Published: 10/10/2014 12:18 - Updated: 10/10/2014 12:49

Idlewild haven't been idle while they've been apart

Written byCalum Macleod

Idlewild. Pic: Simon Murphy.

FANS of Scottish rockers Idlewild have had to be patient.

It was back in 2009 that the Glasgow band last toured, but at last the group led by the songwriting partnership of frontman Roddy Woomble and guitarist Rod Jones will be playing for their Scottish fans once more, although with some new faces and a slightly different sound.

"If you’re looking from the outside, it looks as though we stopped and then started again. From my point of view, what we did was take a creative break while always remaining in touch and friends," Woomble said.

"About two years ago, we started working on songs and it’s been quite a long process, but in a really nice way. Latterly in Idlewild we always felt we had to do things quite quickly in order to get records out and go touring."

It was back in 2009 that the band last toured together, so the band seem to be easing themselves back into the touring life with an acoustic tour of the Highlands and Islands.

"Doing it acoustically makes it a bit easier," Woomble added.

"You can just get in the car and do it.

"I say acoustic, but it’s not really that acoustic. We sit down, but there are electric guitars and keyboards and electric bass. It’s a slightly countrified folky version of a lot of the Idlewild songs.

"We’ve done this before. We did an acoustic tour in 2005 and that went down really well. It’s just a nice way to introduce people to the new songs because a lot of our songs are written on acoustic guitars and built upon. It’s letting the audience, who are generally big fans of the band, in on their initial incarnation."

While Idlewild, in name at least, has been taking a rest, its members have not.

Woomble has relocated to Mull and made a name for him on the folk scene with three solo albums and a trio album with John McCusker and Kris Drever, Before The Ruin.

Jones, a friend and collaborator of Woomble’s since they were both 18, has also released albums, both solo and with his band The Birthday Suit.

The break has resulted in the pair resuming their partnership with a new energy and fresh ideas of what they want to do with their songs.

"The reason we stopped playing in 2009 was we felt we had gone as far as we could in that format. We knew something had to change and the only way we could see that happening was by doing things individually," he said.

"The songs are built around a real melodic core. Now we are able to develop that and add elements we couldn’t have in the past.

Roddy Woomble with Idlewild on their 2009 Scottish tour.
Roddy Woomble with Idlewild on their 2009 Scottish tour.

"And also, we’re not really worried about what people think. When we were younger, that was a real consideration: ‘Is this going to be played on the radio?’ Now we just don’t care!"

That is down to the loyalty of fans who have proved they are willing to follow the band as their music has taken different directions over the years.

Woomble also acknowledged that the acoustic format could entice fans of his solo work to check out the band for the first time.

"I’m hoping people come along, but at the same time it’s different music," he cautioned.

"I’m not suggesting that if you like Idlewild you’ll like my solo stuff or the other way round."

Following Idlewild’s five years hiatus, second guitarist Allan Stewart and bass player Gareth Russell have been busy with other work and have been unable to rejoin the band, leaving Woomble and Jones, along with drummer Colin Newton, to record material with new recruits Luciano Rossi and Andrew Mitchell.

Newton, however, will miss out on the acoustic tour, which will be drum free, but joining the band for the tour will be another regular Woomble collaborator in fiddle player Hannah Fisher from Dunkeld.

If there had been any nervousness about Idlewild’s return after their long absence, that has been settled by Idlewild’s warm up shows south of the border this summer.

"We played a couple of concerts in England and we were blown away by the reaction," Woomble said.

"If you go away for a certain amount of time, there’s no guarantee that anyone is going to be interested, so the fact that most of these concerts sold out in March and there’s still a demand, after 20 years since forming the band, that’s a pretty good feeling to have."

Idlewild appear at the Strathpeffer Pavilion on Friday 10th October;the Universal Hall, Findhorn, on Monday; and The Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore on Tuesday.

A new album will be released in the New Year.

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