John McCullagh and The Escorts

On Friday, John McCullagh and The Escorts came down to The Spread Eagle to show York why they are one of the most hotly-tipped bands to break through this year. We took the opportunity to pose a few questions to John, lead guitarist Craig, bass player Chris and drummer Nick about favourite places to play, finding out who Courtney Love is, and Star Wars backing vocals.


By Graeme Smith and Kate McHugh


How would you describe your sound to anyone who hadn’t heard you before?

John: Folk rock, psych with a bit of an edge. Think along the lines of the Beetles or Hendrix.

What musicians influence you?

Nick: Craig’s into some crazy s**t!

John: For me it would be Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Nirvana.

Chris: The Beach Boys. Nick has an amazing record collection. He’s got anything you want!

John, you used to perform solo. Tell us how you got together with these guys.

John: I went into the studio with John Power of the La’s and Cast and it was really a case of people knowing someone. I’d written some band orientated stuff and needed a band-

Nick: and it was a case of getting the best people in!

You’ve supported the likes of Richard Hawley and The Enemy. Which was your favourite gig and why?

John: I really enjoyed Richard Hawley. That was quite special. Liverpool was good.

Chris: Scotland, Aberdeen. We played King Tut’s Wah-Wah Hut.

Nick: Supporting Cast in Liverpool was great. We’re supporting them again in June. This time in Cardiff.

John, you’ve also been name checked by Courtney Love, who described you as doing ‘Dylan better than Dylan’. How did that feel?

John: I wasn’t really aware of her status at the time, but have found out since. Feels pretty cool. I think Bob Dylan is the greatest.


You’ve been writing songs since you were twelve. What’s your process?

John: Good questions. I’ve been writing a lot more recently, with the acoustic guitar and a notebook. I use the dictionary a lot to find different stuff to write. I’ve also been jamming with the band for new ideas.


You’re about to release an album. Tell us about that.

John: New Born Cry, yeah, it’s coming out on May the 4th.

Chris: May the 4th be with you!


Is there a Star Wars connection?

Craig: Yeah, Jabba does some guest vocals on Angel of the North.

John: You’ve haven’t said anything so far and you come out with that! But seriously, it took a while to get the album recorded. It took some time getting everyone together. It took seven months altogether. But it’s a solid album, every track is new. There was a lot of time to work on it, but not a lot of time to practice as the studio time was strict.

Craig: It’s a good album to play live. The songs are all there.

She’s Calling Me

John McCullagh and the Escorts

Directed by Simon Daysh

Video via Youtube

John, you were signed to Alan McGee’s 359 label when you were 15. How did that feel?

John: It was pretty surreal. I left school to do it. It was a while ago now. It feels pretty indescribable but also like it was always going to happen. There was nothing at school for me so I always wanted to focus on writing and playing.

What are your plans for the future?

Chris: Carry on doing what we’re doing.

John: Do you mean tonight or longer term? Tonight we’re going to drink a few pints and roll up at the hotel at some mischievous hour. Longer term we’ve got some gigs with Cast lined up as well as festivals. We’re playing Kendal Calling. We’re also going to get back in the studio. There’s another album on the way. I’ve got a lot of songs already written. Just really looking forward to everything.


What’s your opinion of the York music scene?

John: I like the Littlemores. I’ve played with them a few times.

Nick: Who were those guys we played with tonight?


Hello Operator.

Nick: I like their style. It was a bit like a heavier version of ours.


Any last words for the fans?

John: Yeah, we’ve got lots of shows coming up, check out our social media to find out where and then get down to a gig. Listen to our album on Spotify.

Craig: But really listen to the songs first. Listen to their structure first and don’t focus on who people sound like. Expand your ears. Look left and right.


New Born Cry by John McCullagh and The Escorts will be released on Monday 4 May 2015.