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Lional burn through Daylight Hours with hectic summer of new single, Scotland national headlining tour, and support slot for Noel Gallagher's High-Flying Birds

By Kyle Walker

The summer of '19 is set to be Lional's busiest yet. With new single Daylight Hours just out, the Inverness noir pop quartet also have a headline tour of Scotland and a coveted support slot for Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds to look forward to. Kyle Walker caught up with frontman Joshua Mackenzie to find out the full story...

Q Hallo Josh, how’s it going? Whereabouts are you reading these from?

A Hello, it's going good thank you. I am currently sitting in my living room in Inverness. I wish I could say somewhere exotic like the Broxden park and ride, but it's still a few days before the tour kicks off...

Q God, it’s shaping up to be a busy year for you lot! Let’s start off with the headlining tour of Scotland – Inverness, Thurso, Glasgow and Eidnburgh! Not too shabby at all – how are you looking forward to hitting the road over the next few weekends?

A I am itching to get out gigging across the country! We haven't played live since November so I have serious gig deprivation at the minute.

Q It’s one of the most educational things a band can do, getting out of their comfort zones and hitting the road to gig outside their corner of the world. What has gigging outside Inverness/the Highlands taught yourself and Lional on the occasions you’ve travelled – musically and otherwise? What advice would you give to bands that may be nervous about hitting the road for a tour?

A I would say that you have to be patient and persistent when it comes to playing outside of your hometown. A lot of bands go to Edinburgh or Glasgow and get very disheartened when they play to no one and don't bother ever going back, but you just have to lump it. If you believe in what you are doing then it will eventually resonate with people from different cities if you stick in there and play these places frequently enough.

Inverness indie-rockers Lional.
Inverness indie-rockers Lional.

Q Let’s talk tour practicalities – when you’re out on tour, are there any items in particular that you can’t do without (other than, uh, the instruments and backline you need for gigs)? And how do you survive the long car journeys together?

A I just make sure I have a good audio book on the go and plenty of green tea with me. It was never my intention to be less rock n' roll than Chris Martin, it just happened... For the long car journeys we pass the time listening to tunes, either new music any of us have discovered or some nostalgic cuts from our youth. Other than that we just chat about 80's action movies and football.

Q Speaking of gigs, you’re only bloody opening for Noel Gallagher in June! How are you feeling about that opportunity? Has Noel/High Flying Birds/Oasis been musical influences on yourself over the years? And what are the chances of you getting a scissor player in the future?

A Yeah it's absolutely incredible, surreal even! I think Oasis were the sonic wallpaper of all of our youths. When I was 3 years old I would stand on my mums coffee table wearing her sheepskin coat(this was 1996) with my miniature electric guitar I had and would mime to the VHS of Oasis live at Maine Road. I was actually always drawn to Noel more than Liam. My brother explained how Noel would write all the songs, so I found him a more inspiring figure. I went off Oasis after the first couple of albums but Noel's solo stuff I really like. Particularly his latest album. I think the albums he's released since the demise of Oasis prove just how much he was the heart and lungs of that band, even if Liam was the face of it. Recently auditioned a couple of scissor players, but of course, none of them made the cut. There ya go.

Q Your new single has just come out (today, actually – congrats!) – Daylight Hours! It’s very good, you get that almost Talking Heads-y vibe coming out of it. Talk me through the song – what’s the story of this song? How did it come together for you?

A This one just dropped out of the sky fully formed. I just got the main riff in my head with the vocal line on top and started putting down a demo of it. The xylophone part was quite a Talking Heads inspired addition, but I think the rest of it falls somewhere between Foals and The xx musically, which was more unintended. Lyrically there's not much of a strict narrative, but the words set a tone and atmosphere. I guess the premise is about how your mental state suffers if you do too many self indulgent or morally corrupt things. There will be a backlash within. It will catch up with you. Not in a hyper critical way, just, y'know, watch out and keep your ego in check. The whole thing about daylight hours is reference to when I used to get savage bouts of anxiety; the only time I would be at peace would be in the quiet of the night. I would spend weeks in a totally backwards sleeping pattern because of it. Quite common for anxiety sufferers the world over, I'm sure.

Q I gather these were from the same sessions that last year’s singles Moonlight and Dark Sunglasses came from – all three songs are distinct and different while still having that recognisable Lional sound. Looking back at your Sheffield sessions, how valuable were they for Lional and their sound? And are there any other tracks from the sessions that might see the light of day soon?

A It was just a big learning curve. We learned things in those sessions we have taken forward. There's 1 more song left from the sessions. We will get it out there in the next few months I'm sure. It's also in the same bracket as Dark Sunglasses and Daylight Hours. Laid back but grooving. Maybe a bit more new romantic/new wave leaning than those two though.

Q We’ve only covered the next few months for you as well, how bloody bonkers is that – how is the rest of 2019 shaping up? What would you ideally like to see be the next step for Lional?

A Well we are actively working on an album! We already have 8 songs recorded which is the most we've ever done in one sitting and there's a few more to go. All the songs with full band arrangements took priority in recent sessions but there are a couple of piano/acoustic guitar based songs that will have more simplistic arrangements that will be added to the pot. The entirety of it won't be released until 2020, realistically, but that's not to say a few of the tracks won't trickle out before then! Gig wise we are playing the main stage at Belladrum and venturing down to play Live at Troon a bit later on in the year.

Lional play The Ironworks, Inverness on Friday night, and Skinandis, Thurso on Saturday night (tickets for both available from www.beyondhighlands.com). For more info, go to www.lionalband.com

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