In the midst of his Many Wonders Tour, Steven Barclay aka The Chosen Lonely returns to the area to play The Little Theatre, Nairn on Saturday the 10th of June. We caught up with him, although before we talked about music, we needed to ask about football first.
I know you’re a big ICT fan, how are you coping after the final?
I’m feeling okay about how it went! On the lead up to it, I’d been thinking we might just upset the odds, as we have done on various occasions against Celtic in the past. But in all honesty, to beat them in a final is probably the hardest challenge of them all. I think the team did okay! Just beaten by the better side, but quite a few Celtic fans had positive things to say about Inverness’ performance during the walk back to the city centre after the game!
It has been ages (2020) since we last caught you live, apart from the obvious C word, can you give us a quick catch up on what’s been happening for you musically?
The standstill on live music probably allowed some barriers to come down in the studio, as there was no real pressure to recreate what I was recording live. I ended up turning my hand to some new instruments, and a bit of videography too – resulting in the topical Zoom Romance single, and a full audiovisual EP ‘Video Hair’. It was great to see the reception those two releases got.
I’d played a handful of live shows here and there during 2021 + 2022, but at the start of this year, I decided to jump back in at the deep end, and booked the 17+ date Many Wonders Tour.
Who are your current influences when it comes to your music career?
Unintentionally, my favourite band in recent years has ironically been ‘The Vaccines’. Some of the members are also involved in other projects including ‘Halloweens’ and ‘T Truman’. I caught up with Timothy, who plays in all 3, after a T Truman set at Broadcast in Glasgow. He spoke very positively of the Inverness area!
Other bands I’m taking influence from at the moment include: The Killers, Swim Deep, The Drums, Wrest, and the old favourites in Glasvegas & Oasis definitely still shoehorn their way in.
You are using a couple for quotes about your music on your promo for the tour, what is your favourite press comment about your music and what is the review or comment that you have felt most uncomfortable with?
When referring to Zoom Romance, I enjoyed The Scotsman’s use of the word ‘triumphant’, but my favourite is probably one of the ones I’m using on the tour promo: Radio personality + Journalist Jim Gellatly described my music as “infectious indie mixed with subtle electronica” – which is the exact vision I had in my head for the majority of my material, so it was nice to see it being received in the way I’d intended.
In terms of an uncomfortable quote, there’s nothing that comes straight to mind, although I was once referred to in a gig review as Steven Murdoch from Nairn which was a strange one. Maybe there is a Steven Murdoch from Nairn? It’s not me anyway haha. Maybe we should find him and get him a ticket for the show!
I invested in some new effects pedals for my acoustic set up and begun to build new acoustic arrangements of The Chosen Lonely catalogue. I decided I’d go for a fully acoustic tour before introducing the band later in the year
The gig at The Little Theatre is in a few days can you tell us a little about how the event and the tour came around?
As I mentioned above, at the start of this year I was keen to get back into the live scene as much as possible. I’d also never played outwith Scotland before, so that was an ambition to achieve for this year.
I had been working on some new singles, but I knew it was unlikely that I could get a full band ready for shows to start in the spring, so I invested in some new effects pedals for my acoustic set up and begun to build new acoustic arrangements of The Chosen Lonely catalogue. I decided I’d go for a fully acoustic tour before introducing the band later in the year.
I took my limited knowledge of English geography, and began trying to build a list of dates. It quickly turned into a 17-date tour stretching from Thurso to the English Midlands, and a few additional gigs cropped up in between as well.
I’ve played a variety of different shows & venues on this tour. Everything from clubs to tapas bars, and everything in between. I’ve always enjoyed acoustic shows in seated venues, and I was keen to do something along those lines.
The Little Theatre is run mostly by volunteers who just have a great passion for the arts. They’ve been really great to work with! The following Saturday I’ve been fortunate to secure a similar show in Skye Bridge Studios. Both shows feel like they could really join the ‘highlights reel’ for the whole tour.
Can you tell us a little about your choices for support in Nairn?
I remember Daniel Gunn from his time playing with Purple Divide several moons ago. I would occasionally guitar tech for City in Surveillance back then, and the two bands shared a couple of shows together. I was a big fan of the solo stuff he did for a while after that, so when he re-emerged with his first official single this year, it seemed a no brainer to get him and his band involved in the show.His main influences include Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Gaslight Anthem.
LILURA are local to Nairn specifically, and again, I’ve followed LILURA right from the start, attending their launch show at the Tooth & Claw. Jemma Tweedie will be known to most active gig-goers from the Highlands during the last decade, and when she launched synth-pop project LILURA, it was a notable change in her sound. According to Jim Gellatly, she “enchants fans with spellbinding electro-pop”. She’ll be accompanied on the night by Kenna Ross on piano for an intimate set of LILURA material