ONE of the intriguing prospects at the first Ironworks showcase gig after Christmas was getting the chance to hear Inverness band The Oxides expanded to include a second guitarist.
Paul aka Pel Elliott’s well-known on the Inverness music scene for his part in various bands, from The Now to The Outsiders which he’s still playing for.
But maybe his invite to The Oxides was no random accident ...
The band’s singer and guitarist Jake Bolt has a confession.
"I’d always wanted to have Pel in from the beginning, but he was so busy with other things at the time that he couldn’t commit."
Pel added: "I was putting a lot of time into The Outsiders – we were playing every week then – plus other things. But at the end of last year I decided to cut right back and focus on me and playing."
A month later, Pel met Jake for a pint.
Pel laughed: "He told me he was going to audition guitar players to find someone to join The Oxides."
Jake grinned: "It was a ruse and after that month off, he’d got the bug again. So by January 1, he was in The Oxides and booking us gigs!"
As well as local dates, The Oxides head to Liverpool’s Cavern later this year, thanks to Paul’s previous contacts playing there.
The Oxides - line-up also including bassist Archie Stewart and drummer Duff - have always shared their music free with fans online – and often giving out CDs at gigs. Jake explained why.
"It’s important to me that people know the songs. I think you only really enjoy a band properly live if you know their stuff.
"And because I record the demos in the house, I could never charge people for them.
"Maybe one day when we have spent a few grand on recording something and we might need to earn the money back, things might change."
Jake added: "I used to go to gigs and buy a band’s EP, but it’s so tough at the moment. If we’re playing a ticketed gig, I want to make sure there are free CDs for people.
"We do like to give free stuff, it helps them remember us – especially if we frisbee it off the stage at them," he grinned.
Taking care of everything from the songs to the free CDs and artwork is something both Pel and Jake believe is a good idea for a band.
Pel said: "I think nowadays bands have to think of all aspects. We’re trying to make something that’s unique to us."
A shortlist of possible band names written out in Jake’s signature scrawl proved the inspiration for the first band artwork
Jake said: "Rather than something generic, it’s like creating your own brand."
For Jake, having Pel’s sound added, has been a boost.
"Since Paul joined, it’s been the best – it sounds amazing!
"When we start jamming those first notes, I’m just grinning from ear to ear. I can honestly say it’s the best band I’ve been in and it’s totally upped our game. It’s a big ‘Yes!’."
Surprisingly when the two turn up for the interview, it’s hard not to notice they’re a bit subdued. Turns out it’s their pals The Whisky River Band’s faul. Pel and Jake admit they threw themselves into the party atmosphere of the Whiskys weekend Eagle Bar gig.
"It was so good I’m still suffering from it – in a good way," winced Jake.
"We earned this hangover!
"But we’re hoping everyone who comes along for our gigs will end up this bad – or good!"
The Oxides are playing all over the area in the next few weeks. You can catch them at: The Mallard, Dingwall, tomorrow (Friday) with Furry Vengeance and Nick Murray, who will also appear with The Oxides at the Poacher’s Inn, Drumnadrochit, on Saturday; in a line-up with PAWS and Cleavers at Mad Hatters, Inverness, next Saturday (Feb 16); Mackenzies Inn, MV Festival, Aviemore, on March 2; with City In Surveillance and Jemma Tweedie at Y Not, Thurso, on March 9.