by Margaret Chrystall
ART and music take up most of the time of Inverness musician Niall Strachan – but a new music night is his latest venture.
Best-known as a founder member of thrash pop band Garden of Elks and two-piece Bronto Skylift – currently on a break – Niall unveils the first Deaf Disco #1 on Saturday at Inverness venue Tooth and Claw.
As well as a set from Garden of Elks, the night see the return of Glasgow band Campfires In Winter whose album Ischaemia has already been nominated for Scottish Album of the Year.
Niall explained: "It’s going to be a monthly night, we hope and I came up with the idea while chatting to the promoter Steve Robertson.
"He liked the idea and said to go ahead and arrange it and it’s all came together.
"Campfires In Winter have just released their new album, so I felt it would be good to get them up to play it. They have played up here for a long time.
"I think the Tooth and Claw is a really cool little venue – like the 13th Note in Glasgow – and it’s just making people aware they can go there to see a gig as well.
"Instead of having line-ups which have three or four bands, the idea was to have two really good bands – I’m just imagining for a minute that Elks are really good!" laughed Niall.
"So we’ll be having one out of town band and one local band and then the two compile all the music played before and after the live sets, playing their favourite tunes.
"So they will be curating the night as well as performing.
"It will all start around 8pm and is only £4 to get in."
It’s a good time to catch up with Garden of Elks – whose debut album A Distorted Sigh was recorded in Glasgow’s Diving Bell Lounge studio run by Invernessian Marcus Mackay, best-known there days for working with singer-songwriter Kathryn Joseph.
The Elks album was released on the Scottish Song, By Toad record label in 2015.
They have plans for 2017 that mean the world should be seeing a lot more of them after a break – and a follow-up album in the bag, also recorded with Marcus Mackay.
Niall said: "We got the new Garden of Elks record finished at the end of last year and we’ve been talking to a few record labels with people really interested in taking it on.
"But timing-wise – because we were talking at the end of last year – they already had their plans for most of this year done.
"So it looks as if we are going to self-release it, reasonably soon – probably about June."
But, as ever, with Garden of Elks, there is a twist.
Niall said: "It’s not coming out on CD, vinyl or cassette – we’ve released on all those formats before. So I thought it would be nice to do something different and because we are in control of it, I think it’s going to be on ...
"Well I’m not going to say the format at the moment – but not many people are doing it!"
Niall is also hoping to have a new video together to reveal in April.
At the moment, Garden of Elks is a two-piece, with what Niall calls "a double beard attack", as a bearded multi-instrumentalist friend from Forres is set to join him on drums.
The two are already writing songs for a third album.
"We’d also like to do some touring and playing at some festivals – it would be great to go back and play Belladrum and maybe a couple of others," said Niall.
Niall loves the DIY philosophy and that has been reflected in the past by creating a record label, designing his own band merchandise for both line-ups – selling T-shirts with his own designs helped fund Bronto Skylift going to South By South West back in 2011.
Bronto Skylift’s guerilla performance in Austin, Texas, at music convention South By South West featured in Radio Scotland presenter Vic Galloway’s BBC2 documentary on the event.
Currently working on an art commission, Niall has also linked up in a new venture with other local artists.
"I’m part of an Inverness collective called The Lonely Arts Club which has a mixture of artists mainly working on contemporary art," Niall said.
The debut of Deaf Disco #1 is on Saturday at Tooth and Claw when guests Campfires In Winter and local band Garden of Elks play and choose their own music too. For more on Campfires In Winter: www. campfiresinwinter.com More on Garden of Elks: www.facebook.com/gardenofelks Twitter @gardenofelks