“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 a 90-minute exclusive documentary special, ‘That’s the way we do it! – Peat & Diesel’, produced by Stornoway-based MacTV which will air on Friday, April 3 on BBC ALBA at 9pm.
This is the first programme in a BBC ALBA Peat & Diesel Friday evening double bill, as they take over the airwaves, with the documentary followed by ‘Peat & 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.
The lads themselves, Boydie, Uilly Macleod on drums and accordion-master Innes Scott have been taken aback by a year in which they have exploded onto playlists around the world, on to 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 to director Daibhidh Martin of MacTV in the film, where the award-winning Martin 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. They were so easy with the camera and it was a bit of a riot really,” laughed Martin.
“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 P&D 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.
“The public are as well to see behind the scenes, as that’s sometimes where Boydie is his best. I think the doc started at just the right time before the explosion. We are just glad they had the ability to keep up with us to catch all the good bits. We think it tells the story of P&D 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.
“Then when the Barrowlands gig became a reality, selling out in 30 minutes, we knew that we wanted to capture what was going to be such a special evening for both those who were there, and also their many fans across Scotland, and beyond - and it didn’t disappoint!”
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 they are on hiatus as they practice social distancing with the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. And while we are all forced to stay indoors just now, the MacTV documentary & concert BBC ALBA double bill, about three Lewis boys done, has arrived at the perfect time. 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.
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, recently 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.
The band’s journey began on Boydie’s couch, when an impromptu jam he filmed and posted online racked up a remarkable 25,000 hits overnight. He recruited Scott shortly afterwards, with the accordion player accepting to then be told it was a good job he said yes as they had a festival booking that very weekend!
The Peat and Diesel story has been a runaway triumph of musical success and ‘That’s The Way We Do It’ charts 12-months to remember for the lads - with backstage footage, on the road with the band, the battle to balance full time jobs with the band, and their own thoughts on the rise of ‘Peatlemania.’
‘That’s the way we do it! – Peat & Diesel’ will air on BBC ALBA at 9pm, with the 90-minute special immediately followed at 10.30pm by ‘Peat & Diesel - From the Barrow to the Barrowlands’, highlights from the one of the band’s biggest gigs yet, at the iconic Scottish music venue.
Photographs: Alan Cruickshank Photographic DCT Media