Birdwatching and Zorbing for fans

Stornoway
Stornoway
David Cassidy pictured in 2008. Picture: PA

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Ever wanted to hurl yourself down a hill in a giant bubble with a band, or learn about birdwatching from their lead singer?

If so, then Stornoway are the band for you.

The Oxfordshire band, who comfortably straddle the indie-folk-rock divide, are currently holed up in the studio, recording their third full-length album.

They took to the crowd-funding platform PledgeMusic to help fund the forthcoming long-player, and going Zorbing – also the title of their breakthrough single in 2009 – is one of the perks for fans who want to get more involved.

Frontman Brian Briggs also has a Phd in ornithology and is offering to take up to 10 nature-loving fans on a guided tour around Oxford. Brian explains: ‘We started in Oxford, we’ve got a long-term loyal fanbase there that’s developed over many years, and that spread to London and beyond.

‘We’ve always felt we’ve done well at connecting with our fans, and not just when we perform. PledgeMusic seemed like a good way of allowing us to do that.

‘We’ve always been a band who like to do thing in our own way, and record independently.

‘It’s an exciting time for us. We’re probably two-third through recording it now.’

Brian had moved out to The Gower on the south Wales coast to write the new album: ‘It is inspiring. The sea features in a couple of songs – where we are now overlooks a salt marsh and one of the first songs I wrote here was a song about the relationship between the salt marsh and the sea as a metaphor for two lovers.’

And some of those new songs are going to get their debut live outings during a low-key gig at the Wedgewood Rooms on Tuesday, ahead of a show at The Roundhouse in London the following night.

The group have been working with super-producer Gil Norton on the new material.

‘It’s our strongest batch of songs yet,’ adds Brian, ‘and we’ve been working with a producer for the first time. He’s famously worked with the Pixies and mega-rock bands like the Foo Fighters. I think he fancied working with us as a bit of a change from the things he usually works on.

While Brian promises this means they haven’t gone all ‘rock’, he adds: ‘I think we’re too laid back for that. He has a had an influence on us though.

‘He’s tightened up our sound, simplified it and it’s sounding a bit more direct and fresh. It feels exciting to us and we can’t wait starting to share these songs with people – and that includes at Portsmouth.’

Tickets cost £14 and doors open at 8pm. Go to wedgewood-rooms.co.uk