I am from Elgin – Bishopmill to be precise – a true ‘bishy boy’ as we call ourselves. I went to Seafield primary school before going to Elgin Academy where Jamie and a bunch of pals formed a 60’s covers band called “Plan 9” after Ed Wood’s ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’. We drank a lot of tea, ate a lot of biscuits and jammed in Colin’s mum and dad’s front room ’til we got good enough to play gigs in the local area . To much acclaim I may add, until the day we tried to write our own songs – that didn’t go down so well! Jamie and I thought up the “Speyside’ project to showcase local talent and for me personally to pay homage to my late grandfather Geordie Runcie – he was a great performer and could hold a packed pub of bevvied locals enthralled with his story telling and singing – I dedicate this record to his memory.
2. What is your weirdest quirk?
When I am ‘thinking’ or deep in thought, I sniff my fingers – weird right?
3. How did you get involved with the Speyside Sessions?
Jamie Reid and I thought the idea up over a few pints in London one day – it took about 2 years to organise the session – a lot of cajoling emails to all involved. The session became a bigger thing than we first expected , much to our surprise, most people we asked wanted to contribute.
4. What is your proudest moment ever?
The days my son Joseph and daughter Iona were born.
5. What Speyside Session tracks did you perform on?
I played DADGAD guitar and vocals on most tracks except the Gaelic song Carron sings with Jamie. I sang lead vocal on “The Muckin’ o’ Geordie’s Byre’ ‘ Now Westlin’ Winds’ ‘ The Water is Wide’ and ‘ These are my Mountains’.
6. What is your favourite track on the album?
I love them all but I feel most proud of ‘These are my Mountains’ and ‘The Muckin’ o’ Geordie’s Byre’. The first I feel proud of ‘cos most trad players thought it was a sentimental song and not a true folk song. But once we had recorded it Paul Anderson (who is a dyed in the wool trad player) expressed to me how impressed he was with our rendition . On ‘Muckin..’ I feel proud because just to get through the song without bursting out laughing is an achievement. It is a very funny song to perform.
7. What is your abiding memory from the sessions?
Abiding memory is the amount of laughter in the session, in the room and out. We all had massive communal dinners which my mum, Jamie’s mum, Iain Robertson, Jessie, Jane and Angus Robertson prepared. We all shared, sort of, the dish washing duties. I remember when my mum stormed into the recording room mid track, rubber gloves on hands, and yelled at everyone present that “we are not your slaves, everyone clean up your dirty dishes after yourselves, OK!”. We all felt suitably dressed down and regressed into feeling like naughty school kids again. Nothing like your mum to bring you all back down to earth eh?.. Also seeing my son Joseph sit in the sessions and watch the light bulb in his head go off as he witnessed the outpouring of live music was very important to me. On our return to LA, he decided to set up his own band – I like to think soaking in the sessions inspired him to do that.
8. What is your favourite album of all time?
Tough one. Maybe Jimi Hendrix – ‘Are you Experienced’, Van Morrison – ‘Astral Weeks’ or John Martyn – ‘Solid Air’. So many….
9. Do you have any regrets?
What do you think?…
10. Most extravagant thing you’ve ever done (or bought)?
When I was really skint, I paid for the neon sign in Piccadily Circus to show a message to Jane, my wife, announcing to everyone our marriage. I paid for a car with a massive opening roof to take us down Regent Street to see it at midnight on our wedding night.