And finally… Singing plumber storms iTunes charts
Like many labourers in the north east, Michael Forsyth felt the sting in the downturn of the oil and gas industry.
From high school he went straight into a plumbing apprenticeship for a firm that went into administration in 2010.
With a young family to support, Michael took a job as a general labourer with his father’s welding and fabrication company.
But when his working week was reduced to three days last year, the 30-year-old decided to try his hand earning money with music.
He had been writing his own songs for a decade, inspired by rock luminaries like Alice Cooper, Def Leppard and Guns N’ Roses, and didn’t have much to lose.
He didn’t expect the move would see him rival Ed Sheeran and James Bay in the iTunes charts.
Stop For The World, Michael’s first album released in May this year, climbed to the top of the UK iTunes singer songwriter charts.
“I just didn’t expect it,” Michael admits. “When I put it on Facebook everyone just went crazy and it stayed at number one for a week.”
The sudden success was no fluke, attracting attention from US producer and musician Danny Saber (Ozzy Osborne, David Bowie, Madonna) who offered to help produce album number two.
Michael told STV: “It was really good of Danny - it was a magic feeling when he phoned and just offered to help. He’s been a big help to me over the last month with advice.
“He’s become a great friend. He told me to keep at it, keep writing, don’t let things get to you. With the success of the last album a couple of people have said ‘he’s sitting at home waiting for a £1m cheque to come through’ but it’s not the case.
“For me it was more about enjoying the music.”
Music has been a hobby and a release for Michael since the age of 13. As a teenager, he played guitar with his friends in a garage, on a makeshift stage built by their parents.
As an adult, it was an outlet for when life got the better of him.
He said: “For me my music is a getaway from life - when things are bothering you, you can pick up the guitar and get on with it.
“I did think music was something I wanted to do but it’s a very, very difficult thing to make money out of at the moment.
“If it hadn’t been for our parents, my dad included, we would never have had the opportunity - we’ve a lot to thank them for.”
With his father now managing his recording career, it seems fitting that Michael would pass on his love of music to his own sons, Dylan, who sings age two, and Cody, who plays drums age six.
With his recently formed band the Amber Haze, Michael has set his sights on a second album release by the end of 2016, with a tour of the US on the horizon.
But he maintains his home town deserves much of the credit.
He said: “Huntly is Huntly, it’ll never change. But I wouldn’t have got to where I was without the support of the town.
“I just want to say a big thank you to people who have taken the time to share, post and download the songs. Some days you just think ‘what the hell am I doing’ at work.
“We’re just in it to enjoy ourselves and if I can make a living out of it I’d be over the moon. I can only try.”