Delivery driver and musician — piper with Lewis Pipe Band and piper, guitarist and singer with Rock Island Line
Isle of Lewis
Photographed at Stornoway Harbour in December 2015
Favourite thing: Bagpipes
“I started learning how to play the pipes in primary 4 or 5 when I was 7. And I’m still learning. It was something at school that everybody did because you got to skive out of a class to go and do it. And then the numbers start dwindling because it gets to the point where you actually have to show you’re learning something. I think out of all the people of the group I learned with, I’m the only one that still does it.
“You really feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up”
I don’t really know why I kept it up. But I’m glad I did. There’s just something about the pipes that most people you speak to will say: “Oh yeah, you really feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.” It’s just it’s such a… it’s such a different thing. There’s not many instruments that don’t have volume control and the pipes is one of them. It’s on or off; there’s no middle ground.
“When they came on the TV or something I was always obsessed with them”
I’ve always liked them. Even from when I was young, before I even started learning. When they came on the TV or something I was always obsessed with them. My mother used to show me videos of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and I’d fast forward past everything else to the bits with the pipes.
I’ve got 2 sets of pipes. One set I’ve just bought myself. As a present.
“We parade out in the street here every Saturday night from May to September”
We’ve got pipe band practice twice a week and then I’m playing pretty much every Friday and Saturday night with my other band, Rock Island Line. So I pretty much play all the time. We play at lots of events with the pipe band. We parade out in the street here every Saturday night from May to September and then we play at all fun days and gala days and anything that’s basically happening. We’ve got a very close relationship with the Skye Pipe Band. They’ll come up here for our carnival and they have a very big Highland Games on Skye and we go down to play at that.”
“The older neighbours… they’d be quite happy if I stayed outside and played the pipes all summer long”
How do you find practising at home given that there’s no volume control?
“It was okay, up until about 4 months ago when I had my son. That brought an abrupt end to that for a wee while. But it’s not too bad because where I live, there’s no neighbours, well there’s a couple of neighbours but they don’t mind in the slightest. The neighbours I have that are older, they love the pipes. They’d be quite happy if I stood outside and played the pipes all summer long.”