Published May 27, 2013Scottish indie pop legends the Pastels have never really been known for prolific songwriting. The band, now a duo, haven't released a new studio album since 1997's Illumination. But that's all set to change on Tuesday (May 28), when Stephen McRobbie and Katrina Mitchell release their fifth full-length, Slow Summits, via Domino. Speaking with Exclaim!, McRobbie explained what took them so long.
"Annabel [Wright] leaving the group was a definite factor," he says. "In the '90s the core of the group was me, Annabel and Katrina, we had a good energy between us. Then when [Annabel] wanted to concentrate on her art, I think we probably weren't sure how to make our music at that point without her."
McRobbie says working on the 2003 soundtrack The Last Great Wilderness and 2009's Two Sunsets, a split album with Japan's Tenniscoats, revived their interest in music. In fact, the latter even probably delayed the release of Slow Summits.
"It was quite good when we got invited to do the music for The Last Great Wilderness because it got us working together," he explains. "And other people came to the floor, like Tom [Crossley] and Gerard [Love, of Teenage Fanclub]. I think if we hadn't done the split with the Tenniscoats, we would have finished Slow Summits quicker, but that took priority because we had to work on it while they were in Glasgow. Even though we've been writing film and theatre music, we should have made an album quicker, no doubt."
Further to the release of a new album, the Pastels are hoping to reissue their second and third albums, which have fallen out of print, soon.
"We are going to do both [1989's] Sittin' Pretty and [1995's] Mobile Safari," he admits. "I have most of the tapes for both, but I wanted to talk to the people who were in the group at the time to make sure that they're happy with them coming back out. I think they will come out some time next year. We'll do a nice edition. Hang on to your money."
As for playing live, McRobbie says the Pastels will also take Slow Summits on the road. However, when and where still has yet to be determined. He hopes to return to Canada.
"We're starting with a few one-off shows in Glasgow, New York, London and a few festivals," he says, "but in the autumn we'll be touring. It's possible we'll come to Toronto. It's a great city. We last played there in 1998, opening up for Yo La Tengo."