When the Scottish supergroup Skerryvore invited me to the mystery location of their one-day festival, I imagined being bundled into a large black van, blindfolded. My vision somewhat became a reality, just minus the blindfold.

In the back of a Ford Transit, Daniel Gillespie, one of the founding members of Skerryvore and musical director of the event, gave me strict instructions not to Snapchat any of my pals with details of where we were going. As we passed Loch Lomond, I had no signal to do so anyway.

Skerryvore is made up of eight members and its lineup has scarcely changed since its formation in 2004. A few bass players came and went, however Daniel, Martin, Fraser, Alec, Craig, Jodie, Alan and Scott have stayed put. Well, sort of, since the band have constantly been on an international tour.

“There wasn’t really a plan to have a band," Daniel says. Skerryvore began as schoolboys jamming in pubs around Tiree and “there was no plan to do anything from there”’. A few of the boys studied applied music, but Daniel studied sport; and, to my delight, he had a “soft spot” for Leeds United (“Bielsa’s great”, he chuckled).

Fast-forward to 2019 and the boys just spent two weeks in Australia, came home for a day, then flew out to America to tackle 12 states, taking their tally up to 31.

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"Every show this year we played in North America, we gave out a text code,” Daniel tells me, “and anyone that messaged in that code was in a draw to come to the festival."

The competition was part of the band’s mantra to showcase Scotland through the festival.

“You have people who maybe wouldn’t be able to afford flights over to Scotland, getting to come and watch this gig,” Fraser chips in, from the driver’s seat.

“Craig got an email from her [the winner] last night, a typically American ‘Oh my Gawd!’,” Daniel laughs.

Skerryvore have a loyal fan-base, both at home and abroad. Daniel recounted his disbelief about one fan in America.

“This girl from the mid-west drove something like 12 or 13 hours to come and see us, watch the gig and drive 12 or 13 hours back.”

The boys are clearly still humble, despite the fame, but Daniel does admit they have a controlled relationship with the limelight. “I can’t imagine what it’d be like for Harry Styles, I’m not sure I’d quite like it.”

Surely this lifestyle must take its toll. “Most of us are pretty robust," Daniel says proudly. “There are days or times anyone feels tired. But we are a robust unit.”

And robust they must be for their packed schedule. The band are finishing the year in Scotland before jetting out to the States again for a Florida gig, then back to Glasgow for the Celtic Connections festival, which they’ve made numerous appearances at over recent years.

It’s difficult to pin down Skerryvore’s genre. “There’s always an element of fusion in style”, Daniel said – the van was shooting past the tip of Loch Lomond at this point– “We’re not a Celtic or folk band,”, he said. This is true, given the assimilation of members such as Fraser and Alec, who bring jazz backgrounds to the octet.

Fraser is driving the van. The band do their own social media, graphic designs, transport, with a few PR people, sound and light technicians on hand to help. As well as Fraser’s dad, Peter, who’s done the band’s admin for over eight years.

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“The band is very self-contained,” Daniel says, which, observing the dynamic of the band, seems to work just fine. Skerryvore is not signed to a major record label; instead, it’s signed to its own, called Tiny Records. This autonomy reflects a band that has paved its own successes - without the backing of a big label to give it the considerable marketing leg-up that other artists are spoon fed.

“We are responsible for promoting and investing in any album or project, raising the finances for that” Daniel says.

He admits, however, that “it would be nice to have support from a bigger company or a bigger agency that could get to places or open doors to places we can’t necessarily open.”

Over the years, the band have been approached by record labels and management, but none have worked as well as the boys running the show themselves.

This seemed the perfect moment, against the sublime backdrop of Beinn Ime’s peak, to bring up the sovereignty of Scotland as a whole, as a similarly independent entity which one day may not be propped up by the rest of the UK. “I think it’s all open now… we’re not overly vocal, we don’t use the band to promote that in anyway”, Daniel says inconspicuously.

“What I would say about it is that people globally are very interested in it… lots ask us about it. In the US they are very interested about what’s happening. Despite being a wee nation that we are.”

The band were in Spain when the independence vote came out in 2014. “Everyone was fascinated, but obviously they’ve got their own issues just now, but they were fascinated by the fact we had the opportunity for independence.”

We pass Cottage Music Studios, a quaint white shack along the snaking A83 road, where Fraser tells me they’d recorded before. It is such a beautiful setting for creative work, secluded and contained, and I start to think it reflects the band’s dynamic itself.

As we etch substantially closer to our final destination – an hour into the drive – Daniel excitedly breaks the embargo on where we are going. I have no clue where we are.

We are going to Inverary Castle, where the band are to play a special one-day festival on 6 June to celebrate their 15th anniversary.

The purpose of the festival, and arguably its launch shrouded in mystery, was to showcase Scotland as the place where the band began, and ultimately will return to.

“It has been such an incredible global journey for us all recently but we wanted a very special location in Scotland for this event. We are thrilled that it is Inveraray Castle with its proximity to both our adopted home of Glasgow and our native west coast where the band formed,” Daniel says.

“Coming back to Scotland makes you appreciate it… it’s nice to finish off the year at home,” he adds.

“For some of the people we play to in America, this [setting, Inverary Castle] is like a fairytale,” says Fraser. I tell the boys that being from Leeds, it has a similar effect for me too.

While the 5,000-capacity festival at an 18th-century castle is an impressive feat, the boys belong with such audiences, having founded and headlined the 6,000-capacity OBAN LIVE since 2010.

As for Leeds United, leader singer Daniel and I hope that we’re back to the Premier League by 6 June: the place where we belong.