Men in Dungarees? Made in Dumbarton? Musically Indefinable Divas? Lins Honeyman has only one question... is the world ready for M!D?

Celtic Rockers M!D
Celtic Rockers M!D

Scott Nicol is not a man you would describe as being old. Yet, despite being a mere thirty something and the fact that he is caught sporting an Adidas tee shirt on the cover of M!D's debut album 'Fresh Evidence', he is certainly the veteran of a band whose other members range from 15 to 18 years of age.

It was over a year ago when Scott, together with M!D's manager Bernard Porrelli, spotted the undoubtable talents of five teenagers from their church in Kilmarnock. "I knew that they had talent musically," recalls Scott, "but they weren't playing music that was up their street. They needed a contemporary direction." And so it was with this in mind that MID were formed.

Loosely pigeon-holed as "electric rock with a Celtic flavour", M!D are a blend of the backing vocals of youngest member Naomi Ballance, bassist John Paul Porrelli, drummer Adam McNaughton and Darren Kelly and Daniel Robinson on guitar and keyboards respectively. This, together with Scott's solid vocals and songwriting skills, produce a sound that is exciting and innovative. The album itself testifies that M!D are full of a youthful exuberance coupled with Scott's 15 years of musical experience.

So what makes M!D tick? Bernard, the group's spiritual teacher, regards relationships as being of great importance: "I come at it from every direction I can," he explains. "If you work at having the right relationship with your parents, your brothers and sisters and your friends, then your relationship with God will fall into place. And then things will really start to happen."

For Scott, encouragement is a key factor. "People grow in an environment of encouragement. In the band, for example, Daniel is emerging as a great songwriter and singer. If we can build them up and encourage them who knows what they can achieve for God."

The possibilities certainly seem endless. Having recently supported Noel Richards and played at Glasgow's March For Jesus, Scott is quick to bring everything into perspective: "The reason for all we are doing has to be for Jesus - whether it's music, drama or whatever it has got to be inspired by God."

With an enthrallingly raw sound and a highly competent debut album under their belts, it looks as if this fresh-faced group will become a mighty force in reaching Generation X in the days to come. They already hold the residency spot at two local youth events and have appeared at many more. "There are thousands of young people out there who have never heard about the love of Jesus," says Bernard. "There is a need for more Christian bands to bring this love to a world that desperately needs it."

The quality of M!D's work and commitment must be an inspiration to those tentatively stepping out into CCM ministry. Scott's advice is this: "Spend time with God, make sure you know what he's calling you to do and seek him as your inspiration. Don't be frightened to go in a unique direction. Play in a style that you're comfortable with and God will use it."

So what of the future? "We are heavily promoting 'Fresh Evidence' at gigs," explains Scott, "and we have already written five songs for the second album." And will the man who is reluctantly branded as the veteran of the band be stepping aside? "We'll certainly be spreading the songwriting out and I can see Daniel taking more of a lead role. By the grace of God we are open to each other's ideas and we can develop that way." Having released an album on a very small budget and acquired a sound that is well in advance of their years, M!D are a testimony to what God can do in the lives of those who are willing to carry His torch. One question remains: What does M!D stand for? Answers on a postcard...

ANATOMY OF AN INDIE ALBUM
Bernard Porrelli, the manager of M!D, gives the inside story of M!D's 'Fresh Evidence' album.

When we first thought about making a recording we discussed whether to make a cassette or a CD and finally decided that a CD would be more useful to us from a promotional point of view. Having decided on a CD we needed to find out how much it was going to cost us.

We asked James Williamson who comes to our fellowship and who has a part time business called Caledonia Media to take the responsibility for this. James contacted a few companies and began collecting costs for manufacturing CDs and cassettes. He also took the responsibility for creating the artwork for the cover. Scott and I went to a local recording studio called The Toucan Studio in Irvine, Ayrshire to discuss what it would cost to record and mix 12 songs. They gave us a fixed price based on 33 hours of studio time. We knew that if we ran over time it would be extra.

We spoke to Jon Blamire at The Digital Audio Co who gave us costings for 500 CDs and 250 cassettes complete with inlay cards, shrink wrapping and delivery. That only left the artwork, which James felt confident he could manage. We had an approximate cost of 2,500 most of which had been pledged by a businessman in the fellowship.

We spent the month of December rehearsing and working out arrangements for the songs and we went into the studio early in January. Toucan Studio provided us with engineer Steve Entwhistle. Steve was absolutely brilliant. He recognised how little we knew about studio work and he gave himself completely to producing the best CD he could within the budget we had. It wasn't just a job to him, he put a part of himself into the project. We didn't use any session musicians other than guest violinist Simone Welsh who played for free. When the recording was complete we sent the master to Jon Blamire at The Digital Audio Company. I spoke to Jon a few times and he couldn't have been more helpful.

One of the most difficult aspects was the CD cover and insert. James had to get templates to fit his computer and he had to create everything within these templates. He worked well in to the night on many occasions to produce it on time. We sent the artwork to Colour Bytes in London who did the colour separation which they sent to The Digital Audio Co. We were given a delivery date by Jon and we received a letter telling us everything was on schedule and we received everything on the due date.

The marketing of the CD has been handed over to my daughter Sharon and her husband David Baillie. The best way to describe them is to say they are completely mad. They bought blank key rings and badges and condensed photographs of the band and fitted them into them. They started a competition to see who could come up with the best meaning for MID and decided to put the answers on the back of a tee shirt. Even as we speak they are inventing new ways of promoting the band.

It is possible for a band to produce a CD without signing to a big label but the key to it all is Jesus. If He is made first in everything then you won't go far wrong.

Toucan Studio cost us 875 (including VAT)
Didital Audio cost for 500 CDs and 250 cassettes 1,350
Colur Bytes cost us 230
There were other expenses such as colour cartridges, photocopying, etc which probably ran into about 200
The actual cost was about 2,700

James did all the artwork free because he is a persona] friend so I reckon we saved anything from 500 to 1,200.
 CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.