119: Colin MacCleod/The Island

Colin and Sparky at home. Photo: Mike Guest

It’s brave new era time this week as I finally relaxed my Skype ban to record this episode with Colin MacCleod.

Colin at work. Photo: Mike Guest

If you don’t know Colin, he’s a musician and surfer from the Western Isles in Scotland who has been quietly carving out one of the most successful careers in British guitar music in the last few years. I’m talking-supporting-Robert-Plant/appearances-on-the-James-Corden-Show-in-the-States levels of success.

He also seems, as I discovered during our conversation, to have that whole work/life balance thing completely dialled, working as he does as a crofter and a gillie when he’s not on tour with his band.

Colin at his local. Photo: Mike Guest

My original plan with Colin was to head up to meet him in Lewis to record this episode, but with that not possible, I thought I’d get him on now to hear his story.

And what a tale it is, delivered much like he delivers his music: with modesty, wit, compassion and honesty.

Photo: Jim

Even better, Colin agreed to perform a song for me at the end of the interview, so stick around for that. My thanks to Colin for being such a great sport. Hope you enjoy the episode.

Connect With Colin

Show Notes

  • Isolation routine.
  • Surfing on your own in April.
  • Gillieing in Scotland.
  • Crofting on the island.
  • Living around the UK.
  • Crofting season.
  • Isle of Lewis way of life.
  • People’s perceptions of the world and traditional life.
  • Live music sessions.
  • On-stage patter.
  • Changed plans.
  • New release date for the record.
  • Connecting music life and farm work.
  • Younger days.
  • A different career path.
  • Traditional music scene on the island.
  • Impressing girls in the pub.
  • Inspiration.
  • Masters of War
  • Re-writing songs.
  • Stories in music.
  • Working with labels.
  • “There’s a hundred ways to skin a cat.”
  • “You can be your worst enemy when writing a song.”
  • Creative honesty.
  • Moving to London.
  • “There’s only so much you can do on an island.”
  • Working in a studio.
  • The Boy Who Trapped The Sun
  • Studio time with friends.
  • The Late Late Show with James Corden
  • Working with Ethan Johns.
  • “The flippin’ rockstar of producers.”
  • Surfing Malibu.
  • “How did I get here?”
  • Surf scene on Lewis
  • Different kind of beach culture.
  • Danger and superstition around the sea.
  • “Bad luck if you are a fisherman and you can swim.”
  • Being nice in the line-up.
  • Triple overhead barvas.
  • Local legends on Lewis.
  • The struggle to learn surfing.
  • Joel Tudor’s quiver.
  • “Longboards are my surfing.”
  • Snazzy croft clothes.
  • “A collection of Lewis stories.”
  • Kicks In from Bloodlines.
  • Colin’s music on Spotify and iTunes.
  • “It’s on the internet.”
  • John Denver songs on Instagram.
  • Instagram live on @welooksideways

Places Mentioned

  • Isle of Lewis
  • Stornoway
  • Barvas
  • Point
  • Glasgow
  • London
  • Bath
  • Nashville
  • Los Angeles
  • Malibu
  • Cornwall
  • Newquay
  • Taphouse, Saint Agnes

Companies/Organisations/Brands Mentioned

People Mentioned

  • Mike Lay 
  • Chris McClean
  • Adele
  • Led Zeppelin
  • The Who
  • Bob Dylan
  • Neil Young
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • James Corden
  • Ethan Johns
  • Ryan Adams
  • Paul McCartney
  • Tom Jones
  • Kings of Leon
  • Glyn Johns
  • John Bonham
  • Robert Plant
  • Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Derek Macleod
  • Joel Tudor
  • John Denver