We speak to Search for Donkeys ahead of the release party for their debut EP ‘Dirty Lunch’.
For the uninitiated, Searching For Donkeys are Graeme Gilchrist (Guitar/Vocals), Gordon Ross (Lead Guitar), Colin Larkman (Bass) and Barry MacFarlane (Drums). If the reviews are to be believed, they are purveyors of “straight up indie-music.”
The band kindly invited me along to their practice in late November, a polite affair where Barry cooked dinner and passed around cups of tea. Quite a departure from a pint and a chat, and far more civilized.
I started by asking about the year, it is the festive period after all and an opportunity to cast an eye over 2014. Graham succinctly summarises; “It just went boom”, relating back to a year ago when they closed the Winter Showcases with an accomplished performance worthy of their headline standing.
Shortly afterwards the band were winging their way to Stonehaven to support Simple Minds at the Hogmanay celebrations in front of an audience of five thousand. The slot had been won by a fourteen act one day, Battle of the Bands earlier in 2013. An event that sounds part battle of the bands and part endurance test, Graeme reflected that their “highly accessible” stylings probably gave them the edge on the night.
Whilst the prize sounds glamorous, Colin adds a touch of reality, “It was absolutely baltic”. Despite the cold it was an opportunity to play in front of a massive crowd, “it seems so much easier to play in front of a massive crowd than a more intimate one” reflects Barry. However he added, “[we] didn’t realise how big the crowd was until we came off the stage”.
The year has been splattered with attention grabbing slots that included the main stage at Brew at the Bog, the Seedlings Stage at Belladrum and support slots for Palma Violets and The View. Each gig comes with it’s own story of shenanigans; whether it’s the Frenchman at Elphin whose motives were never identified, did he want to find donkeys or the band themselves? (I don’t think anybody ever found out). Or the adventures of Mark Leishman, who had been given backstage passes to The View for helping source drums for the Searching for Donkeys boys.
Festivals, Graeme explains, were “the holy grail” for the band and certainly from the low key Elphin event to Belladrum they have managed to achieve this. The boys have not been shy in raising their profile and had hundreds of frisbees made up for Belladrum, acknowledging that some people know them only for the toys that quite simply got everywhere at the festival.
They also took the opportunity to mix with other musicians, including jamming with Aaron Fyfe into the early hours. There’s even an awkward photograph with Band of Skulls at their headline slot. Gordon appeared particularly pleased that the Band of Skulls got something from their meeting too… “a frisbee”.
There is an obvious contradiction to the band, on the one hand the controlled chaos (that saw them forget to take the aforementioned drum kit and planning for having 50% longer on their Belladrum set) and the more controlled and considered approach that developed from taking feedback from their discussions at goNORTH this year. Subsequently the boys have invested significantly in their new EP “Dirty Lunch”.
“goNORTH made us decide that we go pro… we don’t want something highly produced, we want something that is us”. At the same time they acknowledged that they wanted to move on from the recordings that they had already done, “we had feedback that they didn’t really do us justice”. To aid them in the process they opted to record at Foundry Music Lab, working with Graeme Duffin (Wet Wet Wet) and Sandy Jones.
Barry added that the advice and support aided in “cutting the fat, [and] making them [the songs] more punchy”. On talking about their music the recurring theme of ambiguity is emphasised, none more clearly than on one track which started as an observational piece on life in the school playground and evolving into general work-life grumbles. There is a real sense that it is what it is, Graeme explains, “we are not making some sub culture … we just let it [the tracks] grow organically”.
You will be seeing and hearing a lot about Dirty Lunch due to the band’s relentless promotion which has seen the EP tracks get played around the globe. They have 1000 copies to shift too, expect them to be seen as frequently as the frisbees…
The aims for the EP are simple Graeme explains, “increased audience, radio play and much more effective contacts for bigger and better events”. Whilst Graeme’s aim would be to give the T-Break stage a try, Gordon’s desires are loftier, “I’d like to play Glastonbury”.
Next on the agenda for the band is the official launch of Dirty Lunch which they will do on the 19th of December. Featured alongside them will be ForiegnFox and Schnarff Schnarff.
Catch up with Searching for Donkeys via Facebook where you can contact them for a ticket for the 19th of December (and a free CD of course!!).