Brora Wolf are a four piece alternative rock outfit from Airdrie made up of Kate MacMillan, Paul Black, Chris ‘Rev’ MacMillan and Chris MacMillan Snr.
So first of how did you all meet?
Kate (Vocals) – Family and friendship
Paul (Guitar)- My wife was brought up with Rev, Kate and Chris as very close family friends because my mother in law was married to a man serving in the same regiment as Chris’ father. My wife and Rev refer to each other as cousins, which seems the most concise way of putting it!
Chris ‘Rev’(Drums) – Well my parent are the bassist and the lead singer so let’s not go into much more details then that, I met Paul through a family friend.
Chris Mac (Bass) – Basically family and friendship – three of the band are family and Paul the guitarist is married to a very close family friend.
Where are you all from?
Kate – My family are all from the Airdrie area.
Paul – My family are all from the Coatbridge area
Chris ‘Rev’- Originally Airdrie but currently living I Coatbridge with my fiancé
Chris Mac – Coatbridge and Airdrie although you may not think it from my accent.
How long have you been playing your respective instruments?
Kate – I’ve been singing for years but mainly in choirs and in front of family and then Karaoke, Brora Wolf is my first band
Paul – Since I was 14-15 years old, 12 years or so
Chris ‘Rev’- since 2nd year in high school so about 12 years something like that
Chris Mac – I started playing guitar when I was nine or ten but due to circumstance didn’t take it anywhere, tried bass for a short period in high school and then decided two years ago (2015) I was going to try again.
What genre of music do you consider your work to be?
Kate – Rock
Paul – That’s tricky… we don’t write with any genre in mind, we just write what comes to mind and feel free to flit from genre to genre as we see fit. Mostly what comes out is classic rock or hard rock, I guess.
Chris ‘Rev’ – mostly hard rock with a bit of funk and blues thrown in for a bit of flair
Chris Mac – I’m confused by the labelling of bands these days, everyone tries to pigeonhole bands and if you listen to all our demo’s you’ll hear we’ve not exactly nailed our sound, ultimately we’re a rock band and if that’s not enough the listener can decide for themselves.
What are your influences?
Kate – 80’s rock bands, Heart, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi.
Paul – Everything I’ve ever heard, whether I liked it or didn’t. My parents were pretty musically diverse in their tastes: everything from classic rock through to classical music, blues, jazz and I vaguely remember gregorian chanting… weirdly! Though the thing that made me think “God I wanna play guitar!” was my dad’s fairly extensive Queen collection
Chris ‘Rev’ – my influences are anything from ac/dc to ZZ top
Chris Mac – It’s a difficult one for me answer as I’m not really a person who wants to emulate anyone, learning bass was for a purpose but if I had to pick anyone it would be Steve Harris of Iron Maiden
Do you do covers and if so what’s your go to?
Kate – We do a couple of covers Pat Benatar’s hit me with your best shot being my favourite.
Paul – We do. The favourite seems to be Summer of ’69 just now. It’s a song everyone knows and that we are familiar with so it always goes down pretty easily and settles the stage nerves for us too.
Chris ‘Rev’- yes I would have to go for hazy shade of winter by the bangles
Chris Mac – Brora Wolf began as a covers band we came together, we were supposed to be a secret and perform at mine and Kate’s 25th Wedding Anniversary as a surprise for Kate, a couple of those songs have stuck Bryan Adams Summer of 69, Pat Benatar’s Hit me with your best shot, The Bangles Hazy Shade of winter
What if anything does your name mean/why are you called that?
Kate – That was decided before I joined the band ask Chris Mac for the short version.
Paul – We’re named after the first original track we ever wrote together. Brora is a small town in the north of Scotland where the last alleged wild wolf in Scotland was brought down… I guess we all appreciate the mythology of that story
Chris ‘Rev’ – Chris mac has always been telling me this the story of the last wolf in Scotland and how it has stuck with him through his life so I just felt right to name ourselves after something so historic and that means something as sort of history/ heritage storytelling.
Chris Mac – As I said above we started off as a cover Band and I was going to call us the M8’s, one day Paul was visiting with some mutual friends and I showed him a book of lyrics and poems I’ve been hoarding for years. After reading a poem I’ve used in a book I’m writing he persuaded me he could make that into an original track, we took the name from the poem and Brora Wolf became our first ever song.
Chris ‘Rev’ also used the poem in one of his college bands which resembles the poem more than our song does.
Do you have a process for writing your songs? /Which of you writes the songs?
Kate – Once again see Chris Mac
Paul – We all write for all the instruments. Though none of us plays any other instruments, so writing sessions get pretty interesting! Usually with us just making noises at each other when we have an idea and expecting the others to know exactly as we mean! Mostly the process is loosely: one of us gets a musical idea like a riff, a chord progression, a groove… something small but compelling and exciting to the rest of us and we all chime in with ideas or opinions until suddenly there’s a song. It rarely takes more than a few hours per tune.
