LIKE their regular Inverness-based podcast, Netsounds Unsigned’s Takeover nights at Mad Hatters are aimed at giving some of Scotland’s lesser known bands a bit of welcome exposure.
Certainly Aberdeen band the Marionettes, one of two guest bands at tomorrow’s showcase, are grateful for the interest shown by Netsounds’ Jamie Macdonald and Murray Cameron.
"It’s difficult to get exposure in a place you are not from, so we do appreciate getting up to play that kind of night, especially with a band like The Winter Tradition from Edinburgh, who are doing well for themselves and making some good tunes," drummer Derek Stewart said.
"We’ve been up to Hootananny’s a couple of times. We normally play down the stairs and it’s not an ideal situation for a loud band like us. People have always been very responsive, but we are looking forward to playing up the stairs in Mad Hatters. And it’s Saturday night as well so people will have their dancing shoes on!"
Aberdeen may be Scotland’s third city, but Stewart acknowledged that even there it is possible to feel cut off from the musical mainstream.
"It kind of hit home when we were coming back from Glasgow on our final day of the tour and it was still 150 miles up the road," he said.
"Unfortunately over the last few year, with changes to the licensing laws, Aberdeen has lost a few venues such as Kef that gave younger bands an opportunity to play."
The Aberdeen music scene suffered another blow with the recent closure of independent record shop One Up.
"The guys would go beyond the call of duty," Stewart said.
"They’d have bands playing in-store, they’d stock any local music regardless of what it was, so it was a means of getting your music out there, but there was also the cultural aspect that they would order music in for you that you might not be able to order locally elsewhere."
That said, Stewart still reckons there has not been a better time to be part of the Aberdeen music scene, not when there are bands like Min Diesel, Suburban Saints or Little Kicks in such strong form.
Even among their peers, however, the Marionettes still stick out because of their three strong guitar line up, thanks to Daryl Rankin, Pete Taylor and lead vocalist Paddy Buchanan, with Thomas Emslie completing the line-up on bass.
"We always get the Iron Maiden comparison as a joke, but basically each of the guitarists does a different job," Stewart pointed out.
"We only use all three when we think it will complement the song. We just use it a means live to beef up the songs. We don’t mean it to be too heavy.
"When we started the band we only had two guitars, bass and drum kit. Then we had a synthesizer, but that wasn’t giving us the sound we wanted, but then we met Pete, who’s originally from Edinburgh, and he’s a fantastic musician who has brought a lot to the band."
Each member brings their own musical influences to the band, though that was not always the case.
"When we started — Daryl, Paddy and I, the original guys who got together at school — we recorded a CD at Captain Tom’s studio and there were five Nirvana covers, a Strokes cover, Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand, the things were listening to at the time," Stewart said.
"Since then our tastes have broadened out. I like a lot of jazz and acoustic stuff, Paddy is a big Morrissey fan, Daryl likes a lot of up and coming Scottish music like Bwani Junction. I think that’s a big thing in getting the sound of any band, varied influences."
Some of those influences can be heard on the band’s new single "Teaparties", which they recorded not in a studio, but at the home of producer Matt Morris of the band Milwaukee.
"Doing it that way, you can take as long as you want to, whereas we’ve always felt with commercial studios a lot of pressure to get the parts done because every second is money," Stewart explained.
"It is amazing the results you can get from musical technology these days. Even when we started the band seven years ago, you would definitely have needed to go to a studio, but this is the most accurate reflection of our live sound we have ever achieved."
The Marionettes, who have supported acts like The 1990s, The Pigeon Detectives and The Ordinary Boys, are hoping to release their debut album by the end of the year, he revealed.
"We still have a bit of writing to do. We want to put some fresh stuff on the album as well as the songs people know," Stewart continued.
"The majority of our live set is unrecorded. When we play live people are always asking for copies of the songs and we don’t have any."
Beyond that, the band just want to keep playing as much as possible from Thurso down and are currently busy trying to arrange some festival slots for the summer.
"It would be amazing to get involved in goNorth and Belladrum would be fantastic," Stewart added.
"We’re festival goers ourselves so we’ve always been attuned to playing there."
• The Marionettes appear with Edinburgh band Winter Tradition at Netsounds Unsigned’s Takeover at Mad Hatters on Saturday 23rd February.