In the spotlight – The Named Drivers

In the spotlight – The Named Drivers

In the spotlight – The Named Drivers: The Named Drivers, based in Edinburgh and Tranent (Scotland), have have known each other since they were children and have created music together on and off since 1995. The Named Drivers have worked together in previous bands including The Rain, Rainmaker, Rocco, Last Man Frees All, The Kings of Muscle Rock, The Sex Owls, The Car Park Attendants, The Physical Husbands, Benny Thrill, The Closh, The Main Guys and many more. Although they have been in several bands with each other over the years, this is the first time that they have recorded an album together.

So who are the Named Drivers?

Named Driver 1: Craig Higgins
Named Driver 2: Alan Grierson
Named Driver 3: Craig Arnot

Named Driver 1 also releases solo music as The Last Ghost. Named Driver 2 has released solo music under his own name. Named Driver 3 is a stalwart of several bands including Good Against Remotes, Krave and King Olive.

I spoke to Named Driver 2, Alan Grierson.

What led you to music, and what motivates you to keep making it?

“We started making music together in the mid 90s, we all are up in the same town in the East of Scotland and we all were, and still are, huge music fans and we wanted to be in a band. So we got together in a period that was amazing for music in the UK and had started to write songs and play gigs around Edinburgh. The never ending power of music and especially being creative and making your own sparks all of us and we love to do it whenever we get the opportunity to.”

What musicians have really been inspiring you all since you first started making music?

“At the start we were inspired by Oasis and some of the other bands from around the UK at that time. We are all basically self taught and they showed us all we could do it and that it was the songs and vibe that was the most important thing. We were also into some of the American bands from slightly earlier like Nirvana who showed a similar sort of punk do-it-yourself approach to music. Saying that we also loved heavier bands like Metallica.”

“As we played more we got better and wider influences with older stuff such as the Beatles, then onto Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin when we got a bit more comfortable playing. We all like lots of different music from metal, prog, soul, hip hop with far too many to mention, but we feel like the Named Drivers album is returning a bit to the roots of what we did at the beginning just focussing on good tunes, with a few decades of experience now thrown in – for better or worse!”

You have known one another since childhood and have been in several bands with each other over the years, but this is the first time that you have recorded an album together. Why did it take you so long? Have you learned anything new about each other during this process? 

“The three of us have recorded before in the studio in the 90s, as part of our five-piece band Rainmaker – we did seven songs I think and released four of them as ‘The Bolt EP’ – this was on CD at this time but some of it is on Youtube now! Recording then you had to go to the hassle of renting a studio and an engineer and get it done that way. Now its much easier with modern technology the tools that you can record at home with. We also have lots and lots of live recordings of the bands we have been in over the years, both original and cover bands – far from from professionally recorded!”

“I don’t know why it took so long to do an album this way but we are very glad we did.”

“What I think we learned about each other is that we are all still very much into making music even after years of knowing each other, there’s nothing like it.”

What do you admire most about one another as people and as musicians?

“From my point of view it’s great to have your friends who are tuned into making the same sort of music as you and almost instantly get what a song or musical element needs to enhance it and take it to the next level. Each of us is very focussed on the song and we bring out the best in each other I think when we all play or create music together.”

What was your vision for the project?

There was no particular vision other than just to get a set of great songs out there, that we are proud to stand behind. This was originally going to just be an EP or a few songs, as we were just originally working on two or three songs, but as time went on we realised both Craig H and I had enough songs for a really good sounding album. And we always thought it would be a great achievement to do an album together and get it out there, and we are really proud of it. We just want as many people as we can to have a listen to it – and being able to upload now to streaming services allows us to be heard around the world much easier than it would have been in the past.”

How did you go about writing your self-titled album? Did you write together or separately? What was the first step in your music-making process?

“As alluded to before, Craig H had a few songs that he wanted some instruments laid down on from Craig A (@basscom77) and myself. These worked out so well, we wanted to do more. We actually only recorded in person together for two day sessions in around November/December time 2022, and we finished the mixing between Craig H’s home studio and my own! It came together very quickly and I think part of that freshness is what makes it sound really alive.”

Can you touch briefly on some of the songs on the album as far as musical or lyrical inspirations?

“Personally, I find it difficult to pin down exactly where the inspiration comes from, it’s usually a tune, feeling, melody or phrase that I come up with and I go with that and flesh it out usually on guitar. Craig H may approach things slightly differently as everyone has their own process. The inspiration definitely comes from an amalgamation of all of the music I love from heavy metal to pop to country-ish sort of vibes even. Melody and feeling is most important for me and need to get the right lyrics to bring this out.”

“Lyric wise I like not to be overly direct or literal. I think the songs on the Named Drivers record are upbeat lyrically for the most part, which is quite unusual for us – so I like that!”

Where does the band name the Named Drivers come from?

“Haha, it actually is an obscure line from the UK comedy ‘I’m Alan Partridge’, which I think it would be fair to say is our favourite comedy show!”

What song would you send to someone unfamiliar with your music?

“I think ‘Without You’ gives a good indication of the album is like, or the song ‘Black Aurora’ maybe that is in the Cool Top 20 just now! So I’d say either one of those two for a start.”

What’s on the horizon? Are you planning any liveshows?

“The Named Drivers was only supposed to be a studio project so we have not planned any live shows at the moment, but as it has has grown from a few songs to an album we probably shouldn’t rule anything out! As we all played different instruments on different songs we would have to work out how to do that in a live setting though.”

“We definitely are planning on doing more recording though and Craig H already has a few more songs he has proposed for the next Named Drivers project!”

You’ve had experiences with groups as a member of bands and have done solo work too. How do the two compare, being in a band versus working solo?

“Both myself and Craig H (aka The Last Ghost @TheLastGhost3) enjoy doing solo projects, but we think that bands are always much more fun – sharing ideas, and bouncing them off each other I think works best for the benefit of the songs – its also just great to create something with your good mates.”

Can you recommend some artists in your local area that you want to give a shout out to?

“I am afraid my knowledge of the Edinburgh scene these days is quite limited, but I will say that Craig’s solo work as The Last Ghost is fantastic everyone should check that out – he has been on a songwriting roll and has made a number of albums over the last few years.”

“Also our good friend Douglas Millar’s band Deaf Mountain also put out a brilliant debut self titled album, and have played some rocking shows in Edinburgh, so again I’d encourage everyone to check them out.”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?

“Current favourite is ‘Downward Into the Dark’ by Dany Horovitz – such a inventive song structure, unique subject matter and a brilliantly uplifting melody. Also Sophie and Alex Dorsten is fantastic and definitely deserved recent stay at the top spot, I also really like ‘Honey Bee’ by the Pylons, a great song also. There are so many wonderful and diverse songs from different genres though – the playlist of the chart is a great listen. The Named Drivers are honoured to in the Cool Top 20 and would like to thank you for the support!”

What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?

“I’d like to pick ‘Only Got A Year’ by The Last Ghost. Shamelessly promoting Craig’s music here but this really is a fantastic song.”

The band members of the Named Drivers are on Twitter: @GriersonMusic, @theLastGhost3 and @basscom77.

(All photos by the Named Drivers.)