Look at me, 1997, eh? Racing headlong towards the 21st century after lingering for a while in the eighties. Idlewild are one of ‘my’ bands. I wrote their first piece of press, a new band piece in Melody Maker – a Maker Breaker as it was snappily called – back in 1997. I’ve some plans afoot for refloating some of those old articles, but that’s a whole other tale.
I first met Idlewild in a hotel near Hyde Park, I think. The name escapes me, but loads of bands stayed there. It’ll come to me. They were fresh off the train from Edinburgh and were in town to ink their contract with Food Records. There was something quite briliant about writing pieces like that. It was always a thrill and, despite all the jet setting and the cover stories, unearthing new bands was what made a great job a brilliant one. I still get a kick from it today (you can find new band writing on our sister site mynewfavouriteband.com.
And what with a new self-funded Idlewild album ‘Post Electric Blues’ (their seventh), about to drop for those who pre-ordered, and Roddy on tour with fellow Scots folkies Kris Drever and John McCusker (their ‘Before The Ruin’ collaborative album from last year is well worth hunting down), it seems a good time to roll out the ‘Wild’s second single, ‘Chandelier’ – which you can only listen to one way… loud, very loud.
It’s as much of a breath of fresh air today as it was back in 1997 and it never fails to give me goosebumps. It came to us, as was usual in the nineties, thanks to the fine ears of NME’s Simon Williams and and his always-on-the-money Fierce Panda label. It was a label that also served up early outings from Ash, Supergrass, Coldplay, Embrace, Kenickie, Keane and Death Cab for Cutie. He was occasionally wrong, but not often.
Roddy remains one of my favourite people from the time. A lovely, softly spoken man, he hated doing interviews. I can’t imagine he’s changed much, but he was always amazed that anyone could possibly be interested in what he had to say. He was, needless to say, good company, thoughtful and always interesting. Over the years I spent more time with Idlewild than with any other band, except perhaps Lo-Fidelity Allstars (more of them soon) and I like to think we had an understanding. Looking back it’s easy to see that I was as passionate as they were about not only about their music, but as people. But not in a gay way, natch.
Unlike many of the bands of the time, Idlewild have not only stayed the distance, but grown over the years from furious noiseniks to a band that reeks of quality – many said they were the UK REM, which I always thought was a slight, but you get the point. Sorry, I appear to be gushing. Great isn’t it?
– ‘Scottish Fiction: Best of 1997 – 2007’ is essential, and at a fiver a total bargain, buy
– Then it’s a case of just buying everything else, buy
– The collaborative ‘Before The Ruin’ is worth a listen (CD/download)
– As for vinyl, Idlewild are proving pretty collectable. A glance at the excellent eil.com has their debut single, ‘Queen Of The Trouble Teens’ at £125, which makes ‘Chandelier’ a snip at £26.99