- "We really are flowing with ideas at the moment
and as I already mentioned a few weeks ago I do feel that we are possibly writing two
albums simultaneously at present. With every passing day I genuinely
feel that is becoming a real possibility. That would indeed be a fine
occurrence - here in our thirtieth year - just to know that far from
feeling jaded through time etc, that the very opposite seems to be
occurring and that creatively speaking it may be that 'we have more
gas in the tank' currently than we did as obsessive teenagers
desperate to make a name for ourselves!" - Jim during the recording of Graffiti Soul
- Several tracks were omitted from Graffiti Soul so the album had more focus.
Possible candidates include:
Six Degrees Of Separation,
Lotus Effect and
- Demoing of tracks for the album started in May 2009.
- "The afternoon as glorious as it was outside was spent working on two new songs that I am delighted with.
They are coming on really well and I can say seriously that I don’t recall previous times like this when it all
felt so prolific. How different from ten years ago when nothing was easy, and ideas were not only elusive but more
like getting blood from a stone. No one back then could surely have guessed ten years in future we would be in such
form as currently. Or maybe they could, even if we ourselves could not!" - Jim 4th May
- "Four days after I finished in Rockfield, I demoed some vocals on four new tracks; we’ve finished them off in demo form.
I’ll tell you why; the world just feels like a better place when you’ve got a few new songs up your sleeve." - Jim talking to Todd Richards
- "Just last week we were in London doing a video shoot and some photographs, but in the morning Charlie dropped
me off a two minute piece of music that I wrote on and we’ve got a new song called Concrete And Cherry Blossom and it's just fantastic. It’s really,
really something. And it just goes on." - Jim talking to Todd Richards
- "Working on a new song titled Photograph,
the seventh new song I have demoed since the tour finished last week! It's been a prolific time!" - Jim, Facebook
- "Andy Gillespie worked like a Trojan last week. He spent eleven hours daily in a windowless room.
Writing and programming, he was also playing drums, keys and guitars, on four new songs that we created and
demoed. His effort is always impressive, but I found him to be on a whole other level, one previously unknown by me.
As we wrapped up at the end of it all, I was pretty ecstatic with some of the potential of what was already created but also
by the realisation that much more was possible in future." - Jim.
- "Met up with Charlie last week to demo some of his new tunes. Seemed to be on
a roll as we worked on three new songs that had us feeling very good. Working titles are Stagefright,
Fire Fighter. Already Stagefright had both agreeing
that it would make a great show opener!" - Jim.
- By February 2010, eight new songs were demoed, along with so many good ideas that there was talk of a double album.
"Although it was a busy year with so much touring commitments, Charlie and I managed
to do some writing over the last months. However it was only when we had the chance to demo the newer ideas in London last week that
we really got a chance to realise the potential. Having done that we are very pleased with the results. In particular I would say that
Stagefright and another tune called
Concrete And Cherry Blossom are two songs that have immediate impact. Another song called
Human Trafficking that we wrote in Hamburg last summer is causing some excitement among
those who have heard it so far. In terms of direction I would have been happy to work more within the direction of
Graffiti Soul but it seems that Simple Minds is like a train that only
knows how to move forward, being so I have to say that none of these new songs sound like anything we have done previously. It is
all new territory and although that can be a gamble, it also gives great confidence that we are still capable of reinventing ourselves
with each and every release" - Jim, simpleminds.com journal, 8th February 2010.
- Stagefright opened the show at Le Bataclan, Paris on the 18th June 2010 with
Fire Fighter. It was planned to play Concrete And Cherry Blossom
as part of the encore, but time constraints meant it was dropped.
- "This evening we saw four proud musicians in a dimly lit studio. All of them transfixed with their task
as they routined the song time and time again. Each one a masters at what they do. In the adjoining control room
another group gathered. About twelve in total made up from producers, technicians, friends, girlfriends etc. All entirely
mesmerised by what was coming out the speakers. It's really that good!" - Jim, September 6th
- In September 2010, a new line-up of Simple Minds (with bassist Ged Grimes)
used a gap in the touring schedule to record several new tracks for an extensive
new compilation album,
and the forthcoming new Simple Minds album, at the Sphere Recording Studios in London.
