Noise Annoys: Idlewild's Roddy Woomble talks Irish gigs and new LP
THIS week, a last-minute chat with Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble as the esteemed Scottish indie rockers return to Ireland for shows in Cork at the Indiependence Festival (today) and The Limelight 2 in Belfast (tomorrow)
The latter venue was visited by the band just a few months ago on the tour for their well-received 'comeback' LP Everything Ever Written.
"We don't play much in Ireland – occasionally Dublin and that's it," Woomble explains.
"So, when we got offered the show in Cork, everybody was keen to do it – especially as its a good slot at a good festival that seems to be well established.
"But of course, all of us live in different places [Woomble himself is based on The Isle of Mull], so getting together for a one-off gig seemed like a good way into doing something else as well.
"So we tried to get another show organised and managed to get one at The Limelight.
"While we only played there recently, hopefully everyone who came to that gig probably enjoyed it a lot, so I'm hopeful this one will be as good – even thought the stage is quite tiny."
Of course, such 'toilet venues' were once Idlewild's bread and butter during the Edinburgh-formed band's fledgling days as thrillingly noisy punk rock outfit renowned for their frantic, often physically damaging shows.
As Woomble explains, they haven't actually played in Cork since around that time – Nancy Spain's in 1998, to be precise, the year of Idlewild's much loved debut mini album Captain and their full length follow-up, Hope Is Important.
It's fair to say the act who will shortly be taking to the stage at Indiependence are a completely different prospect from their 1998 counterparts.
Not only does the Everything Ever Written-era incarnation feature a different line-up – including new recruits Luciano Rossi on keys and bassist Andrew Mitchell – the music they currently play draws on a much broader, melody-centric pool of influences.
Recorded in LA, their 2004 LP Warnings / Promises was a watershed moment for the band in terms of sonic evolution, featuring a folkier, rootsier sound with classic rock tinges.
Everything Ever Written almost felt like a decade-delayed sequel to that divisive album, which was recorded in LA.
In fact, the band have just returned from a three-date west coast tour of the US based around an LA recording session for what will be their eighth full-length.
"We have an agent but no record label in America," explains Woomble. "What we did was use the money we made from those shows to pay for a week in the studio. It was kind of like a holiday, but we came back with seven songs finished for our album.
"Obviously the circumstances of this album are a lot different from Warnings/Promises, which was coming off the back of our most commercially successful record The Remote Part.
"If we didn't have a hit, we weren't going to be signed to EMI much longer because our contract was up."
Although it wasn't the chart-busting smash they were hoping for, Warnings/Promises turned out to be a vitally important record for the band.
"We were listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac and Badfinger, that kind of stuff," recalls the frontman of how it changed the Idlewild sound. "I think it's a really great mainstream rock record."
As for their work in progress, Woomble is very happy with what they have so far and the current line-up's chemistry.
"Andrew and Lucci are such a part of the band now," he tells me. "The last album was quite disparate because it was written in stages, starting with just Rod (Jones, guitar) and myself and gradually the other members.
"This time we're all working together from the start, so it's already sounding much more confident as a piece of work."
:: Idlewild, with Brand New Friend, Saturday July 30, The Limelight 2, Belfast. Tickets via Limelightbelfast.com