What are the names of everyone in the band?Be Like Pablo is Ewen Watson (vocals/guitar), Ross Watson (guitar/vocals), Jamie Murphy (bass, vocals), Karen Johnston (keys, vocals) and Andrew Stepien (drums).
How did you come up with the name BeLike Pablo?
A few years ago, we befriended a really nice guy from Chile called Pablo. He was super positive, full of energy and embraced Scottish culture for the short time he was here. Naturally, we feel that everyone should be like him which is where the name came from.
How would you describe your genre of music?
We describe ourselves as powerpop as we make pop music with big choruses, four-part harmonies, gritty guitars and fuzzy synths – which are key ingredients of this genre. Many of our influences have been described as powerpop for the same reasons.
Give us a little bio about you.
We’ re a band from the north of Scotland. If we didn’t sing in our own accents, you might not think we were from Scotland as our music has a West Coast US sound. We’ ve been together for 6 years and released our debut album The New Adventures in 2013. After a few years away, we return with a new single There She Is.
Are you a signed?
We’ ve worked with indie labels previously but our forthcoming singles will be self -released with the help of our publisher Raygun Music. We would definitely entertain the idea of working with a label again but are enjoying the flexibility of self-releasing right now.
You’re set to release your new single There She is. Could you tell us what the song is about?
The song is about a high school crush who, years later, has become the most famous person in the world. She’ s on every billboard and magazine cover and everybody’ s in love with her. But the narrator doesn’ t care about any of that and just wants to know if she’ s still the same girl from back home.
You also released a video. What was the best part of the video process?
Working on this video was such a positive experience in general but my favourite part was seeing the video once all the visual effects had been added. Through being involved in the planning stages, I had a picture in my head of what the final video would look like. But the production team knocked it out of the park and exceeded all expectations. Seeing all the billboards and magazines come to life was a great moment for me.
What was the writing process like?
There She Is was actually a really straight forward song to write. I wrote it after returning home from a UK tour a couple of years ago. I tried to write a Roy Orbison-style chorus, added in a 90s college-rock verse and it all came together quickly from there. Sometimes it can take me ages to write but, because I had a strong idea, this song arrived close to fully-formed.
What was the recording like for There She Is?
We recorded the song in a studio called Start Together in Belfast with one of our favourite producers Rocky O’ Reilly. We’ re fans of many of the records Rocky has worked on previously – particularly those by Oppenheimer and Wonder Villains. We contacted him and it turned out that he really wanted to work with us too so it was an ideal fit. We spent about a week recording four songs with Rocky and were delighted with the results. He captured the energy of our songs and performance so the recordings sound bright and upbeat.
Describe There She Is in three words!
There. She. Is. In all seriousness, I’ d go with: Supercharged retro powerpop.
Did you collaborate with anyone on the single?
On this occasion, it’ s just us on the track but, as is typical for us, the arrangement and recording process was very collaborative.
Will we see an EP or album coming soon?
Our current plan is to release a series of singles with accompanying music videos this year and into next. If things go well, we’ ll either continue to release singles with videos or release an EP or album.
I’ m a big fan of music videos and think that a single can be a very effective way for a band to reach a wider audience. We’ ve released an album previously but for now I’ d like to focus on individual songs rather than think about a bigger puzzle. But we’ ll see how it goes!
Do you have any gigs or festivals planned?
We have a series of single launch gigs planned in Scotland including dates in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. I’ ve always thought that festivals are the best place for our summer sound and have loved playing UK festivals in the past. We’ re definitely looking to play more festival dates going forward.
What made you go into music?
I’ ve always been into music and was brought up on a healthy diet of classic pop and Motown. I enjoyed Britpop and alternative in the 90s but when I heard The Blue Album by Weezer, I realised that there was a place for normal people like me in the world of guitar music. I really related to that album – and the follow-up Pinkerton – and it inspired me to play in a band. My older brother (and fellow Be Like Pablo member) Ross played in bands from a young age and helped me to learn guitar and write music. Playing in a band together was a natural progression.
