THE sun certainly seems to be shining on Scots stars Skerryvore at the moment. Not only have they just packed out their own Oban Live festival but their latest album, EVO, entered the UK charts at number 16 this week.

The Celtic rockers have long been a festival favourite and are one of the most successful and widely travelled trad bands in the country. But even they admit to being taken aback by the success of EVO.

“We’re pretty delighted. I don’t think any of us expected it to be sitting at number 16,” Martin Gillespie, one of the band’s founding members, says.

“We have another video to release in the next wee while so we’re hoping to do another push.”

Gillespie, who plays accordion and whistle, founded the band along with brother Daniel, who also plays accordion, guitarist and vocalist Alec Dalglish and drummer Fraser West back in 2005.

The Gillespies are from Tiree so folk music was in their blood and they were exposed to it at a young age, at ceilidhs, house parties and sessions. West and Dalglish, who hail from Livingston, were regular visitors to the island and soon became involved.

For Martin, though, a career in music was never his plan.

“I never planned to do music at all when I left school, and it’s the same with Dan. We both studied sport but I was training to be a plumber and the band was just a bit of fun at first but then it just grew and grew and we got busier and busier. And then it just evolved into being a full-time job.”

It may not have been planned but Gillespie did appear destined to become a musician.

“Myself and Dan both began playing accordion through Gordon Connell who taught in Tiree,” Gillespie says. “Being in Tiree you’re always surrounded by music, there’s always ceilidhs so I was kind of brought up with it. My mum was also music teacher at the school, which helped as well.”

Despite founding a hugely successful band almost by chance, Gillespie is nevertheless grateful for the opportunities Skerryvore have afforded him.

The band play all over the world and a have a hardcore following enthralled by the high-octane live performances which are central to the Skerryvore experience.

“We’ve been very lucky that we get to see so much of the world,” Gillespie admits. “We’re actually off to the US today to play a couple of festivals. Logistically, it’s quite challenging as there are nine of us travelling now, including our sound guy.”

The gruelling schedule of touring has not, however, dampened Gillespie’s enthusiasm.

“We’ve always said that the day we don’t enjoy it then we’d stop doing it,” says Gillespie. “If the band wasn’t progressing then we’d quit. Music is one of these things where you have to enjoy it. If people don’t think you’re enjoying it then they’re not going to enjoy it.

“We always get told how much we look like we’re having fun on stage and it’s true, we still get a kick out of playing together.

“The audience feed of it and we feed off the audience,” Gillespie adds.

One problem with the relentless touring, however, is that it can mean missing out on things at home. And for Gillespie that means having to miss out on Runrig’s final performance.

The band were a huge influence for a generation of musicians and Gillespie admits that missing that last hurrah in the shadow of Stirling Castle will be hard to take.

“We’re big Runrig fans but we’re going to be in the US for their final gig so we’re gutted to be missing that,” says Gillespie. “And they’ve been such a big influence over the years.

“We’ve been to see them in Denmark and Germany when we’ve been out on tour and they have such a loyal and supportive audience that it’s amazing.

“It’s incredible what they’ve done. I’ll be sad that this is their last one. They have such a wide range of fans too, from older folk who were there at the start to younger ones. I think that’s something ourselves and Skipinnish have as well.”

Having seen a Skerryvore gig at close quarters it’s easy to see why they appeal to such a wide audience. Their unique fusion of traditional Scottish music with rock and Americana is a result of both their influences and their personnel. WIth eight full-time members the personalities of the band are each instrumental in achieving the Skerryvore sound.

AND it’s a sound which they have harnessed in style on EVO, an album packed with potential singles. The key, explains Gillespie, is to somehow harness the power of a live performance on a studio record.

“It’s the hardest thing to recreate that on an album but I think EVO has got a great mix of what we do live,” he says. “The album has been a big one for us and it seems to have been received really well.”

Skerryvore will always remain a live band at heart. And such is their dedication to performing that they launched their own festival, Oban Live, after a concert in 2015 when the band were celebrating a decade of Skerryvore.

Last weekend’s edition saw the band being joined on the bill by Sharon Shannon, Skipinnish, Peatbog Faeries, Michael McGoldrick and Tide Lines among others. It is an event that defines the Skerryvore ethos of live music and giving up-and-coming artists the platform to perform.

“It was a good array of music and certainly the weather helped,” says Gillespie.

For the band from Scotland’s sunniest isle, the future is certainly looking bright.

Skerryvore play Milngavie Town Hall on July 1. For further information and ticket details go to