others.

Incidentally, if anybody’s looking for instrumental music for a video they’re doing, a podcast they’re making, a radio show or whatever, I’m quite happy to get instrumental versions of the songs to you – drop me an email, gary at this website address. And I’d love to hear from anyone with visual ideas to go with the songs, because our video budget is exactly zero.

In terms of who did what, David did guitars, ebow, keyboards and computers, I did singing, guitars, bass and more computers, and the loops we used came from Apple, Beta Monkey Music and The Loop Loft. The songs are all by the two of us, with the exception of the two Kasino songs we redid: those were co-written with Chris Warden, Mark Clinton and Calum Angus MacArthur, although our versions are very, very different from the ones we did back then.

If you’d like to read our biography and a bit of background, it’s after the link. Unless you’ve come directly to this post, in which case it’s after this sentence.

DMGM are Gary and David Marshall from Glasgow, Scotland. Yes, they’re related. In DMGM they make poppy rock music and rocky pop music, influenced as much by Pet Shop Boys and Robyn as they are by Eels and Elbow. If you only listen to one album featuring human beatboxing, pedal steel guitar and a bearded Scotsman today, this one should be it.

In a previous life David and Gary were guitarist and singer for Glasgow band Kasino, who did a lot of fun things: they supported bands including Mansun (at Glasgow Barrowland, fulfilling a childhood ambition), Miles Hunt, Biffy Clyro, Cosmic Rough Riders and Dave Sharp from The Alarm, played the T-break stage at T in the Park and appeared on countless radio programmes and the odd TV show.

Kasino recorded a lot, but it was never quite how they imagined it: time was too short, budgets were too tight, stage fright was too horrible and their bandmates wouldn’t let them do the Girls Aloud covers Gary so wanted to do. As DMGM they have all the time in the world, and while they’re not quite covering Call The Shots – Gary did try, but the results were just horrible – they’re making music that combines their love of pop with their enthusiasm for making a racket.

As Gary explains: “One thing that used to frustrate me was that I really loved pop music – not in an ironic, posturing way; I have the Girls Aloud and Sugababes ticket stubs to prove it – but couldn’t play it; there’s a vibe you get from a great pop record that you can’t really reproduce with bass, drums and electric guitars, although we did try our best. We’re still using guitars in DMGM, but they’re not the focus any more: the songs are mainly electronic, guitars used as additional instruments rather than as the backbone of every song, and that’s given us a much broader palette to play with.

That’s been really liberating for us, and we’re all over the shop, genre-wise: I think you can hear the influence of Pet Shop Boys in some songs, Gerry Rafferty in others, a bit of Kraftwerk here and some sleazy 70s grooves over there. Hopefully what comes across most is that we’re really enjoying ourselves here, and we hope that’s contagious.”