goNORTH: Neon Waltz
by Margaret Chrystall
FAME hasn’t taken long to find its way to the remote croft door of Caithness six-piece Neon Waltz.
A year spent holed up together writing songs there has paid off spectacularly.
Only a few live gigs in, Neon Waltz and their "psychedelic indie rock" was being praised by weekly music bible the NME as "the most promising band we’ve heard all year".
Since then they’ve played The Great Escape in Brighton, have done their own tour – and have just been announced for T in the Park in July.
But they’re still celebrating getting a crowd along to their King Tut’s Glasgow gig on Saturday while the massive Radio 1 Big Weekend was going on across town.
"I don’t think we were up against One Direction, but we think it would be a living hell to be that famous," laughed singer Jordan Shearer.
But the word is out about the Caithness band.
Jordan outlined the band’s amazingly short history.
"We were the only six people up here who liked the same music, played instruments and wrote music.
"We’d been writing songs together for a few years, but we never really classed ourselves as a band.
"I was in Edinburgh studying for a degree in film at Napier and though we recorded stuff and put it up on the internet, it wasn’t till I got my degree last summer that we thought ‘Let’s just go for it’.
"We just locked ourselves away for the whole year, got our sound perfect – and it’s worked out perfectly."
They did up the croft where they rehearse – sometimes wearing three coats to play during the winter. In the other room, there’s the occasional luxury of a roaring fire – guarded by band mascot, Sheltie dog "Biy", in a 3D picture above.
Jordan laughed: "We were going to take him to every gig, but we forgot to take him on tour."
Being signed up to an influential management company headed up by former Oasis manger Marcus Russell – with Howie Payne as the band’s hands-on manager – has helped too.
"We’d heard of Howie’s band The Stand years ago – it was cool in itself this guy liking us and we’re totally on the same page."
Film graduate Jordan has made band videos including Sombre Fayre, though he’s not sure if band pressures will allow him to continue. But he’s sure for the moment Neon Waltz are staying in Caithness.
"We’re quite happy here and people say they can hear where we are from in the music."
He’s slightly embarrassed that locals might think the band’s bigger than it really is.
"It’s such a small community, so once someone gets an NME or hears our song played on Radio 1, they maybe think we are more famous than we actually are."
He laughs when you mention the picture of the bottle of whisky on their website, the customised label reading "The Famous Neonwaltz".
"It was a Christmas present from the bass-player’s brother and it pretty much sums up what people might think up here.
"It’s funny, though – we still haven’t drunk it yet."
Neon Waltz play goNORTH at 11pm on Wednesday (June 4) at Hootanannys, Inverness. For more info, go to: www.neonwaltz.com Like them at: Facebook.com/neonwaltz Follow them on Twitter: @neonwaltz