Creativity comes from all directions within the Treacherous Orchestra and fine-tuning can often see the music take unexpected twists.
The supergroup, which formed in 2009, has 12 members, all successful musicians in their own right with many also being highly-productive tune-writers. It makes for an interesting discussion in arranging tunes for stage or record, but the democratic process seems to be working.
“It works pretty well most of the time”, says banjo playing Dubliner Éamonn Coyne, the only non-Scot in the band.
“Most of the band are prolific tune writers and everyone is involved with arranging the material.
“The process usually starts with someone bringing a tune to the band for consideration and then the fun begins moulding it to suit the various instruments. For example a tune written by a Scottish piper played on the banjo can turn it on its head and produce something quite different. When that happens over and over with other instruments a different version of the tune often emerges.
“When the harmony is added and the rhythm instruments pick up on chord charts and riffs and the melody players pick out little lines to repeat etc. etc. it all changes again - you get the idea.
“Creative people get busy changing anything that appears in front of them and if the result is one we like it stays.”
The process worked successfully on the band’s second album, Grind, which was released this year and nominated for Scottish Album of the Year. Although it didn’t make the shortlist (along with the likes of Idlewild, Mogwai, Fatherson and King Creosote), Éamonn says its release was one of the band’s highlights of the year so far.
“We are very proud of it. It was a pity we didn’t make the shortlist, but there was some pretty stiff competition and we were in good company.
“It was great to see the range of artists on the longlist and I think it shows the strength of Scottish music of all types that is excelling at the moment. We will be back.”
The creative process of course continues into their live performances which attract acclaim from critics and fans alike.
Their travels take them to the festival circuit this summer, including the 20th anniversary Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway where TO played a storming set in 2010.
“Following our last appearance at HebCelt, on top of the fact that most of us have played there with different bands over the years, we know what to expect and are greatly looking forward to it. The atmosphere and vibe of island life and an isles festival is very special.
“Some of this is because often people have had to make a real effort to get there and are well up for the party and enjoying themselves - we will add to that general euphoria.
“The audience can expect the energy and subtlety displayed on the new album coupled with the grinding power that a 12-piece juggernaut roaring through a festival brings, whipping up a frenzied storm. We did it last time and we will again for year 20.”
He said one of the obvious factors in making TO such an ideal festival band is its sheer size: “The big stage is a rewarding space for us and we can make use of and enjoy it. The occasion of a festival is also very enticing to us.
“That said, we hone our stage art and shows at all the live shows we do - gigs at smaller venues are so important to build audiences who attend the festivals and vice versa.
“We love performing as a band and so the opportunity to convert a few more festival goers to the TO-side is very welcome.”