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Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble treasures what’s unexpected

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Scottish alt-rockers in Idlewild are promoting their seventh album “Everything Ever Written.” (Courtesy photo)

Idlewild vocalist Roddy Woomble, who brings his band to The City this week, has attempted to describe the rustic beauty of Mull, the Inner Hebrides island off the coast of Scotland where he lives. But he’s not sure if stories he has written for magazines such as The Great Outdoors do it justice.

To truly sense the serenity of Mull, which has no major airport and is best reached by ferry, one needs to visit. So two years ago, he and his wife, former Sons and Daughters bassist Ailidh Lennon, transformed their 1840s-era house into a bed and breakfast.

“It’s one of those funny things you do in life, isn’t it? Something you never expect to do, but end up doing,” says Woomble of the venture, which offers a single room and home-cooked Scottish meals. “And because we’re quite remote, people that tend to come here are quite unusual, so there are all sorts of interesting folks that swing by from all over the world. We’ve had photographers from Japan, physicists from America, artists from Russia, banjo players from Virginia.”

Woomble also launched an annual music festival there, held the first weekend in July, headlined by Idlewild. This year, the once-dissonant punk band will back its latest seventh album, the thoughtful, more melodic “Everything Ever Written.”

“We’ve got a lot of good left-field, indie artists playing,” he says. “I think that it brings out the best in people, when you’re all together on an island. It’s not like you’re in some field outside a city, just watching 50 bands. This is more of a boutique kind of thing.”

The singer delights in doing the unexpected. In 1998, when the U.K. was awash in sunny Britpop, Idlewild issued its dissonant, punk-fueled debut “Hope is Important,” and developed a reputation for fierce, frenetic concerts.

“We hated that Britpop scene, and we almost formed our band as a direct antithesis to it,” says Woomble. “We were purely into American music, underground rock and roll like Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Fugazi — all these bands that we were trying to emulate in our own ramshackle, Scottish way.”

Idlewild fans include American actor Jay Baruchel, 33, who has adored the group since he was 19. He claims its music saved his life and even offered to appear in the video for the recent single “Every Little Means Trust.”

He hasn’t yet checked in at Woomble’s inn, though. “Jay stayed in Edinburgh his last time through,” says Woomble. “I don’t know that he’s too keen on the countryside.”

IF YOU GO
Idlewild
Where: Social Hall, 1270 Sutter St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. May 21
Tickets: $22.50 to $25
Contact: (415) 777-1715, www.axs.com

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