Barry Mackay and Ryan Golder talks to invernessgigs about their plans.

Barry Mackay’s musical career has seen him front band Sneaky Castro and a shameless self-promoter, “if you don’t like it just block me” he explains with the exuberance of someone who quite clearly does not dwell on the negatives. We managed to catch up with him to talk about his music and his plans and also managed to see him play a gig at the Market Bar on the 6th of May.

The first solo gig was supporting Megan Blyth at her EP release “really really enjoyed it”,  whilst no stranger to fronting bands, Barry discloses “not having a full band behind me, I get a bit nervous” “a bit?” Ryan introjects “you were bricking it!” . Indeed whilst he is breaking away, or moving on from being in bands he continues to take his former band mate, Ryan Golder, with him. He clearly identifies the vulnerability of sitting in front of a crowd alone saying “it’s a little bit daunting” he understates, although emphasised the reason for having Ryan “I felt I needed somebody competent in guitar behind me just in case”.

The relationship and warmth between the two is no more evident than when playing, Barry playfully mocking Ryan, reminding him that it is his name on the board not his although showing his respect for Ryan by relinquishing the mic to allow Ryan to play his self-penned “Forever Criminal “. Whilst a contrast, to the rest of the set, it clearly shows that Ryan’s talents stretch beyond his more well known role.

The move to playing solo or at least in a much smaller setup seemed to be a practical one, in that it is easier to control and organise. Although the sound and style has not changed that much given his role as song writer with Sneaky Castros, “the styles not really changed I’m just an indie kid through and through”.  Although he has considered what a full band may add to his tunes “make it beefier, rockier”
The biggest influences, Barry answers with the confidence of a person who has well considered the answer: Nirvana, Beatles and Oasis – “you can hear Noel’s stuff in everything I play”, clearly wearing his influence proudly on his sleeve  as opposed to pursuing the need to be “new”, Ryan starts to explain, “it’s about bringing it back a bit to when it was…..” Barry finishes the sentence “good”

Barry identifies that “unless you can sing along with it I don’t really enjoy it, its gotta be melodic its gotta have harmony its got to have hooks”. He relates to the music he creates which he describes as “fun cheesey and melodic” music people will enjoy and what people will enjoy. With the exception of “Call My Name” , girls and drink are generalised themes. Whilst keen to be good at what he does there is no attempt to hide the influences.Barry and Ryan often refer to songs as  “Mega Cheese Bomb” , they explain “the straighter the lyrics the cheesier they are, the harmonies are quite cheesy …. I love all that Beach Boys, Beatles harmonies”. Some of the older material has had to be adapted for Ryan, for example replacing Samantha Begg on “Little Ray of Sunshine.” Indeed the set at the Market Bar was strewn with songs that the crowd took to instantly evidenced by the clapping along and even some dancing.

Barry and Ryan’s live act is more than just the music, maybe it was the partisan crowd, he was supporting Megan Blyth, or maybe it was at least the out ward impression of confidence. Certainly his stagesmanship, that saw him manage a drunken “hoth” impersonator  or his introductions to the songs or the aforementioned banter between Barry and Ryan.

So what’s next for Barry? Booking more gigs is clearly on the agenda, with the main intention of keeping the momentum, writing material to ensure things keep fresh and building a good live CV (goNORTH 2013 beware) that reaches out from Inverness and building audiences “take away the blanket and really go for it”. The need to keep communicate and opening channels and getting objective feedback “if they like you it’s good news, and don’t be shy to ask and chase up” A proactive response is necessary especially to harness the motivation and making the most of it. “nobody’s  going to plug it for you.”

The natural progression for most acts is to record material, although for Barry ensuring the quality of material is essential and subsequently he is in no rush to record an EP or such like, his priority is  on singles “I don’t want any filler” keep working until he is happy and confident with the package.  Although getting the music out there whether that’s via Facebook, or CDs. Barry is definitely more systematic, considered or “realistic” Barry adds. Learning lessons from his previous experiences, most essentially that he needs to go and get stuff and push themselves.

Upcoming gigs include spots at the IPO Festival in Liverpool which he will be joined by The Whisky River Band, Megan Blyth and Jake Bolt.

As with the trip  of the musician there are ups and downs: the recent planned support slot with Dodgy having recently been postponed, which is a massive shame give Barry’s eagerness to support them, even admitting that he would “change from the flares to the baggy jeans for the night”. He is playing at the acoustic folk session, Glachbeg on the 15th of May and further announcements are due quite soon.