FANS of Gaelic rock group Runrig need not worry about reports that the band’s forthcoming studio album will be their final full length studio release.
There is no sign of the band calling a halt to their 42-year career, as co-founder Calum Macdonald confirmed.
"We have closed a door, but we haven’t locked anything," he stated.
The Story, the band’s 14th studio album and the first since 2007’s Everything You See, is released next month, with Runrig heading out on the road in support of its release for a run of 14 dates in February that takes them from Aberdeen to Bristol, but this is certainly no farewell tour.
"We’re just touring the album as usual," Calum stated.
In fact, the band have also been named as headliners for this year’s HebCelt Festival on the Isle of Lewis in July. Calum’s comments that the band "usually find a field somewhere" for a major show, might offer grounds for optimism for Highland fans who might have noticed an absence of any mainland Highland dates for a band whose heart is very much in the Highlands.
It was the band’s last big "field event", their 40th anniversary Party on The Moor at Muir of Ord where the current line up were joined by past members Donnie Munro and Pete Wishart, that sowed the seeds for the new album.
"After the 40th anniversary celebrations, we thought: if we are going to carry on, we needed to do something completely new," explained Calum, who plays percussion and shares principal songwriting duties with his brother Rory."
"The 40th anniversary was a huge thing for us. We played for three hours, played all the old songs – Donnie was back with us – and we felt it defined our journey so far, so the question was: where do we go now?
"So we decided we would do another studio album, call it our last one, and write it that way and think about what we wanted to say."
The result 11-track album has been described by Rory as a hugely significant milestone for the band and one Runrig want to celebrate.
For his brother, the only other remaining member who founded the Runrig Dance Band back in 1973, that significance is reflected in the songs on The Story.
"I would say that there’s a reflective quality to a lot of the songs," Calum agreed.
This may be the band’s final studio album, but it is also a first in being the first Runrig album produced in-house by one of the band’s own members, the youngest member of the current Runrig family, keyboard player Brian Hurren, who travelled to Czech Republic to record with the 32-piece Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, something he described as an incredible experience which really helped to bring out the emotion in the songs.
"Producing this album has been a real journey from start to finish," he stated.
"What we’ve tried to achieve sonically, was to try and tap into everything the fans love about Runrig – a nostalgic feel, but trying to make it as fresh as we could and a real bold, confident step out of our 40th anniversary."
It has certainly met with the approval of his bandmates.
"Brian has been brilliant and working with him has been great for us," Calum said.
"We usually go for outside producers, but none of the ones suggested felt right, but then Brian said that he would like to have a crack at producing it. He recorded four songs and they sounded great and fresh, so we decided to go with him."
Now, along withe the rest of the band, the long-time Ross-shire resident is looking forward to taking the new songs to a live audience.
"It’s always good taking the thing out of the studio," he added.
"The live show is a very different thing."
Whether there is more to come from Runrig or not, Calum is still likely to head back into the recording studio at some point.
He reveals he would like to record a follow up to the Macdonald brothers’ The Band From Rockall album project from 2012, but also work with another member of the clan, his son Donald who has his own band Sink Ships, previously Donald Macdonald and The Islands.
As for Runrig’s future, it seems we will just have to wait and see.
"We’ve never really planned anything," Calum said.
"It’s our own record company and we are in charge of our own mangement, so we can do things at our own pace."
• The Story, Runrig’s 14th and final studio album, will be released on Friday 29th January on the band’s own Ridge Records label,