For the Glaswegian-based couple, who recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary, country music is in their genes. Claire says they were brought up on country music, with a particular love for the works of Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline.
“My Gran sung Patsy Cline all the time. It was always country songs in our house. The thing about country is it always stays relevant, no matter what time you pass through.” And, of course, it was their joint love of the genre that ultimately brought the couple together in the first place, more than ten years ago.
Claire was 18 when she got her first professional singing job in Glasgow and about six months later Paul joined the team, forming an initial friendship for two years, before country music intervened.
“We used to train together at the gym, and I didn’t get the album off quick enough because I had Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits on in the car,” says Paul. “And she went, ‘I didn’t know you were into Patsy Cline,’ and I said, ‘well, truthfully I love her’, and that started a whole conversation about the music we were actually into.”
“Then,” says Claire, “we were working on separate projects and Paul went away to America to perform in a gig and he came back with piles of CDs, from Miranda Lambert and Brad Paisley, and I remember sitting in his car listening to the music and thinking, ‘wow, this is what we want to do.”
Since forming the band, Raintown has won eight awards, including Entertainer of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2014 British Country Music Awards, plus Duo of the Year in 2013, and Record of the Year at the 2012 Scottish New Music Awards.
But it’s been a long road to success, and they learned to deal with criticism early on in their career, which has been channeled back into their music. With its energising country-rock beat, Shut The Front Door, is an example of telling trolls exactly what they can do with their aggressive online posts.
“It’s such a departure from our first record,” says Claire, “We thought, this is going to be the song that people either really love, or really hate. But we’re cool with that, we love it.”
It’s a powerful, entertaining song, but Paul explains it came from a very real, and dangerous, trend they were witnessing of celebrities becoming the victims of online abuse. “Last year there was a whole thing on Sky News that people were trolling big stars, and the evidence from that was that you had to be at a certain level to be trolled. But that’s so not the situation. We got advice at the very start, from someone who said, ‘the bottom line is; there’s going to be people out there who love you, people out there who can’t stand you, and a lot of people who don’t care either way.'”
“So don’t drive from your ego, drive from the people who love what you do and use that. If someone says something nasty about you, just put it in a locker and use it as fuel. We wanted a song that said, ‘you can have your opinion and you’re entitled to it, but it does not affect me, the door’s there, you can use it.”
But – thankfully – they remain in the minority with the pair saying most people have been overwhelmingly positive. Hometown support is growing too thanks to the Glaswegian people having a natural affinity towards the genre.
“Although we didn’t work in the fields, you’ve got guys who worked in ship building, and it’s that same hard-working, hard-living, hard-partying (lifestyle),” says Paul.
“We can only write about what we know about,” says Claire. “We can’t write about things that we’ve never experienced, like living on a farm, because we’ve never lived on a farm, we live in Glasgow – it’s a city.”
As they’ve toured around the I country, playing summer festivals and opening for overseas acts, they’ve noticed attitudes begin to change toward the emerging UK country sound.
Claire McArthur-Bain Photo Gallery
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