He's presented live television, hosted countless events and sat behind a drum kit in one of the country’s best loved bands for 35 years. But ask Dougie Vipond to sing, and he has all the nerves of an absolute beginner.

“It’s absolutely terrifying,” says the 56-year-old presenter and founder member of band Deacon Blue. “I’ve worked a lot on telly over the years and you need a certain amount of confidence to do live TV. But walking down to the front of the stage and singing live in front of an audience is the most terrifying thing I do. And when you get terrified, you get tense, when you get tense, you close your throat, and when you close your throat you start singing sharp, so I have to really prepare for it every time.”

In recent years fans of the band have grown familiar with the sight of Vipond taking his turn on vocals for DB’s cover of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young, which has become a staple in their live set. That song is one of a clutch of new recordings featured in Peace Will Come, an album of acoustic songs released this month as part of a new Best Of compendium spanning the band’s four decades. Recorded at Chem 19 Studios in Blantyre, the record features low-fi reimaginings of some of the band’s classic singles, such as Chocolate Girl, Cover From The Sky and When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring?), as well as a cover of Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark.

“We all sing on When Will You. I was terrified that I would mess it up because even during the song I was thinking: ‘This is such a lovely take’. So I basically didn’t sing the last note,” he says, laughing. “All these insecurities came into my head, I was worried I would mess the whole thing up by going sharp on the last note.”
When Deacon Blue’s first incarnation split at the top of their game in 1994, Vipond went on to develop a career in TV and radio. But the band he joined as a student aged 18, on a meeting with a Maryhill English teacher, still gives him as much fulfilment as it did in 
the 1980s.

“I met Ricky (Ross, the band’s frontman), this sophisticated teacher with spiky hair when I was 18. I was in awe of his songwriting ability and how serious he was about it all.
So to go from that meeting to sitting behind him for nearly 40 years is so lovely. I’m still amazed by his energy and talent and ability to communicate with an audience. And it’s amazing we still have a voice to be creative together within that. There’s still a spark within the band and I think we’ll do something new again.”

That creativity has seen Deacon Blue release six albums since their 2012 comeback LP, The Hipsters, with their most successful, 2020’s City of Love, returning them to once-familiar territory at the business end of the UK Top 10. This month they set off on a tour that takes them from the UK arena circuit to Australia and New Zealand, as well as gigs in South Africa for the first time.

“You sometimes think: ‘How the hell did we end up with a following there?’. We were offered gigs in South Africa during apartheid but we were vehemently against it. We just wouldn’t have entertained it. So for that to be opened up and for us to get a chance to play there is incredible. I’m a massive rugby fan so it will be interesting if Scotland beat them in the rugby World Cup before we get there.” 

And the recent visit of a pal from Melbourne provided the drummer with some ad-hoc market research as to his band’s popularity Down Under.
“He told me he was sick of hearing us on the radio over there,” he says. “He said we’re on non-stop and he had to come to Scotland to get a rest from it. It’s bizarre but it’s very exciting. We played there in 2019 for the first time since the late 80s, and we were amazed at the reaction. We ended up having to put on extra shows. So this time we’re going back and playing bigger venues. 

“It was a proper adventure for us back in 1989. I bought a snare drum that I still use to record now, and we were given two passports, because while we were in Australia, they were processing our visas for our tour of America. I remember thinking we must be really really important. It felt like the only people in the world who could have two passports were spies and people in Deacon Blue. There was a genuine sense of breaking new ground. We were five guys and a lassie from Scotland just giving it a go. It’s such a lovely surprise to be able to go back and find we still have an audience there.”

Deacon Blue’s UK tour begins this month, including dates at Glasgow OVO Hydro, Aberdeen’s P&J Arena and Edinburgh’s Usher Hall. The album Peace Will Come is released as part of the career-spanning box set You Can Have It All and Best of LP All The Old 45s on 1 September.