This isn't the end of Runrig's story, it's just the next chapter says band's Brian Hurren
PUBLISHED: 11:59 19 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:59 19 February 2016
Â©Matt Liengie Photography 2015
Runrig's Brian Hurren was nervous about putting himself forward to produce The Story, the Scottish folk rockers' 14th - and final - studio album, likening it to telling your parents what to do.
The “youngest” member, he’s been with the band 15 years while others have more than 40 under their belt, it took him a while to say he was interested.
“I really wrestled with it. I joined the band when I was 20 (and) was worried I’d always be the young one coming in,” says Hurren, who when I called had spent most of the morning in accident and emergency with his partner who had a “wee accident” on her bike, dislocating her shoulder.
“When it came up... The band are protective. In terms of choosing someone to come in from the outside, I don’t think there was anyone because they didn’t know anyone enough.
“They could mention loads of big names but would they understand Runrig? That’s where I had an advantage.”
Buoyed by the strong, emotional, feel of his solo album A Hundred Thousand Welcomes, everybody got behind his ideas about getting the best out of them for such an important album.
“I feel like that’s what we do live. In the studio it’s a different animal, we tend to be more subdued and reserved. All my worries about having to fight all the way through it or something, you always think of the worst case scenario... It was amazing.
“I’ve been in the band now for 15 years... I felt I had the sense of where it needed to go and to retain the Runrig spirit - if anything I wanted to bring out more of the Runrig spirit in this album. I wanted people to get a sense of the band 20 years ago as well as making it feel really modern. Right to the end it was such a positive process. It was a really enjoyable album to make, I think that comes through.”
The process wasn’t entirely stress-free. For example, recording with the 32-piece Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
“That was incredible, one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life and one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done in my life,” laughs Hurren, who wrote and scored all the parts himself.
“For a good two months before you’re going to Prague you’re worried you’ve missed something. We went out a day early just so, hopefully, I could get a bit of time to relax instead of landing and going straight in the studio but it was the worst thing I could’ve done, hanging about Prague waiting for the next day. I was so nervous.”
He remembers listening as the musicians filed in, then at 9am on the dot...
“They’re there, ready. Your scores go in front of them and you’re thinking ‘please work, please work’,” he laughs.
“You don’t know how it’s going to sound until they play it. I was over-prepared, which is good, but at the time you think ‘what if I’ve done something completely stupid’.”
Fans have waited eight years for The Story.
“We knew there was still another one (album) in us, so we thought let’s put everything into this one. If we waited another eight years to do another one then one of us might be dead” laughs Hurren.
They worked on it solidly for a year-and-a-half, with Hurren working 12-14 hours every day.
“It takes something from me and it’s not worth doing if it didn’t. It’s an emotional process that takes you from the edge of thinking this is the best thing you’ve ever done in your life to periods through the recording process (where) you’re thinking oh no, how am I going to do this? It’s such an emotional rollercoaster.”
He says it is easy to get bogged down with how many albums they shift, what people will think; both of which can get in the way of making a good decision in the studio. “I tend to be quite brutal with that stuff; if it’s not working, if something’s not emotionally moving it’s not going on,” he laughs. “I don’t care if it’s technically correct or anything I’ll get rid of it.”
He describes it as big sounding album, with any distracting, fancy production stripped out so the lyric is clear.
“It’s not overloaded with tonnes of stuff. Rory (McDonald) loves a harmony for example,” he laughs, “almost to hide his own insecurity about his singing and stuff. But I’m in the band and I know what’s really good about Rory so really pushed him and said ‘no, this song has to stand right out on its own, no harmonies, go away with your harmonies’.
“That helps with the heart on the sleeve thing, it’s just the song and that comes out. There are definitely songs on that album where I feel we’ve definitely got it (that connection).”
Hurren stresses this isn’t the end of Runrig as a touring band. Nor does he rule out live albums or DVDs.
“It’s about saying we’ve put everything into this and we’d rather go out on an album we’re absolutely proud of and thrilled with then to worry about we’re going to do after it”, he laughs. “This album feels likes a new beginning.”
He promises fans coming to see Runrig at the Ipswich Regent on Saturday are in for a treat, with everybody raring to push their live performance even further.
“That’s going to be great, that’s going to be fun. You’re not getting a band at the end of their career, you getting a band that’s coming in fully refreshed, feeling good and ready to get out and play this album like it’s the first because that’s how it feels when we’re doing it.”