When Kirkcaldy-formed band Shambolics sold out St Luke’s in Glasgow in March 2020, it was their biggest gig to date.
However, just days later, the UK was plunged in to lockdown forcing the cancellation of all live gigs.
The band made the most of the situation with a series of online events, including weekly cover versions to lift spirits.
Last December they recorded an exclusive live set with Kyle Falconer of The View and James Allan of Glasvegas to raise money for Kirkcaldy Foodbank and, having recently relocated to Glasgow, have also had more time to set up their expanded recording studio in the west.
Now, with Covid-19 restrictions continuing to head in the right direction, and with ambitions still running high, the band have announced that their first Scottish concert in front of a hoped for 350 capacity audience will be at PJ Molloys in Dunfermline on Saturday August 28.
Back to business
Taking a break from doing his mum’s garden on a trip back to Fife, singer and guitarist Darren Forbes, 27, tells The Courier he’s “buzzing to get back to business”.
“It’ll be our first gig back in Scotland and it’s going to be a mad one because the nights we’ve had in there have been pretty wild,” he says.
“We’ve sold it out six or seven times. It’s been mad each time. Our first ever gig was played in there.
“We never really had any plans on our agenda to come back to Fife.
“But it just made sense. We thought we’ll do a small venue in Fife, get the ball rolling in Scotland again and it’ll be great.
“PJs really appreciate us doing this – because venues like them have suffered during lockdown – so we’re giving them a bit of action too.”
Darren says the plans had been “a bit last minute”.
However, they had been inspired by watching bands they know from afar start playing venues and festivals again in England.
In the run-up to the PJ Molloys gig, Shambolics are scheduled to play in London and Leeds.
To get back in front of a live audience in front of a home crowd, however, is going to be “mental”.
Live music experience
“It’s going to mean so much,” adds Darren. “We are more of a live band – you know what I mean?
“You can still listen to us without the live stuff and that, but it’s mainly live that is our thing.
“The gigs are always rocking and we are dying to get back on stage – especially to a full capacity venue with no social distancing.
“I probably did take it for granted before. Even going to other gigs – I would be like ‘I can’t be bothered going to a gig tonight’.
“Now I’m just dying to get back to it. Especially the playing side of it. I’m dying to be back on stage. I’ll never ever take it for granted again!”
Darren said they have a “lot of things in the pipeline”.
“There’s going to be a lot of new music – put it that way,” he says.
A big date in the diary is the re-scheduled TRNSMT festival – again Covid-19 restrictions permitting – on September 10 which Darren predicts is “going to go down a storm”.
“It’s been so weird,” he adds. “It’s like we’ve been in lockdown for a year and a half and then it’s going to be ‘boom’ – every single weekend from two weeks onwards we’ve got something on to the end of the year.”
Darren says relocating to Glasgow has made a “huge difference”.
He enjoys hanging out with different bands coming into his Eggman Studios and believes Glasgow is the “place to be” for music – especially when long suffering venues get fully back open.
He still loves Fife and the band still try to get back to rehearse once a week. But he feels Glasgow’s “where it is” for live music if the band wants to step up.
Having taken a step towards the big time in 2019 when they were signed by Oasis music mogul Alan McGee to his new Creation23 label, Darren says they are now “separated” from the label, concentrating on working independently.
“We’re still pally with him – he’s just a phone call away if we need him,” says Darren.
“It was a dream for us to work with him, but he’s not putting so much time into his label – he’s concentrating on his legacy just now with the film etc. It seems like a bad thing when you first tell people but in the long run it’ll be of benefit because we’ll hold the cards.”
There’s no doubt that in today’s world bands can succeed without a label.
The addition of Shambolics’ long time roadie Scott to the band’s line up as keyboardist has also brought another dimension. Darren is sure it’s something fans will notice when they return to the stage.
“It makes it more professional and he does backing vocals as well,” says Darren, “so it’s four harmonies we have now – and keys obviously lifts it and makes it sound bigger. “People will notice a much fuller sound when we get back on stage and obviously we’ve practised a lot.”
*Tickets for PJ Molloys on August 28 go on pre-sale on Wednesday July 28 and are on sale from Friday July 30 via www.ticketweb.uk/event/shambolics-pj-molloys-tickets/11229585