Scottish five-piece and TRISTE© favourites Constant Follower have unveiled a stunning live performance recorded in the crown of Scotland’s National (William) Wallace Monument – overlooking the band’s hometown of Stirling. They are the first band to film a session on top of the Wallace Monument. It was recorded earlier this year and directed by Martin J. Pickering. The amazing video features three tracks (The Merry Dancers On TV, Weave Of The World and I Can’t Wake You) from Constant Follower’s debut album from their magnificent debut album Neither Is, Nor Ever Was which was among Triste©’s best records of 2021 (according to Francesco, at least).
Since releasing their critically acclaimed debut album Neither Is, Nor Ever Was last year on the legendary Shimmy Disc / Joyful Noise label, the outfit have been busy touring, including playing what the Austin Chronicle described as an “atmospheric tapestry” of a set at this year’s South By Southwest Festival in Texas. Now, the band have treated fans to this unique recorded live session. Directed by Martin J. Pickering, the stunning new video was filmed earlier this year thanks to support from PRS Foundation, as the band play atop The Wallace Monument in a setting as serene as the songs themselves. Frontman and songwriter McAll’s delicate finger-picked guitar sounds crisp against his warming baritone, pushing back against the chill winter air.
We talked briefly with Constant Follower frontman, McAll about Stirling, the Wallace Monument and what meant to him playing and filming this session.
What does The William Wallace Monument represent for you and the Scottish people?The Wallace Monument is a big stone tower built on a hill overlooking the city of Stirling where I live. My understanding is that it was commissioned by a group of people who were wanting to preserve Scottish identity – and memorialising the (now world famous thanks to Mel Gibson’s Braveheart) Scottish warrior king William Wallace, was the perfect idea to stir national pride in Scottish hearts.
We all know the stories about him as kids, so one can’t help feeling a little of that excitement when you look at the Monument towering over you as you walk around Stirling. Now, more than ever, Scottish people are feeling that Scotland would be better off if we weren’t governed by the corrupt English government – I’m sure you’ll see plenty of depictions of the Wallace Monument on promo materials for the coming independence referendum in 2023.
Why did you choose to play there and film a session, since you’re the first band to do it?
We were looking for a place that nobody had played before, somewhere iconic, somewhere that screams beautiful, somewhere with ‘air’. It’s a place that I look at every morning first thing from my kitchen window. And I just thought, what a place that would be to play. But we thought it would be out-of-bounds… it’s just such a protected building. So, we were floored when the Wallace and Stirling council offered it to us. But of course, there is no power up there, so we had to run everything on batteries including the recording equipment. And we had to lug it up all those hundreds of stone steps, up the winding corridors… which is probably why no band ever did it before! For sure, we all slept like babies that night.
What does Stirling represent to you and in which way it’s different from Glasgow?Stirling for me is healing. Where Glasgow is busy and bustling, Stirling is more laid back. I live in the heart of Stirling – 2 mins from the centre and 2 mins from the train to Glasgow, which takes 35mins. But, most importantly, I can walk for five minutes and be in the countryside, or up in the hills. Things were going very wrong for me in Glasgow, with the company I was keeping, and temptations… but in Stirling we can be a family, and I can breathe and continue to heal. You’re surrounded by permanence here, which was one of the things I noticed on my first visit – everything is ancient and has been here a long time – you feel that ‘permanence’, it lets you feel more secure or more grounded. The music scene here is much smaller, but there are some amazing artists coming out of it of late. It’s a beautiful, welcoming, open place, and I’m honoured to be supported by the community here as one of their own.
Also filmmaker Martin J. Pickering said: “Filming my oldest best friend’s live set at the top of The Wallace Monument was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. On a good day, Stirling has the most beautiful light too. It’s shimmery, golden and silver and just amazing for photography and film. It was a physical and brutal shoot because it was freezing and extremely windy but that all lent itself to an amazing end result on camera. I cried when I watched my edit back.”