Interview: Stornoway say farewell after 10 years on the road

StornowayStornoway is hitting the road for one last time to say goodbye to the fans they’ve picked up over the past 10 years of making music. Their farewell tour sees then playing 11 dates across the country, finishing up where it all began, in Oxford. This could be their biggest tour to date, as they’ve already had to upgrade from Colston Hall's Lantern room to the main hall, due to a huge demand for tickets.

The band are in high spirits ahead of their Bristol show. Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, they jokingly discuss what confession they would make to the rest of the band, if they were in a plane hurtling towards the ground, and certain death. According to Brian Briggs, it was all his fault: “I turned off the engine. I didn’t know what I was doing. Sorry.”

Oli Steadman, on the other hand, claims he has “a rare condition where rapid changes in altitude cause the skin on my elbows to stretch out into steerable membranes, enabling controlled flight. See ya on the flipside!” Meanwhile, Rob Steadman just wants to confess to the big man, “Forgive me father, for I have sinned.”


In their 10 years together, the band have released three albums and a handful of EPs. Reminiscing on their time together, Brian recalls one of his highlights was “probably our tour of the islands and highlands of Scotland, which included our first ever trip to Stornoway (the town). It included incredible scenery, wildlife, sunshine and a different bottle of malt whisky at every gig.”

For Jon and Oli, it was the fun of being in the studio making the music. Jon explains: “I think I have to say the highlight has been the fun we’ve had making three albums and a bunch of EPs which aren’t all that bad. We approached all the recordings very differently, and we took a lot of trouble to create a different atmosphere for each and every song, so there are specific - and sometimes slightly strange memories - attached to them.” Oli agrees, adding: “As Jon says, the recording has been a source of fun and so much learning. For me it was particularly that relieved feeling of finally hitting the right notes on "Get Low", having broken through a particularly bad bout of hay fever (the lyrics kept coming out as “Keeb dreamid! Keeb rollid!”)."


With such a wealth of musicianship in the band, (there's an array of instruments at their live show) you wonder if such a talented bunch have struggled to capture or portray some of the music they’ve loved to make over the years. Perhaps surprisingly, they all have a tale to tell. Rob calls out “The Sixth Wave”, saying: “I had to find a way to get a metal tea tray to be sturdy enough to thwack as well as change from drumstick to tambourine in the space of half a bar while singing.” Jon brings a little sarcasm to the table, quipping “November Song. That’s the bit of our set when Rob, Oli and I get to lounge around backstage, sip beer and chew the fat, while Brian hits the high notes. It’s a hard life."


It seems all those years of making music has pulled the band in different directions, but putting a farewell tour together proves there’s an underlying friendship that will always remain. Most of the band are staying in the music world in one way or another, citing producing, performing or promoting as areas of interest, with Brian Briggs swapping guitars for chainsaws at a nature reserve in Wales. But before they go their separate ways they’ll be hitting the road one last time, closing the chapter as celebratory as they can, playing most of the major cities armed with three albums worth of songs. Expect an emotional and musically wonderful evening.


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