Following their disbanding in the summer of this year, Edinburgh rockers Trampled Daisy have released their latest single Ambush, taken from debut EP Acid Mind Drainage (released November 30th). Having been a founding member of Trampled Daisy, I thought it would be fun to remember the band’s origins and celebrate the music they leave us with.
What would eventually go on to become Trampled Daisy began in an Edinburgh student flat in September 2016 – I know this because I was a part of it. Ellen Clarke and I moved into Bainfield Student Accommodation on the same day, bonding over our shared music taste in the weeks that followed. Ellen was a talented singer and guitarist, and I was a self-taught bassist who was looking to improve by playing in bands whilst at university. It made sense that we join forces.
We began by playing covers, often rehearsing in our shared kitchen/dining area in front of our flatmates, who were and still are Trampled Daisy’s original and biggest fans. We discussed how we would find ourselves a drummer. We went to gigs and on nights out together. We eventually even got a club promotions job with each other.
The first Trampled Daisy gig, before we were even Trampled Daisy, consisted of Ellen and I playing an open mic night at Henry’s Cellar Bar on Morrison Street in May 2017. The buzz from this performance only furthered our determination to find a drummer, however university was over and both of us were moving back home for the summer. We stayed in touch via message.
The rise of Trampled Daisy (2017-2018)
Ellen and I returned to Edinburgh in the late summer of 2017. Realising that no one we knew was going to become our drummer, we discussed alternative ways to find people – including leaving flyers out around the freshers’ fair. I recall both of us thinking this was a good idea, but ultimately agreeing we didn’t think it would get us anywhere.
I must have made about four or five handwritten flyers – one of which I still have tucked away in a drawer somewhere, and another of which was picked up by Joe Rayner, a first year film student from Sheffield who had filled in on drums for various bands before, and was now hoping to join his own in Edinburgh.
We began rehearsing together at the Depot Studios out near Leith, catching a bus from Lothian Road and often taking up the whole back seating area with our instruments and equipment, fantasising about one day getting our own van.
From then on, Trampled Daisy was born. The name was settled a few weeks after we first met Joe, and was a name we felt epitomised the theme of most of Ellen’s original songs – corrupted innocence. We played our first gig as Trampled Daisy in November 2017, at an open mic night in the Old Town’s Banshee Labyrinth pub. The adoring crowd consisted mostly of our loyal (and very vocal) friends and flatmates. The future looked bright.
In January 2018, Trampled Daisy hit Post Electric Studio in Leith to get recording, which was the start of a busy couple of months for us. We recorded three demo tracks: Melt For Me, Cobwebs, and Heartstrings – all of which can still be heard on Spotify and Bandcamp. The weeks which followed were about as rock n roll as it can get for a new band who are just starting to get off the ground. We played our first paid gig in iconic Edinburgh venue Sneaky Pete’s, supporting Sheffield quartet RedFaces on their Scottish date. The number of Trampled Daisy allocated tickets sold meant we were bumped up the bill to take the main support slot, and for the first time, we weren’t just playing to a crowd consisting solely of our friends – there were new people among them, and they were loving it. The following weeks brought us new fans, a rave review, being recognised at a gig in the Liquid Rooms the three of us attended together, and booking out one of the university photography studios to do a photoshoot for our demo cover. It was a time I look back on very fondly.
March and April 2018 brought the release of our demos, as well as our first gig in Glasgow, supporting the now-defunct Flat Six at Bloc. We later returned to the Edinburgh gig scene to support Quiet As A Mouse at their album launch, which took place at Leith Depot (another small venue it seems Edinburgh may unfortunately be losing). Due to ongoing personal and mental health issues, this was to be my last gig with Trampled Daisy, and I wasn’t present in the studio when Ellen and Joe recorded raucous first single Evil Twin. A month later it was mutually decided that I would leave the band. This was a decision I had already half made myself, and there was never any bad feeling.
Changing Faces (2018-2019)
In the summer of 2018, mutual friend Ewan Wilson-McKay took over as bassist. Hailing from the Glasgow area, his previous band Olympus had broken up shortly before I left Trampled Daisy, and he was my personal first choice to replace me. From there on, Trampled Daisy was officially back up and running again – not that it had ever fully stopped. The band had a successful October, playing two support slots in Edinburgh and once again returning to Glasgow to play Flat 0/1 as part of the Oxjam 2018 festival.
