Colin MacIntyre aka Mull Historical Society will be in New York early next month to play a couple of shows ahead of a full UK tour. Colin spoke exclusively with Dear Scotland earlier this week about being a Scot abroad, his new album “Island” and how he taught The Strokes to drink whisky.

DS: Where are you now and what did you do last night?

Colin MacIntyre: I’m at home in London (well, Isle of Mull is really home, but it’ll do for now!). Last night I watched the ‘Revolutionary Road’ film. I liked the book by Richard Yates which my manager gave me ages ago, and the film is very good. Quite an intense break up of a marriage, but it explores that fascinating era of 1950’s/60’s N.E. America that is also the backdrop for Mad Men. My wife is a New Yorker and we’re hoping to spend some more time there in 2010.
DS: Paul McCartney said he got into music to avoid a job – and get lots of girls. What made you get into music?

Colin MacIntyre: Well, it might be something to do with Paul McCartney’s hair. When I was a kid any archive footage I’d see of The Beatles and Stones always made me excited and I envied their hair. Almost more than the music! I suppose the girls screaming so loud that they couldn’t hear the band was an attraction, but my real answer is that I don’t think i had any choice. When I was a kid my uncle’s had a band playing the Beatles, Stones, The Band, Van Morrison etc etc, and I loved the songs and tried to learn them. Took  me a while to realise that they were actually not my uncle’s own songs. Even when I had other jobs and moved off the Isle of Mull to the mainland (Glasgow) and went to University, it was always music in my head. On the other side of my family they are published writers so maybe the combination was always in my blood. I used to think I was going mad, hearing voices, until i realised they were melodies trying to get out. It was – is – the need to communicate that with other people, to try and make sense of my life, and hopefully theirs, that got me into it.


DS: What is your favourite song of yours to play right now?

Colin MacIntyre: It’s always the newest. I’m writing my next ‘electric’ album now, to follow 2008’s ‘The Water’. It feels big and bright and breezy. Of the songs of the current ‘Island’ album I would say ‘The Edge Of Nearly’ is a favourite. It just popped out a fully formed song. I had to learn a new way of picking a guitar to compose it.

DS: On this “Island Tour” you’ll visit New York and Brooklyn before playing all over the UK, is there one place on the tour schedule that you are most looking forward to playing?

Colin MacIntyre: Well I just played back home on Mull, in the town hall. It was a special night, so I was looking forward to that. But I think all the UK dates will be fun, although I’m most looking forward to playing back in NYC. I have family there and I’ve spent a lot of time there, walking the streets, in fact I’ve always written a lot in the States, so it will be really exciting to be back performing there. I remember my last gig there and walking through NYC on a Spring day to my own gig – that was a nice feeling. Even if I did cross on the wrong side…and nearly missed the venue.

Island Full Tour2_2

DS: Do you feel more Scottish when you are abroad, or do you adapt well to new places? Anything you’ll miss about Scotland?

Colin MacIntyre: I’m a Scot living in London, so I suppose I’m used to living away. When music started happening for me it was a learning curve to get used to being away and going to new places. But you realise that you’re lucky to have your music travel and to be able to travel with it. I’ve always got my Gran up on Mull for thr local gossip reports and the weather updates, so that’s never too far away. I think I adapt quite well, I’ve spent a lot of time in America, New York and St Augustine, Florida, where my in-laws are based now. I wrote ‘Island’ there on a borrowed guitar from the local stringed instrument shop. Each year I cycle along the coast with a candy apple and my i-Pod. To think Scotland and Mull is just on the other side…

DS: What will be your first words on stage in New York City, the first show of the tour?

Colin MacIntyre: “I can’t make you hear, you can’t make me say – my words.” It’s the first line to the opening song on ‘Island’ – ‘The Edge of Nearly’.

DS: Are there any Scottish musicians, past or present, that have influenced you?

Colin MacIntyre: I’m not sure….probably in the subconscious others have, but I’d say Belle & Sebastian at one point. Jesus & Mary Chain a bit. Nothing too major, but I respect so many.


DS: How do people react when they discover you are Scottish?

Colin MacIntyre: In London sometimes with a shake of the head. I recently ordered a Coke. They said “A coc..?” I said. “A coke.” They got closer…screwed up their face, “A coa..?” I said, “A COKE”. They shook their head and looked as if I was speaking Gaelic. I said “A Coco-COLA!”  “Oh, a coke? No problem.”    It’s happened a few times. I usually it gives you a nice distinction, when you live away from Scotland. Especially coming from the Hebrides. In the States of course people love it, I have a community in NE Florida and NYC and they never tire of hearing about Scotland. Or maybe it’s me that never tires talking about it.

DS: What should the Scottish national anthem be?

Colin MacIntyre: You Cannae Whack A Cuddle Frae Yer Dearie. Composed by an 82-year-old retired bus driver in Aberdeen. It was sent to me as an entry to a songwriting competition that I was
one of the judges for. I voted it no.1, it didn;t make anyone else’s top 100!! I think I’ll going to upload it to my website and start the campaign..

DS: What is the best after-show experience you’ve had?

Colin MacIntyre: Most nights of the UK Tour I did with The Strokes few years back. It was great fun and we had many memorable nights all over the UK. But after the London gig was special and in the aftershow there were the Pet Shop Boys, Radiohead, Kate Moss, all sorts of people – it was an exciting tour. I remember trying to get the guys onto whisky that night to end the tour. I swallowed it to prove I was a Scot. But I HATE whisky. Only to see them well, just let’s say it didn’t make it down their throats. Wasn’t pretty, but they were great guys and I think a bond was formed.
I’m hoping they might come to my NYC gig…


DS: And finally, many many years from now, when you finish your farewell world tour, is there one place to where you would like to retire?

Colin MacIntyre: Isle of Mull,Scotland or St Augustine, Florida. Half and half. (Or Greenport, Long Island) – I need several lifetimes.

Colin plays The Living Room in New York City on October 6 and Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn on October 8. Ticket details below.

The album ‘Island’ is out in the US and Canada on Tuesday 29th September.

Photo credit : John Lewis