What are your favourite instruments to play?
I love singing – especially in harmony with others. I enjoy playing Moog synthesizers at home, in the studio and, to an extent, live. I enjoy experimenting with the sounds you can make with old synths and keyboards.
Who are your musical influences?
Most of our influences are either classic pop or 90s/early 2000s alternative. So the likes of The Beach Boys, The Cars and Elvis Costello are all really influential to us as well as Ben Kweller, Ash and The Fountains of Wayne. I love songs with classic structures, big hooks and lots of personality. The music we like isn’ t in the mainstream these days so a powerpop resurgence would be helpful!
What was your inspiration to write music?
I’ ve always been a creative person. I read a lot and have always paid close attention to the writing process for songs, films, TV shows and video games. Writing music was an extension of that. Very soon after starting to listen to music, I began to deconstruct my favourite songs to find out what made them good. I then used what I had learned to write my own songs. I usually write songs about my own experiences and feelings and try to place myself in fictional scenarios to create strong narratives.
Where do you see yourself in 5 Years?
I’ d like to still be making music that we enjoy and that other people do too. I’ d like Be Like Pablo to be more established, certainly in Scotland, with further releases under our belt.
When you’re not involved with music, what do you like to do?
Each band member has different hobbies although it would be fair to say that we’ re all pop culture junkies. There’ s a contingent who play video games. Andrew and Jamie play Xbox and Playstation games but I’ m more into retro games. I mainly like Nintendo games like Super Mario and Zelda as well as old Lucasarts point ‘ n’ click adventure games like Monkey Island and Grim Fandango. I do like new games too though: Dishonored 2 was a game I played recently which was excellent.
What would be your dream venue to play in your hometown?
Our hometown, Forres, is really small. Like TINY. Saying that, there are a few venues there but I think we’ ve played them all. It would be great to play on the roof of a building in Forres or on top of Nelson’ s Tower, a historical monument in the town.
If you could collaborate with one UK artist or band who would it be?
Jeff Lynne of ELO or Graham Coxon from Blur. Maybe we could start a band.
If you could collaborate with one US artist or band who would it be?
Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. If I could travel in time, I’ d like to sing with the original Beach Boys line-up. Their harmonies were so rich and wonderfully arranged. But working on music with Brian Wilson would be a dream. He’ s written some of the best pop music ever.
What song made you want to go into music?
I remember playing a video game when I was in my teens and the TV was on in the background. The music video for Undone (The Sweater Song) by Weezer came on. It instantly caught my attention and when the second chorus kicked in with all the cool vocal parts, I paused the game as I had to watch. I saw a band that I instantly related to and I knew I wanted to be in a band. I also need to acknowledge the album 1977 by Ash which was the first album that was really important to me.I also remember hearing a song called I’ll See You Around by Silver Sun when I was young but I was unable to locate a copy at the time. Several years later (by which point the Internet was a thing), I tracked down the song and was surprised at how closely it resembled my own style. So that song clearly had an influence.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
Play to your strengths but work relentlessly to improve anything that’ s holding you back.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry, just as an artist?
Avoid copying what’ s popular and stick to your guns. Make the kind of music you like to listen to but make sure it’ s stamped with your personality as much as possible. Character is hugely important. There’ s so much music out there so you need to stand out and make people remember you.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
“You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.” – Rocky Balboa
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
1) Be polite and considerate to sound engineers.
2) Be kind and helpful to the other bands playing.
3) Plectrums. 5) Gig days can be busy and stressful so it’ s important to enjoy the performance once you’ re on stage.
4) Regardless of the circumstances, put on a good show.
When you get home from a tour…
1. Where is the first place you go?
Bed. For a few days.
2/. Who is the first person you see?
My parents most likely.
3/. What is the first thing you eat?
Anything home cooked. Home cooked food is a rarity when playing gigs and touring.
Do you have any social media accounts so your fans can follow you?