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  • Ru Pearson

“Fred Perry has tagged you in a post”: Meet The Era, the Glasgow-based Band Making the Celtic Harp Cool

Making their stage debut at a sold out show on the iconic 100 Club stage, The Era are not messing about. Clean-cut and quietly confident, this new music duo are subverting expectations with their new take on the traditional Celtic clarsach.

Picture this: You walk out onto the stage at the 100 club, Oxford Street’s legendary underground gig spot. Friends, family, and fans fill the floor expectantly. Sweat drips from the ceiling and smoke machines hiss in quiet anticipation. Every inch of wall space is adorned with stickers, posters, and graffiti; it’s a mess of paper artefacts, a patchwork sanctum to a host of iconic bands that came before you. The crowd, a sea of bodies in band merch, is positively buzzing with the collective knowledge that something big is about to happen. Except it’s your first show… ever. And you’re opening the night. 

“It still sort of feels like it didn’t happen, or like it was a dream. The adrenaline just takes over. One minute you’re on stage the next you’re not.” - Cal


This scene – the stuff of stress dreams and nightmares for most of us – was a lived reality for The Era, an exciting new band on the Glasgow scene, when they supported Glaswegian brothers-(and sister)-in-arms, Vlure, at the tail end of last year. Not many bands can say their first gig was on a stage graced by the likes of The Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Clash, and The Who. “Playing the 100 Club came about totally by chance,” Lochlann tells me. “We share a studio with Vlure and they asked us to join the bill. We just had to use what tunes we had and make a set out of them; it gave us a good deadline for our first gig.” 

The show, one of a string of gigs curated by the venue and supported by Fred Perry, was a special moment for Lochlann and Cal, not least because of the venue’s legendary status. Fred Perry, a cornerstone of British subculture, is also a brand close to The Era’s heart: 


“When I checked my phone after the set, I had an Instagram notification saying: ‘Fred Perry has tagged you in a post’. I was screaming. Between the ages of 14 and 19 I don’t think I left the house without a Fred Perry shirt on. I work in the Glasgow store now, too.” – Lochlann


After playing to a packed out room, this moment of recognition made sure that the night was one to remember for this up-and-coming band. 

Clad in leather and the signature Fred Perry polos, the pair looked every bit the rock band, a label they sit comfortably with: “we don’t fit too firmly into one genre, which I think is a good thing, but we see ourselves as a rock band” Lochlann tells me. The pair don’t shy away from their pop-influences, though: “Charli XCX has sooo many bangers” Cal laughs. Nevertheless, The Era have a solid U.S.P. that sets them firmly aside from anyone else on the scene because with them on stage, holding an imposing presence, stands Lochlann’s clarsach – a traditional Celtic harp. 


Seeing a harp on stage before an underground punk gig is the last thing you might expect. “To be honest, when Lochlann first approached me to start a band and he told me he played the harp, I was a bit unsure! I thought it sounded mad” Cal recalls. However, when plugged into a pedal board with plenty of atmospheric distortion and delay, the instrument’s soft, angelic shimmers are transformed, resulting in a dark, moody reverberation that fills the room and demands an audience’s attention. “You have to hear it to understand it,” Lochlann tells me, “I had to convince Cal that what I do with it actually sounds cool. I knew that we both liked the same sort of music, so I told him: ‘you just have to trust me.’” When I asked Lochlann how he got started playing such an unusual instrument, he laughed. “It’s quite a funny story, actually” he says: 


“Where I grew up, there’s a lot of Gaelic schools and Gaelic music festivals. My harp teacher did a function at my school when I was 7. We all went and watched her play and when she gave out flyers, me and my best mate were egging each other on to sign up for a joke. We were like ‘this will be hilarious, man. Imagine the pair of us playin’ the harp, this is brilliant craic!’ I took the flyer home to my mum, fully convinced that my mate was gonna sign up too, but he never did. Thirteen years later and I’m still doing it. So, what started out as a joke has very seriously turned into what I want to do as a career. It really happened by accident.” - Lochlann


The pair met in similarly fortuitous circumstances, brought together “by fate” as Cal suggests, through Glasgow’s abundant creative network: “In Glasgow, there’s a few different pockets of bands and everyone knows each other. It’s all really friendly; we all respect what each other is doing.” After meeting at a gig, the pair soon got to work on the project, which has been in the works for the best part of a year. According to Lochlann, “the first three months were spent just going to the pub together. I think it’s really important to have a good relationship before you even dare to start writing.” Fast-forward to now, when the pub trips have since developed into dedicated writing sessions and studio time, and The Era is a burgeoning project with real promise: “there’s a whole back catalogue” laughs Lochlann. “There’s a load of shite but we do have five or six solid, useable demos. It took us a wee while to find our sound but once we got it, it all started to come a bit easier” Cal adds. 

With no music yet released and very little about them anywhere online, The Era occupy a mysterious space in the contemporary Scottish soundscape. But, inspired by an eclectic range of artists – from Yves Tumor and Sky Ferreira to The Kills and The Jesus and Mary Chain – they are breaking new ground in the underground scene. Entering the new year with the hype of the 100 Club show behind them, The Era are just getting started. “We’re gonna keep our eyes peeled for some more support slots,” Cal tells me. “We want to get into the studio and record this year, too,” Lochlann adds.

When I ask them if they have any final words, they respond with a simple but compelling mandate: “Keep an eye on us. It’s gonna be great.” 


 Follow The Era on Instagram here.


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