Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit
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On the Rise
Tide Lines

03 February 2023, 12:25

With a DIY approach and innovative ideas, Glasgow four-piece Tide Lines are building a fanbase through originality and charm.

It’s not often that an independent band can land a top-twenty album. But throw in a pandemic, cancelled tours and no live income to help with marketing and it’s a testament to the true charm and innovation of Glaswegian trad-folk meets radio-rock quartet Tide Lines.

The band met in Glasgow, having all moved there for different reasons, with the exception of drummer Fergus Munro who grew up in the city. Connecting through the vibrant local scene, their formation came at a time when all were ready to commit to the band as a long-term focus.

With diverse formative music inspirations, Munroe, alongside singer Robert Robertson, guitarist Alasdair Turner and keyboardist Ross Wilson, all brought their own dynamic to the group’s sound. “It runs the whole gambit within the band, but I think I’m probably more at The Waterboys end of the spectrum but Ross is probably the most traditional because he grew up doing the dance band thing,” explains Munroe.


They released their debut single “Far Side of the World” in 2016 with little expectation, then watched as it began to blow up on streaming platforms. Offers for festivals and gigs started to rush in, catching the band unprepared. “It’s normally a cliche to say that you’ve got your whole life to write your first album and then it’s a rush to write your second one, but in actual fact for us, it was the opposite,” Robertson explains. “We put a single out and all of a sudden we’re getting forty-minute slots at festivals and we’ve only got three minutes and fifteen seconds of released music.”

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Tide Lines released their debut record Dreams We Never Lost a year later, capitalising on the momentum. But for their follow up, 2020’s Eye of the Storm, they employed a little more strategy. They had a full tour booked, had just headlined Glasgow’s iconic Barrowlands and had just won the The Rising Sound Of Scotland Award. “Everything seemed to be happening in the right order,” smiles Robertson.

Scheduled for a release in March 2020, their planning was somewhat ill-fated. But despite the global shutdown, Tide Lines still managed to debut at number twelve in the UK albums chart, shifting their ambitions online and getting creative with their audience. Without leaving home, the band embarked on a world tour, animating a tartan plane over Google Maps and turning Robertson’s bedroom into a different city each night.


By the summer of 2021 live music and festivals had begun to return and the band felt they still needed to give the record one last hurrah, Robertson unable to move on with writing until he felt their previous release had found justice. With the help of Creative Scotland they live-streamed a full concert in lieu of their long-cancelled tour.

Shortly after, focus shifted to their next steps. Having recorded their previous records in a church on the Isle of Mull, where Wilson grew up, Tide Lines decided to make the space their permanent studio. They grouped together and bought the church where their keyboardist went to Sunday School. “I think it’s a case of trying to reinvest so that we’ve got the ability to keep making music on our own terms for as long as possible,” explains Munroe. “It’s going to be ours, but it will also be a commercial venture to hopefully bring other people in to use it. It will hopefully provide a bit of a service to the community once it’s up and running, but that’s quite a lot to do in parallel with trying to run a band.”

Their forthcoming third record An Ocean Full Of Islands, released later this month, was recorded in the church with Wilson taking the role of lead producer. Robertson brought in the songs, then left the band to arrange and flesh them out. “I’m probably a bit guilty of turning up to the studio thinking my work’s done because I’ve written the melody and the lyrics, so I’ll just present it to the boys and then I’ll go away for a cup of tea,” he laughs. “I trust them implicitly.”

Staying on Mull during the recorded process with Wilson’s parents (and enjoying his mum’s cooked breakfasts), the band speak of the island with a nostalgic warmth. “The whole community up there, they’re quite intrigued by the whole thing. During the recording process we’ll be doing a take of something and there’ll be a knock at the door and it’ll just be someone coming in for a cup of tea and a wee nose,” smiles Robertson. “It’s really quite amusing.”

The record is full of expansive singalong moments and classic songwriting that takes in the band’s formative inspirations with hints of The Waterboys, Frightened Rabbit, and Snow Patrol. It’s warm, tender and utterly charming. Songs like “Any Heart In A Storm” and “Summer” are instant riffs of storytelling, Robertson’s vocal direct and centre. New single “These Days” is a joyful rush of predetermined optimism. With an unforgettable chorus and firework production, the message may be open for interpretation but the song’s sentiment is one of hope. “Darling we’re gonna miss these days,” Robertson sings with intoxicating belief.

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“There is such a forward energy in the actual song. It’s more of a love song lyric, but for me it totally encapsulates a joy and looking forward,” explains Munroe. “My daughter was like, ‘I’m in nursery and one day I’m going to miss these days.’ She’s gonna miss the playdough and the Lego and stuff.”

Even without a global pandemic to contend with, Tide Lines are still working on creative ideas to reach new fans. Off the back of playing to three-thousand people at Glasgow’s O2 Academy, they wondered what it’d be like to take the same show to small town halls around Scotland. “You could pretty much tell within five minutes of walking on stage why everyone in the room was there,” says Robertson. “They’re just here for a night out, they’re a big Tide Lines fan. Because our music does have its roots in the more folk, rural culture of Scotland, I imagine there’s probably a lot of people who have lived in those small towns and have travelled into Aberdeen or Dundee to hear us numerous times, so another small part of it was that it was nice for them.”

Wherever the world takes Tide Lines next, it’ll likely be with smiles on their faces.

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