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Away game for DJ Tam Coyle

By Margaret Chrystall

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Tam Coyle DJs in Inverness on Friday and Saturday.
Tam Coyle DJs in Inverness on Friday and Saturday.

TAM Coyle regularly DJs for the Tartan Army, keeping up the spirits of Scottish football’s faithful.

But as one of the earliest promoters of 80s alternative music in Glasgow, Tam’s equally happy playing indie sets that include the latest new band sounds you’d hear at goNorth.

But he’s looking forward to coming back up to "Inversneckie" for this weekend’s brace of gigs, meeting up with old friends - and up for keeping his audience happy.

He said: "There are also a lot of tourists still around and I enjoy the mix.

"Down here in the Central Belt it’s to a certain extent the same old faces every week.

"But it’s more challenging doing the set up in Inverness when you’ve got locals who are really keen on their music, interspersed with people from all corners of the globe.

"Sometimes I do a backpackers' pub down here and that’s the same sort of vibe.

"You can be asked for some Spanish music, American music, Australian music."

But Tam’s music collection is more than up to most challenges.

"I’ve got about 10,000 pieces of vinyl, I’ve been buying since I was 10 in 1973."

He laughed: "I’m getting too old, if I’m going up for the weekend, to carry boxes of vinyl, so the set will be from a laptop and I’ve got about 7,000 songs on there."

He laughs when you ask if he remembers his first vinyl purchase – was it anything embarrassing?

"I’m lucky, I don’t consider it embarrassing, it’s actually Slade’s Goodbye To Jane.

"That was the age of Sweet too – I’m a child of glam rock. And punk! When I was 13 or 14, the Pistols and The Clash were coming through.

"But I’d argue whatever age you are – whether you’re in your 20s or a 70-year-old music fan – a lot of people stick with the music of their formative years, the music they listened to when they were between the ages of 14 and 21.

"In my case that’s the years through from 1977 to 1984, so that’s the Pistols etc. The Clash were early heroes.

"But when I was 18 and 19 and going to clubs in Glasgow and getting involved in music, I was very much a child of Joy Division and Echo And The Bunnymen.

"I started promoting early. I was a big fan of Factory Records and the one band in Glasgow on the label was The Wake.

"The first gig I promoted, they were supported by Primal Scream doing one of their first gigs.

"As a promoter, I put on early shows of bands like Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub, The Jesus And Mary Chain etc.

"As a promoter and massive lover of music, I got hacked off as a 19 or 20-year-old going to clubs in Glasgow that didn’t play the music I liked. So I started putting on my own club nights.

"I’ve been a DJ now for just over 30 years and I’m still a massive fan of music."

But the kind of genres that he plays has mellowed, Tam revealed.

"In my younger years, I was very autocratic, it was always what I played goes! But as you get older, that changes.

"This weekend in Inverness is a party set. And I’m going to be playing a lot of the bands that have played Belladrum and RockNess and some of the bands that impressed me at goNorth earlier in the year.

"But equally, I can get asked for anything, the set can go anywhere – which can be scary sometimes!

"My job, I’ve always felt as a DJ, is to keep a dancefloor moving – even the people standing at the side tapping their toes.

"Last weekend I was DJing for 2,000 of the Tartan Army at Wembley and that’s not so much a dance set, it’s very much a sing-along-at-the-top-of-your-voice set.

"But on Friday night, back in Glasgow, there was the first function of the Commonwealth Games, with two or three delegates from every country in the Commonwealth and I was DJing for that - and again that had it’s own challenges.

"I’d been Googling music from a lot of countries I’d never even heard of and in the weeks running up to the event, I went looking for hints on interesting music to add to my set.

"Delegates from all parts of the Commonwealth were wanting to hear the likes of The Proclaimers and Deacon Blue, but it went right through to me playing music I hadn’t heard before but it all went down well. It was a really good eclectic mix, I think."

Tam is as passionate about his Scottish football as his music and talked about the way the fans are seen as good-natured ambassadors for Scotland abroad.

"Maybe we've been seen as happy go lucky tartan galoots over the last 15 years - obviously it’s not been our most successful period on the park.

"But what do people expect us to do after the game? Go rampaging through a place smashing things up?

"It’s that old thing of smile while your heart is breaking.

"Sometimes at the end we’re having a wee sing song ‘Look at us cheerie chappies’, while inside we’re crying,” laughed Tam.

"I’m off to Macedonia in a fortnight for the first time in six years and what is the point of sitting morose in a bar?

"Every time I go somewhere - whether it’s Hong Kong or Tokyo or North America or anywhere in Europe - I might never go there again! So you might as well go out and make some friends and have some fun.

Tam's travels with the Tartan Army have sometimes seen him cast as a spokesman, in the past.

"I’ve had that role, though I don’t believe anyone should have a role as a spokesperson for the Tartan Army – it’s got too many viewpoints," he laughed.

"And anybody quoted tends to get slaughtered!

"I was the vice chairman for the West of Scotland Tartan Army, but nobody can really speak for the whole Tartan Army.

"Conversely, there’s nothing worse than when they were once looking for a new manager and the press were doing vox pops down Sauchiehall Street or Princes Street and I can certainly remember – this sticks in my mind – asking taxi drivers who it should be and them going ‘Graeme Souness! Graeme Souness!’.

"And I remember thinking 'No-one in the Tartan Army wants Graeme Souness - they’re asking Rangers supporters or Celtic supporters', which quite a lot of the time isn’t the same as Scotland supporters,” laughed Tam.

But he enjoys the travel and the places the team has led him.

"Again, I've had the privilege of travelling the world following Scotland. I’ve been everywhere over the last 35 years."

That's brought him links with fans from the Highlands.

"I’ve got a few good pals from Inverness and Dingwall who will no doubt turn up over the weekend to give me some abuse!

"And I'm hoping to see the Ross County v St Mirren on Saturday."

By night, Tam's music head will also be taking his Mad Hatters' crowd on a journey too.

"The sets on Friday and Saturday will literally go from The Beatles to The Stones right up to some of the cool bands that play goNorth," he promised.

Tam Coyle DJs in Mad Hatters, Inverness, tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.

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