Going great guns
The Stagger Rats onstage at Pesca Music Hall in Budapest
The band with new 'fans' outside the Serbian police station during their European tour
HERE'S a puzzler for you: seven people in a Transit van travelling round the pubs and clubs of central Europe, and they crash into a woman's car in Serbia.
The punchline? It may just have landed them a slot at one of the biggest music festivals on the continent.
Indie band The Stagger Rats, four members of which hail from Dunbar, recently returned from a 'shoestring' tour of several of Europe's biggest cities, playing to an estimated combined crowd of more than 3,000 people.
Among those was a performance at a music hall in Budapest to about 1,500 fans, and a few awkward situations - though not all turned out bad, as guitarist Craig McMullen explained.
"When we were in Serbia, we crashed into a woman. The police turned up and took us back to the station," he told the Courier. "But one of the officers ended up going to his own house and bringing us back some of the local booze that they drink there!
"The woman we crashed into, her friend works for Exit Festival. [The crash driver] phoned her up at the time and gave the phone to our manager, Bonny [Squair], so we're probably getting a gig there. It's a really big one - it's massive."
While it is yet to be confirmed, it may see the five-piece line up along side musical heavyweights like Guns N Roses, Duran Duran and New Order in July.
That was just of several successful meetings for the band - some by chance - as they spread their name among music fans in London, Amsterdam, Arras (France), Berlin, Budapest and Zagreb, as well as during an impromptu trip to Romania.
Craig, 25, was both surprised and delighted by the reception the band received.
"The crowds were a lot more engaging with you, having a good dance, and all the places were pretty busy every single night," he said. "It was good playing in front of new crowds. It ended up being really good venues that we played in.
"We contacted lots of radio stations and magazines and did a few interviews. Most of the countries we played in, they promote the gigs really well themselves.
"We also did a bit of busking on the way as well, just to get some more crowds in."
He added: "The feedback from the crowd was amazing - as soon as we came off stage, people were asking for our signatures, buying lots of CDs and coming up to us and asking about the band. They were really enthusiastic about it.
"We weren't expecting it at all. Over here [in the UK], it's a lot more subdued, the crowd aren't as into it. Over there, they're a lot more interested.
"I think everything is more relaxed - like in Romania, the bar shuts when the last person leaves."
More often than not, those late-night stragglers were the band themselves!
But there is no time for rest for Dunbar's Craig and Daniel Paylor (guitar, vocals), Callum Easter (organ, vocals), Kai Wallace (drums) and Falkirk's Terry McDermott (bass, backing vocals), as they have a host of summer festival appearances to look forward to.
They are also planning a trip across The Pond next year in an
attempt to do what few British bands do - crack America, or at least some small parts of it - including the famous SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas.
Their debut album, Scorpio Leisure - recorded with Owen Morris (Oasis, The Verve, Ash) last year - is also set for release towards the end of 2012.
Craig added: "We've held off a bit, trying to build up a bit more buzz about the band before releasing the album. We've got a lot of meetings with people and stuff and it's just getting everything set in place before we can do what we're planning to do. It's really exciting."
The band launches its new EP with a mystery masquerade party in Edinburgh on June 16.