The Midnight Creeper Tour: Broken Bones Matilda
If you think you've heard of Broken Bones Matilda before, you probably have. "It's a Gaslight Anthem lyric" explains Sarah. "Sam is a massive Gaslight fan, so when we started the band, we already knew what the name was going to be! It's fun as well, because people ask ‘Who is Matilda’? It adds a bit of mystery!” Fronted by husband-and-wife duo Sam Gotley and Sarah McGrigor, the folk-Americana band have brought their unique sound to the Fringe for a limited run.
On the evocative blend of imagery and storytelling which flows through their music, Sarah muses "All our influences are really storytellers — Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen. We’ve always really enjoyed that. It’s kind of why we thought we’d bring it to the Fringe, because we have that storytelling side [to our music]." Sam, the band's de-facto songwriter, adds "Once my brain got working [on the music], it became quite dark — we definitely did want to create characters, and to have stories behind the songs." The pair cite mainly 70's Americana as their core material — Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, Nick Cave, The Stones and Neil Young are all high on the list. The band's sound varies from dark to innocent, often simultaneously; "Our influences aren’t necessarily how we sound — there’s definitely that Nick Cave dark side, but it’s difficult to always be dark, because we’re not particularly dark, mysterious people." They laugh. "You have to mix the fun and the weird!"
Folk artists are arguably among the hardest-gigging musicians on the circuit, and a quick look through the band's back-catalog shows they're no exception, currently working hard to build up a grass-roots fan base. Sarah explains their ethos; "I think, with this kind of music, it’s all about connecting with your audience. The best way to get that kind of music heard — folk, Americana, country, anything like that — is really just playing it live. I think that’s why it’s really worthwhile, putting in that hard work with the touring and the live shows, because I think you get the fans that really want to hear your music, and you get the people that are really interested in following you over a long period of time, rather than just [dropping in]."
Things have really picked up for the pair in the last year — a move to London, and a growing interest from producers has seen them with a full schedule of gigs throughout the summer. The show that BBM are bringing to the Fringe is a preview for their new single, Midnight Creeper (to be released on August 24th), which sees the band experimenting with a new sound. "It’s different,” says Sarah, “Lots of unusual-sounding instruments, and more of a studio vibe. We got really lucky, and worked with two really cool producers — Tom Fuller, who’s done Midnight Creeper, and another guy called Rob Ellis. So we’ve been developing our studio sound this year, and that’s different to the EP [Madeleine] we recorded last year — more upbeat, moving in a fuller-sounding direction.”
The new sound extends to their live performances, too. “When we first started the band, we didn’t actually have a drummer,” explains Sam. “We did have percussion, but very light percussion on those songs. Now though, when we play live, we’ve been a five-piece, so we definitely wanted that [sound on the new single]. So it’s a little more lively, I would say."
Of the Edinburgh run, they tease "It's at midnight — the Midnight Creeper Tour, that's how we're billing it — so we'd say, after you've been out for a long day of comedy, come down to the Vaults and see something that's a bit sultry, a bit dark, a bit magical. Come and finish your night — or start it off — and let us bring you into our mysterious world".
Their temporary home at Paradise in the Vault is a small venue, barely bigger than a front room, and the intimate setting suits the band perfectly. For this short run, they're back to basics — just Sarah, Sam, and Sarah's sister Rosalee on keys. Sam and Sarah don't take themselves too seriously, and have a good laugh with the audience between songs. Their sound is everything they promise — at once sultry, dark, and innocent. Haunting, soaring vocals and gravelly harmonies tell stories of exotic characters and places, and charm us all for an all-too-brief hour. The audience is tellingly diverse, and utterly captivated — however we came here, we're all glad we stumbled on this gem of a performance.
You can catch Broken Bones Matilda's Midnight Creeper Tour in Paradise at the Vaults, every night at midnight until the 11th of August | Tickets here