Click here for home page

Click here

Contact Us | Information | Privacy Policy | Audio Help

Main Menu
Submit a review
Sign up for newsletter
Album Reviews
10 Questions with...
Rising Stars
Rock Stars
Backstage Heroes
Celebrity interviews
Get Your EMail Address
Submit your website

Ten Questions with...

Runrig (Calum McDonald/Iain Bayne)

Runrig have now been going for over 30 years now and have been one of the few traditional music artists to get mainstream success in both the singles and albums charts. Here we catch-up with founder member Calum McDonald and Iain Bayne who joine dthe band in 1980 and was first featured on the classic 'Recovery' album in 1981...

1. What are you currently up to?

(Calum)We are currently off the road until December, when we do a few Christmas shows in Scotland and Germany. At present we are involving ourselves in the writing process with a view to the next studio recording – due for release on the 14th of whenever.

(Iain) We have had a busy year touring throughout the UK and Europe. The “Best Of” was released earlier this year in Germany, and we concentrated our efforts there. Denmark kept us busy too until the end of July. One of the highlights of the year was playing The Hebridean Festival in Stornoway in July. This took the band very much back to it’s roots and nearly 6000 people turned out to see us. The atmosphere was superb.

2. You’ve a new ‘Best Of’ coming out. How did the band decide on the track listing and which songs do you think best sum up the band Runrig?

(Calum)Because we have already done a Best of album back in 1996, this one is more a celebration of the 30Year Journey, reflecting the past era but concentrating more on material post 1997.

(Iain) It was a very difficult thing to decide on which tracks to include. We have an album called “Long Distance” which reflected a point in the band’s life. This collection includes what we consider to be some classic Runrig standards as well as going back to much earlier albums. With thirty years to draw upon, it’s not easy to be objective.

This album presents quite a lot of what we have been doing in the last seven or eight years too. We felt it was important to showcase some tracks from the band with Bruce on vocals and latterly with Brian Hurren on keyboards. Brian sings a track on this CD too.

As to which songs best sum up the band; ask a dozen people and you’ll get a dozen different answers. Personally my top five would be; and not in any order;

Big Sky..Alba…Proterra…Beautiful Pain…Running To The Light.

3. How do you view the current music scene? Has the evolution of downloading and the wide use of the Internet helped spread the word about Runrig more?

(Calum) Runrig are a band rooted in the tradition and all that that involves. A live band and real music, and not known for being at the cutting edge of technology. In saying that, you can’t turn back the tide – you have just got to sail with it, and we do. The internet has opened up wonderful possibilities.

(Iain) I think the music industry went through a particularly difficult time over the last few years, and was left with no choice but to embrace the advances and changes in the way people listen to music.

For me it’s a bit sad as I grew up with the 12inch gatefold sleeve, and half the fun was reading the sleeve notes.

They were often works of art in themselves. What would have happened to Roger Dean if downloading was the order of the day back then?

4. Given that both Donnie Munro and Peter Wishart have entered the political sphere have you yourself ever been tempted? Do you think music is a good way of getting views across be they political, national or otherwise.

(Calum) I think you have seen the last of Runrig members entering party politics. We are very proud of all that Donnie and Peter have aspired to and achieved, but as for the rest of us - I think we’ll carry on letting the music be the forum.

(Iain) In fact it is only Peter Wishart who successfully carved out a career for himself in politics. He was returned for a second term in May and seems to be doing pretty well. He still knows he’s a wee chancer though!!

Donnie made a couple of brave attempts but sadly nothing came of it.

I formed my own party recently.It`s called the Fishing Party, and all are welcome to join. No fees or AGMs, a pair of waders and a hip flask will suffice.

I’ve often wrestled with the question; can musicians really bring influence to bear on politicians? Did the Flower Power movement change anything in the sixties? Does Bono`s posturing make world leaders tremble in their beds at night? Or did Geldof`s best efforts turn the tide at the G8? At the end of the day I’ll sound like the Lib Dem that I’m not and say yes and no. I think we have to be glad there are performers who are prepared to stick their necks out a bit and try to bring about change. I feel awareness starts with the individual, and if music can communicate on a deeper personal level, that’s where positive change really comes about.

5. How did the 30th anniversary celebrations go and did you have any idea when the band first started out that they would last so long? What else would the band ideally like to achieve in the future?

(Calum) We really enjoyed our 30 Year Anniversary Concert at Stirling Castle, but beyond that we didn’t think too much about it – no more significant than many other events in our collective history. We’re just glad that were still around, enjoying it, not feeling any older, and ready for the next 30. (28 now, actually)

(Iain) The band celebrated 30 years at Stirling Castle in 2003. It was a milestone that not many bands get to. It gave us all the chance to reflect on a fantastic journey which gave rise to naming the new CD.

