Having joined forces for a gig supporting Heaven’s Basement three months ago, Toby Michaels Rolling Damned are going strong. The week after their first festival appearance at Belladrum, Doug Barr from Inverness Gigs caught up with three fifths of the band, Toby, Steve and Calum,  to find out what they’re planning for the future.

Toby Michaels Rolling Damned

Doug:

So the last time anyone from Inverness Gigs talked to you was in the middle of May, just before your first gig as a band. At that point you [Toby] were a little cagey about who was going to be in the band and what the motivation was.

Toby:

Oh no, at this point I did know who the band was going to be, but at the same time I was sort of, it was pulling on Chris’ strings trying to just keep him guessing a wee bit, just wind him up a bit. But at that point we were the same line up that we are now.

Steve:

There’s not been anyone… like some people have bands where a guy comes in, plays guitar and [it’s] “right… it’s not happening mate” and then he goes and someone else comes in. There’s been none of that. He put the line up together and that’s the line up that’s stayed.

We’re all friends in this band. In fact it’s the first band that I’ve ever been in where I’ve just been with friends from the get go.

Toby:

I’ve always been told by a lot of people you get further up where your tour managers and stuff say “you can’t gig with friends, it doesn’t work”, but I did it for five years before this and I had a great time. I’m doing it this time round and I’m having a great time, and I’d like to think I’m friends with myself so when I was doing the acoustic stuff I was having good fun with that as well… [laughs from around the table]

Toby Michaels Rolling Damned

Steve:

I personally have known everybody in this band for like eight years, and if someone had said to me, even two years ago “you’ll be playing bass for Toby Michaels, and Calum will be on drums, and you’ll get Gary from KOBI playing guitar and Johhny Gash is gonna come back and do stuff” then I would have been like “no chance…don’t be silly”.

Toby:

Folk would’ve been like “why would you’s do that?” But it’s one of those odd combinations of like… even with me and Gash man having been in a band for like five years together, our musical tastes always were so incredibly different anyway, and that’s the same dynamic we’ve got with everyone else here. I mean, you’d probably struggle to find more than one band that I really like that the rest of the band really likes and vice versa sort of thing. I think that brings a really cool dynamic to it, it gives a fresh sort of feel to it…

Calum:

You get everyone’s feel for it when you’re jamming don’t you, from all the different influences.

Doug:

From that basis, how do you feel that the line up has worked out? Has it achieved everything you wanted it to?

Toby:

I think it’s achieved everything and more to be honest. I’ll be the first to say when it first came out, like any new band, I was quite tentative with how it would go. Again, with just how different everybody is. But I think each member of the band brings a different thing to it, which is really important. They bring their own slant and own ideas into something regardless of who’s maybe wrote the song sort of thing. We’ll have different ideas, and altogether it’s upped my expectations even more of what we can do.

Doug:

In terms of the way that you’re working at the moment, how are you finding arranging the songs and throwing ideas around?

Steve:

It’s quite an ambitious band really… Starting today now that Belladrum’s out the way, we’ve actually got about, at least four or five other songs that are unfinished… So we’re basically going to write a new set.

We’re going to put a single out. We put out a download single [Save Me] after Belladrum… ‘cause a lot of people had asked “how can I get it?” So that’s been cool, and we’re going to put out another single on Halloween and do a gig in Inverness as part of Soundminds [the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival], but we’ve got far bigger plans than that. There’s everything we’ve talked about from a comic book to a movie and all this sort of stuff… We’ve already tied up with a graphic designer that’s going to do the comic book with us, and we’re scripting just now as we speak. It’s all going to be larger than life stuff.

Doug:

So as far as the comic’s concerned, do you see that being a comic about the band or do you see it as a trans-media experience along with the songs?

Steve:

It’s a story about when we went to Aberdeen and had to deal with vampire groupies. You can write that down if you want, as if it’s an actual factual thing! [laughs]

Toby Michaels' Rolling Damned

Toby:

I think the idea with the likes of the comic book and stuff like that, it’s again still harping back to, and admittedly I go to this point a few times, it’s about the fun.

Doug:

Picking up on an earlier point that you made, you say that you saw the gig at Belladrum as a milestone. Was that something that you were working towards from the point that you got together?

Calum:

Definitely.

Steve:

Well it’s interesting really, one of our friends came backstage after the gig and he was just sitting with us and he goes “is that your second gig?” And he [Toby] goes “no, no it’s like our seventh gig or something”. In that time we’ve played everywhere from Boat of Garten to outside Tescos… Basically he [Toby] got a slot again, just like the support slot [with Heaven’s Basement], at Belladrum and then he says like “I want to do it with my band”. So if it all went pear shaped, he was going to do the gig acoustic.

Toby:

I’d have been able to blag some stuff, I’d have worked something out!

Steve:

So we had a safety net, but the idea was “get out there and gig”… It’s total grass roots, play obscure places people don’t know, and I’d pretty much say that there hasn’t been a place yet we haven’t been well received.

Toby:

It’s been well received, and we’ve done what we set out to do. We’ve had a good time and we’ve bonded that little bit more as well which is obviously important… It’s just trying to progress and progress. With our sound, with our material, and just with what we do on stage and what we’re doing to get our name out there. On the promotion side… I mean you’re going to probably put at the top of this “Toby says fun too many fucking times” but it’s another thing that can genuinely be really good fun.. if you work it as a fun thing to do.

Toby Michaels and the Rolling Damned

Steve:

With this band like, we’re up for working hard and up for going to the places that people don’t regularly go to. I haven’t even told you this yet [Calum] or you [Toby] really… but since we played Belladrum we’ve had people saying… “come to the Isle of Harris to gig”, “come to Invergordon”, “come to Wick” and stuff like that, and if people are wanting us to come we’ll go… Actually somebody said to me on Saturday night at Belladrum “you guys should play Girvan”. I just thought “that’s random”… Girvan’s apparently the size of a street… and he goes “oh but don’t get me wrong, everyone in the street will go”.

We’re going to do a tour in October, and I think we’re going to do Edinburgh and Glasgow and Aberdeen. We’ve got a festival that we’re not allowed to announce yet… which we’ve been very lucky to get. It’s actually quite a small unique festival so we’re looking forward to doing that [the band have since announced that this will be Jocktoberfest].

Calum:

I don’t even know about that!

Toby:

Yep there you go, we’re not even sharing it with the drummer he’s too bad at leaking information!

 

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Toby Michaels Rolling Dammed will be playing the last Summer Showcase with ROADWAY and The Oxides on the 30th of August. For details about other upcoming shows visit the band’s Facebook page athttp://www.facebook.com/TobyMichaelsRollingDamned. More acts are being added to the bill for Jocktoberfest regularly, for more information visit www.jocktoberfest.com/.

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Douglas Barr is a freelance sound engineer, lecturer and programmer. He produces original software instruments and audio effects for composers and DJ’s, along with the occasional custom guitar pedal. Douglas has worked in recording studios across the Scottish central belt and the north of England. Alongside his experience working with bands he has been lecturing creative media students since 2007.After relocating to the Highlands, Douglas got involved in Inverness Gigs as a way of getting to know the local music scene. Since then he has been impressed by the quality and variety of local bands and venues.You can contact Doug direct at Doug@Invernessgigs.co.uk