We caught up with Donny McElligott, of The New Madrids prior to their gig in Inverness.
“Well personally I kinda view $outhpaw as an apprenticeship, I had a great journeyman until everything went a bit crazy and then was pushed into the spotlight by circumstance and that’s when all the previous 6 years of hard graft paid off and now I’m in a great position with my current team, and that’s what it is, a team although that tube Christiano Ronaldo isn’t fit to string my guitar!”
In January “the team”, aka The New Madrids were invited to play Celtic Connections an experience that Donny clearly enjoyed “Great, it was playing to a bunch of music industry delegates from all over the place, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England and so on and it was people like promoters, agents, venue owners networking to discover new music from Scotland that might suit what they were looking for.”
He explains that there was a real opportunity to impress and of course gain new connections “The gig itself was through Showcase Scotland which has been working as part of the Celtic connections conference for years now specifically it showcase new Scottish music to an international audience and we saw it as a great opportunity it get in front of some interesting people and show them what we’re all about.”
“Showing them what we’re all about” can also be said of their most recent album, “Through the Heart of Town”. The LP was described, by one very creative reviewer ,as being “as catchy as a dose of crabs”, Donny acknowledged that the comment did stand out “Yeah that was a bit of an eyecatcher but a complimentary one nonetheless, maybe it hints at what kind of shenanigans that particular reviewer gets up to of a weekend!”
Indeed it was one of many positive reviews for the album, Rob Ellen gushed “[it’s] a very accomplished piece of work and early contender for roots album of the year, 2014 will be their year”. Donny has been pleased with the feedback; “The response has been fantastic so far, we’ve known Rob for a fair few years now and I’m sure you know he’s always been a great champion of Americana, we’ve a few reviews so far and they’ve all been great”.
However it was a critic closer to home whose responses Donny most appreciates“the really satisfying feedback I’ve had is from my two year old when she sings along loudly in the car and claps her hands shouting “YAY” after each song!”
Talking about influence Donny is definitely not one to wander to far from the band’s genre; “I’m pretty much Americana all the way, always have been but I keep an ear out for whatever’s going on, last album I bought was “Muchacho” by Phosphorescent, still getting to grips with it but their previous album “Here’s to taking it Easy” is a cracker”.
For the forthcoming tour The New Madrids will be joined by Roberto Cassani dubbed “like a cross between Paulo Nutini and Alexi Sayle”. Donny explains why he was chosen to tour with the band; “I’ve known Roberto for quite a few years now, the first time I heard him he played this song with this crazy broad Scots and broad Italian accent, kinda like the way Paulo Nutini sings, very distinctive but Roberto’s a very funny guy, and it just so happens that our resident musical floozy Owen Nicholson is currently playing guitar in Roberto’s band so we thought we’d better keep an eye on him cos he’s a bit of a loose cannon is our Owen!”
The tour that the band are currently undertaking marks the start of a busy year of initially gigging; “We’re just booking as many shows as possible throughout the year, we’re aiming to get down south, we’ve also applied for NXNE in Toronto and there are a few festivals we’re targeting as well.” Perhaps the band will turn to the studio, “Hopefully we’ll earn enough interest in the album to kick on and get the next one started, most of the next album is written and we’re really looking forward to getting back to the roundhouse to record the sequel!”
The New Madrids play Mad Hatters, Hootananny on the 13th of March, 2014.
Check out the cracking New Madrids website