No one expects a band to last as long, so to be part of something that still brings pleasure to people is a humbling experience. So many bands have shown that time is not an enemy that brings them down. Some journalists try but like pond life; they die off in the end. As long as you retain the integrity of the music and ultimately if it’s still fun, why stop!


Left to right, Malcolm Jones, Calum McDonald, Rory McDonald, Bruce Guthro, Brian Hurren, Iain Bayne

6. What was it like when the band had hit albums and singles? Did this add pressure to keep coming up potential singles or did the band carry on their own path regardless of outside pressure?

(Calum) No, we have always ploughed our own furrow, and I think that all the record companies that we have been involved with, have recognised that as a strength and let us get with it. So there has never really been any conflict or pressure in that respect.

(Iain) We have been very lucky with our albums. They have travelled well. Recently we have had a no.10 album in Germany, a no. 1 in Denmark; the “Day of Days” DVD was also no.1 in Germany. It seems we continue to build on what we did in the past. Changes in the UK market and our own structure don’t lend itself to chasing chart positions with either albums or singles, but in terms of sales, it is great.

We always felt we had to follow the best direction for us regardless of outside influence. This stems from where and how the band grew up. We did all the leg work ourselves in the early days, including financing the recordings, so by the time we signed with Chrysalis in the late eighties we were pretty much on top of our game. It was hard but it serves you well in the long run.

7. What have been the most memorable gigs and why?

(Calum) It has to be the show at Loch Lomond in 1991, when we attracted a crowd of 50000 people. That was a special day. Also the time we performed our song An Ubhal As Airde on Top of The Pops. It was the first Scottish Gaelic language song to get into the Top 20, so that was a pretty significant occasion. – but there are so many memorable gigs, remembered for so many different reasons. You would need a new web site.

(Iain) Too many to mention. My first in Glasgow in 1980; I learned the set in six days and you’re always aware it could go tits up at any moment but I got away with it.

Loch Lomond in `91 was obviously a cracker. I would never have believed 50.000 people would want to pay to see us having a good time, but they did and we had a great time.

The first gig with Bruce in Denmark. Bruce’s first gig with us in Denmark in `98. A lot of seasoned fans were there staring up at him with a challenge in their eyes. The moment he started singing, a lot of faces seemed to melt into smiles of approval and by the end, it was a done deal.

8. Where do you get your songwriting ideas from and who musically is an influence on you?

(Calum) Influences I suppose go right back to childhood, and come from two different sources. Firstly the journey of contemporary rock and pop music, growing up as a child with The Beatles, Elvis, etc. and what at the time was simply a revolution in terms music and culture. The second source is the older tradition of Gaelic language and song that I was fortunate enough to have been brought up in.

(Iain) A lot of my early influences came from the greatest era in rock music in my opinion.

Carl Palmer, Bill Bruford, Phil Collins, John Bonham to name but a few.

I had had a great start with learning my trade in a pipe band, so the fun came from marrying some of the technical stuff to the rock genre, and you end up with a very confused drummer, who can’t make up his mind if he wants to hang it round his neck or just sit and play the things.

Like most musicians, we’re like sponges, we soak up tons of stuff that we hear and often that comes through in what we do.

9. What do you do in your spare time outside of music?

(Calum) Being with my family, sport, and the occasional spot of fishing for trout and salmon

(Iain) I love spending time with my two daughters, who are five and two years old. They’re at a great age when they think their dad is magic. I’ll take it while I can because I know that’ll all change soon enough.

I have been doing battle with my own brain on the golf course as often as I can. That has to be the hardest game on the planet to master, and I’ve been doing it long enough.

Fly fishing; for when the golf clubs are chucked away in disgust and I require something more relaxing to do!

10. Message to your fans...

(Calum) THANK YOU. We appreciate!

(Iain) You have been utterly instrumental in the life blood of this band. You’re support over the years has given me a life that I dreamt of as a boy, and live as a man.

The relationship between the band and the fans has truly been a symbiotic one; we are joined at the hip. Music is only one of many things in life that can bring people together, but I’m so glad so many of you want to come together to share a few songs and tunes with us.

So before any of us become the old boys and start running to the light in search of angels, keep the greatest flame burning and we’ll write a few more pages in the book of golden stories.

See you soon. Iain.


Interview © 2005 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

All rights reserved.

Classic Rock News Group

Featured Artists
Artist Archive
Featured Labels
Label Archive
Do you want to appear here?

get ready to rock is a division of hotdigitsnewmedia group