‘They call us an Irish Folk Band … I’m not even Irish!’: The Waterboys are coming to Glasgow


THE WATERBOYS’ Mike Scott is enjoying a particularly productive writing period.

The Edinburgh-born singer recently released the band’s 12th studio record, a double album called Out Of All This Blue, and he revealed their next is already three-quarters done.

“I have lulls, a couple of years where I’ll only write one or two songs, but I don’t get despondent,” said Mike.

“There’s a big backlog of songs I’ve not used and in those slower periods I can pluck something from there.

“But the last couple of years have been prolific. In 2015, I was writing a song a day.

“There was a period of time when I was only reading books about musicians and I found that very inspiring – how they made their albums, recording processes, and so on.

“It was like a university degree in how to make music.”

Mike’s writing has also been affected by changes in his personal life in recent years, with the addition of a young son and daughter.

“It keeps me on my toes and gives me a different outlook,” he smiled.

“I work in stolen moments of time, so now I can do in three hours what I used to do in three days.

“It’s great for my writing, because I’m making up little songs for my daughter and that’s helping me with my own material.

“It means my creative engine is running all the time and keeps me feeling young.

“I know all the TV programmes and can sing the songs from Frozen.

“In a few years’ time I’ll be going to see all the teeny-bopper concerts with her, although in my dreams she’ll be into The Velvet Underground by the time she’s nine!”

Mike’s been settled in Dublin for many years, living with his Japanese artist wife, Megumi Igarashi, who he married a year ago, and their seven-month-old son.

His latest album is a boiling pot of genres, mixing rock, soul, country and funk with distinct pop sensibilities. Perhaps surprisingly, drum loops and beats feature on many of the songs. “My guitarist, Zak, is in his 20s and he’s into hip hop,” said Mike.

“I’m not so keen on rapping and what the songs are about, but I love the beats.

“I loved working with them and manipulating them.

“For our upcoming tour we’ll have two drummers, because sometimes there are two different drum loops working against each other on the songs.

“And it always makes a great spectacle to have two drummers on stage.”

With such eclectic offerings, it annoys Mike when he’s boxed into a specific genre.

“I detest being called folk rock, as it creates an expectation.

“Maybe we were 25-30 years ago, around the time of Fisherman’s Blues, but I still see the description written now. I even see us being described as an Irish folk rock band – I’m not even Irish!”

It goes without saying that with a career stretching back to the ’70s, 58-year-old Mike has seen plenty of changes in the music biz.

These days he works from his own studio and can process so much of what he’s doing from wherever he might be in the world via his laptop.

Industry developments have also changed his relationships with record labels.

“These days I go to a record label with a finished album and ask if they’re interested, whereas before we would be signed to the label and they would be deeply involved in the process. Sometimes you do need a guiding hand, though.”

Mike, who collects vintage Oor Wullie annuals, says he’ll never tire of singing the band’s best-known hit, The Whole Of The Moon, and appreciates the re-working of How Long Will I Love You, which gave Ellie Goulding a hit single.

“There’s probably at least one person in our audience at every one of my shows that thinks it’s us doing a cover of Ellie’s song,” he laughed.

“That song had been lying undisturbed for many years and then she picked up on it and did a beautiful arrangement, so I was very chuffed.

“Although if I ever meet her I’m going to ask why she got some of the words wrong!

“As for The Whole Of The Moon, it’s one of my most favourite songs I’ve written and I always love playing it.

“If I was going to have one song that was the most loved, I’m glad it’s that track.”

The Waterboys, SEC Armadillo, Glasgow, Tuesday