The Mocking Byrds

AM speaks to frontman, Jason Skimming

by Gill Sherry

Like many band members and other live performers, Jason Skimming’s life changed dramatically as a result of the Covid pandemic.

“My previous band imploded during lockdown,” he explains. “We kind of drifted apart and I thought of… not retiring exactly, but giving it a miss. But once we came out of lockdown and I saw bands were back gigging again, I kind of missed it. So I set about putting a new band together.”

That’s how The Mocking Byrds came about.

The Ayr-based band is made up of Jason on vocals, Gav McMulkin on guitar, John Lauchlan on drums and Glen McKay on bass.

“We’re a totally original band,” says Jason. “It’s all our own music that we play and write. Most of the song writing gets done between myself and Gav, then the songs come to life in the studio with the whole band.”

I assume (wrongly) that being such a new band, gigs would be restricted to local pubs and clubs. Jason puts me right: “Last summer we did the festival circuit. We’re planning to do the same this year. And we supported Space at Venue38 in the town centre.”

The band has also recently released its debut three-track EP. I’m getting the impression this is more than just a hobby for Jason.

“We’re always going to keep the dream alive but you’ve got to be realistic about how much money you can earn from original music these days. We’ve got young families to support. I would love to do it full-time but who knows? Never say never!”

Jason definitely has big ambitions.

“Our plan this year is to get out and about in each of the major cities: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, London. Basically let people hear what we’re all about.”

The guys are certainly used to decent sized crowds. They played ButeFest last season, and the support gig with Space at Venue38 attracted 300 live music lovers through the door.

“I’ve done the slog of pubs and clubs,” Jason tells me, “but when you’ve got a young family, you can’t go gigging every weekend. You’ve got to be realistic and pick the gigs wisely.”

One such gig is Doonfest in July this year.

“It’s a community festival in Dalrymple. It’s a good wee festival and value for money. People from Ayr and the surrounding area can go to it without too much drama. It’s a three-day festival and there’s some really good bands playing.”

He’s referring to the likes of Tom McGuire & the Brassholes and Mànran. Winner of The Voice, Craig Eddie, is also set to perform.

It’s great that The Mocking Byrds will be playing in front of a large home crowd. It’s an opportunity that many local bands will never get to realise.

“There’s loads of unsigned bands in and around the Ayr area. Music scenes were always born from musicians rather than actual punters. Bands in the area should be supporting other bands, that’s how music scenes are born – London in the 60s, Manchester in the 90s. Ayr’s got a nucleus of these bands and we’ve got a hub of live music venues. The more musicians that can support that, then naturally people will come and gravitate towards it.”

Obviously, one such venue is the aptly named Venue38.

“We’re planning to do our own headline at Venue38, date to be confirmed. We’ve got a few things in the pipeline, but nothing concrete yet, other than to get out and about.”

In the meantime, you can stream the band’s music on all of the major digital streaming platforms. For those who prefer something more tangible, CDs are available from The Mocking Byrds’ online store.