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“We’re not used to this,” moans Scott Paterson, singer-guitarist of the Glaswegian post-punk band Sons and Daughters as he and his bandmates — lead singer Adele Bethel, bassist Ailidh Lennon and drummer David Gow — try to find some shade in the 90-degree heat of Austin, Tex., during a break between interviews at the South by Southwest music festival.
Blazing sun aside, the band was happy to be back in Texas — the last time was in 2004 when they were an unsigned group making records with funding from the Scottish Arts Council. Now, with their third album out, “This Gift” (Domino Records), Sons and Daughters is about to launch an East Coast tour, appearing in New York Friday night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and Saturday at Bowery Ballroom. “We’ve played New York more times than we’ve played Glasgow,” says Bethel, swigging a midday beer as she sits in the Austin Convention Center. “We’ve been really, really lucky — it’s been one of our best places to perform.”
This story first appeared in the March 20, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
LOCK IN: For this album, the band rented a house in isolated Adfern, Scotland, where they wrote and practiced for eight hours a day, taking breaks by teaching themselves to play Texas Hold ‘Em. “There was nothing to do. There was one bar in the whole village, but it was a bit scary so we didn’t go down there,” says Bethel, whose lyrics are conjured by inspirations as diverse as Blondie, the Julie Christie movie “Darling,” and poems by Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson.
FLASHBACK: The band didn’t always have the heavily stylized retro look that is its hallmark now. “When the band first started, Ailidh and I were quite shy, wearing jeans and jumpers,” says Bethel, who now sports raven hair and thick black eyeliner. “It was gradual. We are really influenced by Sixties culture, so it’s lots of false eyelashes and minidresses.” She’s grown into a full-fledged fashion fan, with packing habits to match. “I can get into my own suitcase, it’s so big,” says Bethel. “It’s a two-man lift,” says Gow, shaking his head. “Adele tried to lift it once and threw her back out, I’m not joking, so it’s just the guys now,” adds Paterson, who is also Bethel’s longtime boyfriend.
MEN’S WEAR: “We roll out of bed looking like this,” Gow jokes of the band’s style. He normally pairs suspenders with appropriately shrunken girls’ jeans from British high street brand New Look, while Paterson favors vintage cowboy boots and black Lee jeans. Both borrowed clothes from Dior Homme after befriending Hedi Slimane through fellow Scottish group Franz Ferdinand, though they didn’t know who he was at first.
FRONT ROW: The band was invited to their first fashion show recently by Luella Bartley, whose husband, David Sims, once shot the group for French Vogue. But like many a frazzled editor, they got stuck in traffic. “We ended up missing the show,” wails Bethel. “We learned — it’s over really quickly!”
ON THEIR OWN: No one in the group loves working with stylists. “We have had bad experiences,” says Paterson. “They will have really good s–t for girls and then for guys it will be baggy jeans. We always try to keep our own stuff on shoots.”
“We did a shoot for Italian Vogue and they tried to make me wear a Christian Dior puffball,” says Bethel. “It was a nice dress but it wasn’t me.” What is her is Miu Miu, a fashion house she contacted through her friend, Alison Mosshart, the lead singer of the Kills. “They just gave me some dresses,” she marvels, though she sent them back afterward. “I felt bad. I thought, ‘If I send these back, then maybe I can get some more.’ I didn’t want to steal clothes the first time.”