SCOTTISH MUSIC NEWS : Long road from gang attack to SAY Award could see Stirling’s Constant Follower scoop prize for host city

The Scottish Album Of The Year (SAY) Awards longlist has been announced; and in the year that the awards ceremony is being held in historic Stirling for the first time, it’s a fitting triumph that Stirling’s own Constant Follower have had their acclaimed debut ‘Neither Is, Nor Ever Was’ recognised on the longlist.

About Constant Follower and ‘Neither Is, Nor Ever Was’

Self-described as “soaring-ambient-dreampop-experimental-folk”, Constant Follower is the band formed around Scottish songwriter Stephen McAll. The band’s drifting, heart-rending sound is a dreamlike reflection of McAll’s own life. Growing up in Glasgow, McAll was randomly attacked on his way home from his girlfriend’s house one evening near his 17th birthday. The catastrophic head injuries left him partially paralysed, with permanent disability, unable to write or play guitar, and with all of his childhood memories up until that point gone.

The next decade was spent between home and a cabin on Scotland’s Western coastline, where he eventually relearned to play guitar and began composing again. The result is a childhood imagined against a backdrop that, like the sea, is as serene as it is wild; ever-changing, yet resolute.

Co-produced by McAll and renowned producer Kramer (Low, Galaxie 500, Will Oldham, Daniel Johnston), the debut album ‘Neither Is, Nor Ever Was’, was released on the legendary Shimmy Disc imprint on October 1st 2021, and has been championed by KEXP, WFMU, BBC 6 Music and BBC Radio Scotland. The album has appeared on 19 ‘Best Albums of 2021’ lists and is included in the longlist for the 2022 SAY Awards (Scottish album of the year). The band tour Scotland in October 2022 and return to SXSW, Austin, Texas in 2023 for their second appearance at the festival.

The band are based in Stirling, Scotland and currently features Stephen McAll (vocals, acoustic guitar, synths), Andrew Pankhurst (electric guitar), Amy Campbell (vocals), Dave Guild (bass) and Gareth Perrie (keys).

Constant Follower

‘Neither Is, Nor Ever Was’


I Can’t Wake You

The Merry Dancers On TV

Set Aside Some Time

Spirits in the Rooftree


Weave of the World

One Word Away

Little Marble

What’s Left To Say


About the album nomination, frontman McAll said: “Having our album make the longlist for this year’s SAY Awards is still quite hard to accept, for me. I never imagined this sort of recognition for it. For me, the satisfaction with the creation of the music and with translating it onto a vinyl LP was as far as I had gone in my mind. On that first listen-back with Kramer, I knew that we’d created something meaningful together; something that 30 years from now, a kid might find in their parent’s record collection and take it for themselves – like I surely did – and find their own meaning in my words. I felt we’d created something that might last; we’d made an ‘album’ album, which was my hope. That it is now being recognised for the SAY Award alongside so many other beautiful albums by wonderful artists, well… just when I thought I was over the imposter syndrome! I’m humbled, and very grateful.”

About the album nomination, Producer/Mixer of the album Kramer (Shimmy Disc) said: “One of the most beautiful records I have ever been privileged to be a part of, filled to the very brim with moment after moment of poetic clarity, and not a moment too late…an interior force to be reckoned with. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. It weaves elements of the past around a future I was wholly unaware of before hearing these breath-taking songs, each one a kind of memorial to a memory that may or may not have merely been imagined or hoped into existence.”

The critically acclaimed work is a triumph from tragedy, and two fingers up to the years of adversity that marked McAll’s recovery and return to music.

About his recovery and the assistance from Help Musicians, frontman McAll said: “I think people look at me funny when I say I’ve just released my debut album. They look at the grey hairs in my beard. But, I wouldn’t change anything. And in many ways, I feel the luckiest man alive. Yes, accepting life with disability, a hidden disability especially, is challenging. You don’t want to admit that you’re struggling. You don’t want to admit that you’re different. And, for me, I was horrified at the thought of being treated differently when people find out about my needs. Accepting my situation and asking for help were the hardest things I ever did. But that was the biggest step forward in my recovery. Help Musicians, and the assistance the team gave me throughout the creation of this album, were absolutely key to getting my music to the point it is now. Support is out there for you if you’re struggling, we all just need to find the way to let ourselves ask for it.”

Constant Follower recently unveiled a gorgeous live session filmed from the top of The National Wallace Monument, overlooking their hometown of Stirling. 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.

Directed by Martin J. Pickering, the stunning new video was filmed earlier this year and features the track ‘The Merry Dancers On TV’ as the band play atop the 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 Spring air.

About the Wallace Monument shoot, Constant Follower frontman McAll said: “I don’t remember my childhood, but my mum took lots of photographs. I look so happy in the pictures of us at the Wallace Monument. I see how magical it is for my own children – the building, the mythology, the huge sword – and can only think it must have been the same for me. I see it every day when I open my curtains and wondered what it would be like to play up in the crown overlooking the city, and why no one had done it already. So it was a great surprise and an honour when Stirling Council made it happen. To be able to play while stretching our eyes over this beautiful landscape… sometimes it was hard to sing for the lump in my throat.”

About the Wallace Monument shoot, 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.”

Constant Follower are currently gearing up for a string of ‘Scotland on Tour’ Live Dates:

21/10/2022 – An Tobar, Mull

25/10/2022 – River Garden, Ayr

26/10/2022 – The Glad Cafe, Glasgow

27/10/2022 – Church of the Holy Rude, Stirling

28/10/2022 – The Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh

29/10/2022 – Inverness Cathedral, Inverness

30/10/2022 – Village Hall, Lochinver

“A gorgeous listen, full of bucolic melody and personal revelation, an album unafraid to speak its truth.” CLASH Magazine

“Instantly compelling, memorable and moving” Folk Radio UK

“Neither is, nor ever was is a gentle, understated, fully formed and utterly beguiling collection.” The Scotsman

“An intimate and raw collection of songwriting, borne from small, personal moments and orchestrated into stirring layered beauty.” Under The Radar

“Gorgeous atmospheric Folk” KEXP

“The debut album from Constant Follower, Neither Is, Nor Ever Was, is solitary, forlorn, and wild – and in all the best ways possible.” SNACK Magazine

“A gorgeous struggle, deeply human and complex and ground in McAll’s reckoning with vivid moments that seem to carry lifetimes within them.” The Austin Chronicle

Leave a Reply