Peat and Diesel’s Friday Night Takeover on BBC ALBA

Peat and Diesel - Alan Cruickshank Photographic

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Their foot tapping, hip thrusting, partner swinging, head bopping songs about island life, parties on the moor and an eclectic array of characters have captured the musical hearts of a nation.

But, like us all just now, Stornaway’s very own Peat and Diesel are on hiatus as they practice social distancing with the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

Tune into BBC ALBA on Friday night however and you can catch the island trio on a MacTV documentary and concert double bill. A chance to welcome the boys into our homes for two and a half hours of Peat and Diesel fuelled fun, and a welcome chance to smile.

‘When you get a full lift of prawns or a full lift of people, it is the same feeling,’ muses everyone’s favourite frontman Calum ‘Boydie’ Macleod as he reflects on the meteoric rise of his band to packed festival tents, arena shows and selling out the Glasgow Barrowlands in less than 30 minutes.

This is just one of the many pearls of wisdom Boydie shares in the 90-minute exclusive documentary special, ‘That’s the way we do it!’.

The documentary will be followed by ‘Peat and Diesel – From the Barrow to the Barrowlands’ – an hour of concert highlights from their incredible, sold out gig at the iconic Glasgow music venue, when 2000 fans gathered for a night to remember.

The band were never meant to be such an unprecedented and unparalleled success. After all if you were told a fisherman, a delivery driver and an electrician walked into a bar, you would be waiting for the punchline.

Even the lads themselves, Boydie, Uilly Macleod on drums and accordion master Innes Scott admit constantly throughout the documentary they have been taken aback by a year in which they have exploded onto playlists around the world, onto the wishlists of promoters throughout the entire UK from Stornoway to London, and become unlikely celebrities.

‘I never called myself a singer or a songwriter and I still don’t,’ reveals Boydie, in one of a long list of open and candid moments he shared with Daibhidh Martin of MacTV in the film. The award-winning director spent almost 10-months as the unofficial fourth member of the band, following them across the country as ‘Peatlemania’ exploded.

‘I feel lucky that the boys let me just follow them around and film anything,’ said Martin.

‘They were so easy with the camera and it was a bit of a riot really.’

‘They’re just up for a laugh all the time and loads of fun. It was amazing to watch their popularity go through the roof, something they just take in their stride. They’re also brilliant with their fans and are happy to spend hours with them doing signings and taking pictures.’

‘It was really hard to put the documentary together, trying to get the balance of telling the story of the band and their lives away from it all, and showing all the nonsense that they get up to. Hopefully the fans like it.’

Accordion player Innes Scott reckons the documentary perfectly captures the PandD spirit and he describes it as a hilarious watch.

‘Having the camera with us was quite difficult at first as we thought we had to maybe act out scenes like one of those reality shows, but after a while we realised we could be the way we were, especially Boydie and not care,’ he said.

‘We think it tells the story of PandD to a tee. We thought we would be cringing watching ourselves in the doc but it was just like watching a comedy.’

For MacTV, it was a real coup to get the opportunity to work with the band, and document their incredible journey.

‘When we approached the band with the documentary idea back in June last year, the band were such hot property, and we were just delighted they chose us to follow them and tell the story of the band and this amazing journey that has since followed,’ said Head of Production & Development, Seumas Mactaggart.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, Peat and Diesel had sold almost all their tickets for an Irish tour, and they had loads of summer festivals and an end-of-year tour to look forward to. Now most of their gigs have been cancelled, but the band remain optimistic.

‘I don’t think the band will lose momentum,’ explained Scott. ‘We’re a bit behind with making videos and this will be time to recharge.’

Just before the lockdown Peat & Diesel explained to fans on their Facebook page why they hadn’t been playing gigs online, like so many other bands have during the lockdown.

The comment read: “We are all facing difficult times ahead with self-isolation and social distancing happening all around us which must be taken very serious.

‘Musicians are playing tunes online to cheer people up and we just want to say the reason we haven’t is due to Boydie being at sea gathering his thoughts, and without Boydie there is no Peat & Diesel!  We met up quickly tonight and it will be the last time we probably get together until this all blows over and we will be back to give it laldy.’

However, last weekend  the band had a virtual meet up for a 10 minute test of  a streaming service on Facebook, only to end up playing to an online audience of more than 1000 people, with over 25,000 having watched it since. There’s no doubt there will me more to come over the coming weeks and months, so watch this space.

‘That’s the way we do it! – Peat and Diesel’  will air on BBC ALBA at 9pm, with the    90-minute special immediately followed at 10.30pm by ‘Peat and Diesel – From the Barrow to the Barrowlands’, highlights from the one of the band’s  biggest gigs yet, at the iconic Scottish music venue.