Out Of The Wilderness: Roddy Woomble

Relocated rocker mulls over a mainland return

Abandon your traditions, watch them disappear one by one,” begins Roddy Woomble’s second solo album, ‘The Impossible Song And Other Songs’. It’s an apt sentiment.

The former Idlewild singer has abandoned rather a lot since moving to one of the UK’s northernmost outposts a few years back. Woomble now resides on the Isle of Mull, in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, and his new album is steeped in the sounds and stories of island life. The new release does now require him to temporarily abandon this rural idyll, however, and go traipsing round the mainland on tour.

“I have to do that, I have to play gigs to make my living,” he says. “What I do is try to space them out, partly because where I live is quite remote so going backwards and forwards is a waste of money and time.”

Woomble’s current method of touring is a mighty contrast from his days fronting Idlewild, the Edinburgh rockers who looked set for a Biffy-style crossover at one stage. “When we were doing pretty well commercially, we had the tourbus, catering,” he says. “Now we’ve got a car with all the musicians crammed in the back.”

He’d actually need a fairly big vehicle to get all of the album’s various players on board. ‘The Impossible Song…’ was recorded in Mull’s main hub, the An Tobar Arts Centre, with a slightly random cast. Any talented musician who happened to be passing was pressed into service “so I’ve been able to do this record that incorporates elements of jazz, country and folk, but it doesn’t feel forced or unnatural,” he says. True, but be warned, it does contain an instrument you might find disturbing.

“I’m a big fan of saxophones, a lot of people aren’t,” he laughs. “I’ve always wanted to use it but with Idlewild it was a but of a touchy subject.”

Woomble won’t be lingering too long on the mainland. He’s something of a Mull ambassador these days and in a recent blog post mused that more bands should play the island, having seen Mumford And Sons do just that. It’s a fine test.

“If you act moody it’s not gonna work. I think it’s refreshing when there’s no-one [in the audience] stroking their chin: they either like it or they don’t and that’s a total reflection of whether the band’s good, or adaptable.”

If there’s one thing Woomble now knows all about, it’s adaptability.

‘The Impossible Song And Other Songs’ is out now. For tour dates visit www.roddywoomble.com

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