Sep 17 2008 by Gordon Robertson, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
IN admusic this week, our correspondent Iain Strefford takes a closer look at Coatbridge duo Martin and James who are set to play in front of their home town crowd at the Georgian Hotel.
MARTIN and James are proving to be one of the hottest acts to come out of Monklands for many years.
Their mix of vocal harmonies and catchy pop melodies is winning them fans across Europe and picking them up national airplay.
Martin Kelly and James O'Neill first met at school when they found a shared love of music, which saw them join forces in their first band, Sleeping Prophets.
It was during that time they learned to write together, with some “routine and discipline”.
James said: “It was kind of a life-changing time for us as most of our friends were deciding on careers and planning out their lives and we kind of made a conscious decision that we were going to concentrate on writing songs. We had a kind of understanding. We would have been around age 18 at the time, I suppose.”
After leaving school the guys kept gigging with Sleeping Prophets, but they never really focused on it properly.
Things started to change when James started to perform with his dad’s band and one of Scotland's finest live acts, The Silencers.
Through touring with his old man, James realised that to make music your life you had to have discipline.
At the same time Martin had started to play in a number of bands around Scotland, making money from gigging and doing some session work.
James’ dad then broke his hand and The Silencers needed a guitarist. Martin got the gig. It was then that both of them realised that music was what they wanted to do for a living.
The duo continued to write and record on their own and started to perform under the name Bwana Devil.
In 2005 they recorded a four-track demo, with one song in particular, All Over The News, catching the attention of Polydor records.
“It was a stressful time, because we thought we could have a deal here but we didn't really know how to present ourselves,” Martin remembers. “Although we wrote together all the time we still didn't consider ourselves a duo. So basically the whole thing ran its course and the label knew we didn't have our direction clearly worked out.”
The guys have now clearly worked out their direction and their stripped back sound provides an honesty and refreshing quality that has been missing from music for many a year.
Earlier this year they were approached by a management company in Germany and have been gigging and recording over there regularly.
James said: “We’re talking with some labels in Germany at the moment but nothing is set in stone. Hopefully, next year we will have an album out one way or another.”
You can catch the guys when they play at the Georgian Hotel on Sunday, September 28, which will be the last time to see them live in Scotland for a while as they will be touring in France and recording in Germany in the immediate future.
Joining Martin and James at the Georgian is one of Scotland's finest songwriters, Geoff Martyn.
Geoff was a founding member of Scottish super group Travis and has now established himself as a solo artiste and songwriter.
He has written for artistes such as Chris Difford of Squeeze and his songs have appeared on the TV shows One Tree Hill, Brothers & Sisters and Men In Trees.
Tickets for the show are £5 and available from the Georgian Hotel. Call 01236 421888 for info or visit www.acmusicclub.co.uk
l Two pairs of tickets are up for grabs for Martin and James at the Georgian Hotel. All you have to do is tell admusic: which Coatbridge pop duo appeared at the Georgian earlier this month?
Send your answers to Gordon Robertson, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, 15 Bank Street, Airdrie.
Usual S&UN competition rules apply.