- The new songs were produced by Andy Wright and engineered and mixed by
- Jim met with producer Andy Wright whilst working on
a version of Promised You A Miracle with Martha Wainwright. It was decided
to try recording four tracks together: Stagefright,
In Every Heaven,
Broken Glass Park and
Concrete And Cherry Blossom (then called On The Rooftop).
All four songs were recorded and mixed (with In Every Heaven clocking in at over eight minutes).
- There was no clear agenda at this point. It wasn't sure if this was for a greatest hits package or a new album. In Every Heaven was
a tribute to New Gold Dream,
Stagefright was earmarked for a potential greatest hits package, and
the other two tracks became contenders for the new album.
- It's expected that In Every Heaven and
Broken Glass Park will appear on the compilation which will be
released in 2011.
- "The recordings went extremely well, super actually! Confidence had been high especially since the band had sounded
so good live throughout the summer shows, with that in mind we decided somewhat spontaneously to go into the studio and throw
somethings down. It's different from our usual method but I would guess that next year we will do a few more of theses short
sharp bursts of recording - it's a sort of wham, bam, thank you ma'am, approach that surprisingly seems to suit very well!" - Jim
- "We got on amazingly well with the guys and spent quite a lot of time with Charlie and
Jim, and I think the results were good, but not fantastic. At the time,
Gavin (Goldberg) and I were collaborating on co-productions and we hadn’t really found our feet together. The
tracks were perhaps a bit more about me, than about him and I – and on reflection the ultimate success of the album
Big Music from a production point of view, is a lot to do with me and Gavin actually hitting a very good point together
in how we worked as a team." - Andy Wright.
- After these sessions, Jim and Charlie returned to demoing
more material, and worked with producers Steve Hillage and
- "Human Trafficking: Enjoying listening to this new
Simple Minds tune, it might not be finished quite yet but it has me pretty excited tonight!" - Jim, 25th November 2010
- "Tsunami....spent this evening working on this new tune. It reminds me much of the early
Simple Minds sounds - Sons And Fascination
album in particular. Dark and powerful... trance-like... sweeping you away till you forget all... leaving you somehow in a better place!" - Jim, 1st December 2010
- Charlie had demoed a song called Blindfolded by March 2011 and a song called
Liaison in late April 2011.
- "Planet Zero is the title of the new song that we will
week in London studio. Planet Zero has been so much fun to work on to date,
a thundering "space - rock" track with music written by Charlie Burchill
and featuring arguably one of his best ever guitar melodies. Our tour finishes this weekend in Zurich - but we never stop!" - Jim, 23rd August 2011
- "The Duo: Charlie Burchill and myself have been in a songwriting partnership for 36
years. We continue that next week when we return to the studio to work on new songs. We will stretch ourselves once again as
writers to try and come up with something that we feel is good enough to be added to the catalogue of music that we have
already created. We will support each other, encourage and inspire. Will we challenge, dispute, piss each other off to the point
of near screaming matches? Yes! Most probably we will!" - Jim, 24th August 2011
- "Zurich... I hung on for a bit while everyone else left for home this morning. Went for a walk around the
lake, it is a great city in all weather but particularly when it is nice like today. Heading for London now or should
that be Planet Zero since we start recording that song this week? Summer is over... thanks to everyone who came to see us
over these months - you really made us feel good!" - Jim, 29th August 2011
- Both Planet Zero and Liaison were recorded in
London in September 2011 with Steve Hillage producing. Hillage was also back in the
producer's seat when more ideas were recorded just prior to their 600 Sounds Concert
- More songs were recorded late in March 2012 at Peter Gabriel's
Real World Stuios, this time with Steve Osborne in the producer's chair.
"Nevertheless, earlier this week we finally arrived at the studios with the full intention of recording
a few new songs with producer Steve Osborne, and within minutes of arrival knew that we had made
the right decision on both accounts. Steve Osborne will surely do great things with
Simple Minds and rest assured that the homely feeling of this destination will bring out the best in us." - Jim, 22nd March 2012
- "In the studio this afternoon - working with Simon Hayward - looking
forward to it. Chrome Heart is a lyric I wrote for a Simon tune.
Harmonize is based on an idea that came out of recordings made in Sicily over
a decade ago and was only recently rediscovered. Let's see how it all turns out!" - Jim, 6th April 2012
- "Time for a break before a schedule that takes us through to the end of the year. A few days hillwalking in
Sicily and already rejuvented, plenty of new ideas for songs also. Particularly liking Love's Bonfire.
