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Pete MacLeod and the 359 Music Manifesto

03/09/2013 13:25 BST | Updated 02/11/2013 09:12 GMT

The mission lies in the name: 359, 'one degree before revolution'. A moment before sweeping change, a time for a clean-up in a musical world populated by dead-eyed hominids all chugging desperately at the Cowell pipe looking for financial nourishment.

That is the undertaking of Alan McGee. To start again and repopulate an industry with songwriters. It's simple, and it's a plan already bearing fruit.

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But not in London. In these blighted times, the place to plot and grow is most definitely far north of Watford because London (one could argue quite vociferously) is busy shining a torch up its own fundament in search of the next Fab Four.

However - as if this requires stating at all - the new Fabs may just reside somewhere else like, you know, Liverpool.

'LA is full of people like Cowell,' says Pete MacLeod (above) - an artist recently signed to 359 - by way of stating his wariness towards London's big town flirts.

'Keep them there, because a 14-hour flight away from me isn't far enough. Doesn't take much to be an arsehole, does it?'

The shunning of Cowell has begun. He has carpet-bombed culture and smiled while doing it. His contribution to the world? A corrosive seepage into a national consciousness which has provoked revolt at a fundamental level.

'People like him should stay there, away from reality,' says MacLeod. 'That's their punishment. Let them take their greed to their graves. I can't think of anything worse than living like that.'

London also overflows with those who are damned by their own cultural impoverishment. People of taste, therefore, wait for the upturn, and only the likes of Creation Records and 359-founder McGee (below) - that is, those who stand firm in a sea of philistines - can lead the way.

'I signed with 359 Music because of Alan,' says McLeod. 'He is the only one I thought would respect and understand me. Alan is worth the effort to be friends with because he gets it. I trust him.'

Under McGee's pork pie lies a brains trust of one. What is it that McGee can do that others can't? Can he see straighter? Can he think more clearly? The answer is yes. 'Alan gives people a chance. And everyone deserves that,' says MacLeod.

Maybe it's a Scottish thing. 'I think the Scottish are passionate and that is intrinsic within my sound and lyrics. It's part of who I am. I am as genuine as any other living person and I'd like to keep it like that.'

MacLeod's new record, Rolling Stone, will be launched in Glasgow on 1 November at ABC2 and in London on 8 November at Brixton Jamm. 'I'd describe the album as a journey through the past 15 years of my life. Whatever that should sound like - with my experiences and musical influences - then this is it in 40 minutes.'

He says that marketing has always been part of the problem with music. 'The actual problem we face in the music industry is that the more established acts probably believe they own the rights to music itself, when in actual fact, the only thing these people own are their egos.

'We are all capable of tuning in,' he says. 'It really doesn't take that much effort. Music is a universal language and no one owns the rights to it.'

The arrival of 359 is something of a political move; it's a label supported by a cadre of creatives grown sick of being stifled by the artistic feudalism of mainstream London.

So does the music reflect this? 'I'm political in every walk of life,' says MacLeod, 'and that means I am fair to others in society. I am an individual. I'm a solo artist.'

In other words, he has a chance now to say what he likes, and that's true freedom when, as a songwriter, you reject the Faustian pact a major label would have you sign.

'Music is my life, ever since I could hear and move. That's the gift,' he says. 

 

When asked what he makes of the London scene, MacLeod replies 'What is it?'

It's an answer that speaks volumes. What, indeed, is this elitism which has seen a controlling coven loyal to Cowell claw its way to the top of a once great industry? Accountancy, is the answer.

 

'I am the true source of my music,' says MacLeod, 'and I mean that genuinely. Music helps me function and that's all I can say about that. I don't want to be better than anyone else, and I don't expect everyone to like me or what I do, and if I didn't believe that then I would have lost that fight a while back.'

The only logical response to a music industry made craven through its pursuit of ever-increasing profits is to enact an honesty in one's writing. 'And with patience,' continues MacLeod, '...patience and doing things organically, otherwise mistakes get made. I'm trying to make less mistakes. That outlook goes with my music and pretty much anything I do.'

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This amounts to a line being drawn in the sand, and none too soon. MacLeod, like others on the 359 roster, is proud a man, but admits that pride can get in the way. 'I'm just happy to be involved with music and to contribute. I prefer peace in my life. If you don't get to that point in your 30s, then I don't think that's a good thing.

'My sound is down to earth and so am I,' he grins. 'The good influences are my own experiences through my own journey. In terms of other musicians, then it's thousands of things from Buddy Holly and The Beatles to Nirvana and Oasis that have influenced me.

'After that I went into my own bubble and started writing myself. I write my own book now and I'm heading for more of the same. I don't want to be greedy. I just want to continue to be able to create and help others when I can.'

MacLeod and McGee, therefore, are talking up a musical revolution, and in doing so are gaining the ears of a public who long ago concluded that the music industry was populated by TV whores and bores who danced for their pennies before a Botoxed Boudica.

But they were mistaken, because the game-changing nature of 359 Music is that it has no need to play the game.

© Jason Holmes 2013 / jantholmes@yahoo.co.uk / @JasonAHolmes

For more information, visit: 359music.co.uk/petemacleod & petemacleod.net

Portrait of Pete by Stefan Duerr / stefanduerr.com

Alan McGee by Stephen Booth ℅ Flickr.com