In October 2011, Bags of rock got a phone call from Talk Back Thames with an invite to appear on the ITV show ‘Take me out. Which we quickly declined!! It was only 2 days later that we got a phone call from a very excited researcher from Talk back Thames stating that he came across the band online and really wanted us to appear on Britain’s Got Talent this year! We decided, after a long discussion to try out the competition, though not really the kind of light we would like to be seen in, the thought of rocking out to a televised audience of 11 million people proved to be irresistible!
The first part of our audition process was to perform in front of the TV company’s producers in Edinburgh which was un-televised; They also sent a film crew from London up to the drummers, (Broonies) house in Grangemouth, where they filmed the band preparing for the audition, and making our way to the show. The audition itself was a success and seemingly felt more of a formality than an actual audition but it meant we were then through to the TV recordings in front of the judges (including Simon Cowell).
We were asked to appear in a special opening sequence for the show which was filmed the day before in Edinburgh on top of Carlton Hill with Ant and Dec, standing on top of a hill in February in our Kilts for around 4 hours, it was bloody freezing but was good fun messing around for the cameras.
We arrived in Edinburgh around 8 o clock in the morning on the day of the big performance (which is the wrong end of the day for musicians!). We were asked to arrive early to have a soundcheck before the doors opened! Which is a great benefit being “a Live band”. Most of the day was spent doing interviews with several different producers, Ant and Dec and Stephen Mulhern. We also filmed a lot of filler shots,of us walking in the building and walking up the stairs, they did loads of features on us speaking with different hopefuls including a silly sketch featuring Kit Kats and Scottish flags (I’m sure most of you have seen it!). It was only around 5 or 6 (after non stop running around) that we got the call to make our way to the backstage area. Another benefit was that there was a break in the show just before we went on, so we got to set up onstage while the judges were out. We had a HUGE back-line wall of amps (3 full Marshall stacks and an 8×10 Ampeg bass amp) which held an impressive visual on their own that even AC/DC would have been proud of. Broonie (our drummer) too had his own Bags of Rock double bass drum kit. We were gonna take the roof down with the power we were packing!
It felt like a very long wait backstage with the crowd entering again. Most of the time was spent on the camera, getting filmed preparing and chatting amongst ourselves.
When the judges came back we were taken round to speak to Ant and Dec at the side of the stage who did their bit and then we were sent out onto the stage. So there we were standing in front of Amanda Holden, David Walliams, Alesha Dixon and the boss Simon Cowell! Gregor (Gman) did the interview at the beginning which was quite thorough, and started with Cowell stating “This looks interesting”. Gregor handled it extremely well in my opinion, even with Simon Cowell pressing on how much money had been put into the business and if we were doing this professionally. It felt a little bit like an episode of dragons den at that point!
The rest of the guys seemed pretty relaxed and confident but i felt seriously ‘under the cosh’ from my nerves. When i plugged in my bass i wasn’t entirely sure it was still MY hands holding the bass. Broonie shouts “Are ye ready” in his Grangemouth tongue and counts the bar in. Within 10 seconds the 2000+ audience got up on their feet and Amanda and Alesha waved their hands in the air – it was working – It all went well and a standing ovation was a satisfying sight.
The judges went on to evaluate the performance. It started with David Walliams saying “You’ve made Bagpipes cool”, and Alesha saying it was “pure dead brilliant” and Amanda Holden had complementary comments without any negative remarks. Finally it came to Simon Cowell who is always going to be the most critical and who everyone is the most anxious about hearing from, especially as he had been particularly critical of acts that day. What a relief when he said “obviously your all very talented musicians”. (Which was the winner for the band) and “very clever song choice”, (Which was ‘Take me Out’ by Franz Ferdinand segue-wayed into ‘Chelsea Dagger’ by The Fratellis. Two of the most successful Scottish rock bands in the last 10 years). He went on to finish with “Great Ambassadors for Scotland”. It came to the votes and Bags of Rock got 4 definite yes’s from the judges. It was a satisfying feeling walking off the stage where we were met by Ant and Dec dressed in Kilts!! Who said “That was amazing, everything else today was rubbish”. We spent the next half an hour getting filmed running around celebrating then we had another 2 or 3 hours of interviews and filming. We did an interview with Stephen Mulhern for Britain s Got More Talent where he had a bag of specially made BGT sticks of rock in a bag for us. In which he called “BAGS OF ROCK”.
It was around 9 or 10 that we eventually got away. It was a long day but an unforgettable one.
A few weeks later it was arranged for us to travel to London to find out what our fate would be in the competition. But alas it was deemed we would not be progressing in the competition. We were met once again by Cowell and the gang, this time they were stony faced – polar opposites from our last meeting, and we were given the bad news.
We knew when we entered the competition that our product wasn’t ‘entirely’ suited for the show and it is a TV show the producers have to make at the end of the day. We would have loved to have carried on through the competition as what we had arranged for the next round would have cranked it up a notch again but it wasn’t to be. The experience gained from being put under the spotlight was priceless and is something that it seems you can only learn from doing. Probably the most frustrating part is not knowing why we didn’t progress when received such good feedback from the judges who deemed us to be “Great Scottish Ambassadors”. To base their TV show around Scotland having no talent by showing the acts who DIDN’T get through felt a bit unjust in our opinion.
When it finally came to the show airing on tv we got an email stating that we were to be featured in the show and to tell everyone about it. At that point we announced our involvement in the show and let everyone know that we were going to be on. We didn’t know just how little we were to be ‘featured’. But we did get a lot of promotion for the band and lots of new fans and that was the reason for participating in the first place.
Since then the Bags have booked some exciting gigs including our first trip to Germany in June to headline a party at a German radio station by the name of “Schotten Radio”. In the last month the Bags have climbed up to No.5 in the Schotten Radio charts. The chart can be found here; HYPERLINK “http://www.schottenradio.de/charts.html”http://www.schottenradio.de/charts.html – let’s vote it to No.1!!!!!
Last week we had the Privilege of opening Scotland’s newest Charity festival “The Big Stooshie” which raises money for the cause “Help For Heroes”. We played the main stage on the Friday and were followed that weekend by bands such as ‘The Boomtown Rats’, ‘James’, ‘The Hoosiers’, ‘From the Jam’, ‘Glasvegas’ and ‘Ocean Colour Scene’.
We are to be playing the Scottish New Music Awards in September and are set to confirm a few local gigs soon. In the coming months we’ll also be playing our own shows including one in my homeland of Orkney in August so keep a look out for BOR in your area!!! After our experience with ITV and Cowell, all i can say is that the Bags are stronger and better than ever, we learned a lot and laughed a lot and now were going to Rock . . .ALOT!!! Catch you soon warriors