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Uncut magazine

('Almost Famous' column, December 2003, Rob Hughes)

Weird science from Scottish boffin taking DIY route.

U.N.P.O.C.? Anything to do with the United Nations and Petroleum Oil? Get outta here. More like the alter-ego of Tom Bauchop: mild-mannered computer science bod by day, wild-eyed DIY muso by dusk. Raised near Glasgow, Bauchop moved to Edinburgh for university at 17. Now in his fourth and final year, his debut album, Fifth Column , is a one-man jambouree of punk-rattle, whup-ass harmonies and weird folk junk. Imagine The Pixies kicking the shit out of early Beach Boys in Skip Spence's trailer.

So what's with the initials?"It changes, depending on what's working for me at the time," teases Tom. Previous definitions include Usual Names Providing For Our Cause, but "right now it stands for Unable to Navigate, Probably on Course. Back in the 1900s, that's what they used to write in the shipping logs up near the North Pole when they couldn't see where they were going in heavy fog, with the compass going crazy. It's a way of saying you think you're doing OK." More than OK. Bauchop's a product of Fence - Fife's own micro-industry of eccentric Scottish talent.

Say what?Formed in 1995, Fence is the refuge and wellspring for a loose collective of musicians with a home-made aesthetic, including James Yorkston, King Creosote, Pip Dylan and Lone Pigeon. The Manifesto? "It's a 'Can Do' attitude. It's about getting up there and taking chances. You can fail and still be a success. If you'd just bought your first guitar and wanted to sound like U2, you'd never sing anything. With Fence, none of it precludes you from starting your own music."

Anything else we should know? Despite the ramshackle approach, U.N.P.O.C.'s finished work is painstakingly complex. Fifth Column is so named because he'd already discarded four drafts of material. With only drummer Stu Bastiman aboard, Bauchop overdubs himself to hell. Which is ewhy he doesn't play live. "I can always surround myself with musicians, but the Polyphonic Spree sort of got there first."

And the future? If all else fails, there's always the day job. Talking of which, check out the Bauchop-designed website, www.unpoc.co.uk, for a feast of random banter, cheeky self-mythology and poptastic competitions with big, big prizes. I won a strawberry. In the meantime, the boy's already cooked a fresh batch of tunes. "There's a hefty barrel to dish out. It'll be like a floodgate opening."
Caption on picture reads: "Bauchop: bloody students, laying about all day..."


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