Chris ‘Rev’- Chris mac brings the lyrics to paul, paul will figure out a melody or rhythm to go over the lyrics for the bass and I will figure out a drum beat to accompany the bass line and melody of the guitar riffs
Chris Mac – As I said above I’ve got a folder full of lyrics old and new which Kate brings to practices. We will start jamming to some riff Paul or I have come up with or a drum beat Chris plays and Kate tries to fit some of the lyrics around about it, the lyrics then change to something new until a structure is found then we practice it to death.
What are your rehearsals generally like?
Kate – I find them fun and productive and I’m learning all the time.
Paul – It depends on how imminent our next gig is. If there’s nothing within the next few weeks it’s as I describe a writing session. If it’s before a gig its drilling set-lists and suggesting arrangements or song orders. Mostly it’s a whole lot of us ripping the piss out of each other and playing very loudly.
Chris ‘Rev’- it depends on if we have a gig coming up or not, if we do then we make a set list and nail the song 2-3 times a practise making sure everything is tight and we know what we are actually playing, If we don’t then it’s usually a jam sesh or trying to focus on new material and then a jam sesh hahaha!
Chris Mac – I’m far to anal with practices I like to have a target (even if no one else knows the targets) if we’ve got a gig coming up I want to practice the set till it’s right (if we screw it up on the night hey ho but when we leave practice it’s right). When we’ve got a spare few weeks then its jamming new ideas but it has to be constructive I hate leaving practice feeling we haven’t moved on.
Do you have any interesting/funny stories about gigging or touring?
Kate – I’m married to the bassist Chris and the band was a well-kept secret until they had to replace the singer, since I stepped in they have gone from a rock band to a much heavier rock band having to down tune to D standard.
Paul – Gigging is always interesting: you never know who’s walking through the door to come and see you or who else may be on the bill. Fortunately most people are hugely nice and are only looking to have a good time. But there’s always the… erm…. interesting, shall we say, characters to liven up a night.
Chris ‘Rev’- having played a lot of gigs in my time it’s usually the same old situation the bands don’t have a big following or rather no one would get off there arses to come listen to a decent live band any more so there isn’t much of a crowd unless we are playing a local bar on the busy night and we are the main entertainment then it’s a good night,
Chris Mac – Kates going to kill me for this, but…….Kate’s a nursery teacher and she speaks very politely as a rock band we’ve not managed to bring the inner bitch out of her so the contrast always amuses me.
What song do you remember most from your childhood?
Kate – Until I met Chris Mac I was brought up on pop music so I’m not admitting to some of the bands I used to listen too.
Paul – Wow… that’s a tough question: there are so many. Its gotta be Take it to the Limit by the Eagles. I remember sitting in a car park of some supermarket somewhere belting it with my dad at the top of our lungs completely out of tune in the pissing rain. It’s a nice memory.
Chris ’Rev’ – This is one of those questions where it would need to ask for a specific time of my childhood.. mostly Phantom of the opera by iron maiden as we used to travel a bit with Chris Mac with his work taking him everywhere so it was pretty much iron maiden or silence hahaha or for some reason on long trip I distinctly remember Don Mclean – American Pie being played a lot with me and my sister singing away in the back of the car and me as always asking what a levy was (I was young don’t question it)
Chris Mac – I feel quite lucky when it comes to my musical upbringing born in 1972 I started paying attention to music 1980 – 1981 when bands like Maiden were starting out I also had Ska and Punk to choose from as well, but the song that made me want to play would have been Flight of the Icarus by Iron Maiden I’m sure my dad’s still got the original EP in his attic somewhere. Iron Maiden Iron Maiden is still probably my most played album.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Kate – Stepping into a band who had been together almost a year and then trying to learn the lyrics to songs I had no notion of, I’ve never sung rock/metal songs in my life, but they were very patient with me.
Paul – The biggest challenge for any artist in any creative field is to keep getting better. Its tempting to get comfortable at a certain level of performance or ability and become stale and stop pushing. The only way for anyone to overcome it is with sheer love of the craft. You have to love music and performing to keep pushing and getting that little bit better today then you were yesterday.
Chris ‘Rev’- probs our first gig playing together as a band, new singer who wasn’t to confident at the time bassists first gig ..ever.. and the brand New songs still fresh in our heads trying to remember the next step or next part.
Chris Mac – For me there were two moments the first me trying to learn how to play to a standard where I wasn’t letting anyone down practice and determination sorted that one, the second was when our original singer decided he couldn’t give the band the attention it was going to need when we moved from the covers band to an originals band, we were lucky Kate decided to give it a try.
How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?
All – Our website is currently under construction but you can find it here. You can also find us on Reverbnation, YouTube, and Soundcloud.
Have you released anything yet/if they have how has it gone down and are you planning anything for the near future?
Kate – not yet but hopefully soon.
Paul – We have live versions of our tracks and have livestreamed a few gigs and rehearsals and they’re all very well received, but we don’t have anything recorded professionally yet. That’s the next step as soon as we can.
Chris ‘Rev’ – Hope fully getting something set in stone soon
Chris Mac – Nothing yet but plans are afoot.
Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?
Kate – For me The Corrie Bar was fun they were really welcoming and genuine music fans, Ivory Blacks I thought was a disaster but when you hear the video, if anyone had showed up it could have been a really good night.
