AS a member of Scottish rockers Texas, Michael Bannister played to huge crowds on international tours and TV shows.

Now the musician has given all that up and is working for an SNP MP, the Sunday National can reveal.

The drummer and keyboard player began a new career as parliamentary researcher for Anne McLaughlin MP in January and completed his first working visit to Westminster this week.

“I’m really proud of my time with the band, but when the first lockdown hit I reassessed a lot of things in my life, my career being one,” he said. “A lot of people tend to assume you are set for life when you’re in a well-known band but that’s not always the case – like a lot of self-employed people I had to sell my car and get a Bounce Back Loan just to get through.

READ MORE: Scottish band Texas announce support for Scottish independence

“This just felt like the right time for me. Everything that’s happened, particularly from Brexit and Covid recovery, is something I’d like to play a part in addressing. Anne and the team are so good to work with; you always have a sense that you are doing something to help people.”

The career change follows 17 years with the White On Blonde band, who this week confirmed their No-to-Yes switch in a Twitter post that sparked debate, saying: “After Brexit, Sharleen and the rest of the band now support Scottish independence.”

While singer Sharleen Spiteri said she supported No in 2014, Bannister, a long-term SNP member, voted Yes. Around that time, he also entered into a law degree at Strathclyde University to learn more about the workings of the Union. “A lot of people got pretty engaged at that time but that was my first real surge of wanting to know more,” he says. “I wanted to know how the constitution works.”

It wasn’t Bannister’s first period of study – prior to joining Texas, he turned his back on a physics course in Edinburgh to pursue sound engineering in Perth. That led to a job offer at a Glasgow recording studio, where Bobby Bluebell of The Bluebells introduced him to Texas. Top of the Pops and T in the Park followed, as did lengthy spells away from home during tours.

The father-of-three says he’s using “a completely new skill set” supporting McLaughlin’s work as Glasgow North East MP and shadow SNP spokesperson for justice and immigration. The busy team serves a diverse constituency and was a long-held Labour stronghold until McLaughlin’s first Westminster election win in 2015. Its previous MPs include Michael Martin, who was also Speaker of the House of Commons.

“Every day I learn something new, and it’s such a positive environment full of valuable learning experiences,” Bannister said. “The touring was fantastic but being in a band can be quite a negative experience and I was missing chunks of my children’s lives.

“Everybody thought this was a great move for me. The independence movement is such a great thing and such a focus for me. Anybody who changes their mind from No to Yes is very welcome. Nobody should be locking back and saying ‘wait, you did this or said this’ – there’s no need to explain why you changed your mind. I’m just glad the tide is turning.”