MEMBERS of the Scottish indy movement’s favourite band – Saor Alba Pipes and Drums – are preparing for several gigs around Catalonia’s National Day, La Diada.

The full band had been invited to the Catalan capital Barcelona for September 11 but did not have enough time to make all the preparations to transport up to 50 members and their instruments.

However, a group of them decided to go after discussions with Jordi McArthur, from Independence Live and seven pipers and four drummers will make the journey next month.

Drummer Gerry Graham told The National: “Jordi approached us about six weeks ago and asked if we could come over, but it was a bit short notice. Logistically, taking 40 or 50 people over there would have been a nightmare, so we had to cancel that with a view to going over next year.

“But a few of us decided ‘come on, let’s just go’. There were originally 13, and a couple dropped out, so there are 11 of us now. We’ve paid for our own flights and to get the equipment over. Even with 11 of us, it’s been a nightmare, but we’re getting there.”

La Diada has been marked every year for more than a century and marks the loss of Catalonia’s laws and institutions after the Siege of Barcelona in 1714. It has become a focal point for the independence cause and last year more than a million people turned Barcelona into a sea of pink with coral-coloured T-shirts proclaiming: “Let’s make the Republic of Catalonia.”

Saor Alba will play in the main parade and at Lledoners jail, where Catalonia’s male political prisoners have been held for approaching two years – awaiting verdicts in their trial over the 2017 independence referendum.

The prison is the scene of regular demonstrations in their support, and there has been speculation that pro-indy sentiment surrounding the day was partly responsible for the verdicts being delayed.

“This is the first time any of us has been to the Diada,” said Graham. “A couple of the guys said there was no point in going over to Catalonia if we didn’t play outside the prison, so we’re looking forward to that. We’re all buzzing with excitement about it.”

McArthur added: “The Catalan National Assembly (ANC) Bages are organising a torch march on September 10 at Lledoners. We are now asking if Saor Alba Pipe Band can join them.”

Band members will be staying with Catalan host families and are trying to raise funds to help with the costs of travel and transporting their instruments.

Graham said: “We’re getting shirts printed for the band members – we got a donation to get them done. We’ve also got Saor Alba T-shirts printed, and on the Wednesday it’ll be the full gear for the march.

We’ve already paid from our own pockets to get there, but we’ve started a fundraiser through PayPal on our Facebook page to help with the expenses – it costs a fortune to take my drum, it’s more expensive than it is for me.”

He hinted that the band may have something special up their sleeves for their hosts: “We’ll be playing all our usual tunes, but we’ve got a couple of special numbers we’ve been practising for the Catalans, and I think they’ll be impressed when they hear us.”