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“Its kind of crazy and fun” – Just 2 Guys on producing their first album in lockdown

Calum Stout and Angus Townsley had their Fringe show cancelled, so they turned it into an album.

Just 2 Guys: Burgers and Fries will be released on Friday May 29.

In January Calum Stout and Angus Townsley were gearing up to fulfil a dream, they would be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Just four months later, their plans have been cancelled due to the coronavirus.

However, the pair decided to take advantage of the situation that they were in. With their show cancelled and the country in lockdown they began work on turning their fringe show into their first album.

The Fringe being cancelled was a blow for the Glasgow duo, but it was not unexpected.

“To be honest, the writing was kind of on the wall a little bit that it was probably going to have to be cancelled,” Angus said.

Calum explained how when they decided to make the album, they had no real game plan as until now, their show was the priority.

“We had a plan for the album but it was more in the background, I think we just liked performing live so much that we had decided that Fringe is what we want to do, it’s a lot of publicity and a lot of fun and we hadn’t really thought too hard about how we would go about recording an album as opposed to an EP which was just a bunch of guitars and vocals.”

Angus spoke about how they had the idea for what they wanted their album to be,

“We already knew where we wanted to go with the music so well that when it came to record it, it wasn’t too difficult to get down and get it done. So why not start the album?”

Angus Townsley (Left) and Calum Stout (Right) Credit: Just 2 Guys

Now the two had another challenge, lockdown.

Social distancing measures and lockdown brought the country to a standstill for all non-essential work, so the pair got to thinking about how they could not only make their album but how they could do it from their own homes.

They decided to try it out with one song first and would see how it worked.

“I kind of threw together a rough mix for one of our songs and then Angus threw some vocals on it and we thought, actually we might be able to do this from our bedrooms and get it to sound good,” Calum explained.

Knowing how they would do it, they got to work recording the songs from their show.

“It’s a lot of back and forth but it works out.”

The process involves a lot of back-and-forth with files, with Calum and Angus adding layers to each track until each song is complete.

Calum went through how he handles the instruments and mixing,

“So pretty much I handle the instrumental mix, the guitars, bass, and I program the drums and send that across to see if Angus has any thoughts or wants to add anything.

“He [Angus] has played guitar in a few of them as well and some kazoo of course.  Then Angus will pretty much do all the vocals.”

Angus then explained how they added the vocals.

“When it gets to the vocal stage, I’ll add throw in some “bones,”  So I’ll add in some backing vocals and send it back to Calum has the harmonies for the bones. It’s a lot of back and forth but it works out.”

The pair had to figure out how they could produce an album from their bedrooms. Credit Just 2 Guys

Lockdown does provide some difficulties but it has also proven to have some advantages for them, as Calum went on to say.

“For the instrumentals as much as I would like to have Angus there with me to make sure that the vision is right it can be quite good being by yourself to record stuff. 

“You don’t feel as if you’re judged or anything, you feel like you have time to sit and make sure you have exactly the right take. 

“You’re not under time pressure sitting by yourself for three or four hours making sure you get it perfect.  I’d say that it’s not too bad.

“I think in other circumstances it would’ve been tough.  A lot of our stuff we play by feel and kind of play off each other and kind of see where it goes but when you sit there and try and record it by yourself you need to make sure that you have exactly the same vision for the song.

  “I think there has only been one time where I have sat and done the instrumental for the song and Angus sent it back saying that its not the right length.”

“We’ve been doing a lot better than either of us expected,” Angus optimistically added.

“We’re doing a lot better than either of us expected.”

The album, titled Burgers and Fries, will feature 10 songs. Seven original songs and three remastered songs from their 2019 EP.

“It’ll probably be around 40-45 minutes.  A nice mix of genres in there as well,” Angus said.

“Yeah, it’s not all the same thing, we’ve got a bit of country, a bit of heavy rock, some punk, some classic acoustic, our laid-back style,” Calum added.

Calum describes their style of music as very “high energy.”

Angus explained it as; “playing a genre of music completely unsuited to the instrument you currently have.  Somehow combining vocals that are too hard for me to sing but also too easy.  It is a contradiction.  Just 2 Guys, a contradiction.  Apart from the fact that there are just two of us.”

“Everything else a contradiction, rock music with two acoustic guitars and a kazoo.”

“Burgers and Fries” will feature seven new songs. Credit: J2G

Their aim for the album is similar to what they wish to achieve from the Fringe show, to help gain a following.

Calum and Angus released a five song EP last year on Spotify and other platforms, but Angus believes that the album can be a good opportunity for them to get a following.

“Its just trying to get audience retention, which is a big struggle these days. Most people listen to a song and think “oh yeah I like that” and then put it down and forget about it.

“The big goal with the album is to make something that people want to listen to over and over again.  People like the EP but they’re not super-hot on it.”

The impression they get is if we send them the song or if they come across the song is “oh yeah that’s cool,” Calum agreed,

“A lot of the time they won’t go out of their way to put it on a playlist.  With the album we’re trying to have songs that sound better and sound a lot more professional, songs that you would just have on a playlist anyway.”

Calum and Angus hope that the album gets a following. Credit: J2G

All is not bad for the Burgers and Fries show, Calum and Angus’ venue manager have made it possible for them to perform at next year’s fringe, making Angus very optimistic about the future.

“Our venue and the Fringe are letting us rollover all of our money from this year for us to be able to perform next year. 

“So, we’re going to be able to take everything that we’ve worked for this year, bring it forward and get this album done in the time that we would have been preparing for the show.”

Burgers and Fries will be released on Friday May 29. Credit: J2G

The one thing that they both miss is the ability to play these songs together, some of them written in lockdown and Calum and Angus have not performed them yet.

Angus is eager to get back out there and perform these new songs.

“We can’t wait to get back out and play some of the new stuff that we haven’t had a chance to play yet.”

Producing an album while in lockdown has been an accomplishment for the both of them, and it is an experience that Calum won’t forget,

“Its exciting for me because I didn’t hear the full songs in their entirety yet and Angus would just record it on his phone, so it didn’t quite feel like I was writing the song it felt like I was just going to make a cover of this.  It’s done like that and its kind of crazy and fun.”

Just 2 Guys: Burgers and Fries will be released on Friday May 29.

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