It is hard to avoid the enthusiasm for Lionel and it is no surprise that they have a strong local fan base. We caught up with Joshua Mackenzie to have a chat about the recent changes in the band, their forthcoming gigs and a need to push South.

How fairly does the early days of Lionel represent you now, if there has been a change can you explain what the biggest influences on that change have been?

The biggest difference from the old Lionel to now is just my approach to writing songs has changed. I want to take more risks and be a bit more experimental and it’s pretty hard to achieve that with a 3 piece so the addition of keys and having other members contribute to vocals were needed. I think it has only been recently as well that I have become a bit more comfortable being a lead singer and trying to fulfill those duties on stage a bit more, where as before I just did it because I had to and was probably visibly discontent.

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“Russ is a great hard hitting drummer but he also understands what a song needs”

What do the recent additions of Russell and Gordon bring to the band?

With the addition of Russ and Gordon I really see it as a new band and I mean that in a very very positive way. Russ is a great hard hitting drummer but he also understands what a song needs and is always giving his input when we are structuring songs. He is what I like to call a great server of the song, which, for me personally is what I think is most important for a drummer, followed closely by aggression, so he fits the bill completely.

Gordon and I have been close friends since school, years ago now, and for the past 2 years we have been writing together be it my stuff or his. We always planned to have him join the band but until now he lived in Glasgow. The organ and piano playing really fills holes that were there before and brings a whole new dimension to how we write. There are now songs that are based around piano lines that we actually wouldn’t be able to play as a 3 piece. He is also a 2nd lead singer at points. There are all kinds of vocal harmonies going on now that were none existent before.

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“I think we definitely held our own with our set.” Joshua on the band’s support slot for Casual Sex

You recently supported Casual Sex at Mad Hatters, given the momentum of the band at the moment, how was that as an experience?

That was a fantastic gig to get. As a big fan of the band I was really chuffed to get asked to do it. They are a class above, you can tell when you watch them they have so much experience touring and it’s so polished and together, but I think we definitely held our own with our set. We didn’t show ourselves up and the feedback was all very very positive!

What do you think the Lionel’s big achievement is to date? and what do you think the goals for the band are?

The biggest achievements this far would be that set at Belladrum. That and a number of minor things for example just the way our songs have affected people. It’s very humbling when people identify with songs you write. Our goals are really just to get gigging in other cities and make as many people aware of us as possible! I think if we do this then other opportunities will present themselves naturally. We also really want to make an EP that will do us justice for a change.

Thus far I have never really been satisfied with our recordings. People say it themselves, we are significantly better live, and especially now we have a completely different line up, it’s important we nail it next time round. Will will definitely release more music maybe even as soon as summer!

One of our lasting memories of the band was the chanting of the band’s name at The Winter Showcase, how important is fan appreciation to the band?

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Joshua playing Belladrum 2013

Of course, the Lionel chants! It’s extremely flattering of course and it does put a smile on your face, though it’s important that these things don’t inflate the ego too much! As much as I wish I could sit here and say I’m a purist who makes music because I love it, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel I needed some validation or acceptance from fans from time to time, so it’s a good boost!

You have a gig in Glasgow in April, how do you feel about playing away from the area?

We’re looking forward to it. It may be a bit daunting playing to a crowd of people that will probably have no idea who we are but it’s about time we started looking further afield to do gigs, as much as we love playing to our local fan base, in the short time we have been a band we have already done these venues to death I think. It’s easy to rest on your laurels and get too comfortable on the nest of the highlands but as a band we want to make as many people as possible aware of our music and I think our lack of playing down South has put us at a big disadvantage so it is a must.

With both the Easter Showcase and Brew at the Bog looming, which are the bands that you are most looking forward to catching?

I’m looking forward to seeing every act at the showcase, have heard good things about all of them. I’m intrigued. For brew at the bog I’ll definitely be catching Casual Sex, and Roddy Woomble. Idlewild were a big favourite growing up, I owe a lot to him when it comes to songwriting so I’m right up for seeing him. Also, me and my friends have a wee suspicion the secret guest could be Idlewild related, I’m eager to see…

Tickets for the Easter Showcase, to be held on the 20th of April are available via the acts or The Ironworks.

You can keep track of Lionel via Facebook.

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A lifelong passion for music matched with a geeky fascination for social media and websites resulted in the creation of Inverness Gigs back in 2010. The aim of the site is to help promote, support and generally raise awareness of the local music scene.In fairness fifteen years of being a psychiatric nurse never prepared me for the experiences that we have had over the last few years and the evolution of Inverness Gigs has certainly been a steep learning curve.I currently write (less and less), edit and co-ordinate most of the Inverness Gigs activities.Occasionally seen on Twitter, and  LinkedIn, if you want get in touch you can contact me direct at chris@igi.gs