You can’t hurry Gerard Love. “I do things when I want to do them,” he says. “I don’t have anyone cracking the whip.” The artist formerly known as Teenage Fanclub’s bass player, and writer of some of their best-known and most beloved songs, is five years out from the schism that saw him leave the band he’d been in since he was a boy. 

In January, he’s doing something when he wants to do it; stepping out of the shadows of post-Fannies obscurity, into the shadow of a support slot in a church for the latest in only a handful of gigs he’s done since his relationship with the band broke down in 2018. Love will play back-up to 2023 Scottish Album of the Year nominee Andrew Wasylyk, of Dundee’s Hazy Janes, for his gig at Glasgow’s Mackintosh Church as part of Celtic Connections. 

“Andrew writes rich, sophisticated music beyond a lot of what the so-called indie scene has done. I write nursery rhymes in comparison to what he does,” says Love. It’s a massively self-deprecating line, one which Wasylyk, or anyone else for that matter, would be forgiven for printing on their merchandise.

During his 30-year career with the band, whose selection box of songwriting credits have historically fallen between Love, lead singer Norman Blake and guitarist Raymond McGinley, Love’s numbers are evergreen. Tunes like Sparky’s Dream, Don’t Look Back and Ain’t That Enough don’t feature in the band’s live sets since his departure, but these nursery rhymes are as integral to Teenage Fanclub’s best bits as Twinkle Twinkle Little star is to playgroup sing-songs.

They’ll likely be among the offerings when Love opens for Wasylyk, but so too will be embryonic versions of the new songs he has under slow gestation. He has recorded much of the music for 13 of them, at Bill Ryder-Jones’ studio in the Wirral, and has the lyrics for nine.
“The lengths and breadths of the songs are done,” Love says, from his home in Glasgow’s West End. “I just need to put the top coat on them. I don’t really have any structure. I’m not tied to a label. I quite like it in some ways, but I have to find the motivation myself. It comes in dribs and drabs. I get easily distracted.”

Recent distractions include working with songwriter Warren McIntyre and Orange Juice guitarist James Kirk, riding his bike, falling off his bike, and recovering from the resultant smashed collar bone. There’s no schedule for release, and Love is nervous of people recording “skeletal versions” of songs and posting them on social media before he’s put meat on their bones.
“People do that as if they’re bringing new music to new people,” he says. “I’m old-fashioned. I think it should be up to me to decide when they’re released.”

Teenage Fanclub formed in Lanarkshire in 1989 and became one of the most influential bands to spring from Scotland, with their 60s Americana-influenced rock. Apocrypha holds that Kurt Cobain once called them the best band in the world.
Big Star and the Byrds are oft cited as their main influences, but Love’s earliest musical memories spring from his mum’s collection of 45s, chief among them The Everly Brothers’ gems Cathy’s Clown and Walk Right Back. “I played them again and again. There’s something really beautiful about their close harmonies,” he says.

Shorn of any contractual PR-tie-in, the 56 year old is endearingly honest about his adjustment to gradually becoming a solo artist. He says: “Lyrics are difficult for me. Always have been. I’m not someone who can watch the news and get an idea for a song. It’s more about internal stuff. I’ve not progressed to being able to write in character. Maybe there’s mileage in being able to exit your own feelings and imagining someone else’s life.

“I’ve not crossed the threshold yet, but there’s something about releasing that first record which is quite daunting. It shouldn’t be, it’s just a bunch of songs. Sometimes I think too much and put too much emphasis on things that are actually a natural process I enjoy doing. Other times I don’t want to open that door and go into that room.”

A solo career was never part of his plan, nor was leaving the band. Love, who is anxious about flying, disagreed with other band members over international touring plans, and the dispute proved irretrievable. 

“I don’t say I’m not to blame for it,” he says. “But I don’t feel I had a choice. I’m not good at being told what to do. The band I was in had always been one where I had choice, and it felt like I had no choice. I was 50 years old and had been in the band for 30 years. If you want to tell me what to do, then tell me when I’m 20, not 50. 
“It was an offer of a tour that should never have been accepted, because one of us didn’t want to do it. It was their decision to do the tour. But I accept my position made it difficult for them. They don’t sing my songs live now, but I’m happy about that.

“I’m not saying I’ll never get over it, but it is something to carry,” he says. “You do something for that long, it becomes a part of you. But I have no complaints about anything in my life. I’m accepting of what happened. I know I am very lucky.”

Gerard Love supports Andrew Wasylyk at Glasgow’s Mackintosh Church as part of Celtic Connections on January 30.