Taormina is a hot spot for me - a place that brings great rest and plenty of inspiration - always." - Jim 29th April 2012
- "Back in Real World Studios. Working on Blood Diamonds,
Concrete And Cherry Blossom,
Honest Town and an updated
Planet Zero. It's all good, very good!" - Jim, 31st May 2012
- A new song called Utopia was mentioned in June with Jim suggesting
it could open Danube Island Festival, Vienna, Austria. Strangely the
comment later disappeared into the ether.
- All talk of new material stopped as the band toured in the summer and
work commenced on 5X5. However, after the announcement
of Celebrate: The Greatest Hits +, Jim
mentioned the new song Midnight Walking.
- Jim was interviewed by Todd Richards for Some Sweet Day 2013
in August 2013 and revealed more about the recording sessions. A total of seventeen new songs had been laid down with recording sessions divided between
studios in London (with producer Andy Wright, Jim and Charlie),
studios in Bath (with producer Steve Osborne, Jim and Charlie) and
studios in Ireland (with the whole band).
- Andy Wright was brought back into the fold after thinking he'd lost the opportunity.
"We were really close, it hadn’t worked out – we were kind of fired in a way. But then I think because we got on so well
with them as people, they gave us another shot. I think they were right to question it, because the first tracks we gave them
weren’t that good – they were alright, but it took us some time to find our blueprint – and when we found it, we had the sound
of the record. In the end it was a four way partnership between me, Gavin,
Charlie, all the way through."
- "There’s a track called Honest Town which I loved right from the off. It’s one of
two songs on the album that Jim co-wrote with
Iain Cook from Chvrches. When I first heard it I emailed
Jim to tell him what a brilliant song I thought it was. At that point we thought
we’d lost the gig and the album was being worked on by other people, it turned out however, that they were struggling with
that particular track. Jim remembered that I loved the song and he asked if we’d have a
go with it. So we had another go, we tried really hard and sent it back to them. They acknowledged we’d put a lot of work into it
and it was clear we loved the song, but they still didn’t feel it was right.
Then, some time later I heard the version of Broken Glass Park on the radio that
Steve Osborne had produced and I emailed Jim to say I
thought it was a good version and that I really liked it. This, as it turned out, was well timed as Jim
had dug out a copy of another track we did in 2010 and, with the distance of a couple of years, thought it checked a few of the boxes
they were looking for. He contacted me again through Ian and suggested we tried another couple of tracks.
The first one he gave us was called Midnight Walking, which became something of a blueprint
for us sonically throughout the rest of the album, and so from that point they continued to send us the record track by track
until we had about eighteen in progress." - Andy Wright.
- Both Broken Glass Park and Blood Diamonds were
re-recorded with the whole band after the successful Celebrate: The Greatest Hits + tour. These
new versions were destined for this new album, with the more "electro" versions (recorded with Steve Osborne) available
on Celebrate: The Greatest Hits +.
- War Babies, Space and
Swimming Towards The Sun were also recorded at the Grouse Lodge (Ireland) sessions. The first
two songs had come alive during the Celebrate: The Greatest Hits + tour and the
band felt they had now got better arrangements of the two tracks.
- Regular recording sessions were booked between tours in 2014, but the emphasis was now on finishing tracks. The album's
title and it's first tenative release date of October 2014 were mentioned by Jim
in an interview with STV's Neil Drysdale.
- "Last day of rehearsals - new songs? Sarah,
Ged getting ready for the
gig on Friday in Montereau, France. Not only classics in the set
list - two brand new songs, Imagination and
Blindfolded, set for live debut. Simple Minds - looking
back - but always moving forward." - Jim, 4th June 2014
- So far, the current known songs prepared for the album were:
Broken Glass Park [Band Version],
Blood Diamonds [Band Version],
In Every Heaven [2010 Recording],
Kill Or Cure?,
Let The Day Begin,
On The Rooftop (and its demo version Concrete And Cherry Blossom),
Space [New Version],
Signal And The Noise,
Swimming Towards The Sun [New Version],
War Babies [New Version].
- The album was completed, with final recording taking place, on the 27th August 2014.
