MY family started moving when I was five, and that remained a fixture for my childhood. It has also been a fixture of my adulthood. My Dad was employed by the tyre company Michelin so we moved every few years with his work. From Irvine (where I was born) to Clermont-Ferrand in France at age five, then to Stoke on Trent, then back to Clermont, and then to Carnoustie, near Dundee, aged 9.

In 1989 we moved to Greenville, South Carolina, in the USA for two years, then back to Carnoustie where I lived until I left home at 19 to study photography in Edinburgh.

Moving and travelling, particularly when young, gives you a sense of the size and diversity of the world. It teaches you to be happy with your own company and subsequently I’ve felt quite comfortable with myself from a young age.


BETWEEN the ages of 13 and 15 while living in Greenville, I had my musical epiphany. I had a friend at high school who played drums in his older brother’s band. They would drive to Athens in Georgia every weekend to play shows in clubs and at parties. This seemed mysterious and romantic to me.

My friend would make me mixtapes of all the music he liked - underground American rock – bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, The Replacements and Husker Du. This music was unlike anything I’d heard. It was raw and basic, but exciting and full of ideas. It also seemed achievable to make music like this. So I formed my first band with another friend from high school and we wrote short punk rock influenced songs. Around this time Nirvana released Nevermind and underground American rock blew up. It was exciting to be in America experiencing it.


BOTH my parents are great readers and all the houses I ever lived in were full of books. My mother favours fiction and appreciates poetry, while my dad is more interested in non-fiction and academic texts.

There was always discussion and visits to libraries and bookshops were social events. To this day a good book shop is something to behold – a sanctuary. I seek them out wherever I am. You are never alone if you’ve got a book to read.

Nowadays I tend to favour non-fiction and poetry, but I read so many novels in my 20s, including lots of the classics, that I overdosed a bit. Moby Dick is probably my favourite novel.


The National:

IT seems fairly obvious to mention Idlewild in an article about the things that have changed my life but meeting Rod and Colin in 1995 and forming the band has shaped my life, given me a sense of worth and has led to 25 years of creativity, travel and experience.

Being part of the group also gave me the confidence to start making my own records, which I’ve been doing now for 15 years.

I love the camaraderie of collaborative work too – bouncing ideas off each other, talking about music, listening to records. I’m very fortunate to have found something I love doing that I am OK at, that I can make a living from, and that people enjoy listening to and get something out of.


I DISCOVERED GMB in my late teens on a trip to Orkney. I was stuck instantly by the clarity of his writing style.

George’s life was bound by the small, island landscape he inhabited. His world, in all its wondrous ordinariness, was rich and richly rendered in his poetry.

As I get older and appreciate being surrounded by familiar things I respond even more to the recurring themes in George’s work – the simple, endless cycles of life – which he writes about so vividly.

“Carve the ruins and be content with silence” is what it says on his gravestone.

George’s novels, poetry and non-fiction have been a constant companion to me for several decades.


I’VE always loved going to the cinema, and the magical feeling when the lights go down and a new story is about to play out.

There was a small cinema in Dundee Library called the Steps Theatre, and they used to show old films, or “art house” films as they were known. I would go every week and that’s the first place I encountered films from the French New Wave, made by directors like Francois Truffaut, Agnes Varda and Jean Luc Godard.

When I saw Breathless, I fell in love with the whole aesthetic of the French new wave – it seemed visionary to me. And very cool.

I get a lot of my ideas from films –from the dialogue, the atmosphere and the stories. Often when I’m working on songs, or lyrics, I’m imagining them in a film – a film that doesn’t exist.

One of the early Idlewild singles was called A Film For The Future which was all about this. On my new record there is a song called … It’s Late which consists of imaginary film dialogue.


BARS have long been a source of fascination for me. I’m definitely guilty of over romanticising them – I blame all the books I’ve read by Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemingway and Brendan Behan.

Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had have been in bars, some of the most interesting people I’ve met have been in bars. They are great places to witness the world and watch it go by. Wherever I am on my travels I’ll try and find a good bar to sit in, order a drink and observe.

I’m very bar specific, and like authenticity and history, and these days I like them to be quiet, if I go at all.

Nowadays I mainly drink my beer and wine at home, but in my mind I’m sitting at a bar in Paris, or New York.


The National:

THIS is where I’ve lived for the last 12 years and before that it was somewhere I would regularly visit. There is just something about the Scottish islands that I love, they have an otherworldly beauty and an atmosphere all their own.

Islands are existential terrain – they offer the gift of detachment, which is very appealing for artists of any kind. The sense of space, the colours of the landscape, the changing seasons. Moving to the islands broke a cycle of city living which I’d been dreaming about for a decade.

That said, I definitely felt more “remote” living in London or New York as I do living on a Scottish island. It’s got a great sense of community and has been a wonderful place to bring up my son. In an unhurried place like the Hebrides you can really focus on the things that matter to you. It has also been a very good place to while away a global pandemic.


I HAVE been fascinated by the design and architecture of Los Angeles since my first visit in 2001. I’m fascinated by the city in general, the history of Hollywood and just the sheer amount of creativity that has happened in this sprawling city since its inception only 240 years ago.

I was lucky enough to spend two months living in LA while recording an Idlewild album, which was an amazing experience and really helped me appreciate its diversity. Driving around LA is something to savour.

There are interesting houses and architecture everywhere, perhaps a result of the climate; the warm weather, surreally blue skies, and laissez-faire attitude that blesses the city year-round which has attracted a number of brilliant eccentrics and dreamers. My LA experiences have always been very inspiring and have influenced my tastes, thoughts and ideas.


The National:

NOT a week goes by when I don’t have a Dylan record on at some point. His music has soundtracked my life like no other artist. The sheer sphere of his influence over popular culture for the last 50 years blows my mind. There’s no one like him. Shakespeare, Picasso, Walt Whitman, James Dean – he’s a little bit of them all.

He’s everyone and no one – the ultimate artist.

Tickets for the launch show on May 25 for Roddy Woomble’s new album Lo! Soul are available here www.roddywoomble.bandcamp.com/merch/roddy-woomble-lo-soul-album-launch-live-stream