Paul – We’ve played places like The Box, The Classic Grand, Ivory Blacks and a particular favourite of ours The Corrie Bar, who gave us our first proper chance at a gig. I don’t think we’ve encountered a venue we don’t like yet. That’s a privilege of being a Glasgow based band: there are loads of great venues accessible to you.
Chris ‘Rev’- I have played most of the venues for the bar scene in Glasgow – the box, the garage, studio, classic grand, ivory blacks, 13th note etc but the best venue I have played would need to be a place in dundee “bar 13” the sound guy actually did what a sound guy should do, he was active, he actually made an effort for the bands playing he was interacting with the bands making sure they were all happy with the sound and it made it seem like a really good place to be In.
Chris Mac – We’ve had six gigs our first gig was in the Classic Grand at a showcase night we needed to get our feet wet, then twice in the Corrie Bar in Bathgate they were supposed to be acoustic nights but Ross Mitchell the organiser let us sneak in, once in The Box then Ivory Blacks and then a few weeks ago we played Hangar fest in Strathaven in The Strathaven. Favourite gig was at Hangar Fest, we owe a massive thanks to Uncle Dad for supplying the full back line, also we played before another local band who I actually followed before we played the event, Neon Hurricane are doing some really cool stuff just now. I’m not going to say it was a bad venue because it’s not but the worst gig would have been Ivory Blacks simply because nobody showed, not for us or for any of the other bands. We took the gig at a week’s’ notice, we love playing and we hoped some people come along, some said they would try but in the end they didn’t, lesson learnt. As for Upcoming gigs we’re waiting confirmation of a gig on the 22nd of July in a reasonably new venue called the Midnight Breakfast Club in Bathgate see facebook for updates, after that it’s the Classic Grand on the 20th of Sept. If the gig in July doesn’t come off then we will be setting up a DIY gig locally, again watch this space.
What do you think about downloading music online?
Kate – If it helps spread your music far and wide it can be a good thing, but we’re not at the stage where every sale counts because we’ve nothing out there.
Paul – That it offers artists an essential outlet for their music to a larger fanbase than purely CDs or Vinyls do and perhaps even without having to be signed to a major label. More accessibility means more artists out there and more music out there and that can only be a good thing.
Chris ‘Rev’- having studied music and got my HNC I know a fair amount about the repercussions of downloading music illegally but as the question asks, If the music being downloaded is a actually people buying the music then yes i’m all for it, but I am strongly against people downloading music for nothing be it on torrent sites or things like that as it makes it detrimental the people actually looking to try and make money for the songs they produce. It takes a lot of time and effort for someone to make it and people who use see that and go oh would I rather pay £15 for an album or would I prefer be better off just sitting in and downloading the music off a site saving me the time and money rather than supporting the band they are trying to listen to. It’s a generational thing..and sheer laziness.
Chris Mac – It is what it is, I prefer something tangible but when I think about it I can’t remember the last time I downloaded anything, I’ve bought Cd’s at gigs but I listen to more music through youtube or reverbnation which I suppose is even worse than downloading.
What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
Paul – Thats its changing massively and quickly. Even in the last 10 years it’s tough to think of another industry that has changed so completely. The record business is much maligned due to the old days of massively powerful record labels who, let’s be honest, ran amok. But it’s very different now. You don’t need a massive label behind you to publish music and go on tour or make recordings. The power to do that is becoming more and more balanced between the labels and the artists thanks to Social Media. The more power for the artists the better I think.
Chris ‘Rev’- Record companies need to get back out in the field and listen to live music, there should always be someone sitting in a bar listening to up and coming bands and then promoters should actually be doing there job when it comes to promoting bands when it comes to gigs and instead of getting bands to play and no one being in the venue except the bands which has happened a lot of the time in and around Glasgow.
Chris Mac – For me things have gone backwards, streaming services have replaced proper radio stations that used to have to play new music (1950’s – 1960’s) in the uk radio stations are dominated and owned by the labels that have destroyed rock music and forced it more or less underground apart from the lucky few who meet some kind of master design. Hopefully when Rock Radio Scotland takes off they will concentrate on some of the new bands coming through Scotland because there are quite a few doing the circuits just now.
And let’s end with something a little different…Which famous person, alive or dead, would you have dinner with and why?
Kate – Jon Bon Jovi , but there wouldn’t be much conversation ☺
Paul – It would be Brian May. We’d chat music and physics and philosophy and guitars and put the world to rights! It was his guitar sound that made it all click for me as a kid, that massive, symphonic orchestra of guitars; that wall of harmony like a string section… it’s the reason I play his guitars , or play guitar at all in fact. The fact he’s a Physicist too would be a lovely intellectual bonus.
Chris ‘Rev’- probs James “the Rev” Sullivan who was the drummer in A7X, I was a massive fan boy of his when he was alive and kicking the crap out his kits, because of this and me being a drummer I got the same nickname as him.
Chris Mac – Dinner with Dave Grohl and Jack Black, talking music with Jack Black while Dave Grohl takes the piss with his comedic timing.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/