In November came Trampled Daisy’s first headliner, a launch party to celebrate the release of Evil Twin. Going back to the band’s roots, this was held at Henry’s Cellar Bar and pulled in a very decent crowd, which was fantastic to see. There were even Trampled Daisy t-shirts on sale – many of which were immediately worn on top of what the buyers were already wearing! Another support slot followed in November, this time returning to Sneaky Pete’s to support Lion on Tiger. In December, they earned a well-deserved place on Up and Coming Edinburgh’s Twitter advent calendar.
2019 brought a range of gigs in a range of venues and locations for Trampled Daisy. Kicking it off in January with a support slot at Edinburgh’s Bannermans bar, they took to Henry’s Cellar Bar once again in February before heading up the road to Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy to play an indie night at PJ Molloy’s (featuring The View’s Kieren Webster) and West Fest/EH6’s Battle of the Bands respectively. In March and April, with the support of John at independent Edinburgh label Infinite Hive, they returned to the studio to begin recording their debut EP. However, they didn’t stop on the gig front, adding the Mash House to their portfolio of venues and later returning to Banshee Labyrinth to play Gig.Mouth’s Up ‘N’ Coming alongside Ayrshire buddies Rigid Soul in May. From then on, things quietened down.
I moved to Glasgow in early 2019. I hadn’t set foot in Edinburgh for months, yet eerily enough it was whilst on a train to Edinburgh in July of this year to submit my final university assignment that I heard the news of Trampled Daisy’s disbanding. Despite not knowing how to respond initially, I eventually got in touch with Ellen and Joe to put forward the idea of writing this piece whenever Ambush was finally released.
The track is the finale of a four-song EP, Acid Mind Drainage, recorded across three locations – Pirate Studios Glasgow, Audio Lounge Glasgow for the drums, and finishing touches added in Joe’s bedroom. It features many typical Trampled Daisy characteristics – echoing guitar riffs, quiet bridges which build to electrifying conclusions, harmonies and layering, and of course Ellen’s trademark powerful vocals. The complex nature of Ambush, similar to Evil Twin, makes it hard to believe that Trampled Daisy consisted only of three members. The song is a journey, loosely echoing the loud-quiet-loud variations which made the Pixies famous and in turn inspired Kurt Cobain.
Ambush has attracted a lot of media attention since its release, which shows that Trampled Daisy have successfully managed to build up a supportive fanbase over their two-year career. As well as placing in Banks Music Promotion’s top 15 UK tracks, the track has also been featured on Radio Haver, Belter Radio, Camglen Radio, Angel’s Indie Lounge and The Third Class Ticket radio show. The support for the track generates hope that Trampled Daisy’s music will continue to be enjoyed, and at the very most, hope that the band may return in some capacity one day.
In their Facebook post dated July 10th, it was stated that Ewan had left the band as a result of dealing with family issues and a new job. In the same post, Ellen and Joe stated ‘we have experienced many unexpected and demoralising setbacks trying to make this EP’. Upon sharing the sad news that they felt Trampled Daisy couldn’t be taken any further, they added ‘we still plan on writing and playing music together, but we need to be able to do it in our own time, in our own way, and most of all, we need to enjoy making music’.
As for me, I don’t think I’ll ever play in a band again. There are times I’ve been tempted to give it another go, however these days I prefer to take more of a behind-the-scenes role, doing what I can to help the local bands who are already out there as opposed to forming my own. That doesn’t mean I don’t still play occasionally – who knows, maybe one day we’ll play a Trampled Daisy reunion gig in someone’s living room. I’d happily be involved in that.
Trampled Daisy’s disbanding is a combination of both personal situations and factors outwith the band’s control, however it could also be perceived as a wider statement about the lack of support for new bands, and the sad reality that Edinburgh is losing some of its best small venues to make room for hotels, office spaces and student accommodation blocks. I know Trampled Daisy began in a student accommodation block, but how many more does Edinburgh really need? How many bands being formed in student accommodation are getting to a certain point and realising they have little to no venues to play?
Anyway, now is the time to download Ambush, buy the EP, turn it up loudly and celebrate both Trampled Daisy’s career and the music they leave us with. Who knows where we might see them again in future.