A Scots band has used their experience of travelling around Europe playing venues like abattoirs and train carriages to help their fellow musicians avoid falling foul of Brexit red tape.

Outblinker, the Glasgow post-punk/electronic group, release their long-awaited debut album later this month and have won praise from the likes of Clash, NME and Spin.

Accustomed to travelling the continent for DIY gigs and building their following, progress was halted by first Covid, then the vote for Brexit.

In the wake of the vote the group experienced the problems created by having left the European Union, travelling to France in August 2022 for a 10 day tour.

Upon their return they wrote a comprehensive 10 point guide entitled How to GTFO for bands travelling on the continent.

Chris Cusack of the group says: "We knew Brexit was going to be a problem because immediately they classed your instruments as cargo.

“They’d say, ‘well you could go over there and sell them’. Well… I could but I’m not going to.

The Herald: Glasgow band OutblinkerGlasgow band Outblinker (Image: Outblinker)

“When you’re forced to treat your every day equipment like that you have to itemise everything and that level of detail would make you insane.

“A lot of bands don’t have an aptitude for the admin side of it, hopefully they reach a level where they get a manager who can do that for them and they go on and do really well.

“We are OK with that stuff and we found it incredibly difficult.

“I think we were one of the first bands in Scotland to go and do a Euro tour after Brexit came in, there was one band that went before us and they were a cautionary tale because they got a £2,000 fine at the border and that wiped out the profit for the whole tour.

“So we documented all of our experiences, including photos of the actual forms, the places you had to go to sign things, where it went wrong and just put a guide up to try and encourage people to follow in our path.

“A lot of the bands that would have tried to go to Europe had just decided it wasn’t going to be worth it and it was the same in reverse as well, a lot of bands would skip the UK because there is just too much risk of things going wrong.

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“There were stories of bands turning up at the border, a headline and a support, and the headline band would get through no bother because they got border guard A, then with the exact same documentation the other band gets border guard B and get detained for 10 hours and fined and turned around.

“I think the guide helped a few bands, it certainly helped bands avoid the fines. If you get an unfriendly border guard, which we did, there’s not much you can do.

“If they want to stop you, they’ll stop you and if you say the wrong thing to them there’s no coming back, but at least it put bands in a position where they weren’t getting hit with a £2,000 fine.

“When you’re operating at a small level that can be the future of the band. Some of these guys have families at home and will say, ‘I’m just going away for a week’ but if they come back £500 in the red it’s not something you can keep doing. Those penalties can jeopardise groups that would have made it, there are a lot of groups that I don’t think would make it now faced with these kinds of obstacles.

“What we discovered when writing the guide was that you have to plan for different border guards, different crossings. One might have got up on the wrong side of bed that morning.

"Our first crossing out from Britain was fine, the guy was pretty helpful. The French were great, had no problem either time in France.

“We tried to come back into Britain and the guard pulled us over, and she was clearly not very pleased about something but we didn’t know what because we’d just turned up.

“One of the members of the band is Italian, he’s got thick, dark curly hair and sort of looks like he could be Middle Eastern.

“She pulled him out of the van and basically humiliated him in front of a queue of cars, and there was no reason for it.

“We just stood there and watched this unfold, we’d done all the paperwork, we were being super co-operative, no-one was acting up.

Though their music is electronic, Outblinker are very much of the punk scene and that's opened the door to playing in some outré venues.

Cusack says: "It was started as a concept project, let’s see if we can do an electronic band without any laptops.

“Nothing against people who use laptops, they’re fantastic and save you carting big synthesisers about, but we just wanted to see if we could do it.

“That opened the doors for us playing in places that electronic bands wouldn’t usually play.

"I’ve always worked in punk and hardcore bands, it’s always been DIY and you try to avoid the majors.

“We just seemed to be getting offers from venues where you’d turn up and go, ‘this is a squat’.

“We played a huge one in Brussels with a skate ramp inside, it was a squat dozens of people stayed in.

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“We were sharing the stage with a lot of bands who were a lot more post-punk and goth and I think that also affected what we played.

“It’d be cheaper to tour with a laptop but you’d lose something, so that’s led us to being in these wacky situations. We played this German town where basically there’s an old rail line – and we won’t go into where that rail line used to go – and as part of trying to do something positive with that aspect of the town’s history they got these old rail cars and turned them into restaurants and social centres where they give language courses for immigrants.

“One of them has been converted into this tiny music venue, so we ended up playing in a rail car by the side of a river.

“The Basque country is one of my favourite places, and you end up playing in some weird, weird places there.

“We played in a converted fire station that had its own chickens, we played in a converted abattoir that had become a vegan community centre.

“They’ve still kept the chains and the hooks, it’s surreal. The acoustics were actually better than some custom-built venues in Glasgow…"

The group will release their highly-anticipated self-titled debut album on May 31, with second single 'Grimey' released on Friday.

Cusack says: "We had this song called Farrokh Bulsara, which was Freddie Mercury’s original name. By the end his life, Farrokh Bulsara was a forgotten guy, he’d been eclipsed by this fake guy.

“The idea of your true self, your original self, being taken over by this construct that you’d made.

“With the album, what we’ve done is we’ve picked up on six names to try and invite people to look them up, explore, dig a wee bit.

“Each one of those people tells a little bit of a story, a lot of it is to do with moral ambiguity. Some people are good in some ways and awful in others, one thing I’m really interested in is people who live their life as something else.

“There’s a track on it called ‘D-D-David’ which was the assumed name of a guy called Radovan Karadžić, who was a war criminal, an absolute genocidal maniac.

“He basically scarpered after the conflicts in the Balkans, became a holistic new age healer and worked as a dentist. So you’d be going to get your teeth done or advice on crystals and chakras from a guy who had been eliminating entire villages.

“The guy would go and give talks at conferences and it was clearly the guy off the news. If we can use these songs to get people to use it as a way to discover then maybe they can leave the album with a bit more than a nice soundtrack.

"We’ve worked with three totally independent labels, Gold Mould in Scotland who work with totally DIY artists, a label in France called Araki and one in Italy called Bloody Sound.

"I’m really confident about it, hopefully we’ve brought our A game.”