IT'S been a busy few weeks for Tide Lines. The folk-pop-rock quartet has released their long-awaited second album, embarked upon a world tour (more of that in a moment) and had a No 1 – knocking Gerry Cinnamon off the top of the Scottish charts.

First, let's rewind to late March when, as coronavirus swept through every corner of life, a slew of big-name artists, including Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Alanis Morissette, Bon Jovi and Willie Nelson, announced their albums were being postponed.

At home in Glasgow, Tide Lines faced a similar quandary. After three years in the making, the release date for Eye Of The Storm coincided smack bang with the upheaval and uncertainty of a global pandemic. The band's upcoming tour, scheduled for May and June, was swiftly shelved.

"All those plans were up in smoke as soon as coronavirus came in and changed everything," says singer-songwriter Robert Robertson, his voice drifting down the line from Fort William, where he has been staying with family since lockdown began.

Yet, what seemed like bad timing, soon proved to be serendipity. For a start, the album's title has proved uncannily apt given humanity's current plight.

Then there's the raft of lyrics which, although penned long before anyone had ever heard of Covid-19, are filled with heartfelt sentiment about overcoming adversity and the need for a strong sense of community.

The band – lead vocalist Robertson, Ross Wilson on keyboards, guitarist Alasdair Turner and drummer Gus Munro – did a 10-night virtual world tour at the end of April, ahead of the album being released earlier this month.

Flying aboard "Tide Lines Airways", they city-hopped, via Google Earth, to New York, Paris, London, Moscow, Cairo, Rio, Tokyo, Sydney and Rome, before rounding off the tour in Tobermory on Mull, the island that Wilson hails from.

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Their goal was for Eye Of The Storm – which the band produced themselves – to make the UK Top 40. Impressively, it debuted at No 12, simultaneously topping both the Scottish and independent album charts.

So, who are Tide Lines? Here, we learn more about the band's remarkable journey to date.


The four-strong line-up packs a pedigree. Tide Lines was formed in 2016 after Robertson and Wilson parted ways with Scottish traditional band, Skipinnish, to experiment with their own music. They recruited Turner for his guitar and bagpipes prowess, and Munro, formerly the drummer with alt-rock trio Sucioperro.

Less than 24 hours after the band's official launch on social media in June 2016, their first single, Far Side Of The World, entered the UK download charts ahead of tracks by Coldplay, Beyonce and Adele. Tide Lines takes its name from a lyric in the song that goes: "In my mind I see her smile, where the tide lines grace the isle". A debut album, Dreams We Never Lost, followed in 2017.


Folk philosophy and big guitars are among Tide Lines' signature style. Or as Robertson puts it: "A melting pot of musical influences come out when we are in the studio." His love of classic artists, such as Bruce Springsteen, is juxtaposed alongside Wilson and Turner's passion for electronica, and Munro's alt-rock background.

Robertson has been writing songs since childhood. "I have early memories of being in the car with my mum and dad on a long journey and when we got to our destination, I had written out lyrics and a tune on the back of an envelope.

"What normally happens is a melody randomly comes into my head. I have been walking through an airport before when that's happened and needed to quickly stop and record it on my phone. Afterwards, I sit down and try to develop the tune, the chords and put words to it.

"Once I have it at the stage where it's 75-80 per cent there, I'll take it to the boys and if they give the thumbs up, we will book into a studio and jam it. That's when our different musical influences come to the fore. Everyone adds in their ideas and it can sometimes change beyond all recognition from my original idea with their input. It is very collaborative."


Robertson and Wilson recorded a cover version of Taylor Swift's hit Shake It Off in 2015. The video went viral with Outlander star Sam Heughan among those sharing it in a bid to catch Swift's eye. Robertson offered to take the American singer-songwriter out for dinner in Glasgow.

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"I asked her for a curry if I remember rightly," he says. "The offer still stands. I have no memory of why we decided to cover it, but it was a good laugh. That was before we formed Tide Lines."


It is impossible not to be struck by the myriad lines woven throughout Eye Of The Storm that could have been written as astute reflections of life in lockdown.

"There's lot of the lyrics on the new album that people are relating to because of this situation," confirms Robertson. "There is a line in Shadow To The Light that goes: 'There's a place I see, in the all-too-distant light/ Of the sun and rain/ And no matter what lies ahead of us now/ We will be OK.'

"That was written long before I had ever heard of coronavirus and I didn't realise how appropriate it is until people pointed it out. The emphasis is on what lies ahead of us – rather than you or me as individuals. It is about the sense of community."


Given that Robertson won the prestigious An Comunn Gaidhealach Gold Medal for singing at the 2013 Royal National Mod in Paisley, a fierce passion for Gaelic should come as little surprise.

Eye Of The Storm has a cover of Canan nan Gaidheal – which translates as Language of the Gaels – by the late Lewis-born poet and songwriter Murdo Macfarlane.

"The thing that runs through our music is the influence of growing up with Gaelic, folk songs and living in the Highlands," says Robertson. "The general content of the subjects I write about – landscapes, love and longing – are probably quite similar to those that have inspired Gaelic songs over the years."

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In March, inspired by footage of people singing from windows and balconies around the world, Robertson sang a few lines of a Gaelic song from his second-floor tenement flat in Glasgow. The clip has been shared more than a million times.


"The best way to promote an album is to go out and play it live," says Robertson. "Thanks to the joys of social media I was able to go live from the comfort of my own living room.

"On the first night, there was a little Tide Lines aeroplane taking you from Fort William to New York on Google Earth. I came on and sang Welcome To New York by Taylor Swift, then New York, New York by Frank Sinatra.

"I did one song from the album each night for 10 nights leading up to its release. To represent each city or country on the tour, I had a prop I'd found around the house. For Paris I had red wine and grapes. In Italy, it was a little glass of cloudy apple juice I pretended was limoncello.

"I would get records from my dad's collection for each place. There was Michelle by The Beatles for Paris and I sang Back In The USSR for Moscow. I'd say: 'Tomorrow we're in Cairo, what should I sing?' People suggested songs like Night Boat To Cairo and Walk Like An Egyptian."


As the old adage goes, fortune favours the brave. Their best-laid plans may have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic, but the band pressed on. "The album was released on May 1 and on the Monday after that, the Official Charts Company had us at No 3 for the whole of the UK," he says.

"Of course, we were surrounded in that chart by artists who are world-famous and have a major record label behind them with all the benefits that brings. Realistically, we knew that as the week went on, we were going to go flying back down the charts but hoped to stay within the UK Top 20.

"We ended up at No 12 in the UK and were absolutely delighted. Then, finding out we were No 1 in Scotland and No 1 in the independent album charts, we couldn't believe it.

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"There was a statistic from the Official Charts Company that said not only were we No 1 in Scotland, but for that week, we outsold the rest of the Top 10 combined. We did a double take at that one. It has surpassed all our expectations."

Eye Of The Storm is out now. Tide Lines will be touring later this year. Visit

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