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Motherwell band The LaFontaines are back live and making their debut at Strathpeffer Pavilion with a new single


By Margaret Chrystall

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Want just one sign that the world is coming back to life – it’s that The LaFontaines are out live again.

Motherwell’s finest have been with us since 2008 – that’s a long time – but look at the history and it’s been all about exploring what a band can do and gigging the world.

Maybe, when they look back, the last 18 months will seem a testing time.

But they return with a new single Is It Free? that makes you long to see it live – and The LaFontaines do live as well as any band you’ve ever seen.

What’s that going to be like in the intimate surroundings of Strathpeffer Pavilion – a warm-up show for their first time at the O2 Academy in Glasgow?

You can barely wait to find out, and luckily not long to wait now – it's tonight!

But maybe when drummer Jamie Keenan looks back, the day he got a little time to talk to Seven Days wouldn’t be one of the highspots.

It’s pouring rain on the building site where he’s working, turning to labouring on construction sites during lockdown when the band couldn’t play.

But maybe offering a clue to the secret behind the longevity of this band, even soaked to the skin and suspecting they might all get sent home the rain is so bad, Jamie’s philosophical and upbeat. His sense of humour keeps kicking in as he sets the scene where he is.

“I’m working on the building site where I’ve been – even all my spare clothes have been soaked, and I’m in a drying room in my trackies, my T-shirt is getting dry, and I’m looking at some flooding on the site.

“It’s particularly grim today,” he chuckles. “It’s a mess! There’s moments where – obviously my experience is nothing like the soldiers in the First World War – but you think about these guys in the trenches. I keep getting up to my knees in soil, but at least I’m not getting shot at! I’ve got a hot cup of tea,” Jamie laughs.

He said; “I suppose I’ve learned that I’m capable of doing it, and I’ve been able to save up as well over the last year because I’ve been working. But I much prefer being a struggling musician!"

The construction work has been taking him all over – maybe not as much as The LaFontaines' extensive touring has done, though.

"I’ve been doing lots of different jobs – one of the jobs has been in Inverness, actually, I’ve been working on the new Aldis.

"I've been installing all the fridges and I’ve been up in Wick and Thurso and a few other places, taking any work that’s going.

"I was up working in Wick putting some fridges into a supermarket there and there was a guy there who went ‘You're the drummer for The LaFontaines!’.

"It was funny, he'd seen us in Wick a few times. We used to play up in Wick and Thurso quite a lot when we started out. And we’ve played Belladrum three or four times and at the Black Isle Brewery – and Inverness a lot, the Ironworks and Hootanannys.

"Hootanannys is one of my favourite pubs in Scotland, has it opened back up yet? Last time I was there it was getting renovated," proving just how much he and the band have got to know the north in their many dates playing up here.

The LaFontaines at the Kaiser Chiefs gig – they have also payed Strathpeffer Pavilion – at the Northern Meeting Park, Inverness. Picture: Callum Mackay
The LaFontaines at the Kaiser Chiefs gig – they have also payed Strathpeffer Pavilion – at the Northern Meeting Park, Inverness. Picture: Callum Mackay

He apologises you are not getting to speak to charismatic co-frontman Kerr Okan, but is there a better excuse than being off on your honeymoon in the Maldives?

And Jamie is an entertaining substitute.

We talk about their football song Scotland Bonnie Scotland that came from their podcast in the run-up to the Euros, the video featured famous Scottish faces such as Only An Excuse’s Jonathan Watson and Grado. The band are pictured at the top of a mountain. Ben Nevis?

“No,” Jamie laughs. “We spent a good few hours walking up it with the camera equipment and the instruments and when we got up there we couldn’t see a thing – it was like being in space!”

Hopefully the views will be better on the way back up to the Highlands, where The LaFontaines have played most venues and festivals.

“But this’ll be our first time in Strathpeffer!” Jamie says.

The LaFontaines play Strathpeffer Pavilion tonight (Tuesday, November 16), supported by The Dunts. More on the band: thelafontaines.co.uk for more on Strathpeffer Pavilion: highlifehighland.com/strathpefferpavilion/ Tickets: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/strathpeffer/strathpeffer-pavilion/the-lafontaines/e-ezzjrp

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