Introducing Scotland's best highland folk rock band ahead of their summer 2022 Revive Live tour
Fusing the old with the new, Tide Lines plug traditional highland folk into the biggest amps around for rousing rock anthems strong enough to knock Gerry Cinnamon off the top of the Scottish charts. Warming up a crowd of 67,000 during the Six Nations in 2019, getting their second album, Eye Of The Storm, to No.12 on the UK charts, and now a permanent fixture at festivals all over Europe, Tide Lines are rising too quickly to keep up with.
As the band prepares to support a string of grassroots venues for the Revive Live tour, lead singer Robert Robertson tells us everything you need to know about Tide Lines.
How did Tide Lines start?
We’re all of us from different rural parts of Scotland, but I’ve lived in Glasgow for 10 years and that’s where we all connected. Glasgow is just a brilliant musical melting pot – there’s a great scene here so it’s been the perfect place to build Tide Lines over the last few years. Myself and Ross [Wilson], played in another band beforehand, and I think Ross knew Ally [Turner], and he knew Gus [Munro], so we all just came together. We got on right from the first rehearsal and we’ve been great pals ever since.
How do you like to describe your sound?
We don’t! I’m sure every band says the same, because ‘we don’t really fit into any conventional boxes…’ but I actually mean that we’re genuinely bad at describing ourselves. We’re certainly influenced by the Gallic scene, but that’s only a component of it. There’s rock in there and there’s pop, so it’s kind of a blend. Honestly, that’s the best I could do…
Okay, what’s the best way someone else has described your sound?
I’ll tell you the worst. We just came back from playing Bergen, in Norway. We sent our biography over first, which was obviously written in English, and it was translated into Norwegian by the festival. I’m sure the Norwegian version was fine, but when we saw it translated back into English on the programme we were described as “folk rock comedians”.
Who did you listen to the most when you were starting out?
There’s definitely a lot of traditional Scottish music in my past, but there was also a lot of older rock and roll that my dad used to listen to. I discovered Bruce Springsteen when I was a teenager, which, you know, probably just proves how old-fashioned I was as a teenager. But Springsteen’s folk influences and his rock sound really connected with me.
But the boys have got all sorts of other things that they bring in – from Chvrches to The Killers.
Those are all artists whose music is really grounded in where they come from. How important is Scotland in your songwriting?
A place like Scotland has a massive effect on you growing up. The people, the landscape. I think when I listen to other artists, like the ones we’ve mentioned, I love to hear people singing about the people in the place that they’re from, no matter where that is. Whether that’s Freehold New Jersey or Fort William, you know? We write a lot about Scotland because that’s where we’re from, and that’s the culture that we know.
Tell us about your first few gigs. How easy was it for you to break through to bigger stages?
Our first gig in Glasgow was in The Art School, which is unfortunately no longer a venue. We played The Hug And Pint, which is maybe 100 people or less. Then the famous King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, which is this legendary venue where so many amazing bands have started out. And then we just slowly started climbing the ladder from there really.
Just before the pandemic hit we were at The Barrowlands, then Kelvingrove Bandstand and the O2. But I think we’re basically at the stage in England now that we were in Scotland a few years ago, which is we’re still trying to develop the fan base, going out to these different places play in in smaller venues and trying to get as many new fans as possible. You can get world famous on TikTok at the click of a button now, but there’s no substitute for just going out and playing to people.
Either that or you can try and get on the Stranger Things soundtrack…
Exactly, then we wouldn’t have to play for decades!
You’re playing some great grassroots venues on the upcoming Revive Live tour. What do those smaller stages mean to you?
I mean it doesn’t take me to tell anybody how important those venues are for the sort of sustainability of the whole British music industry. I think one of the big dangers during the pandemic was thinking that everything would just be able to pick up where it left off, but your Coldplays and your Lewis Capaldis would never be there if not for those bottom rungs of the ladder. It’s just so important that those venues are there so that bands like us can come down and play.
Your music feels like such a communal experience – it almost feels wrong to listen to it alone. How important is it for you to play your songs to a crowd?
It’s absolutely vital. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy the studio experience, but from the very beginning of writing those songs I’m imagining singing them to a crowd. They’re written with that in mind. So it’s a hugely satisfying feeling – whether it’s in a little grassroots venue or a big festival – you need that shared experience.
Your last album, Eye Of The Storm, came out right at the start of the pandemic, stopping you from getting out on tour. Did you know how prophetic that title would be at the time?!
There’s so many aspects of that album that were just a huge coincidence. I mean, it was written before coronavirus was ever a thing, but it has lines in it, like ‘no matter what lies ahead of us, we will be okay’, that really took on a whole new meaning. We had a whole tour booked at the time… Thankfully, we’ve got a really supportive fan base who just were absolutely brilliant. They were obviously all sitting around in lockdown with nothing else to do, and our social media figures went through the roof. By May of 2020 we actually debuted at No.12 in the UK album charts, which was just unbelievable. So that definitely helped with the frustration!
Can we expect a third album anytime soon?
Yeah, we’ve got a lot of new material in the pipeline. By the time we’re on the Revive Live tour we’ll have some new songs to play and hopefully some good news to share about upcoming releases. We can’t wait.
Tide Lines will be playing various dates around the UK as part of the Revive Live tour. Find details of all the band’s playing here.