For Hog the Stage winners Lemonhaze and Crystal, the Night Afore Concert is the opportunity of a lifetime

Interview: Lemonhaze and Crystal

CRYSTAL

Supporting Paolo Nutini is a sure fire way to end 2016 in style for these Scots bands

It's a gig few would turn down – supporting Paolo Nutini at his two Hogmanay concerts. The first, The Night Afore is what it says in the title: a shindig on 30 Dec featuring Paolo, Frightened Rabbit and the Vegan Leather, organised because of the mad demand for one more night of Paolo. The Concert in the Gardens is, of course, the big daddy – Edinburgh's Hogmanay gig, headlined by Paolo, with the Lightning Seeds in support.

Added to these two wee gigs are the winners of Hog the Stage – a competition organised by Edinburgh's Hogmanay, Forth 1 and The List. Joining the line-up at the Night Afore Concert are grungey blues rockers CRYSTAL, while new wave indie types Lemonhaze are on the bill for Concert in the Gardens.

'We're genuinely over the moon about it,' says Jamie McClachlan, drummer in Lemonhaze. 'There were some cracking bands in the running – we did our homework on all the bands to see who we were up against.' From the 450+ acts who entered, up against them were their co-winners, Glasgow's CRYSTAL.

'We're still lost for words at the moment,' says Anna Shields who, along with the other half of the band Blair Crichton, will be performing on 30 Dec. 'It's a great opportunity for us to branch out and let new people hear our music.'

It's a big achievement for the duo. CRYSTAL admit to only starting to take making music seriously in January of this year. They've not hung around, however, having played gigs throughout Glasgow, including King Tut's, Party at the Palace, a sold-out EP launch at Nice'N'Sleazy and their possible new favorite venue, the Old Hairdressers.

'It's very personal,' says Shields. 'There isn't a stage, so the band is on the floor. It's a good place to interact with the audience.'

That kind of up-close-and-personal experience couldn't be far further from what they're preparing for at the Night Afore gig. For a band who've so far only played gigs around Glasgow, the pre-Hogmanay concert is something to grab with all four hands.

'At the previous gigs we've not had to have any preparation; we've brought our own mics and instruments. But for this gig we're renting a van and equipment for it specially,' says Crichton, with Shields adding, 'In terms of the set, we're just going to do the songs that we feel get the best reaction from the audience. We really just have to go on and perform to the best of our ability.'

McClachlan is similarly gearing up for a massive gig.

'We've got a whole host of things we do. We tend to have fire, the occasional dragon … ' Hold onto your hats, then. 'We just try to do as much as we can to make sure no-one's actually listening to what we're playing. That's when we have the most success.'

Self-deprecation aside, Lemonhaze are facing a big night, and it's one they've worked hard to achieve.

'We've been doing a lot of gigging, a lot of work, a lot of self-promoting, doing everything ourselves, just bursting our arse to try and get there. It's been a good year.' All this hard work is leading up to their new single, Morning Sun, six months in the making, which is finally ready to be consumed by the public and will be released early in 2017. As for the rest of next year.

'We're hoping, with not having anything in 2016 to be happy about, that 2017 will bring us some good gigs. We've got a huge amount of offers, so we're trying to narrow down where we're going to go, what we're going to do, what's right for us.' But before that, Lemonhaze have to focus on Hogmanay, and they've got one thing on their mind.

'We've played crowds that weren't wasted before and it's just not the same. So we encourage people to go as hard and as fast as they can the whole time, just the same as we're doing before we walk on stage. That produces the best nights.'

Night Afore Concert

After the Concert in the Gardens on the 31 Dec sold out in a record three hours the peeps at Edinburgh's Hogmanay are hosting a second gig headlined by Paolo Nutini.

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