Interview with Constant Follower: Scottish Album of the Year nomination, Stirling’s music scene, and more

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Stirling-based band Constant Follower are longlisted for the Scottish Album of the Year Awards (SAY) for the second year in a row. Brig caught up with guitarist Andrew Pankhurst, to talk about their recent success and what has led up to it.

Constant Follower collaborated with another Stirling artist, Scott William Urquhart, to produce Even Days Dissolve, an album heavily influenced by poet Norman MacCaig’s work and the West of Scotland’s landscape.

What was the process for creating Even Days Dissolve?

Andrew said, “Stephen McAll [frontman] and myself have been working together since 2016 and we’ve been working on the debut album since then.

“That really felt like a different process, the songs were fixed in time. What we were struggling to do was actually record a version that felt like the right one. We knew exactly what they ought to sound like but we we’re just trying to find that perfect version of it.

“Whereas Even Days Dissolve was totally different.

“It’s a collaboration album and on our second ever gig we played with Scott William Urquhart in the Darnley Coffee House, of all places.

Even Days Dissolve album cover. Image Credit. Assai Records.

“The guy is an amazing guitar player, it’s just solo, fingerpicked acoustic guitar. We stood dazzling at it thinking ‘it’d be cool to do something with him’.

“So this idea had sort of been in the works for years but McAll finally got him round and that became the song Space Between the Stars, which ended up on the record.

“It’s a totally different project really from Neither Is, Nor Ever Was, where we knew exactly what it was going to sound like.

“This one was like ‘right come down to the studio, I’m not even going to play the songs beforehand, I’m just going to hit record and sing’.

“So just improvising. I think most of the instrumentation beyond Scott’s guitar was just improvised.”

Constant Follower, shot by David Newitt
Stephen McAll, Andrew Pankhurst, and Amy Campbell. Image Credit. David Newitt

“Playing the Wallace Monument was really good fun, it was great, it was freezing mind you because we did it in February, but it was worth it.”

What is your experience of the Stirling Music Scene?

“Going back to 2016, there was a bit more of a scene. We made what we called the ‘Death Collective’ which was a very loose collective of loads of different musicians.

“We made a couple of compilation records, one was called Swamp Day and there was about 20 songs on it of all these Stirling artists. It had this very DIY, grassroots, indie feel to it.

“In those days we played downstairs in the Mediterranéa, Settle Inn, and the Darnley Coffee House.”

Constant Follower also played the first ever gig performed on the Wallace Monument.

What is your favourite song from Even Days Dissolve?

“My favourite songs off of Even Days Dissolve is the one that we did with the artist Carpenter. It’s called Ash Wednesday Slow.

“Carpenter is a rapper, he grew up in Stirling. He was an artist at the gig where me and McAll met, so we’re both massive fans of him.

“This track has this sort of beautiful, pastoral imagery. He’s talking about like ‘the June moon’ and ‘the ticks are so many this year’. It’s this kind of strange countryside imagery but it suits the track really well.

“And I think the lyrics he put on that track are some of the best he’s done. That’s why it’s my favourite on the record.”

Which song would you recommend for people new to Constant Follower?

“I would point them to the track The Merry Dancers on TV. We all sort of feel like that’s probably still our best song.”

What is next for Constant Follower?

“We made an album over Winter and finished it in March which we’re super excited about.

“I’m really proud of the two we have out already but my feeling with this one that we’ve done is much, much better than those two.

“We’re just at the point of trying to find a home for it, but there’s no definite news on it right now. So we’re just kind of sitting on it, which is a bit frustrating.”

The SAYS Awards

The awards will be hosted in Albert Halls on Thursday, October 26. Surprise performances will take place during the ceremony for the Scottish Album of the Year award.

There will also be ceremonies for The Modern Scottish Classic and the Sound of Young Scotland awards.

Click here for more information and tickets.

Featured Image Credit. Martin J Pickering.

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Third year English and Journalism student at the University of Stirling 🙂

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