A GROUP of Scottish artists who tried to write a song for San Marino’s Eurovision entry have said they will be back with a “Highland banger” when Scotland gets its independence.

Having always dreamed of performing in the contest, brothers Tommy and Conor Reilly – a filmmaker and musician respectively – teamed up with singer-songwriter Michael Cassidy and producer Mark Bignell to hastily enter a song for the tiny nation roughly the size of Dundee.

Their chaotic journey to the qualification stage of the San Marino contest was covered in a BBC Scotland documentary this week called How Not To Win Eurovision, which saw them fall just short of getting to the country’s semi-finals.

But Conor and Michael have insisted we haven’t seen the last of the group – named Heartlands after a village close to Harthill services that Michael was passing when he was invited to be part of the act.

The pair have said their real dream would be to perform for Scotland when it gets its independence.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf 'wasting parliament time' with coronation motion

'Sequin kilts'

Michael told The National: “Part of us doing this was because Scotland doesn’t have its own entry. It would in an independent Scotland.

“One day it will happen and we actually talked about this. We want to go out there in sequin kilts and really go for it. The first year Scotland gets independence, we’ll be back with an absolute Highland banger and it’s going to win it, 100%.

Conor, 29, added: “It’s funny we don’t have our own entry because Scotland has such a strong musical heritage and I think it’s distinct from England and the rest of the UK.

“It’s really famous for music and I think it’s a shame this country doesn’t have that option [of entering Eurovision as Scotland].

“I think Europe would love it, I think Eurovision would love it if there was a Scottish act there.”

Scotland is 'distinct' from rest of UK 

Even with Scotland currently part of the UK, the pair feel the country should have its own entry given its culturally distinct identity.

Michael, 36, said: “The UK is made up of four very identifiable nations. Welsh music is so different to England and England is its own thing anyway. Scotland has its own identity too.

“I think it would be a much more enriched contest if they had member states in it individually.”

Asked if Scotland should have its own entry currently, Conor added: “Yeah for sure. In terms of music and culture, I think that’s where Scotland is strongest.”

The National: Michael Cassidy, Conor Reilly and Tommy Reilly hope to one day perform for Scotland at Eurovision Michael Cassidy, Conor Reilly and Tommy Reilly hope to one day perform for Scotland at Eurovision (Image: NQ)

The idea of trying to enter the contest via a different route came from Mark, who had always wanted to go on a Eurovision adventure but didn’t really have the musical skills to make it happen.

That’s when he pitched the idea to Tommy and Conor - the former of which won an Emmy two years ago for his work on the music for US TV series Animaniacs – after coming across San Marino, which had an open submissions process.

'It's so dumb it just gets in your head' 

The BBC documentary follows how they then came up with a song they named “Accelerator” - the main hook for which came from a voice note Conor had recorded which said “if you say you wanna see me later, I’ll put my foot on the accelerator”.

Conor said: “I had the idea of a song about fancying someone but also being in a car and that’s as deep as it went.

“There’s something about it that it’s so dumb it just gets in your head. I do think if you try and be serious sometimes you get in the way of yourself.”

The group left it until two days before they were due to travel to San Marino to write the song and were still finishing it moments before the audition. Michael still admits now that he can’t remember some of the lyrics.

But on walking off the stage after the performance, Tommy and Michael – who performed the tune – felt they had done enough to get through to the semi-finals which would be on national TV. Some judges had even told them they would go through.

However, in the end, they didn’t make it and the selection process left them feeling hard done by.

Conor said: “We were supposed to go straight to the semis originally but last minute they said we needed to qualify and it turns out that was because they changed the deadline for submissions and had taken loads from Italy’s competition that didn’t make it for Italy.

“So they just funnelled all these semi-finalists and finalists straight into this competition. So even though at the auditions we’d seen we thought we were the strongest one, there was loads of acts that didn’t need to audition that were winners of The Voice and quite established acts that had a real shot [including Eiffel 65 who had a hit in 1998 with Blue (Da Ba Dee)]

“So the spot we thought was reserved for us ended up going to an act that wasn’t at the auditions.

“It was weird, us not getting in did not reflect what I felt from the room.”

Michael added: “We aren’t necessarily young and hot enough really to have a chance at Eurovision. We think if we do it again we might get younger people on board, but we’d be at the back.”

READ MORE: Republic's Graham Smith clashes with Kay Burley on Sky News

Conor joked the group might boycott the final on Saturday in Liverpool after feeling screwed over but, admittedly, they know they can’t miss out on the biggest party of the year.

Conor added: “I’ll be watching the same way as I always do, having a party somewhere at a pal’s.

“People think we’re really passionate about Eurovision songs and we’re not really but we always have a party. We see it as an excuse to celebrate lots of different countries. We wanted to be a part of that.

“Maybe we will still be one day. Australia is in it, so why can’t Scotland make it?”