sets the pen down again. Later. he will draw three small circles. but. resisting all temptation to embellish them with frilly lines and spirals. he will again return the pen
to the desk and touch it no more. His 4 interrogator looks on enviously. This man ; can make even doodling look purposeful.
The subject of ‘Loch Lomond' comes up. and Munro protests that he's never fallen into that romantic view of Scotland. But what about the logo. a graphic of hills and lochs. that‘s been at the top oftheir stationery for years?
On the tape. there‘s a noticeable sigh. indicating that this line ofquestioning is going to piss him off. it continues much longer. In the ﬂesh. however. Munro‘s sweetly reasonable demeanour is hardly
' dented at all.
‘It actually happens to go back to our own
logo. which we revived for our own
independent label. Ridge Records. ()ur backdrops. in the main. have tended to be based on landscapes. Very often. the subject
matter ofthe songs is set against the elements. It‘s very often an individual‘s
impression. their lives. their thoughts.
stripped bare of all the distractions of
modern civilisation to being an individual on this planet. standing amongst all the physical
‘ power oflandscape.‘
That‘s an image that‘s served them well for
3 most oftheir career. and could be the missing link which explains their
extraordinary success. Runrig‘s widescreen landscapes predated leeJos/zua Tree‘s scorching deserts and Simple Minds‘ windswept Highland shots by several years. Visuals of heroic men in a desolate. existential landscape proved to be one ofthe most potent images. and eventually cliches. in 80s rock. It brought crowds flocking to stadia to see U2 in 1987. which was where
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your scribe saw Runrig a second time. five years after watching them drive a hall full of beered-up Aberdeen students demented. Somewhere along the line. they had made a transition from Highland folk-rockers to big-time rock group. Nowadays. they are a more glamorous bunch by far than the motley crew to be seen on the sleeve of 1978‘s Runrig Play Gaelic — slicked-back hair. ponytails and plenty of leather although Munro frequently sports the baggy suits beloved of the real rock aristocracy.
Through it all. they have remained downbeat. almost anonymous. Munro excepted. And it seems more proper for some reason to describe him as a public figure rather than a pop star. in Scotland at least.
‘People ask me all the time how it feels to be a star. lfI was able to tell them that. id be really worried about myself. Being a star is an attitude. a state of mind. not a reality.‘
One doesn‘t stumble across many behind-the-scenes Runrig dramas in the papers.
'You mean something that the Sun could get hold of‘.’ There is certainly a slightly unhealthy squeaky-clean presentation of the band that none of us. very naturally. like to live with. The fact of the matter is that we're all pretty normal characters who‘ve grown up in a Scottish environment. You know, probably all had far too much to drink at various times. done all the things that everybody might regret having done. but we probably did all these things before anybody was interested in the slightest. so it‘s not a useful tool to anybody now.‘
Runrig play Ballot/1 (rm/e Park. by [.oc/I Lamond. (m Sail}.
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Q who will gatheronthe banks at Loch
I everyone in between-thelrtastest
There’s the national tootball side. and there’s Runrig —the twin poles at Scottish culture and talrly well matched in pulling power. Deacon Blue and Wet Wet Wet might tigure higher in the network charts, but the Scottish public have invested in Runrig a pride that no other rock group can match.
A one-hour documentary on the group broadcast by Scottish Television last year brought the station one at the highest viewing tigures it has ever known, and spawned a loliow-up a tow months later with halt an hour at new tootage. Their media protlle in the rest at Britain is minimal, although stunned London music hacks seem to be getting overtheir bewilderment that this ‘unknown’, ‘Gaeiic’ group have, in recent years, built on audiences at 1500 at the Town And Country Club to tilting the Dominion Theatre tor two nights and headlining Hammersmlth Ddeon.
That's small beer to the kind at business they do up here. The natural group to headline both A Day For Scotland and the 1990 Hogmanay celebrations, they sold out live nights at the newly-opened Glasgow Royal Concert Hall with ease, and the 40,000
Lomond to see the band gave promoters Regular Music —who have handled U2, Frank Sinatra and
ticket sales to date.
The distinctive Runrig sound tlrst began to blossom out at its iolk-rock roots with the ‘Heartland' album; but it was ‘The CutterAnd The Clan' (1987) that Donnie Munro will point to as the turning point. ‘That was when things started to take oti — and I don't just mean the external torces. It was the lirst complete album we produced. That was the change: realising we 9 could actually do that.‘ 1
Released on Runrig's own label, ;
Ridge, it sold 25,000 copies in three weeks. By this time, their Scottish base was solid and they were already proving a popular draw at European , testivals. In June 1988, they signed
with Chrysalis Records, and with the strength at a major label behind them, world domination seems but a
The List i4—27June 199] 15