Interview: Neon Waltz chat ahead of Summer Seasons show at Bellahouston Park


Hailing from the northern tip of mainland Scotland, Neon Waltz are a six-piece indie band with a psychedelic flair and rich, melodic sound calling to mind ’60s-influenced forebears like the Stone Roses and the Coral. Formed in Wick, Caithness, in early 2013, the young group patiently honed its sound in a shared cottage, gigging locally and recording a set of demos that drew interest from former Oasis manager Marcus Russell.

A nod from Noel Gallagher, a 2014 tour supporting the Augustines, and an appearance on Vic Galloway’s BBC Introducing in Scotland show, raised their profile considerably. In 2016, Neon Waltz headed to Eastbourne to set about recording their debut album.

The single Dreamers appeared in October of that year, ahead of a nationwide tour. The band put out two more singles the following year, Heavy Heartless and Perfect Frame. Consolidating a number of influences – everything from traditional folk to Brit-pop and shoegaze – the debut record, entitled Strange Hymns, arrived in the summer of 2017.

Neon Waltz will be at Bellahouston Park on Saturday 25th August as part of a powerful Summer Sessions lineup with Catfish and the Bottlemen, Twin Atlantic, DMAs and Peace. We asked the band some questions.

You can find tickets for the gig here.

How easy is it to sign a record deal and launch a music career from Wick?

We picked up a record deal pretty quickly after putting some music online. That makes the internet sound like it’s launched our career but we had a great manager in London working hard meeting people face-to-face too. That said, he found us in YouTube.

So the internet sparked the fire but it might have petered out without the human touch in the heart of it all. From there we had to approach it a certain way – our management treat us the same as a band from America or anywhere overseas – we come down, do as much shows/press/sessions/meetings as we can and then retreat home.

You had a go at your own festival experience with Sounds of the Summer, what do you think is the appeal of festival events for music fans?

Sounds of the Summer wasn’t actually ours. Our good friend ran it in line with our album launch so it totally made sense for us to headline it. It was a one off event but there’s space for a permanent music festival in John O’Groats.

Maybe one day we’ll really look into the idea. I think different festivals serve different purposes for different people. You go to an inner city festival & it feels like it’s all about getting your hands on as much music as possible.

People have their day scheduled. The outdoor ones always feel a bit more relaxed, time to sit on the grass with a beer between bands or sit outside the tent during the set. But it’s all about being surrounded by music – it makes people feel good, just like it was intended.

What kind of set do you have planned for Summer Sessions in Glasgow?

There’ll be no fucking around. It’ll be short and to the point. We’re aware that among the other bands on the bill we are the least well-known but that means nothing – if anything it puts the fire in our belly.

But to be honest, that’s really how we approach every show. There are people to be won over everywhere.

How are things coming along with the second album?

We’ve been writing a little between tours but we’re taking some time the rest of this year to switch off from touring and focus on writing. We’re throwing a lot of ideas at the wall.

It’s important to us that whatever we do next serves the people who have supported us & love what we’ve done until now but also doesn’t tread old ground. We’re aiming to not make another Strange Hymns but carry on the certain qualities that made it us.

So we’re doing our best to get out of our comfort zone & see what we can find & use. I’m pretty excited about it but it’s not near ready yet.

If it’s not truly great, we won’t release it.

Neon Waltz on stage at King Tut's

Neon Waltz on stage at King Tut’s

How does the band dynamic work in terms of songwriting and deciding what’s going to make it on a record?

Generally we each write songs/ideas on our own. We email those around and then we meet in the same room and let them come to life. We’ll take the chords from one idea and play it over for hours; make voice memos; go home and listen and come back the next day.

Hopefully a pretty good feel and tempo has come from that so we begin to piece together any new melodies/riffs/parts that came from it with the original song. As for what makes it onto a record – we usually all see it the same way, there’s rarely a serious divide in opinion which I guess is some kinda miracle.

Do you feel like you’ve made a strong musical connection to Glasgow so far in your career?

Absolutely. If we belong to any scene it’s the Glasgow scene. It’s our home from home. It’s really hard to explain but it almost feels like we’re the new band that have just moved to town and all the other bands have welcomed us in and treated us like one of their own.

I don’t know exactly what it is but something in either the music or us as people align.

We can do the 250 mile drive; go for a pint on arrival and bump into friends in bands now. As for the fans; it’s much talked about how fuckin’ incredible Glasgow fans are and we feel exactly the same.

We sold out King Tut’s for the first time a few months ago and the feeling was insane – I kinda wanted to hug everyone in the crowd.