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Mt Doubt frontman Leo Bargery ready for climb to the top as two north of Scotland dates lined up – including The Market Bar, Inverness and Elgin Town Hall

By Kyle Walker

WHEN Mt Doubt maestro Leo Bargery returns to the Market Bar this weekend, the venue is going to bring back an awful lot of memories.

The Edinburgh-based singer/songwriter has won plaudits across the country for the project’s atmospheric, textured “dark pop” sound.

And they have been no strangers to the Highlands, with gigs at Belladrum and XpoNorth – and even a split 7” launch at the Tooth and Claw with former label partners Acrylic.

Yet – as seems to be the case with Edinburgh musicians – it all starts at the Market Bar. “I think the first show we did in Inverness was an Xpo show at the Market Bar,” Leo recollected, “and I just remember it was really really quiet when we arrived, I thought nobody would come along.

“And then about five minutes before we were starting, literally came back – and it’s a small room, obviously – but the whole place was absolutely rammed!

“That was really exciting, and personally it kind of set the precedent for coming up to that part of the country – it’s always really exciting.”

Leo has two shows lined up this month in the north of Scotland with the Market Bar show this Saturday, followed by a show at Elgin Town Hall – his first ever concert in Moray. “We’ve never been to Elgin before, but we met a bunch of people in Inverness who said we should try to get along the coast – so that’s what we’re doing!”

I suppose it was ill-fated now – but I had kind of an obsession with Morrissey for a while!

While the Elgin show will feature the full Mt Doubt experience – a five-piece band providing the moody textures for the music – this weekend’s Market Bar gig will be a more intimate affair, with just Leo making the trip.

“I’ve got a lot of new music coming so it’s just me kind of test-running the songs, making sure people don’t hate them, you know?” Leo laughed.

“I’m really looking forward to it. Getting to try new stuff, play some covers – just stuff I don’t normally do – yeah! Just changing it up a bit!”

Mt Doubt first came together in 2014 – the band released their debut album the following year – My Past is a Quiet Beast.

Since then, the group have released sophomore album In Awe of Nothing in 2016 as well as several singles up to this March’s Unravelling.

The music journey for Leo however goes back much further – all the way to high school. “A lot of my friends and myself was very into music, and one of my friends had a guitar, and I ended up buying it off him when he was trying to shift it.

“It just kind of went from there. He showed me how to play stuff, we started a little band. We started playing together, eventually started playing shows around Scotland a little bit, and then we all kind of went off to university from high school so that naturally came to a conclusion.

Mt Doubt's main man Leo Bargery.
Mt Doubt's main man Leo Bargery.

“And then I had kept writing by myself and decided to start Mt Doubt as a vehicle for putting my material out.”

And a look at his tastes shares out just how many influences he’s bringing in for his music – heavy lyrical influences from the likes of Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and Bill Callahan sit alongside acts from notable indie label Drag City (including the late Silver Jews frontman David Berman).

He is slightly self-effacing about his tastes when he looks back to the beginning of his interest in music though. “Really back in the day, I guess, just very kind of teenage music to be listening to!” he laughed.

“Just discovering grunge stuff and Nirvana, Pixies, all those kinds of bands are obviously hugely exciting when you stumble upon them for the first time.

“And then from there, I had a kind of a – I suppose it was ill-fated now – but I had kind of an obsession with Morrissey for a while.

“Which, you know, it’s easy to hate him but there’s always going to be a place in there for me where I just kind of love him. But I’m aware that he’s awful!”

Leo brings Mt Doubt to The Market Bar, Inverness this Saturday night for a special solo show from 10.30pm, free entry. Later, Mt Doubt headline Elgin Town Hall on Saturday, September 28 (support from Gordon James and the Power, Hedswim) – tickets cost £8 plus booking fee. For more info, search Mt Doubt on Facebook.

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