THE Fatherson tour diary is currently packed with dates and the rest of 2022 is no different. There is, however, one show that stands out for the band – a return to Ayrshire for the Making Waves festival.

Irvine Beach will host the two-day event on July 23-24, with Del Amitri headlining the Saturday line-up. Twin Atlantic are also on the bill, with JJ Gilmour, Blue Rose Code and Nerina Pallot.

Ayrshire's own Fatherson complete the cast of incredible talent, and the prospect of playing a massive show so close to their Kilmarnock home is laden with sentiment and anticipation.

Frontman Ross Leighton notes the impact Ayrshire shows had on their embryonic career and knew straight away that Making Waves was an event they wanted to be a part of.

"It was awesome to get the call," he tells The Weekender. "I'm a massive Del Amitri fan and we've been playing shows with Twin Atlantic here and there for years, so it'll be great to be there with those guys. And to play in Irvine as well is great. The only place we had played in Irvine before is the Harbour Arts Centre, so to go back and do a festival is going to be class.

"The local scene is always going to be close to our hearts. Without playing music in Ayrshire when we were younger, we would not be doing it now. It was such a great catalyst for us; a great place to develop and move on to other places.

"At the time, there was a great scene of bands and loads of venues to play – always a gig every other weekend. So, it will be great to return to Ayrshire and play again. It'll be something quite extraordinary. Playing a gig on the beach is a special thing to be able to do."

Fatherson have been back to business over the last few months. In April, they unveiled their fourth album Normal Fears, having previously teased tracks in the form of End of the World, Honest to God, Better Friend and others.

The record itself has its origins in the pre-pandemic era, as the band were kicking off their album cycle as the world slowly closed down. In the past, Fatherson had released a new album every two years, with fans having to wait four this time around.

However, the band put that extra time to good use as they were able to let the material breathe a little longer than normal before committing them to record.

While the world was consumed with all things Covid at the time, Leighton and his bandmates Marc Strain and Greg Walkinshaw were determined to shun any focus on isolation and negativity, and instead look to ways in which could find comfort and connection.

The singer reflects: "I think everyone has their own 'Lockdown Tapes' – songs written through lockdown, or about lockdown. But we didn't want to concentrate on that. Normal Fears is not a lockdown-inspired record.

"Fatherson albums have always been collections of stories or experiences that I have had, or other people have had," Leighton continues. "Normal Fears, as a title, just highlights that commonality we all share. Even if you think you're the only person in the world going through something, there is a chance you are not.

"We just try to express ourselves with that in mind – instead of focusing on the external problems or feelings of isolation or lockdown, it was more about the internal things that I or others were going through, which, of course, has the ability to connect people."

Through the writing process, Fatherson were focused on making a true free-flowing album over a collection of songs. However, Leighton notes that almost all of the tracks on Normal Fears are less than four minutes long.

Much of that change comes from the evolution of Leighton's writing over the years.

"There is always a balancing act," he adds. "Can I get enough of me, or my personality, into three minutes to scratch that creative itch but to also have a full song at the end of it?

"I love writing music – it's my favourite thing to do. But I also love that people can find their own meanings in things. The beauty is that music is not a sit-down lecture of how you are feeling at the time, it's about something you can escape in or something you can use at a time in your life when you need a bit of hand.

"So that's something we think about with our music. We don't it to be explicit right away, we want people to find different meaning in it.

"This album came with its own unique set of challenges, but fortunately, for this album, we were able to write a lot and by the time we went to record we had around 25 finished songs to choose from."

Taking listeners on a sonic journey was also a key consideration for Normal Fears, the singer contends. A collection of singles will always have its place, but Fatherson had always been about the full body of work.

"We always wanted to be an album band," Leighton says. "Singles are class and we've always loved writing them, but how a full record flows is also super important.

"And I think more people go back to your album because they've enjoyed the journey. We didn't want to have albums with a few massive tunes and a few that just weren't very good.

"I know there is no right or wrong way to make music, but that's sort of being our focus for records. And I think we've managed to do that with Normal Fears."

All throughout May, the band have been all over the country giving their new album the tour they had been waiting for. After a few support slots with Travis, they kicked off their headline tour in England before a show in Aberdeen and then The Barrowlands.

At home, in between shows, Leighton has been taking a minute to recharge the batteries – and nurse a bit of a shoulder injury – before heading down south for more.

He says: "It's been great to be back out on the road and connecting with people again. For us, as a band, the most important thing has always been to get tyres on the tarmac and to make our way around the country. We were in Manchester there and we're in Bristol on Thursday with Nottingham and London to come. Then the festivals start.

"It's just been a supremely positive thing – it's been fun to get back out and play music again, something we all sorely missed. I didn't quite realise how much I love playing gigs until we were back out there again a couple of weeks ago.

"Stupidly, I broke my shoulder last week so I've had my arm in a sling before and after shows. But it's been a great journey so far, and we're looking forward to the rest of the year."

Fatherson will also link up with Travis once more this year as the two bands play Edinburgh Sessions on Princes Street Gardens on Sunday, August 14.

Catch Fatherson at Making Waves this summer, with tickets on sale at