Shetlander Jack Sandison’s band The Holy Ghosts have been recognised as best newcomers at the fourth annual Scottish Alternative Music Awards (SAMAs) in Glasgow.
Sandison is the frontman in the group, which scooped the gong at a ceremony last Friday intended to honour the best Scottish bands and artists ignored by the mainstream music industry.
Jack, 26, from Lerwick, and his fellow Ghosts fought off demanding competition from the likes of promising indie brothers Ded Rabbit and Hebridean favourite Miss Irenie Rose.
Vocalist and acoustic maestro Jack, taking to the stage of the iconic Glasgow Garage to receive the group’s award, expressed his delight at The Holy Ghosts claiming such an accolade. These feeling were later reiterated when he talked The Shetland Times through his version of proceedings:
“Even just to be nominated was great. We knew a few people on the panel, and they put us forward for the award, which we were really pleased about.
“To actually win was a massive surprise to be honest. We really didn’t think we would so only a few of us went, and we were really underprepared. We’re overwhelmed and it’s been a massive boost to us, so a big thank you to the voters.”
The Holy Ghosts, a rock ‘n’ roll five-piece formed in 2011, are based in Edinburgh, where Jack moved from Shetland in order to study at the age of 18. They are, however, not the only band with Shetland links to receive recognition at the SAMAs, with local outfit Ten Tonne Dozer having been voted victors in the Best Metal category at the 2012 ceremony.
The distinguished Shetland connection is something which Jack is happy to have continued, considering the respect he has for the isles music scene.
“It’s kind of cool to be flying the flag for Shetland,” he says. “It has a complete mixture of different types of music, from heavy metal to traditional folk, rock ‘n’ roll bands and prog rock. I think that’s an eclectic mix and something to be very proud of.”
Jack, whose early career saw him play in various Shetland bands, and actually started out on the fiddle, does not intend on being away from such an exciting mixture of music for very long.
“We’re hoping to come up to Shetland when we get the opportunity,” he explains, admitting that such a visit would have to planned around a summer tour in support of The Holy Ghosts’ upcoming album.
“There are no dates set in stone but I would love to come up and play at Mareel. I’ve only been in once and that was just for a drink.
“We could probably get double the turnout in Shetland than we might in, say, Glasgow … everyone’s out their heads up there!”
It is an exciting time for Jack and band as the award coincides nicely with the release of their second EP Voodoo Shakedown, as well as their first official music video for new flagship single When We Were Kings, which has all led to prospective gigs in London, Amsterdam and Italy this year.
The group’s modernised take on the rock ‘n’ roll genre, featuring competing elements of honky-tonk and blues over an undeniable country influence, is something which Jack believes would be of interest to Shetland listeners.
He says: “We’ve got a strong country rock element in our new tracks and we’ve introduced a fiddle and pedal steel guitar. I think we have a wide appeal, to both the old and the young, as we play an old style but sound more modern.”