Since forming in 2008, The Signal have been flying the flag for punk rock in the Highlands for close to a decade now with their brand of fast, furious and biting music. Ahead of their latest show at their second home in The Market Bar on Saturday night - and the recording of their first "official" release – we caught up with vocalist Nikki Hill for a chat about the shape of their punk to come...
What are the challenges in flying the punk flag in Inverness/the Highlands of all places? What are the good bits? Anything you’d like to see happen to improve the Highland punk scene?
I suppose the main challenge is getting gigs but I guess the same could be said for any band. Some people perceive punk to be like a wall of noise so can be apprehensive about booking you, but there are good punk bands out there and equally there are not so good ones, same for any band of any genre. We have been very fortunate gig wise and always get our regular gigs in the market and we love playing there. We’ve never really struggled for gigs, we’ve had dry spells but something always turns up! Ideally I would like to see the local promoters putting on regular punk gigs in Inverness and helping to create a scene – there’s no shortage of good punk bands in Scotland. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee all have strong punk scenes and we’ve been lucky enough to play some great gigs with some amazing bands!
You announced back in May that you’re going to be recording new material – how’s that been going? Considering how everything’s gone to hell over the last few years, there must be a fair whack of material to draw on for new songs?
We are actually going into IMOUT studio this month to record an EP which is a first for us. We have always done our own recordings and put out our own CDs because there was no pressure and we could mess about with the songs as long as we wanted...and it didn’t cost us anything! We’ve got five or six new songs ready to record so we’re just going to go into the studio prepared and rattle them out! So hopefully by the end of the year we will have our first ‘official’ release! It’s only taken nearly 10 years! We’re constantly working on new material and there are always loads of ideas kicking around at one time so we tend to record everything so we don’t forget!
When you’re playing Inverness, you’re almost always playing the Market Bar – any reason why you keep coming back there?
The Market Bar is the best place to play in Inverness in our opinion, and Shirley is an absolute diamond. She has been so good to us and always sorts gigs out for us year in, year out, and we can’t thank her enough for her ongoing support. There is just a good energy about the place, the people, and the banter. We love the up-close and personal gig and it doesn’t come more up-close and personal than the Market! It’s like playing in your living room with a bunch of your mates, but with a bar in it. We get such a varied crowd in the Market when we play and it’s great, people who thought they didn’t like punk but then realise they actually do – converting as we go!
What’s been the best gig you’ve ever played? The worst? The weirdest?
We’ve played some amazing gigs in our time together and we’ve been lucky enough to have supported some or our favourite punk bands. We’ve shared the stage with Stiff Little Fingers, Buzzcocks, GBH, Oi Polloi, and The King Blues. We played Cramond Island of Punk which was a gig we really wanted to do, that was an excellent day out. It was surreal playing on this little island in the middle of the Firth of Forth, and you cant get off until the tide goes out! We played Punktoberfest 5/Dundee for the first time in 2015 and we’re back playing it again this year which is great. We’ve played the Remember Chernobyl Festival/Edinburgh twice. There are way too many good gigs to remember.
One of the best and weirdest gigs though was when we played Edinburgh Hogmanay 2015, it was weird in the sense it was either our latest gig or earliest gig we’ve ever done. We played at 3.15am on New Year’s Day, we were all a little drunk by that point! But it was great to be down there at New Year – and playing a gig as well!
Our worst gig was probably really early on in the band’s life, when our then-guitarist walked out of the venue half an hour before we were due to play, we continued as a three piece and limped on, our bassist took over on guitar that night but we pulled it off...just!
What’s the nicest thing that somebody has said about your tunes? And what’s been the most horrible?
We get a lot of compliments after gigs which is nice, usually people saying how tight as a band we are. It’s great when people know the words, especially to Wanker Banker and sing along. People get really in to it and for us as a band we couldn’t ask for more than that. If people get it, great! If they don’t, we won’t lose any sleep over it! We don’t really get anyone saying anything negative/horrible about the band...at least not to our faces!
What can people who haven’t seen you before expect from your live shows? And which of your tracks are you particularly looking forward to blasting at the Market this time, and why?
You can expect a lot of sweating, shouting, swearing (in context), lots of energy and banter, and you can bounce about like a lunatic and no one will care! We always look forward to doing the old ones like Tescoinferno, W***** Banker, Jezza – our classics if you like! But I’m really looking forward to doing our new one Black Sheep, this will be one of the tracks we will be recording in the studio this month. I love the way it stomps along in true Signal fashion…like a kick to the head!
What’s on the horizon for The Signal over the rest of the year?
After our gig in the Market on Saturday we go into the studio at the end of August so we’ll be concentrating on that. Our next gig is Punktoberfest 7 on Saturday, October 28 in Dundee then we’re back in the Market on Saturday, November 11 with The Eddies from Dundee joining us and our last gig of the year is as close to a Hogmanay gig as it gets – The Market Bar on Saturday, December 30. In between those times we’ll be busy writing and making a racket!
The Signal play the Market Bar on Saturday from 10.30pm. Listen to them below (NSFW):