How Belle & Sebastian forgot their drummer in North Dakota


Stuart Murdoch speaks with Mary Lucia in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)

Talking to The Current's Mary Lucia, Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch explains how the band's drummer, Richard Colburn, got left behind in North Dakota as the band were making their way to a gig in St. Paul, Minn.

Interview Transcript

MARY LUCIA: 89.3 The Current, I am happy to be sitting here, chatting with Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian, who's had quite a morning.

STUART MURDOCH: It's been a morning. It feels like a whole day that we've had already.

MARY: Just give us the little synopsis version of what went down.

STUART: Well, when I woke up a few hours ago, we realized we left our drummer in North Dakota.

MARY: Yeah, that happens.

STUART: What happens, or what?

MARY: That's just one way to get rid of a drummer, I'm thinking.

STUART: I'm kind of partially to blame because we were in a Walmart, we were just leaving town, Dickinson, North Dakota — not the other side of North Dakota! And we stopped for water, and I was coming out of the Walmart, and he [drummer Richard Colburn] was coming into the Walmart, and he was waving very happily, in a good mood. And that was the last time that we saw him.

MARY: And naturally, it should be said that when one runs in to use a restroom or whatever, you're not necessarily thinking, "Do I have my passport with me? And my phone? A urine sample and all that?" So basically, you did leave him with nothing.

STUART: He had a credit card, but he still sat in Walmart for four hours, but the thing is, he was probably thinking that we were — somebody was going to notice, but the trouble is everybody went to bed. I mean, there used to be a system. There used to be a system, but because we all have mobile phones these days, everybody's got a little bit blasé about it. It used to be that it was the pass on the passenger seat — you used to leave a pass for the last person, and that's how the driver knew. So Richard didn't have his phone with him, and we were all talking about all the different things he could've done, but he checked into a hotel and went to sleep!

MARY: What's the funniest observation someone has made about this today?

STUART: Everything up to this point didn't seem too funny. All I knew, personally my experience was I went into kind of "daddy" mode or something like that, and I just remember there was an episode of The West Wing where the President's daughter went missing, and I thought, "What did they do then?" And the word was, "Get the word out there!" With a missing person, it's better to get the word out there, you know, so that something will happen, because we didn't know how we were going to get him from there, from that kind of desolate spot, to St. Paul, so we tweeted, and lots of kind people tweeted me back, saying, "I'm in Fargo, maybe I could get there," "I'm in Bismarck, you know, maybe we could work something out." I even had a friend who was driving down from Winnipeg on the way to the show here. So currently we have him in a car driving to Bismarck, and the only question is, "Will they let him on the plane?"

MARY: With no ID.

STUART: And in his pyjamas.

MARY: Well, PJs … he won't seem much of a threat, I think, when you're in your jammies. You know?

STUART: That's true.

MARY: I think the answer lies in microchipping the band in the future, like you do your dog.

STUART: We were just talking about that! Our manager two managers ago, our first manager, Neil Robertson, I swear to god, he wanted to have us chipped in the neck. And this was — I'm talking 15 years ago. Because with a band our size, I mean, there used to be more of us. With the string players, it was like 12, 13 of us. And it's like herding cats. So it's maybe not surprising that something like this happened.

MARY: Yeah, if you see a wandering musician in Fargo, North Dakota, just bring him into the nearest vet, and they can just see if he's chipped.

STUART: Oh, god, now you say "Fargo" — I hope he doesn't end up upside-down in a wood chipper.

MARY: He's fleeing the interview!



Belle & Sebastian - official site

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