Skerryvore at the Southdowns Folk Festival

Scottish Celtic rock group Skerryvore are working on a new album as they head south to Bognor's Southdowns Folk Festival for a date at the Regis Centre on Saturday, September 23.

Heading to Bognor
Heading to Bognor

Co-founder Alec Dalglish said: “We have got about half the stuff ready. It probably won’t be this year, but we want to get it out as early as we can. We are still pushing on with it.

“The new album is just really a further progression of what we have been doing. There is no concept or theme. We are still at the stage of collecting all the material together and seeing how it all falls and how we want it to work on the album.”

The band started off with Tiree brothers Daniel and Martin Gillespie, alongside regular Tiree visitor Fraser West and his friend Alec, both from Livingston, West Lothian.

The group took their name from the Skerryvore lighthouse 12 miles off the coast of Tiree, but it was at university in Glasgow that the band took off.

Alec recalls: “That’s where we got together and started a band.

“We played together for someone’s leaving do, and we just ended up playing together more.

“At the time, the music was essentially ceilidh music. We did a lot of functions and parties, playing traditional west-coast ceilidh music, just very informal, all of us just busking away, and we went on like that for a few years.

“But when you have been playing for a while, the sets start to become a bit more arranged.

“We decided to do an album. Another band from Tiree had their own record label and wanted us to record. That would have been 2005.

“And then the next album after that changed the style a bit more. We realised we needed to do our own writing.

“I write most of the songs, and some of the instrumental players write most of the instrumental sets. I don’t think any of us had had any experience, but when I wrote my first song, I got such a buzz from it that I wanted to do more.

“It totally varies what I write about. I would not say I am a particularly-poetic writer that writes about landscape and writes beautiful imagery. I am a lot more a pop writer than a traditional writer.

“We are a traditional band, but my songs are more from a pop background, and Fraser has more of a rock background. The other players come from that more traditional, folkie sound.

“We are a mix really.

“We have been touring America for about eight years now. We go there at least once a year from three to four weeks up to six or seven, and we tour a lot in Europe as well. Over the years we have been as far afield as China.

“It went down very well in China. Apart from anything else, it was just quite novel for them to be seeing bagpipes and a guy wearing a kilt.

“But the music travels well. Sometimes in Scotland or England, you are prejudged because people will either think they know they like pipes or they don’t. Sometimes it is good not to have those preconceptions.”

The Southdowns Folk Festival starts on Thursday evening September 21 in the Alexandra Theatre with Steve Knightley from Show of Hands, supported by British Americana band, The Jigantics.

Friday evening sees Home Service with Megson providing support. Sunday evening in the Regis Centre Studio will see Richard Digance taking the stage.

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