Interview: Indie rock and traditional folk, nothing’s impossible for Scotsman Roddy Woomble.

Roddy Woomble’s solo music is a far distance from the sound and lifestyle of an indie-rock band such as Idlewild. The Impossible Song and Other Songs is his defining new album release and with no struggling attempts to establish himself musically, it is a folk album of mellow ease that reflects where he is in life.

‘Everything in my musical life has evolved naturally. At 18 I wasn’t interested in folk music but at 30 I wasn’t interested in noisy rock music. It all makes sense to me now. I couldn’t have imagined the future; no one can do that thankfully.’

Edinburgh based Idlewild formed in 1995 and released six studio albums gathering a vast following. Initially a post-rock indie band, their sound moved gradually with each release reflecting the development of their writing skills and as the folk influences started to seep in. It did so in perfect timing for Woomble’s first release.

My Secret Is My Silence was the frontman’s debut solo album and with Idlewild behind him, he had a lot to live up to. The differences between the two sounds however, didn’t seem to concern Woomble, nor did writing his latest follow up.

‘[The Impossible Song and Other Songs] was all done in one place here in Mull and I worked on bits and pieces with lots of people contributing to the songs. My Secret was a much quicker, more concise album to write and put together. I like them both equally, in different ways.’

The Impossible Song and Other Songs is a flow of upbeat and mellow folk beauty. It contains all of the elements of the first release but with more layers and not so stripped back. It combines Scottish folk with a pop-rock feel. The record includes guest appearances from a range of artists including Jill O’ Sullivan, Rob Hall and Rod Jones.

Woomble is used to working alongside other musicians. In 2008, Woomble joined forces with folk artists Kris Drever and John McCusker for the collaboration album Before The Ruin. It also had contributions from Radiohead’s Phil Selway and Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake.

‘Kris and John are two good friends and we’d been talking about writing songs together, so we did. John McCusker is a well-connected chap so most of those guests are his pals. I’m proud of that album though. It’s a good one.’

‘I prefer doing my own thing, but with good folk. I’m lucky at the moment to be working with Sorren Maclean who is very talented and full of ideas.’

Admittedly shy, Roddy Woomble is currently enjoying the quiet life of Mull, a clear difference from the noise and lights of the city. That said, he does still enjoy gigging across Scotland joking that ‘It keeps me thinking that I’m popular’.

‘It’s where I can draw the largest crowd, so it’s very important for me. The Queens Hall in Edinburgh and the ABC in Glasgow are two great places, just the right size too.’

‘I’m not really famous and in my day to day life see no trace of it. There aren’t a lot of people around [Mull] anyway. I’m known by those who like my music, and that’s fine with me.’

Despite influences including Bob Dylan, George MacKay Brown and 80’s American punk rock, Woomble claims that he never planned to work in the music industry.

‘I just loved records and bands and wanted to be in one writing songs and playing gigs which is still the case. Somehow along the way I managed to make a living from it. Song lyrics suit me as the melody and music can help the words along. My words are getting better with age, as it should be.

The Impossible Song and Other Songs is a must hear for a lover of any music. It is clever, elegant, energetic and ripe. Thankfully, this career did work out for Roddy Woomble. If it hadn’t, he believes he would ‘probably be working on a farm or in a local shop’.

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2 Responses

  1. I met Scott Hutcheson of Frightened Rabbit outside Mono in Glasgow, just after he had played his second set that day as part of Record Store Day. I say I met him, I was just so overjoyed with fandom that I shook his hand and then went straight into a big sweaty hug, then left without saying anything as him and the band laughed at me.

    Felt a wee bit disgraced, so I went on Facebook and left a comment explaining the sutuation, and got a lovely reply from Scott detailing a similar experience he had with this fine chap, Rodd Woomble.

    I realise that anecdote is only tangentially related to this post but, hey, a story’s a story. Also, nice interview!

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