IN THE famous words of Kurt Cobain: "Here we are now, entertain us."

If there is one thing a performer needs, above all else, it is an audience. They need someone to reach out to, someone to connect with and pull into their own little worlds. A communal energy to feed from.

So often it is said that live gigs are a shared experience – that there is something intangible in the air that transcends the senses. It is in these moments that bands such as Gerry Son & the Smokin' Gun truly come alive and shift from performers to entertainers.

The Stirling-based quartet came together by chance. They had worked for other bands as "studio rats" while gently and surely honing their craft. It wasn't long before they found a window to create something of their own – something joyous and genuine and that gives more than it takes.

No sooner after frontman Gerry McGlade and guitarist Roddy MacKenzie had the wheels of the project started to roll, with bassist Greg Hadlow and drummer Ross Pilgrim completing the line-up. Four entertainers coming together.

Led by a seasoned showman in McGlade, their on-stage presence is palpable and the sheer pleasure they derive from the craft permeates among those on hand to see it.

That's the thing about entertainers… they turn a performance into a show.

"There's more to playing live than just playing your songs really well," McGlade tells The Weekender. "It's about the energy. It's about the experience. It's different endorphins for live shows.

"You can sit and listen to music and get a kick out of it, but when it's live then it's something completely different. I think it's that community feel – having everybody together – that does it.

"We all engage with things on a daily basis, things like podcasts, for instance. But that's much more passive. At a gig, you can look the person in the eye, and they can look you in the eye. The artist could be talking to everybody all at once, or they could be talking to you.

"You want to make that connection. We see that sometimes when people come to buy merch from us after the show; that barrier from the stage is down and they can just come and chat with us. Make that connection."

He continues: "Sometimes you go to shows yourself, maybe you haven't heard of the band before but then you get there and you feel the energy and you are sold. That's it – you're invested. People go to these things for that aspect, to witness an event and to be a part of it.

"And you want to give them something they can take away. If people are going to pay to see you, you have to give them your money's worth."

Entertaining crowds might appear to come easy to Gerry and his band, but their show is the product of years of experience in the industry. It does help, of course, that audiences are watching a group of friends genuinely enjoy their time on stage, with their infectious enthusiasm propagating around the room.

As McGlade puts it: "How can you not feel great playing in front of all those people?"

That sweet affection for live shows is enduring. But playing live is only enjoyable if they have the right notes to sing.

Gerry Son & the Smokin' Gun take the songwriting aspect as seriously as any other band. They pore over each section with as much care as an artist; there is no sense of cutting corners in a bid to fill holes in their set. Theme, tone, emotion – everything is explored.

First and foremost, they are an album band. They see great substance in a full body of work. They just know how to bring those tracks to life, infused with a warming zeal that only they can fashion.

"We always try to bring something new," McGlade reflects. "The last thing we want to do is make the same record.

"For us, there's no template for making music and, so, it's different every time. That's the way we like it.

"We have a song called Steal [from debut album Cheap Dirty Love]. People tell us they love that song and we play it at every show. We'll never make another Steal. That might seem like a bad move, but we don't want to go over the same ground again.

"This way keeps things interesting for us as well. And we do it all ourselves, out of our wee studio in Alloa.

"We never feel like we are running out of ideas; we listen to new music all the time, so we are always feeding ourselves.

"Keep it new, keep it true," he adds. "We reckon that if we get a kick from it, then someone else might – some guy in Canada might dig it. That's the way it can go these days. We get the Spotify report or whatever and just think how did this guy in Rwanda discover this wee band from Stirling?"

Album number three is on the agenda for the four-piece. They cut their teeth with 2020's Cheap Dirty Love and followed up with the comforting vibes of The Future Can't Wait last year.

Such a redoubtable output is enviable in the best of circumstances, but doing so under the shroud of lockdown, and with a sprinkling of EPs released at the same time, is nothing short of remarkable.

But, then, when you find a rhythm, you keep it going.

Keen to progress, the band promise something new with album number three. And considering the events of the last couple of years, it is no surprise that the quartet are diving into new topics and priorities. It was inevitable.

"I suppose it is a bit of a re-birth," McGlade reflects. "Our first album, Cheap Dirty Love, had a bit of an end-of-the-world feel about it. So, there's a bit of a sinister vibe happening, but with a light at the end of the tunnel feel in there as well.

"But when we were coming out of the pandemic and looking to release a second album, we just thought we needed it to be a lot more positive. I kept using the phrase Technicolour – it has to be the Technicolour album; it has to be this big 'summery' album even though it was released in November. That's what we felt it had to be. Sing the songs, feel good, help others feel good.

"Our third album is a wee bit bigger, a wee bit darker and a lot more rock. I think it will be a big statement – a lot of the songs have more of a political viewpoint because there's no getting away from it all, not after what we've all seen.

"Over the last few years, the world went on fire. It's a dark time to be alive. We witnessed all the events over the pandemic and after that and it has been something new every week.

"I'm not necessarily using my music as a platform to preach to anyone – that's a bit passé. I mean, why would anyone want to listen to me? I'm a song-and-dance man, that's what I do.

"But I think a lot of people can feel really helpless, like there is nothing they can do about it. But they can. We can.

"I think of time-travel movies and they always say: 'Whatever you do, don't touch anything, don't do anything, don't step on that' or the future will be different. But no one thinks like that with the present – people think they're not involved, that they can't do anything. It's important that we all have a voice, regardless of our race, gender or sexuality."

While the third Smokin' Gun album may well have been shaped by the events of the last couple of years, the band were able to take that little extra time to fine-tune their direction.

They think of the greats and how they never stood still and chart a new course accordingly. The next step is always just a little down the road.

McGlade adds: "Every album comes with some kind of growth. I wouldn't call us a progressive rock band but we always want to be moving.

"I think of The Beatles as a gold standard of music in terms of how adventurous they were; there is a period where they put out three albums, and made a movie and had gone from singing Help! to Tomorrow Never Knows. If you look at the 18-month time period, they sound like totally different bands from one end to the other.

"For me, that's down to how progressive they were and how much they were chasing the things that excited them. Now, we don't want to SOUND like The Beatles but we want to be like them in terms of their ingenuity and clever with their ideas. Always keep going forward."

Gerry Son & the Smokin' Gun aim to release their third album next year with a new single Slàinte Mhath – a charity venture with proceeds going towards Strathcarron Hospice – due out this winter. A launch show for the single will be held at The Birds and The Bees in Stirling on Sunday, November 6.