It’s no secret that the Scottish indie scene has soared in popularity over the past few years. The trailblazer is Lewis Capaldi, a Glaswegian singer-songwriter who now routinely headlines festivals, and let’s not forget Gerry Cinnamon who has swapped crowds of just two people for Hampden Park stadium.
Perhaps next up is Dunfermline band Shambolics, who have been signed by Alan McGee, the legendary music manager and founder of Creation Records. McGee has already called them “one of the great Scottish bands” which is high praise coming from the man who discovered Oasis.
Amid a vivacious amalgamation of sounds from the latter half of the 20th century, the four-piece band emerged in 2015, crafting the dream-like rock and roll melodies of their debut single, When She Goes Home, from Dunfermline’s Eggman Studios.
Consisting of long-time friends Darren Forbes (vocals/guitar), Lewis McDonald (vocals/guitar), Scotty Paws (keys) and Jake Bain (vocals/drums), Shambolics’ kaleidoscopic, football chant-worthy tunes have received support from Scotland to London.
“There’s an honesty to Scottish music, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and it seems to be spreading down south,” says Forbes. “I feel really proud. We formed a band at the right time, not in terms of COVID-19, but in terms of Scotland coming big.”
From the psychedelic road trip of Chasing a Disaster to the lashing chants of Sharp as a Razor, the versatility and assortment of the band’s material pays homage to their inspirations including Elvis, The Beatles, Hank Williams and The Stones.
Forbes continues: “You might not hear all these inspirations in our songs, but we’re even heavily inspired by hip-hop. We get slashed as Britpop a lot of the time, which I can kind of see due to our choruses, which a lot of artists aren’t doing now. A lot of bands are too interested in trying to sound different.
“We don’t want to sound different. We just want big songs. We’re loads of different sorts of music, not just Britpop.”
After being voted Best Rock/Alternative Act at the 2017 Scottish Music Awards, the band saw the fruits of their labours with the attention from McGee.
Forbes says: “McGee wasn’t too fussed about the songs at first when [our manager] kept sending them, and then everywhere he went, everyone would say ‘Have you heard of the Shams? When are you going to sign the Shams?’ Then he booked us for a Q&A, came to one of our gigs with our fans and, since then, we’ve been working with him.
“It’s cool because when we started out, we’d see McGee in Oasis documentaries. It’s pretty weird for it to happen.”
Like most performers, Shambolics found the pandemic difficult to manage, with their success hitting an all-time high shortly before lockdown.
“It’s been a bit tough since COVID-19,” admits Forbes. “We felt like we were on a bit of a trajectory just before the first lockdown, as we played our biggest ever gig to date at Saint Luke’s in Glasgow. Then the weekend after that we were in a pandemic. We’re more of a live band, we have to be playing the gigs.”
With further easing of the restrictions in Scotland, the band has announced a tour for April and May which will include dates in England.
“It’s crap [that] we’ve had to postpone so much, but it’s going to be worth it. We do quite well in Manchester, I can’t wait to go back to Manchester and Liverpool as well.
“All of our gigs are exciting, but I think we’ve got a lot of bigger gigs to go. Every time you sell out a gig for the first time, its special. The first time we sold out a 300-capacity venue was in our hometown at PJ Molloys, that was really special.”
He adds: “This year we’re just going to be releasing plenty of new music. We’ve missed out a load, but we’re just going to get on the road and take it step by step, not rushing anything.”
By Simone Harrison
Main image by Lewis Baillie
For details of Shambolics’ 2022 tour, click here.