A NEW band has dedicated its debut album to the town that it “wears a smile” for.

Ian Retson created the band, The Bank Street Martyrs, as a reflection on his life growing up in the Vale of Leven in the 1960s and 1970s, recruiting his musician cousin Andrew Marsland and his vocalist friend Joe Watema to turn his poems into rock songs.

Ian told the Reporter: “I wrote a poem for my 60th birthday in the Vale Bowling Club, from there it has grown wings.

“In the beginning of last year I began writing other stuff. The Vale has always been my muse and everything is about the place.

“I grew up blue collar working class and I don’t think there has been a reflection of the culture here in songwriting and music.”

The band wrote a love-letter styled song Leven The Vale, to serenade the love of its hometown Alexandria, where some members were born and raised.

As one of the songs describes, “I’m in the Haldane Tonight. I could be in Paris, London or Rome. But this is where my love is, so I’m calling it home.”

The 65-year-old added: “The song is mainly about me coming back to the town, but looking at it as an older guy and comparing it to my younger years. It is about comparing the experiences and reflecting on it.

“It was so well received by friends and family that we decided to make a video of it. The song has been played across the world which has been a great feeling. 

“One of our songs My Heart is in the Haldane was even played across America on Valentine’s Day. It just meant that people outside the Haldane knew of the area.”

Despite Joe and Andrew being around 40 years younger than Ian, he believes that it gives a unique perspective, with a wide vocal range and impressive guitar work.

He added: “They are truly outstanding when it comes to the music. They are honestly world class. Joe has such a huge vocal range and Andrew’s  guitar work is incredible.”

With the upcoming release of a new album later in the year, the Bank Street Martyrs are planning to go on tour locally in May.

Visit bankstreetmartyrs.com.