Peat and Diesel delve into highs and lows of 'Peatlemania' as Stornoway sensations continue their sell out tour at Ironworks, Inverness on Valentine's Day
“IT’S been crazy. I mean, we don’t know what’s going on anymore. We’re just doing what we can – we’re going along with it and hoping for the best.”
Those words, from Peat and Diesel’s box player Innes Scott, are as good as anybody’s when it comes to trying to explain the Stornoway trio’s meteoric rise to Scottish treasures.
The trio – Innes, frontman/guitarist Boydie Macleod and drummer Uilly Macleod – and their punky take on folk tales about island life have found a massive fan base across Scotland.
In recent weeks the band have performed to a sold out Glasgow’s Barrowlands – a second date in November has also sold out – and seen their second record Light my Byre hit the UK Top 40 Album charts.
A few weeks ago saw more than 500 people cram into and outside HMV in the Eastgate centre, Inverness to see the band play a few songs.
“We went to Edinburgh and there were a few in Edinburgh, that was an early show. And there was probably the amount of people we expected, you know – it was actually pretty good, I would say.
“And then we thought, ‘Ah, we got through that, that wasn’t too bad.’ But then the next day we did Glasgow and it was just unreal – there must have been a couple of hundred people there – we didn’t expect that at all!
“So then we thought ‘oh well, we’ll be alright going to Inverness, plenty of people have seen us in Inverness and we’ll just stop in on the way home.’ And they reckon there were 550 people in Inverness.
“So…” he started to add before bursting out laughing.
Sometimes laughing is all you can do – and looking at the Peat and Diesel story, you would easily forgive the band for finding the whole rise absurd. Their march has proved to be a genuine phenomenon and a massive surprise – not least to the band themselves.
“Yeah, it’s just...I don’t know what to say about it anymore,” Innes said. “When it started it wasn’t supposed to go anywhere, it was supposed to just stay in the house.
“And then obviously we started getting bigger, and then we started appealing to young people and...I dunno, it seems to be out of control now.
“But we’re stuck with it, there’s nothing we can do, we just have to carry on and make the people happy, and that’s what it’s all about.”
That may sound slightly pessimistic – but one can understand the apprehension about their fame. The three still enjoy playing music together, but with the increase in success so too comes the increase in exposure, in plans, in commitments.
“I would say that the travelling now on the road, the ferries, the staying in accomodation and just having to slip in and grab fast food all the time and having to follow certain times and be there at certain times and certain appointments…
“The whole lot of that is a downside, and it’s actually starting to kind of...you can see it taking its toll on the band – we’re struggling to keep up with that because we’re still working full time.
“But yeah, we do, when we go on stage we get 45 minutes of enjoyment, and that’s maybe the only bit of enjoyment we’ll get the whole week, so…” he stopped, chuckling again.
Fame has led to dealing with the fans too – great fans and ones that can go a bit too far. “But no, it’s good to meet new people as well, you know? It’s a nightmare when you get people coming up screaming and shouting, who seem to be obsessed with the band and we’re like, ‘Look, we’re nothing special, we’re just a small band.’
“I mean, it’s not as if we’re famous or flippin’ celebrities or anything, so we’re just, we like talking to people who are just normal people and just tell us about their lives.
“It’s nice just to get a break. I mean Boydie, when he finishes playing gigs, he tries to run off and hide and finds a quiet pub somewhere and gets to talk to a total stranger and gets their story.
“It’s just something we have to put up with and that’s it.”
It’s a shame that the so-called Peatlemania craze has had its setbacks for a band who, at the end of the day, just want to write and play songs together. Success has had its drawbacks.
But then it has also had great moments – selling out the Barrowlands, and having an album chart. “Yeah, no. We didn’t know much about the charts or anything at the time, but obviously now we can look back and say we got an official UK Top 40 album at one time in our lives, you know. It’s something to be very proud of.”
It’s all the more remarkable when you consider what else makes the charts these days – multiple songwriters, slaving over drumbeats and samples and scientifically crafting a hook line.
For Peat and Diesel, the songwriting process is much more organic, and much less committee-led. “Well, we actually don’t get involved in the songwriting – they’re actually Boydie’s songs!” Innes explained. “We don’t write them at all, Boydie’s the genius behind the whole thing. He might lack the odd life skill and all that, but we keep him right in day to day life. But when it comes to songs, it’s all him!
“Nearly everything he comes with is usually a good idea and we can tell instantly that it’s going to be a success. And then we just kind of, I just put my own slant on it as well, and that’s it.
“I won’t say we try generally hard to make it work, it just seems to come naturally. Boydie just writes a bit. Probably the first thing that comes into his head!”
Peat and Diesel play the Ironworks on Friday night. Tickets have sold out, but north crowds can catch Peat and Diesel supporting Skipinnish at the Bught Park Big Top on Saturday, July 4. For more info, go to www.peatanddiesel.band