Formerly of classic rockers Skin and Welsh heroes Kooga, Neville MacDonald knows a thing or two about igniting a crowd. Now back with new project Hand Of Dimes, which also features former Kooga member Neil Garland, the singer is ready to do it all again. Gearing up for the release of debut album later in the year, we caught up with Nev at Steelhouse in Wales, to talk about the festival, and making a fresh start. Walking out on that Moonlight Mile: Lee Kendrick.
Hi Neville, you guys have just come offstage here at Steelhouse - how was it?
Great! In the rain! The crowd were fantastic up here on top of the mountain. The spirit of this festival is undeniable; it's so well supported and as the second band on, we couldn't have asked for more.
Are you staying to see any of the other acts today?
I'm here for the duration. I'll be making a complete nuisance of myself later with a few beers! We love this festival; myself and Neil [Garland, keyboards and harmonica] have had a strong connection to Steelhouse from day one really. There's an awesome set-up here, and people work so hard to make it happen.
What's your opinion on this year's line-up?
Thunder are great. I toured with those guys a lot back in the Skin days, and it's awesome to see them touring again. They will always deliver a great show. I'm really looking forward to seeing The Dead Daisies later, and The Darkness, of course. Yet again it's another brilliant mix of bands.
Hand of Dimes are set to release a debut album in October. Is it done and dusted?
We are currently in the process of mixing the last few tracks. We've set the release date and it's October 28th, and we are planning a launch show at the Muni Arts Centre in my home town of Pontypridd. We can't wait!
Plenty of people know you from your days in Skin and Kooga, but for someone who's never heard Hand Of Dimes, how would you describe your sound?
When Neil and I were in Kooga and even before that in our formative years, our influences were very much rooted in the classic rock sound of the seventies. When we decided to get back together after Skin folded, we just decided to write a few tunes to see what was there. We never wanted to be contrived, but very organic. It's classic rock, but with added dynamics; we wanted to bring in the Hammond organ and harmonica to add some depth. I'm belting my lungs out and we just let it come together naturally.
What kind of response did you get from your EP which was released in 2015?
Initially it was a great response. We did some gigs with FM and Wishbone Ash which got our name out there. We have been concentrating on completing the album recently, so we've gone a bit quiet on the gig front, so we may have lost some momentum there. But as soon as the album is out we plan on moving forward. We are very proud of the album and pleased with the point we are currently at. We plan on doing some runs of gigs sometime in 2017.
Was there ever any pressure on you and Neil to reform Kooga?
When Neil and I began talking about the Hand Of Dimes project back in 2010, we considered putting Kooga back together but unfortunately, some of the original band members weren't interested. I would have loved to reform, but only with the original line-up in tow. It would have been great to celebrate our 25th anniversary, but unless everyone was on board then it was a no-no, as far as I was concerned. We then turned our focus to Hand Of Dimes one hundred percent. In all fairness though, there was a lot of interest from a punter point of view to see a reunion. Our fan base was from all over the U.K., and I was always pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who fondly remembered Kooga. Even when I was in Skin, people mentioned Kooga, and I always thought that was fantastic. It's a shame it never happened.
Finally, you’re now playing guitar in Hand Of Dimes as well as singing: Is there a guitar hero inside you trying to get out?
It's mostly just rhythm - I'm a huge Malcolm Young fan, so I've always enjoyed playing rhythm guitar. I loved playing rhythm in Skin. Myke [Gray, Skin guitarist] always enjoyed having me back up his playing, but I've done some solo work on the upcoming album and some slide guitar I'm no virtuoso by any means but I love playing guitar.
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Hand Of Dimes release their self titled debut album on October 28th. For more information head over to the band's official website.