Colin MacIntyre (Mull Historical Society)

Glasgow King Tuts on Saturday 6 January 2007

eGigs caught up with singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Colin MacIntyre, perhaps better known as the driving force behind Mull Historical Society. MacIntyre discussed life on Mull, his new material, and his hopes for the future...

Despite being the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides The Isle of Mull is hardly considered to be a thriving metropolis of musical talent. Had it not been for the exploits of Colin MacIntyre and his self created band Mull Historical Society, the Isle of Mull would probably have been cast aside as a small, insignificant island too far away to be of any importance.

Of course, that’s no longer the case. When asked if the name Mull Historical Society was a joke, MacIntyre seems almost offended “It wasn’t a joke!I’m from the island of Mull and there is a Mull Historical Society, except they’ve now changed their name to Mull Historical and Agricultural Society to get away from the confusion. I wrote a song called Mull Historical Society and it was a sinister one where I imagined this group of people running the island. It definitely wasn’t meant as a joke

With a population of under 2000, and not one record shop on the island you would expect life on Mull to be more than a little frustrating but MacIntyre managed to turn Mull’s limitations to his advantage. “My uncle was in a band, I used to watch them and when I was old enough I would strum along with them. So I was quite lucky as I grew up with a lot of music, which is good in Mull because there wasn’t a lot else to do. It wasn’t like being in Glasgow or Camden. In the winter it was so dark and wet you just focused on music

MacIntyre’s uncle’s band was clearly a big influence on him from an early age, He went on to say that “They used to play The Stones, The Beatles, BT Overdrive and The Beach Boys. I thought they wrote all those songs, so I thought they were geniuses. It’s an interesting place to come from. It’s a simpler life which is quite good sometimes.”

Getting noticed on Mull was one thing, but getting away from the island and noticed by the rest of the world was always going to be a problem. Who was going to take notice of a boy from Mull and his guitar?

“Well Warners obviously have an office on Mull, right next to the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry terminal. I think I sent my first demo tape as a teenager, from the post office in Mull. It probably reached Oban but not quite London. It wasn’t the most likely place to be a musician.”

“It took a long time to get established and to play live gigs. I moved to Glasgow and got a job there (working for directory enquiries) and then became a student, but the whole time I was stuck in my music. I was about 18 so I had already written lots of songs and had played at school discos and by the time I got to Glasgow I was ready to play my own music and perform at proper gigs for the first time

Mull Historical Society
Mull Historical Society live at Glastonbury 2002

After releasing three albums under the name ‘Mull Historical Society’, to much critical acclaim, MacIntyre decided to release his fourth album ‘The Water’ under his own name. “Mull Historical Society was always the kinda pseudonym that I went under. That first album ‘Loss’ was almost released under my own name. I sent in all the demos under my own name, but then I wrote the song Mull Historical Society and decided I wanted to hide behind something. I wasn’t sure about going under my own name and didn’t want an indie band name because I wasn’t really a band. So I just picked something weird.”

A change in name doesn’t particularly mean a change in direction though, certainly not a forced one. I’m not making this album any different. It’s just my fourth album, and it’s just a bit more direct. Sometimes I got a little sick having to explain myself as MHS. Sometimes when you’re a creative person it’s just nice to be direct and strip off all your layers and say this is me. It’s not a big deal; it’s just going to be a continuation of what I do."

MacIntyre isn’t changing his live setup either. Mull Historical Society was always just his own ideas and concepts, but live he was often accompanied by a five piece band. Who are again joining him. “It’s exactly the same live set up as I had on the last album. I think we’re sounding even better. It’s great to be adding new songs to the set. It feels like a really good mix.”
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article by: Scott Johnson

published: 06/01/2007 17:14