The intention had been for Scottish alt-rockers Idlewild to hit the ground running after finishing up touring for their last album, Everything Ever Written, and get straight on with a new one.
They even recorded six songs in Los Angeles.
But as frontman Roddy Woomble explains, life got in the way and instead of Idlewild’s seventh album, we have the atmospheric gem that is his fourth solo album, The Deluder.
‘We tend to write songs as a collective thing with Idlewild now,’ he tells The Guide. ‘Me and Lucci (Rossi, keyboards) and Andrew (Mitchell, bass) had written quite a few songs over the last few years, some were intended for Idlewild.
‘But mainly life sort of took over – we got back home, (Idlewild guitarist) Rod Jones runs a studio in Edinburgh, and he was very busy with that, everyone else was kind of doing other things, so we made a collective decision, let’s take six months off, let’s concentrate on other things.
‘It’s an ongoing thing, Idlewild, it’s not going to end, I don’t think ever,’ he says with a wry laugh. ‘We can take years off it and come back to it. I think Everything Ever Written proved that – it was five years between that record and the one before.
‘Everything Ever Written was one of our most popular records we’ve ever put out in the way people responded to it, which gave us a lot of confidence, thinking we’ve still got an audience who are really keen to hear our music.
‘In the meantime, I thought I’ve got lots of songs here, let’s make a record.
‘Sometimes that’s the best way to make a record, if you don’t think about it too much – the spontaneity gives it that freshness and I think that’s what The Deluder has got.
‘It wasn’t laboured over, the songs were kind of there. The four of us went into the studio, me, Danny (Grant on drums), Lucci and Andrew and made a record. It’s basically a band record, but it’s a band called Roddy Woomble.’
Once we’ve played these songs live a few times I think they’ll really come into their own and be quite powerfulRoddy Woomble
The album was written between Roddy’s home in The Hebrides, others in Dundee and London. It also shows a marked change in direction for Roddy.
‘The very first record, My Secret Is My Silence, was produced with John McCusker who’s pretty much one of the foremost traditional Scottish musicians and because of that his influence was on that record, and he brought a lot of his friends to play on it. The songwriting’s not so folky, but the whole vibe of it is and people always kind of want to put things in boxes – not necessarily in a bad way – therefore my solo records are often seen as being folky.
‘But subsequent ones weren’t really folky at all. Listen To Keep is more country-pop, Impossible Songs is more diverse, and there’s a few different influences coming in.
‘The Deluder is different again, it’s more like synths and electric guitars and minimalist arrangements and there’s a lot more focus on the words – it’s quite a different sounding record to anything I’ve done.
‘By and large it’s quite an atmospheric and downbeat record – it’s introspective, but not in a self-indulgent way.
‘It’s thinking beyond the lines but not in a way that the listener is going to be weighed down my it. I’m not that kind of songwriter, I’m naturally pretty melodic, I’m not typically known for darkness,’ he laughs.
Roddy revisited his debut solo album last year on the 10th anniversary of its release. What was initially meant to be two show in Glasgow turned into a full-blown UK tour where he played it in its entirety.
‘I always approach those anniversary shows of albums with a wee bit of caution, but at the same time people want to hear them, and I can’t be cynical about that.
‘We’ve done a few now, we did (second album) 100 Broken Windows with Idlewild, and I’m not opposed to the idea of doing other things like that.
‘Also for the band or the performer it’s a good chance to just indulge themselves in that record again. I never listen to my own music unless it’s to work out new songs to play live or whatever. So when you have a whole record you focus on that and all of the memories come back and it’s really in your mind, which is a really nice thing.
‘Most people I know, a lot of them, when they put a record out are already moving on, so it’s nice for them and the fans to look back and have a focus on that record.’
But as his solo repertoire has grown, the less you’ll hear of his other band in the live shows.
‘I think the first few tours were more like that. I’m not one of those performers who’s like: “This is my artistic vision and you’re not going to hear anything you want to”. I still find that at gigs after you’ve played four or five new ones, the audience are sometimes looking like, I don’t know what to expect here, then I’ll play an Idlewild song and suddenly they’re back on your side.
‘It’s always good to know you’ve got songs to play if you need to, but at the same time, I think this one is a really strong record to play live.
‘Once we’ve played these songs live a few times I think they’ll really come into their own and be quite powerful.’
The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea
Thursday, September 7