I grew up in Scotland, and that was where I first became involved in music. I'd never been outside the country before I joined a rock band. Scotland has no music industry per se. Everything in terms of the industry goes through London, which causes it to be quite difficult for Scottish musicians to really garner any national attention in the United Kingdom. Certainly when I was 15, it was only once you made a big splash locally that the record labels ever took note. I think Scottish musicians work in isolation a lot of the time. Consequently, that allows a certain lack of self-consciousness.
Edinburgh is a very cultural city; it's sort of known as the cultural center of Scotland and also has quite an influence on the U.K. scene because it has an arts festival every summer and a film festival every year. There were a lot of opportunities at that time for us to play live and garner a huge live following. There have always been a lot of bands. The Scots are very congenial and really love to get together. It's a real pub culture. Playing in the pubs, not just in clubs, was a very common way of reaching a live audience. You would play for a lot of drunken Scotsmen. They would all sing along--that's just the way the culture is over there.
There are a lot of great things coming out of Scotland now, which is very exciting. There's a Chemikal Underground record label that has great acts. Travis, the Delgados and Idlewild--they're all Scottish bands. It goes in waves. It becomes fashionable for the record companies to come north of the border. And at the moment, I think Scotland's enjoying a sort of renaissance in that sense. For a long time in London, they believed that the Irish, Welsh and Scots were heathens and had nothing of value to contribute to the music scene, and then of course with the huge success of Scottish artists, Irish artists and Welsh artists over the last couple of decades, they've had to rethink. And they see an opportunity to make money, so of course they spread their probes out now into those regions that they once considered the wilderness. There's just a lot of creativity and much more diversity now than there was when I was 15.
--Reported by Alex Smith