Taking a self-produced, self-released album into the upper reaches of the charts is a big ask at the best of times – let alone for a band in the middle of lockdown who had established a word-of-mouth following largely on the road. Instead, Tide Lines’ Robert Robertson played a ten-day virtual world tour – a series of livestreams dotted on Google Earth, in front of some internationally themed backdrops designed by keyboardist Ross Wilson. Their DIY improvisation helped to prove that their record, ‘Eye of the Storm’, with no record deal or team around them – could travel the world and fly up the charts as it debuted at #12 on the official UK album chart, narrowly missing the Top 10.
Emboldened by such against-all-odds success, Tide Lines channelled their energies into writing a collection of new songs, the first of which comes with today’s new single ‘Rivers In The Light’.
Who were your musical influences growing up?
I think we all naturally listened to what our parents and siblings were listening to as we grew up. Everything from classic Rock, 80’s, 90’s and more traditional music. Then probably, throughout our school days, we all had very different tastes – from harder rock through to electronic music and the chart music of the day. I suppose our individual tastes were very eclectic, especially when trying to find our feet with music, but a fairly common theme for all four of us when it comes to early influences is actually the more traditional music of Scotland. I think all these aforementioned early influences can be heard in the cumulative sound we create today.
Tell us about your new single Rivers In The Light …
Rivers in the Light came to me when I was spending time back home in the Highlands during lockdown. Despite all the awful things happening around the globe, it almost felt like the world had been put on pause and I was back in the peaceful landscape I’d been brought up in – having lived in the frantic city for the previous ten years. It was a chance to recharge and reflect so I think that sense of retrospective calmness sort of defines the song.
You’ve got a huge following in Scotland.. what’s it like when you play live to Scottish fans?
When we’re putting songs together (right from the first stages of recording voice notes and scribbling down lyrics straight through to the final recording process) I think we always have live performance in mind as the eventual destination for a song. I love the communal experience of a crowd singing together with a band no matter where we’re lucky enough to play. But to be in front of our own audiences in Scotland, who all know the songs, is a particularly special feeling.
Describe your music in 3 words
Uplifting / Anthemic / Honest
If you could collaborate with any other artist – who would that be?
I imagine we’d all have different answers to this question but I’m going to be selfish and say Bruce Springsteen. One because, overall, he’s probably my favourite artist and, two, because he seems to be in the business of doing collaborations these days – most recently with Paul McCartney at Glastonbury… although maybe you need a knighthood to convince him to collaborate! I think an answer that would be common to all four of us in the band would be Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.
Where do you get your inspiration from when writing songs?
A lot of it is to do with place. I mainly write the songs in Glasgow which is a city full of character that inspires lyrics. But there’s also a certain nostalgia for the more rural landscape of my upbringing. The emotional tug of war between Glasgow and the Highlands is something that’s common to all four of us. That’s probably emphasised by the fact we recorded this album on the Hebridean island of Mull (where Ross our piano player is from) so our mood was very much affected by the elements and environment that surrounded us when we developed the material.
If you had to be remembered for one thing apart from your music what would you want it to be?
Probably scoring the winning goal for Scotland at a World Cup but Scotland keep failing to qualify and I’m terrible at football so I think I’ll just stick in at the music.
Have you got any gigs coming up?
It really feels like live music is back up and running this Summer, so yes! After a summer of Scottish and European festivals, we head off in September on the National Lottery’s Revive Live Tour down in England and then our own “Town Hall Tour” of rural Scotland. We’re looking forward to both of these tours because they are taking us slightly off the beaten track to places we wouldn’t normally get the chance to play.
By Siân Parker