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The Joshua Hotel checks in – plans on track with new single

By Margaret Chrystall

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Looking down from the high slopes of October 2023, it’s almost remarkable how the landscape of The Joshua Hotel story unfolds in front of you, sticking quite closely – despite the odd unexpected sinkhole – to the original map.

The Joshua Hotel.
The Joshua Hotel.

In summertime, the plan – after the sad disappearance of the Midnight Sun Weekender the band had been due to play – looking forward there would be singles to herald an EP and then work to start on recording the debut album towards the end of the year … and all that is right on schedule.

In July, Josh Mackenzie had delivered the best whistled earworm refrain of the year in single Don’t You Remember – and updated on a health scare when complications with a lifelong heart condition had rocked his life sideways for a while.

But it’s only late on in a conversation about the latest single that landed on October 13 – Oblivion Days, headline single on the EP of the same title – that he tells you things are going OK healthwise now.

“I’ve got a few appointments coming up, MRIs, just routine check-up scans. They do put the fear of God into you, looking at every fibre inside you.

“But, yeah, overall I’m good.

“The better I take care of myself, the better I feel, which applies to everyone.

“But I think when you’ve got some health condition, the more you look after yourself, the more fate is in your own hands and it’s easier said than done because there’s plenty in the world to entice us – and trust me I’ve had quite an indulgent summer,” he laughed. “But this year I think I have enjoyed myself a bit more. Last year was a bit rubbish until the end of the year when it kind of sorted itself out.”

Just out last week, Oblivion Days is part of a cache of songs that power The Joshua Hotel’s live set and from which a four-track EP has been assembled, due to land on November 24.

The Joshua Hotel at the Seedlings Stage, Belladrum. Picture: James Mackenzie
The Joshua Hotel at the Seedlings Stage, Belladrum. Picture: James Mackenzie

It’s a song that is all urgent indie-electronica conjuring up a restless recalibrating of life driving night streets, desperate not to disappear: “I feel like an actor, I love the pretence/ finding out slowly it’s all I’ve got left.”

Referencing everything from late 70s Bowie to Daft Punk, Josh introduces the song: “It’s quite upbeat and a danceable song for the opener to the EP and it seemed a good introduction to the other songs.”

It’s out on the eclectic Last Night From Glasgow label which will ultimately see the debut album on vinyl, part of the DNA of the label model, championing indie bands with the support of subscribers.

The Joshua Hotel at Mad Hatters in 2022.
The Joshua Hotel at Mad Hatters in 2022.

Their approach seems to work well for Josh who likes to be across everything from the detailed sound of each song to how the artwork looks.

“They are very hands off. I just say here’s the stuff and here’s the schedule and they say ‘Yes that’s fine’. Or they say ‘No, could you budge this’.”

“The label came on board because we are going to do the album next year.

“I’ve spent the last two or three months writing a batch of new songs and there are probably 15 songs which will be whittled down to a solid 10 or 11, depending how many we can fit on vinyl.

“For Last Night From Glasgow, their driver is to get indie bands on vinyl.

“It’s like the 70s where basically we need to have 22 minutes on each side. I think the limit is 44 minutes.

“It’s maybe like a slight pushback against the complete commodification of music in a digital sense where it has lost all value virtually in terms of online, so if someone considers themselves to be a music fan – I have a lot of close friends who aren’t necessarily musicians but are very devoted music fans.

“I think that they feel their way of contributing is to have vinyl. And it is a more pleasurable consuming process. You go and you buy it or order it, it arrives and you take it out.

“I think CDs have fallen by the wayside because they didn’t really have the same artistic quality to them with the covers and things like that. They are a bit of a half-way between, they are still like a bit of a nuisance, but I still have plenty of CDs.”

The Joshua Hotel with guest Shanine Gallagher.
The Joshua Hotel with guest Shanine Gallagher.

And though we talk about the pleasure of giving yourself permission to sit down and listen when you put vinyl on a turntable, digital is still a big part of the picture for Josh.

“I’m listening to music – running around like a keen runner – because I’m a runner!

“Part of the joy of it is if a new album comes out, I stick it in my lugs, I run and I listen.

“And the EP is digital only.”

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Right now, he is working on the new songs for the album which will be recorded with drummer Josh Gilbert and guitarist Louis Slorach.

“The songs are about 60 per cent finished from me sitting in my home studio and the cues are already there, how things are going to sound, the general atmosphere is sort of set and then we go in and we do the vocals live.

“This Sunday we are going down and recording the album in Largs and the rest of this month is spent recording the album. It’s a bit scary but it is what we do anyway - go in and record – except there is more of a focus on a bigger batch of songs.”

Guitarist Louis Slorach of The Joshua Hotel on the Seedlings stage in 2022. Picture: James Mackenzie
Guitarist Louis Slorach of The Joshua Hotel on the Seedlings stage in 2022. Picture: James Mackenzie

The sound of the future is nearly here …

But first, you might just catch Josh playing somewhere on the Monsterfest line-up. Last year he was there with long-running band Lional.

“I will probably go along and might end up onstage with someone as my alter ego of a hard rock enthusiast always lands me a guest slot there somewhere!” he laughed.

And will there be a chance to hear The Joshua Hotel live in Inverness any time soon, though the focus is on recording the album?


“I really wish the Ironworks was still on the go because the end of this year might have been the time for us to put on our own gig there…” Josh mused wistfully.

The Joshua Hotel's drummer Josh Gilbert on the Seedlings stage at Belladrum, 2022. Picture: James Mackenzie
The Joshua Hotel's drummer Josh Gilbert on the Seedlings stage at Belladrum, 2022. Picture: James Mackenzie

Hands-on with promoting the new single and the upcoming EP, Josh with a background in the DIY ethic of getting your own music out, seems comfortable with that as part of the picture with a community label like Last Night From Glasgow.

“In some ways I still have to do what I was doing anyway. It’s self-promotion and the label is not going to be plugging tons of money into promotion, though maybe more so when the album comes out.

“It’s quite a comfortable thing. I feel like when you are approached by a bigger indie label, someone with a bit more clout, there would always be an element of it where you have to be conscious of the fact you are signing away a lot.

“That is something good about a small independent company, there isn’t that fear.

“It is a very open conversation between you and the people at the label.”

Working on some soundtrack music for a filmmaker’s client when he started talking about the new single, Josh agreed that one day he might like to have a label.

“I could! If I had the money and the energy to do it, I would, probably. Working with other artists, developing other artists is something I really try to do.

“There are a couple of local musicians who haven’t really put themselves out there yet. I know them and I have invited them to work on music and I could just show them how to self-produce, really.

“That’s the key to freedom, I think.”

Ahead of the EP, two new singles will be released – the first, Oblivion Days is out now. The EP will be released digitally on November 24 via The LNFG Cartel, a branch of Scottish label Last Night From Glasgow The Joshua Hotel on Facebook: and Instagram:

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