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North band Rhythmnreel return after lockdown with a new album and a live Ironworks launch gig

By Margaret Chrystall

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The band at Nigg beach where the album cover pcture was taken. Picture: Gordy Buchanan
The band at Nigg beach where the album cover pcture was taken. Picture: Gordy Buchanan

ONE thing the new Rhythmnreel single Holding Out For Freedom sums up really well is the contrast between being confined at home by lockdown – and the north’s wide open spaces we are all hungry to explore.

The fun video has the band at a Zoom meeting and creates a spoof newscast before all seven members jump into a small van and head for the wide sunny sands of Nigg beach.

Gordy Buchanan of Struie Media Productions made the video, though Davy thinks some of the ideas may well have been added to at the band’s own many Zoom meetings!

We just sat every week and watched the dates flying off the page of the diary

“I wrote that song in my 20s and it was about a friend of mine who had broken up with somebody and they were trying to get away from that whole thing.

“But I think it has become quite relevant again – I’ve changed a few of the words from the original version and I find it’s now more about breaking away from the shackles and moving on from all the restrictions we’ve had.”

Davy reveals the band made the video last summer, but decided to hold onto it till this year when autumn crept up before everything was ready to go.

Davy played many gigs on Facebook Live with some of them raising money for local charities, he also played online gigs with his son Sam on drums. But the singer songwriter admits that the later lockdowns didn't find him quite so busy.

"From my point of view, the last lockdown broke me going into January.

I lost my mojo for a wee bit," Davy confessed. "And I didn’t even pick up my guitar for about two months. For January and February, I just almost hibernated over that time and it was kind of hard.

"It was quite nice when the longer days were coming in, it helped a wee bit. But I think a lot of people felt like that over January and February.

"Everyone had thought things were going to open out again – and it just went back downhill."

Davy Cowan (third left) is ready for Saturday's live album launch at the Ironworks, Inverness. Picture: Nicky Murray
Davy Cowan (third left) is ready for Saturday's live album launch at the Ironworks, Inverness. Picture: Nicky Murray

“It’s more of a summer song,” he said, and the video matches it. “It was good fun to make and we had some laugh filming it. It’s a bit tongue in cheek and not taken too seriously. It’s like the old Carry On films and maybe a wee touch of the Monty Pythons too!”

On Saturday the band will be getting out to play live for the first time in a long time to launch the new 11-track album, also called Holding Out For Freedom, at Inverness Ironworks.

He recalls what it was like for Rhythmnreel – a band that would normally have a summer of gigs – to sit tight at home as everything was cancelled.

“None of it happened in the end,” Davy muses. “We just sat every week and watched the dates flying off the page of the diary. It was really horrible. So the Ironworks will be our first – well it will be mine and Sam’s first gig with the band – it’s the first time we will be getting in front of a crowd.

“It’s quite exciting!”

But there was one plus from all the downtime.

“We probably wouldn’t have had the album recorded because we would have been so busy playing at weekends.”

New album Holding Out For Freedom. Picture: Gordy Buchanan
New album Holding Out For Freedom. Picture: Gordy Buchanan

"We have just made the best of the time we have had really. And I’m quite fortunate that I have the studio here at the house and that has also been a good learning curve for me over the last year learning how to record everything.

"At the start when you couldn’t get together with people, we were just sending sound files around to each other which was handy.

"Andy [Murray, Rhythmnreel's guitarist and also a vocalist] has a similar set up to me and he would send guitar files to each other. And when things opened up in between you could have two or three people around at your place – we could get Debbie [Ross] in to do the fiddle.

"And of course myself and Sam live together and we just did all the drums and that stuff here.

"But it took a good year to get the whole recording finished. I was editing as we were doing it anyway and it was quite a nice way to work because you have quite a lot of pressure on you when you buy time to go into a studio.

"When that light goes on, you are conscious of the pressures to get it done by a certain time. So this gave us the freedom to be a bit more relaxed with it all and to go back over and redo stuff anything if we weren’t happy with it.

"It's afforded us that luxury where we have a product now that we are as close to 100 per cent happy with as you can be.

"You are never 100 per cent happy with what you do,’ Davy laughed.

"But I think we are all pretty chuffed with how it has turned out!

"That has been quite good, quite positive to be honest."

And as well as plans to put together a village hall tour when restrictions ease – though Davy admits they may realistically postpone it to next year – there are even some early ideas for their NEXT album!

Restrictions in the venue with numbers mean Davy and Rhythmnreel fiddler and his former Coinneach colleague Debbie Ross will play a ‘support’ set before the main event.

"The two of us will go out and do a wee 20-minute, half-an-hour set. We’ll probably do some of my solo stuff and some of the old tunes we used to play together back in the day – to add a little light and shade to the show, really.

“We are all just itching to get out and play the new material!”

n Pre-order on CD from: www.rhythmnreel.co.uk Download now from iTunes, Spotify etc. Album launch at the Ironworks, Inverness, on Saturday (today).

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