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Peat & Diesel to play The Gathering and its after-party

By Margaret Chrystall

THE Gathering will fuel the fire that has already seen West Coast sound sensation Peat & Diesel become a viral phenomenon this year.

The three-piece from Lewis became internet stars just after Christmas with the video for their first single Salt And Pepper.

And last month’s release of their debut album Uptown Fank – the title a play on the 'fank' where sheep are dipped – has already sold out of its first 1,000 CD copies with another 1,000 copies ordered due to demand.

A few days ago the digital download version of the album was at 19 in the iTunes chart, sandwiched between Dave Pearce dance anthems and Queen’s greatest hits.

It’s all been a bit of “a whirlwind” for the three Stornoway musicians, Calum ‘Boydie’ Macleod on vocals and guitar, Innes ‘G’ Scott on Box, Uilleam ‘Uilly’ Macleod on drums.

Uilly said: “It all started when we went to Boydie’s house one Saturday and it was more about getting the craic than anything else.

“We weren’t taking anything very seriously. We were just meeting up to bash out a few tunes and it was only meant to be a pub gig every now and again, but it became a bit of a whirlwind.”

The band played to a packed tent at Uist's Eilean Dorcha festival last August. But it was when they released a video for their song Salt And Pepper just before the new year that things really took off quickly getting 50,000 hits before building more and more.

“That was our first single together as a band and we’d decided we wanted something quirky,” said Uilly.

“This song Salt And Pepper – although it is mostly in Gaelic – there isn’t much meaning to it, it’s a play on words and there isn’t really a story behind it like the other songs we have.

“But with the video when we released it, it just went absolutely viral.”

The video uses famous people and puts the words of the songs into their mouths.

“That was our friend Keith’s idea. He does the production side of things.

“He sat us down one night and said ‘We have to list as many famous people, basically from the here and now’. It was people like Donald Trump, he has got his lovers and his haters, so we thought we would put him in, and we also took it more close to home. Within bands we’ve got Manran’s Gary Innes from Spean Bridge we’ve got Robert Robertson from Tide Lines – there was nothing against these people.

Peat & Diesel fuel up to play to the Inverness crowd this weekend. Picture: Calum John Macleod Photography
Peat & Diesel fuel up to play to the Inverness crowd this weekend. Picture: Calum John Macleod Photography

“It was just for the craic and they are seeing the funny side of it because we got messages from various folk saying they were loving being featured in the video.

“It was a bit of craic, really, a bit of fun.

“That is how we wanted it to come across, we are a fun band, we’re not here to take things seriously. We’re just riding the wave, really."

But despite their popularity, Uilly doesn't think the band will be giving up their day-jobs any time soon.

"We are not going to be one of those bands playing Monday to Friday – we are not going full-time. We all love our jobs.

"Boydie is a fisherman and it is what he is good at as well. We are talking about making livings in these songs and that is exactly what it is like.

"We are all just down-to-earth guys and we will always have our work – this is just a bit of craic."

On their Facebook page, the band pays tribute to their loyal fans and write: "This band would be nothing without all you coves and blones who come along for the tunes and the craic..."

“We thought the band had a limited life span but Boydie keeps writing these songs, keeps coming out with these classics!”

The songs from the album celebrate island life and characters, such as Yes A’bhalaich (which Uilly explained for non-Gaelic speakers translates as ‘Yes, boy!’) and Kenny Dhomhnall Fhionnlaigh which is about going to have a session at a popular character's house.

"Everybody says ‘Yeah, boy, yeah, boy’. Yes A’bhalaich is a song that is talking about going around the pubs in Stornoway and it’s got loads of island characters and talks about having a flat tyre and having to change it. Andthere’s a taxi driver who is renowned for – not giving people a free fare – but he says ‘I’ll get it off you another night’, that kind of thing.

“It’s the same with the likes of Heorna Mhòr.

“I think that was the first track we put up online and it was just Boydie sitting on the couch with his guitar and his amp and it went completely viral.

“All it was was talking about being at a ceilidh and then having a session on the back of the bus and having a massive stramash on the way home!”

Peat & Diesel play al fresco. Picture: Calum John Macleod Photography
Peat & Diesel play al fresco. Picture: Calum John Macleod Photography

Uilly said they will have the CDs they still have left on sale at The Gathering on Saturday.

"We have kept a box for that.

"I don’t think we will sell 200 copies, I think we’ve got enough!"

But will they?

Already the Peat & Diesel story has crossed continents.

Uilly said: “We thought it was going to be a very West Coast thing and would stay that way.

“But I was in touch with Robert Hicks in Ullapool who is in charge of Loopallu and we played a gig over at his Arch Inn.

“There was a couple there from Stockholm who had flown from Inverness, then hired a car to Ullapool and they said to us that the only reason they were doing this was to come and see Peat & Diesel!

“We were saying ‘You are bonkers!’ but now we are organising a wee weekend tour of Sweden!

“So we don’t know where the next year is going to go.”

Peat & Dieselwill headline The Gathering’s second stage, Còmhla (Gaelic for ‘together’) on Saturday, June 1, at the Northern Meeting Park. The band will also play the after-show party at the Ironworks, Inverness.


The festival features Tide Lines, The Vatersay Boys, Elephant Sessions, Ho-ro, Torridon, Siobhan Miller, The Trad Project, and the City of Inverness Pipe Band across the main stage. BBC Radio 2017 Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year finalist Kim Carnie is also set to take to the second stage. The Gaelic singer from Oban is the voice of THQ Nordics’ Black Mirror trailer and featured both on the soundtrack and on-screen in Netflix’s Outlaw King.

Live music will also come from local Fèis groups including; Fèis na h-Òige; Fèis a’ Bhaile; Fèis Rois and Fèis Inbhir Narainn. Completing the musical line-up are TradBeats who will showcase beat boxing with Gaelic song, step dance and body percussion.

Throughout the day there will be three Meet The Makers sessions focussing on whisky, craft beer and gin/vodka. These sessions will be hosted by BBC Radio Scotland/Macgregor’s Bar/Blazin Fiddler Bruce MacGregor. Each session will feature three different craft distillers/breweries from the Highlands and provide an opportunity for them to showcase their products, discuss the story behind their businesses and allow the audience to sample local craft products from the region.

There will also be a dedicated children’s area which will feature a packed day of activities including: Come Try Traditional music sessions; magic shows; circus skills workshops; mini Highland games; Gaelic games and interactive theatre show; face painting.

The Care and Learning Alliance will also have their own area featuring nappy change and feeding area for nursing mums, messy play, crafts, dressing up and much more.

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