Release: OUT NOW ! (GO/BMG)
My name is Mike Scott. I formed The Waterboys in London in 1983 to realise my vision of an ever-changing band, playing an ever-changing music and following that music wherever its inner sources and inspirations lead. This means regardless of whether it's fashionable, commercial, or whether it conforms to critical or public expectations. And yes, we have taken some strange twists and turns through the years!
Our first 3 albums, The Waterboys, A Pagan Place and This Is The Sea, were released between 1983 and 1985, and contain the widescreen rock music that had fermented in my heart and head since I was a teenager and which was influenced by my favourite artists at the time - Van Morrison, The Patti Smith Group, Velvet Underground, Television, Steve Reich and Bob Dylan. The first two were in effect solo albums, made before the first Waterboys band played a concert, though by the time of A Pagan Place the ensemble of players included Anthony Thistlethwaite (sax/mandolin), Kevin Wilkinson (drums), Karl Wallinger (keyboards) and Roddy Lorimer (trumpet) - and all then contributed mightily to This is The Sea, the record on which I achieved all my youthful musical ambitions. We toured through 1984 and 85, getting known, honing our sound and, then as now, improvising onstage - something I've always loved.
Then I met Steve Wickham, a fiddler from Dublin. I'd heard him on a tape and knew straight away this was the new sound I'd been looking for - fiery, elemental, passionate. He guested with us on tour and quickly joined full time. When the tour ended I went to visit him in Ireland for a couple of weeks and stayed six years.
In Ireland our music changed and became more acoustic. Anthony's mandolin and Steve's fiddle opened the sound up as we explored folk, gospel, blues, cajun and country music. We started recording our fourth album in early '86 and completed it 100 songs and 2 years later. It was called Fisherman's Blues and its twelve tracks represent a merging of rock and traditional folk music. We toured it with an expanded eight-piece band - fiddles, pipes, bouzoukis, guitars, drums, mandolins, whistles, songs, tunes, recitations, jigs, reels and waltzes. The brilliant young Irish accordion player Sharon Shannon joined the band. We lived the life of traditional musicians and appropriately made our next album in the west of Ireland. Room To Roam, recorded in the seaside village of Spiddal in Connemara, is remembered as our 'folly', yet yields its secrets to the patient enquirer.
In mid 1990 Anthony and I wanted to take the sound back to rock. Steve didn't and split - quite right too. The band imploded and we toured as a rump 4 piece plus brass section, our backs against the wall.
In early 1991 our old single The Whole Of The Moon was re-issued and was a big hit in the UK. That summer I moved to New York and set about starting over. I made an album, Dream Harder, which came from my electric rock'n'roll roots, but couldn't find the right combination of players for a new live band. Around that time I visited the Findhorn Foundation spiritual community in Scotland and in 1994 moved there and made a one-man solo album Bring 'Em All In, written about my Findhorn experiences. I toured the world for 2 years with a one-man show - just me and an acoustic guitar and piano - and got to know the audience, and myself, a whole lot better.
After that I was hungry and ready to play with a band again and in '96 I went back to London and made Still Burning - which expanded the spiritual theme of Bring 'Em All In, but in full pop/rock colour - and the following year went back on the road with my 'Mike Scott' band. I loved it, but playing without the Waterboys title was like punching beneath my weight. So I reclaimed the name and in 1999 made a Waterboys comeback album A Rock In The Weary Land - that's the one with the fuzzed vocals and the 'sonic rock' with which I sought to represent how grotesque and crazy late 20th century London appeared to a guy moving back there from a spiritual community. In 2000 I assembled a new Waterboys from the players on the album - just like I did in 1984 - and hit the road. Steve Wickham guested with us at the Dublin shows and it felt so good he re-joined the band.
In 2001 I compiled an album of the best of the still unreleased Fisherman's Blues songs, called Too Close To Heaven. It was highly satisfying to complete such long unfinished business. We toured the world all that year and much of 2002.
In early 2003 I brought Steve and our keyboard player Richard Naiff to Findhorn to make Universal Hall, a record containing one Irish reel and eleven spiritual songs that articulate - to the best of my ability - the vision that drives, challenges, sustains and transforms me.
Mike Scott March 2003
The Waterboys: The Waterboys
The Waterboys: A Pagan Place
The Waterboys: This Is The Sea
The Waterboys: Fisherman's Blues
The Waterboys: Room To Roam
The Waterboys: Dream Harder
Mike Scott: Bring 'Em All In
Mike Scott: Still Burning
The Whole Of The Moon - the music of Mike Scott and The Waterboys
The Waterboys: A Rock In The Weary Land
The Waterboys: Too Close To Heaven - The Unreleased Fisherman's Blues Sessions
The Waterboys: UNIVERSAL HALL