ONE of Shetland’s favourite bands, Trookers, is releasing their debut album The Temporary today (31 August) – one day after a gig supporting The Lone Bellow at Mareel, writes Zdenka Mlynarikova.
The melodic pop-rock indie quartet brings us a healthy mixture of music styles, while maintaining their own identity throughout the whole album. The sweet, spot-on harmonies can sometimes even evoke vibes of modern day Beatles.
Starting as a duo in 2012, Robert Balfour (guitar and vocals) and Chris Thomson (guitar, vocals and keyboard) soon realised they could add an extra depth to their two-man band by taking onboard a bass player – Chris Cope – and a drummer, Erik Peterson. As Robert says, “the fact that Erik has added fantastic harmonies to the songs was a very welcome bonus. Both, Erik and Chris raised the songs to another level.”
The album starts with title track The Temporary, with the funky piece gradually introducing band’s harmonies. Although it doesn’t sound like it, lots of songs including this one have a common theme of loss – whether it’s the loss of childhood, love or innocence. All these are related to the struggles of mid-twenties, the time when Robert and Chris T wrote most of their songs. Despite this, they sound more than positive, make you feel good and are incredibly easy to listen to.
Birds benefits from clever acoustic start before going into full swing, and it’s a song that has a special meaning for Robert. “Birds was written about my girlfriend (now wife and mother of our son) and the fragility and exhilaration that comes with a new relationship that you hold out hope for,” he says. “It still gives me goosebumps whenever we perform it. It was also the first song Chris and I finished and recorded.”
My Heart, Your Heart is a really catchy song, one of those where the chorus keeps playing in your head for days after you’ve listened to it. And you’ll just have to sing along!
In Seashells, Trookers show their folk side and create an interesting and refreshing contrast – slightly melancholic and undoubtedly Scottish with gentle harmonies.
The band’s music influences range anywhere from good old punk rock to modern Americana and folk, which can explain the funky rhythms as well as the soft sounding, laid back melodies.
Robert tells a bit more about what inspires his songwriting: “I’m a sucker for harmonies and songs that stir my emotions. I always listen intently to the lyrics of a song and have a soft spot for honest words and a touch of quirkiness does not go amiss either, with Queen Of The Stone Ages’s Era Vulgaris and anything Ben Folds has produced making frequent appearances on my playlists. I spent most of my teens mainly listening to pop/punk/rock bands so influences from that era are still in the mix.”
Trookers kicked off their career at Shetland’s singer-songwriter group and they have made it all the way to their very own album, which is a dream for many aspiring musicians.
Robert’s message to other young talents out there is to not take it too seriously. “Enjoy what you are doing, first and foremost,” he says. “Have fun. People can get too hung up on trying to be successful right away, without taking the time to sit back and take pride in what is being attempted / has been achieved. We wrote these songs four to five years ago but if we had released the album any earlier, it would not be ready.”
Erik adds: “Another thing I’ve learned from our recording is that no idea, lyric or sound is too crazy. Sometimes things work which to begin with may seem silly or out of place. Try things out and see.”
The quality of recording is outstanding and the album was mastered by Denis Blackham, who has worked with everyone from David Bowie and Thin Lizzy to The Who and Led Zeppelin.
A relaxed atmosphere within the band and the members enjoying each other’s company clearly reflects throughout the album, and it is guaranteed to put you at ease any time of the day.
At the moment, Erik says there are no plans to tour, and with the band having one member living south, the current form of Trookers is set to come to an end. Their members, however, look set to continue writing in a new project.
“I believe the gig at Mareel has been our final one so can’t see a tour happening,” Erik said. “And there are now baby Trookers on the scene too!”
The Temporary will be available in CD format in shops across the isles, including at High Level Music in Lerwick, as well as local shops. It is also available digitally.