Ashley and the Cosmonauts are well know on the Inverness scene, both as a band and their individual ventures, we catch up with Ashley Mackay of the band prior to them opening the Garden stage at Belladrum 2013 on Friday.

Ashley and the Cosmonauts 5 thumb1 - Cosmonauts open the Garden

How did it feel when you were told you were going to be playing the Garden stage at Belladrum?

I was so excited and proud that we are progressing as a band. We have played Belladrum for two years now and to get a slot on the Garden Stage is the highlight of my year, particularly when it is the 10th anniversary. I personally love the festival and this one will always be in my memory I am sure. Playing a main stage at a music festival has been on my ‘to do before you die’ list for a long time and now I can tick it off.

Does the preparation a gig of this stature differ from a gig in town?

Ashley and the Cosmonauts 2 thumb - Cosmonauts open the Garden

I would say that the preparation is mostly the same in terms of the music. You always want to play your best no matter where it is or what it is for. One main difference is that we have a set list prepared; sometimes we decide what is coming next during the gig. Also I will make sure all the Cosmonauts (Ben Hesling, Robin Abbot, Dickie Bills and Derek Urqhuart) get a set list each to have in front of them because this stage is rather larger than others where you can shout what the next song is! Lol, I was just about to start talking about outfits and then noticed your next question……

How’s the outfit picking going?

The outfit is of course important to me! I’m still working on it; it’s not easy you know! I need to feel comfortable and be able to jump about the stage and also look ok. I have spotted a potential dress………watch this space I suppose!

What do you think makes Belladrum so special?

The size of the festival and the fact that it is set in the Highlands. It feels like a big party full of friends and family because you bump into so many people that you know. It is a really friendly festival……….I ended up on the shoulders of a random person at Texas last year and that is a normal part of the banter at Belladrum, meeting people, sharing a moment of some sort whether it is music or something else and then moving on to the next thing. The street art and installations that are around the site are amazing. There are lots of things that make it special. It is the one festival that I would not miss in the festival calendar.

Whilst the band are well known in Inverness, a festival crowd can be a bit different, how would you encourage folk to have an early start and head to the Garden Stage?

We have been telling a lot of people and telling friends to bring their friends. Word of mouth is a helpful tool. I know that some people may not be warmed up yet, but I also think a lot of people will be feeling fresh as it is the first official festival day. I hope that when people come through the gates they like what they hear and come and have a listen.

We have aimed to keep the set predominately bouncy to get the crowd going for the day. I would say to people they have paid to listen to music so try not to end up in your gazebo in the campsite for most of the festival! Campsite banter is great but lots of time for that……come and have a dance. One great thing about festivals is discovering new bands/music.

You’ve previously talked about plans for recordings, how is that progressing?

We recorded a demo CD which was finalised quite recently. We let things happen organically and we will get an official E.P out, but I think it is important to build your fan base and gigs as the most important thing and the E.P will happen when it does. We would rather take our time over it and be 100% happy with the result than throw something out that doesn’t represent what we do. What we have recorded could be used as an E.P; we will probably look at getting something formally launched and out over the winter months and decide what is best then.

What are your plans for the band after the festival?

To be honest I take things as they come. Obviously our focus has been on the Belladrum gig, straight after the festival it will be getting to Hootannany as we are playing there on Sunday 4th so I need to look after my voice on Saturday night! The plan really is to do what we are doing; continue to add to the current songs and we have a few new songs in the pipeline that we will be working on.

Check out the band’s Facebook page.

You can see our other coverage of Belladrum including interviews with Twin Atlantic and Dougie Maclean.