THEY may be hurtling towards their 10th anniversary but Scots supergroup Manran are certainly showing no signs of slowing down. The band formed back in 2010 largely with a single aim – to get a Gaelic song into the UK top 40. And while debut single Latha Math reached the heady heights of number 29 during midweek, it narrowly missed out on that coveted spot in the charts. However, from those beginnings the band flourished to the point that they are now one of the mainstays of the Scottish folk scene.

Currently on their second full tour of Australia – minus founder member and accordionist Gary Innes, who is at home awaiting the birth of his first child – Manran are preparing for a busy summer on the festival circuit and are promising a new album by the turn of the year.

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Ewen Henderson, fiddle and vocals, and Ryan Murphy, uilleann pipes and whistles, took time out ahead of today’s gig in Canberra to talk of the band’s past, present and future.

“We arrived in Australia last Tuesday,” says Henderson. “We started off in Brisbane and then we’ve kind of worked our way down and now we’re just a couple of hours south of Sydney.

“The band were out for a showcase a few years back but this is only our second full tour.

“So we’ve had a couple of days off after a hectic start which gives us time to chill out.”

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Henderson is one from one of the West Highlands’s most famous musical families, with his sisters Megan and Ingrid, and brother Allan, all accomplished musicians. Henderson himself learnt fiddle at the age of five but also plays pipes and whistles and, of course, sings, often in Gaelic. He founded Manran after a discussion with Innes which took place in, of all places, a swimming pool in Inverness.

“The genesis of the band really began at the Inverness Aquadome,” explains Henderson. “Myself and Gary were in the wave pool and Gary had this idea of getting a band together with a view to getting a Gaelic song into the UK top 40. So that was pretty much how it started.

“Obviously, myself and Gary knew each other and we knew (former members) Norrie MacIver and Calum Stewart, and then the other founding members, Ross Saunders and Scott Mackay, we knew through friends of friends on the Glasgow music scene. So it started really as a project born in a wave pool!”

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Given the narrow aims of the band at its conception, was Henderson then surprised at how quickly the whole thing took off?

“I suppose we were just so busy doing it and being focused on getting a band together that we didn’t notice. Also, by its nature, the main aim was to do something quickly in any case. Everyone in the band had been playing music full time for a while, had projects of their own and were known on the scene by that time, so we kind of fast-tracked it.

“We didn’t want to have to start from the bottom as most bands have to. Everything was geared towards getting ourselves decent gigs and nice slots at festivals and stuff straight away, so we weren’t really surprised at how quickly it came together as that was the plan from the start.”

After initially bursting on to the scene, it soon became clear that Manran were in it for the long haul. And so it has proved.

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For Murphy, his adventures with the band began a couple of years after they were formed. The piper moved to Glasgow from his hometown of Cork after being asked to take over from Stewart, who was forced to quit the band due to family commitments, and remains in the city which all band members now call home.

“I was just finishing university in 2012 and Gary gave me the shout on the recommendation of a few people,” recalls Murphy. “It all clicked and now I live in Glasgow and it’s been happily ever after.

“With all the band living in Glasgow it makes rehearsals and writing easier.”

With Glasgow now being very much the centre of Scotland’s traditional music scene, thanks largely to the Royal Conservatoire and Celtic Connections, the band are also able to take part in the city’s vibrant session scene – although not perhaps as much as they’d like.

“When I’m not touring and I’m at home I’ll probably play twice a week at least just to meet up with people who play different music and stuff and just to keep it all fresh in the head.”

For Henderson, however, it’s become more of a struggle while at home.

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“I don’t get out to the sessions nearly as much as I’d like,” says Henderson. “When I’m back in Glasgow I tend to be getting on with other stuff. I do get out when we’re away or back home. Like, I’m sure we’ll be having some tunes with folk while we’re over here.”

It is perhaps not surprising that Henderson struggles to find time to hit the pubs with his fiddle. He has recently released an album of Gaelic song, Ewen Henderson Sings Gaelic, but, as he explains, that is only the first step in a larger project.

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“It’s just a very quick collection of songs I like singing which I put down on an album to sell a few copies and raise a bit of money to put into what I’m calling the ‘proper album’ I’ve been wanting to do for a while,” explains Henderson.

“It’s going to be a collection of tunes and songs. The tunes will mostly be my own while the songs are older Gaelic songs that I’ve been researching and digging out.”

As with many traditional musicians, the passing on of the culture is hugely important to Henderson – and to Manran. That passing of the torch is something often learned from those teachers who gave their time to shape so many of today’s musicians. Those early influences remain important to them today.

“I just did the general thing that every kid in Ireland does,” says Murphy. “I started on the penny whistle and from there progressed on to the uilleann pipes as my teacher was trying to encourage young lads to play them at the time. I took up the flute later just to be a little more versatile and with an eye to doing this professionally.

“My mum was an Irish ceilidh dancer so there was always music at home in some shape or form when I was growing up. And I had two left feet, so I decided if I couldn’t dance then I would play the music for those that could.

“It was always my aim to do this as a career. I was surrounded by good teachers and mentors who encouraged me to reach the standard I managed to get to.”

Henderson, meanwhile, learnt at the feet of the great Aonghas Grant Senior, the left-handed fiddler of Lochaber and surely one of the most influential teachers of music in Scotland.

“Aonghas taught myself and all of my siblings the fiddle,” says Henderson. “That was a great education, learning the tricks of the trade on the fiddle and all the tunes. But the other great thing about learning from Aonghas was all the stories and the background behind all the tunes. At least 50% of the lesson would be stories and getting the full picture behind them.

“Even as a kid, when you might not think you’re taking it all in and you’re itching to get back to learning the tunes, it all stays with you. I’m really grateful for that now.”

For Henderson and Murphy, being part of Manran – and indeed the traditional music scene as a whole – is in many ways about keeping the culture alive for the next generation, and being able to pass on these stories learnt from the masters is a part of that.

“Well, what I can remember of them,” says Henderson.

In the meantime, there’s a new album in the offing for the band as well as a busy summer on the festival circuit, including headline slots at HebCelt in Stornoway and Live By The Loch in Cumbernauld, before next year’s big anniversary.

“While Gary is not with us in Australia you can be sure he’s beavering away at home on plans for next year,” says Henderson. “There’s a couple of big notions up his sleeve for the 10th anniversary.”

Fittingly for a band born in a pool, Manran look set to continue surfing the crest of a musical wave in their 10th year and beyond.