So I was over there in Scotland, it was Saturday May 26th, 2007. On that sunny afternoon, the kind of day Ray Davies once sang about, my bride Margo's sister Roberta's daughter Sandra's daughter Lisa was wed to Christopher Hanson at the Condorrat Paris Church. It was an elegant ceremony complimented by charming sounds of a live string quartet.
This got my attention. Here's the deal. See, there's this club on Vincent Street in Glasgow, King Tut's Wha Wah Hut (www.kingtuts.co.uk). Bands like The Wombats, The 69 Eyes, Street Dogs, and the occasional classic artist like Ian Hunter perform nightly at this famous venue. In '93 Alan Magee signed an unknown combo called Oasis after he caught them at Tuts.
So The Dykeenies - consisting of three brothers, Alan Henderson - Lead Guitar, Brian Henderson - Lead Vocals & Synthesizer, and, Andrew Henderson - Bass & Vocals, plus two of their mates, John Kerr - Drums & Vocals and the previously mentioned Steven Ramsay - Lead Guitar & Vocals - appeared at an unsigned talent showcase, Your Sound Night, at King Tuts. They made such an impact that they became the first act signed to the King Tuts label that was created with the intention of bringing artists to the attention of larger record companies. The band's double-sided single, "New Idea's/ Will It Happen Tonight," was released in the summer of 2006. XFM Scotland and London played it and The New Musical Express wrote, "Scotland's biggest and best band&.a weird and utterly brilliant hybrid of The Killers and Panic At The Disco. Only they'll probably end up bigger than both."
The Killers comparison is very popular, but I've also heard The Dykeenies described as sounding like The Cure, Franz Ferdinand, Bowie, Modern English and many others. Hey, all rock and pop is derivative, but to my ears The Dykeenies are far from retro. They have their own indie rock/new new wave/power pop punk sound. Comparisons are bound to happen, but the truth is The Dykeenies sound like The Dykeenies and they are nothing short of thrilling.
I first heard them last Christmastime when I was sent their first EP which contained "Waiting For Go." Bam! The vigorous rhythm, brash U2-style of guitar, thrilling vocal bursts all over an intuitive melody hit me like a dart between the eyes. This was fresh, raw, and exciting new music. I was knocked out by what I consider their originality and energy.
Even the impressionistic lyrics got to me; stuff like:
"Terrified of you but not running away/My heart it was a stage and never played the game/Sick of always seeing subtitles again/You've got the wrong message running through your brain"
or "You can't stop fighting if the fights got you out of control" and how about "Nothing means everything to us tonight"&.six words that describe every rock concert ever performed.
So it was five months since I first heard them and there I was chatting with Steven during the reception at the Glenskirlie House, a lovely hall in the Scottish countryside. We were sipping lagers and I told him how much I love his band. I learned that they took their name from the 80's era George Lucas/Ron Howard flick "Willow." I also found out that they had signed with Lavolta Records and they released a new version of their King Tut single "New Ideas." He told me the band was going to London in a few days to shoot a new video& all exciting stuff.
I didn't want to come off as the old codger and burden him with all kinds of advice so I decided to just lay two bits of wisdom on the lad. I told him to "never give up the publishing," and I told him to "be weary of any music biz executive/producer/manager/ whatever who ever suggested that they change their music." I think I made sense to him, but we were there to celebrate his sisters wedding so I toasted to his success and let it be.
Several hours, and many lagers later, the rest of the group showed up and Steven introduced us. I shared with all of them my appreciation of their sound and wished them all success. My advice to them was a little stronger. I explained that everyone in the music industry is a crook, and the one who seems like they aren't is the one you have to beware of the most. I may have mentioned this concept a few times before I realized I had a good chance of being labeled Steven's crazy old relative from the USA. We took a photo together and went back to the wedding.
A few days later while my wife was shopping at Marks and Spencer on Argyle Street, I sat on a bench watching the good looking young lasses walking proud with the Dykeenies blasting from my ipod into my head. I just wanted to be able to say I heard them in Scotland. Get ready; you'll be hearing them soon.
The Dykeenies: www.myspace.com/gofindthedykeenies
Official website: www.thedykeenies.com