When you think of Thurso, indie rock isn’t the first thing that springs to mind.
The UK mainland’s most northerly town carries a Norse heritage and was a trading point for goods with Scandinavia.
Traditional shops and cafes line its streets today, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find some surprises behind the brickwork.
Forgetting the Future are one of these surprises.
An indie rock band hailing from Thurso, they released their debut album, Broken Phones & Hormones, last year after a successful string of singles.
They worked with Orange Juice’s Edwyn Collins on their first recording and they’ve since gone on to be “mentored” by producer Ken Allardyce (Fleetwood Mac, Green Day, Weezer).
Now, the band’s Life After Lockdown Scottish tour will see them take to Aberdeen’s The Tunnels on Saturday November 20 and they’re eager to continue building their momentum.
“My grandpa really got me into the blues when I was growing up,” says Robbie McNicol, Forgetting the Future’s vocalist and rhythm guitarist.
“I listened to Robert Johnson and old-school blues guys, which is what really got me into music.
But when I started playing in a band with my mates, that’s when I realised that this is really what I want to do.
Local jam nights
Forgetting the Future are Jamie Mackay (guitar), Max Paul (bass), Connor Wilson (drums) and Robbie McNicol.
The quartet all went to Thurso High School before finding their knack for music during jamming sessions at a local youth club.
“We must have been about 15 or 16 at the time when this music night started at the youth club,” says Robbie.
“It was there when we started connecting and getting close.
“After a few jam nights there, we started playing some pub gigs to earn a bit of money. Things just snowballed from there.”
Riding the waves
Robbie and Connor were also both keen surfers growing up, competing in the Scottish and World Surfing Championships in under-18 categories.
Robbie is a full-time surfing instructor today and he explains that band’s first material carried some wavy undertones.
“I believe the first song we ever wrote was a reggae song – I’ve no idea why that happened!” Robbie laughs.
“I think the second song was a metal tune, which is also pretty nuts.
“As long as you’re expressing yourself and getting practice of writing tunes, that’s what it’s all about.”
Since forming in 2016, Forgetting the Future have evolved from their reggae roots into raucous indie rock.
After winning a Scottish battle of the bands competition in 2018, the prize of recording with prestigious producer Ken Allardyce catapulted their potential as they later signed with his label, InTime Records.
“Since we met Ken, he’s been our biggest mentor and has helped us refine our sound right down to the bones of our playing,” says Robbie.
“The best thing about him is that he makes you feel so relaxed. When you’re relaxed, you perform that bit better.
“He throws in ideas here and there and by the end we’re like, ‘wow, this is a banger!’”
The band hit a peak at the beginning of 2020 having released their debut album and being booked for various festival slots later that year.
The pandemic halted their progress, but Robbie still managed to spend time during lockdown to focus on new music.
“I actually really enjoyed lockdown, in a way,” says Robbie.
“Some of my favourite songs I’ve written came about after the first lockdown.”
Thurso’s music scene may be quiet, but local venues have been pivotal performance and practice venues for Forgetting the Future.
“It’s not super busy, as you’d expect, but for what it is it does really well,” Robbie explains.
“We got to become mates with the owners of Mr C’s and Skinandi’s, which has really helped us out.
“I’d say these two venues are key components to Thurso’s music scene.”
Playing with fellow north of Scotland indie rockers Neon Waltz in front of sell-out crowds further built the band’s live reputation.
Now, to tie in with their new EP Snakeskin Grin, which is available for download exclusively on the band’s website, the band are embarking on a Scottish headline tour throughout November.
Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s and Glasgow’s Audio are set to be highlights alongside The Tunnels in Aberdeen, which Robbie and the band are particularly excited about.
“There’s nothing better than a big sweaty gig… we’re buzzing for it,” says Robbie.
“We’re playing some really cool venues and have great local artists supporting us [including Calum Jones and The New Routines in Aberdeen].
What I want to achieve from this tour is for us to start building solid connections in Scottish cities.
“I want us to really be pushing towards getting some packed venues, reach new people and grow our audiences.”
They may be called Forgetting the Future, but with new music and gigs aplenty, the road ahead looks like something they won’t forget in a hurry.
“We’re planning some cool gigs and festival slots next year,” says Robbie.
“Overall, we’re just looking to keep putting out the best tunes we can, play the best shows we can and keep grinding.”
Buy tickets for Forgetting the Future at The Tunnels, Aberdeen, on Saturday November 20 at www.skiddle.com/whats-on/Aberdeen/The-Tunnels/Forgetting-The-Future/26449020 or visit https://forgettingthefuture.co.uk/