You’re playing Aberdeen tonight and Glasgow tomorrow night. Why should people take the time to come and check you out?
We are a band that loves to play live because it offers something completely different from making a record. Recording an album can be a painstaking process and is about preservation and documentation, whereas a gig is all about being in the moment. It can be quite exciting for that reason, and we all enjoy the unpredictability of playing live. We enjoy taking the songs that we have on albums and bringing them to life on a stage. Other than that, people should come and see us if they enjoy good honest songwriting and getting drunk. If they can survive the elements to come and see us, we’ll reward them with mulled wine.
What do you think is the one thing about your live performance that different from everyone else?
Live performance is all about the players you have around you, and that’s what makes you unique. I’m very lucky to have such great players in the band from a wide variety of backgrounds. The make-up of a band and the chemistry of the players is what makes us different from everyone else.
Are you the posterboy of sorts for a new generation of Scottish singer-songwriters?
Not at all! I’ve never really felt part of any scene, and I think most ‘singer-songwriters’ would agree that being part of a movement on the local music scene can be difficult when you start out as a solo performer. It can be a lonely pursuit when you try to write and perform under your own name, but it also offers you a lot of freedom in what you want to do. There are some brilliant songwriters coming out of Scotland at the moment, and that’s great to see and be considered a small part of.
You’ve performed in front of the Queen at the Scottish Parliament. Who next – Barack Obama?
I haven’t had the call from the White House yet, but I wouldn’t say no.
The Scottish Parliament performance was based around a reworking of Robert Burns material. Are you a fan of Mr. Burns and his work?
I don’t think I would have written any new music to poetry that I didn’t like, but I have to admit I wasn’t as well versed in the work of Burns as others. I knew most of his famous poems and songs, but when I started to explore his work I discovered someone who is as relevant today as he was nearly 250 years ago – there is an obvious craft to his writing, but it’s the passion and swagger to his work that I love the most. It can be beautifully lyrical, but also unforgiving and brutally honest – and most of it is about women and drinking. He was the original rock n’ roller.
We must ask you about the video for ‘Take Me Home’ [see below]. Was it done in one take?
Yes, we shot it on a freezing day in February 2010 at Loch Doyne near Balquidder in Scotland. We were on a really low budget, so I wanted to do something that would be fairly straightforward but still interesting to watch. We only had a certain amount of time to shoot as the light was fading fast, and we tried it a number of times without getting all the way through it. Thankfully we managed it in the last take, and although there are imperfections, I love the video and still think it works really well.
You’ve also got an appearance lined up at the BBC Scotland Hogmanay show. Is there any better way to take in the New Year than being beside Jackie Bird?
It will certainly mean an eventful start to 2011 for us as a band, and we’re very excited about being asked to play. The show is an institution in Scotland, it’s completely synonymous with bringing in the New Year, and I’ve been watching it for years on TV. So to be there on the night playing our own songs will be surreal, but it’s also a complete honour and we can’t wait.
And finally, it’s nearly the 25th of December. What’s on your Christmas list?
I’m a massive Bruce Springsteen fan, especially of his early material, and so I’ve asked for the deluxe edition of ‘The Promise’. It’s an extended documentary on the making of his album ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’, plus all the studio outtakes. Darkness is my favourite album of his, so I’ll be like a 10 year old on Christmas Day. Sad, but you can’t go wrong with a present from The Boss.