In 2023, Tide Lines are set to release their new album An Ocean Full of Islands on February 24th, and following it up with a UK headline tour starting 9th March in Kilmarnock. Most recently, Tide Lines released their latest single Written in the Scars, and their second album Eye of the Storm was released in 2020, reaching #1 in Scotland and #12 in the Official UK Album Charts. This year, Tide Lines were part of the National Lottery’s Revive Live Tour and performed their sold-out Town Hall Tour of Scotland, with the band consisting of Robert Robertson (vocals), Fergus Munroe (drums), Alasdair Turner (guitar) and Ross Wilson (keyboard). Recently, Robert chatted to us about Tide Lines’ upcoming album An Ocean Full of Islands, their 2023 UK headline tour and the response to Eye of the Storm.
You are set to release your new album An Ocean Full of Islands on February 24th 2023, how long have you been working on the release and how have you chosen which songs will feature on it?
We haven’t rushed this album, which has been nice. Our last one seemed to have a longer life cycle than you’d usually expect because it was a full year before we could tour it live due to COVID. So it was a while before we put that to bed and our minds were able to focus on the next step, musically. And I think that’s what An Ocean Full of Islands is. The songs were (almost) all single contenders and were mostly written to be catchy and energetic with only a few slightly more poignant exceptions.
Can you tell us about your latest single Written in the Scars and where do you get the inspiration from for your songwriting?
Written in the Scars is a kind of reflection on the passage of time and the fact that life speeds ahead too quickly for any of us to experience every moment to its full capacity. I’m not sure where the inspiration came from other than, perhaps, a realisation that we have busy lives and that’s not always a positive thing. I think, when we go to the studio on the Isle of Mull where the album was recorded, we are able to slow down and reflect and be a bit more creative. That also influences the lyrics and the theme of the songs.
How is it seeing the listeners’ response to your music and what can they expect from your upcoming album?
It’s always nerve-racking when you’ve got an album of new material ready and you’re itching to release it to see how it goes down with listeners. Thankfully, in this case, we played a couple of the songs on our Scottish and English tours back in the autumn and released two singles from the album. It’s always a relief to see people singing along and enjoying the songs in the crowd. They seem to have gone down well so let’s hope that’s a sign of things to come for the rest of the record!
What are you most looking forward to for the release of An Ocean Full of Islands and touring with new songs?
It’s our busiest tour yet in terms of the amount of back-to-back dates so we’re looking forward to that aspect of it. Some of the gigs (such as Usher Hall in Edinburgh and Electric Ballroom in London) are in venues we’ve wanted to play for a long time. Also, just touring the songs as soon as the album is released is something we couldn’t do with our last album because it was released at the height of lockdown. It’s something you’d usually take for granted but I guess we’re just looking forward to playing brand new songs shortly after they’ve been released.
You have announced a 2023 UK headline tour, starting 9th March in Kilmarnock at Grand Hall, how are you preparing for performing in March?
We’ll have a wee bit of work to do in the new year rehearsing with production and just getting ready to play the album songs – only two of which we’ve played live before. Then we’ll consider the set list because one or two older songs might have to make way for the new ones! I’m excited just thinking about it – taking new songs from the recording studio, to the rehearsal studio, to the stage is everything we love about playing music.
What are some of your stand-out highlights from performing this year, which has seen you be part of the National Lottery’s Revive Live Tour and your sold-out Town Hall Tour of Scotland?
Both these tours were really special for us. The idea behind both was to go to smaller venues than normal in places that are perhaps not on the usual, obvious touring schedules. In Scotland in particular, some of the venues were off the beaten track – places like Gairloch, Inverurie, and Selkirk. But we made a conscious decision to take a level of production to these shows that was perhaps more akin to what you’d normally see in a well-established venue in a city. Coming from rural communities ourselves, it felt like a nice thing to travel to play these shows rather than expect locals to travel into the likes of Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Aberdeen to hear a gig.
In 2020, you released your second album Eye of the Storm, how did it feel having it enter the Official UK Album Charts at #12?
It was very exciting. We had roughly set our sights on charting inside the top 40 which we felt would be a big challenge for a band like ourselves without any label or marketing team behind us. So to chart at number 12 in the UK (and number 1 in Scotland) surpassed all our expectations.
How different did you find the experience being a band and releasing music during the COVID pandemic?
It had its ups and downs. We had to rely on social media when the traditional way of touring an album was unavailable to us. Thankfully we have amazing fans (who were all locked in their houses with very little to do!) and they really got behind us and supported us which is something we’ll always be very grateful for.
For those that haven’t heard your music, can you tell us about each band member and how would you describe your sound?
My name’s Robert Robertson, I’m the singer, and I’m from Fort William in the West Highlands. Our drummer is Fergus Munro and he’s from Glasgow although spent some of his school years up in Lossiemouth on the Moray coast. Our guitar player, Alasdair Turner, is from Alness in Ross-shire and, conveniently, also plays the bagpipes. Our keyboard player, Ross Wilson, is from Bunessan on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides where we recorded An Ocean Full of Islands. I think we’re difficult to categorise into a genre with the various elements of pop, rock, and folk; but it’s a sort of energetic blend of all of these.
Where does your love of music come from and had you always wanted to be part of a band?
I think all four of us would say we’ve loved music from a young age and always wanted to play. I’ve heard all the boys tell stories about getting their first instruments when they were wee. Personally I’ve loved singing ever since I could talk and feel very lucky to be doing it for a living.
Do you have any favourite music artists to listen to?
If you sat in the Tide Lines van, you’d probably be struck by how eclectic (or maybe bizarre!) our music tastes are between the four of us. Everything from classic rock such as Springsteen, to traditional Gaelic stuff, to current artists like Sigrid. Or Chvrches to name a great Scottish band!
How do each of you like to spend your time away from Tide Lines?
We’ve all got very different ways of spending our time when we’re not together. I play a bit of golf and do a bit of running. Gus is a keener runner than I am but also has two kids so obviously dedicates as much of his time as possible to family when we’re not on the road. Ross lives over on the island of Mull and enjoys a bit of paddleboarding on the rare occasion the weather’s good. Ali’s just recently got married so I think his time has been taken up wedding planning!
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