- "There were more songs than actually ended up on the album. The guys had a lot of other material floating around
that they didn’t include. What was interesting was that the idea of it being a long, deluxe double album evolved over time – it
didn’t start out that way – we weren’t consciously collecting pieces. The problem was that the boys didn’t really want to lose
anything, they loved everything and the main issue was not ‘What’s on the eighteen song deluxe version?’, it was ‘What makes
the final twelve?’ And every time we came up with another song, we’d go – ‘Mmm – I think that’s for the first disc, isn’t it?’
And there would be this inevitable discussion, because there were one or two moments where Charlie
wouldn’t have put something on the first disc, but put them on the second because he thought they were slightly less cool. However,
every time there was one that we thought ‘That’s a single’ – which we did think a lot, actually; they’d have to be on the
first disc." - Andy Wright, September 2016
- "There was a debate about what the opening song would be, instead of
Blindfolded, Gavin wanted it to be the title track,
Big Music. But I actually like the opening of the record, I liked
Jim’s concept, and when you listen to it with those first four songs going BANG BANG BANG BANG, one
after the other, strong 4/4 electro, clubby beats along with really big sounding rock songs, it’s great!" - Andy Wright, September 2016
- "One of the highlights of the last days of recording was having keyboardist
Peter Vettese drop by to play on a final track.
Peter last played with Simple Minds over two decades ago, it was fantastic
to have his talents back. It felt like we were working on Real Life
once again in fact. I cannot tell you how much I admire Vettese's work, especially on that album/track." - Jim, 19th September 2014
- Big Music was intended to be the first
single but the idea was later dropped. The video, if it had been selected, would've been the performance
at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow,
originally shot for the live DVD. Big Music
was debuted that night and became part of the live set.
- Imagination and Blindfolded were
also debuted live and were first played at Montereau, France on the 6th June.
Both also become familiar inclusions in the set-list.
- The album's release campaign started in earnest on the 4th September with Blindfolded
being issued as a teaser (not a single). Despite just being a teaser to give a flavour of what was to come, the track was
given a single's status: an abstract promo video was shot and the song was
reviewed on Steve Lamaqc's BBC Six Music Roundtable where it was given favourable
nods and scores from the guests.
- The album's logo was also revealed on the same day.
- After a lull of a couple of weeks, format information for the album (2XLP, CD and Deluxe CD) and
the European tour dates were first published on the 22nd September.
- The first single, Honest Town, got its first play on the
Ken Bruce show on the 24th September. The track was uploaded to SoundCloud at the
- A preview of the entire album - which included one minute edits of all the song intros on the standard edition - was
also uploaded to SoundCloud on the 26th September. Different previews of all the
songs on the Deluxe Edition were also made available through iTunes.
- The album's artwork featured several shots of the band at the Honest Town video shoot and
several pictures of Battersea (where the band were rehearsing).
- Midnight Walking became the third song to be released from Big Music when
a full preview appeared on consequenceofsound.net
on the 21st October 2014.
- The whole album was then made available as a stream by
on the 28th October. The Behind The Scenes video (which could also be considered the album's
Electronic Press Kit) was premiered on The Telegraph's
website the following day.
- The album was formally released in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland on the
31st October. It was released on the 3rd November in other territories.
- It was released on Caroline Records in the UK and Ireland, the Embassy Of Music
in Germany, and by Sony (licensed from Embassy Of Music) in other European territories.
- The LP included a card with a unique download code allowing the album to be digitally downloaded:
- The album was dedicated to Jim's mother and
Charlie's father. "We dedicated the album to that generation who brought us up,
the people who created Simple Minds. Our parents gave us
our first couple of hundred pounds to make demos.
They were very wary of what we were getting into but encouraged us anyway. Without them, we wouldn't
be here today talking about it."
- The album was promoted by a short promotional tour featuring a stripped-down
acoustic line-up of Simple Minds. They played TV shows, radio shows and
various one-off intimate gigs.
- The second single, Let The Day Begin, was issued in January 2015 to
promote the album's tour which started in February.
Changed days indeed! Although basically we work with exactly the same aims as we did all those years ago when we first
started out, the process involved particularly in writing and recording is much different now.
Back then mostly it would be a case of preparing some ideas in advance. Then gathering a five piece band together in a
rehearsal studio to develop, routine, and flesh them out. Next up would be to move location where suddenly everyone involved
would find themselves in another town, another place, another part of the world even?
Excitingly ensconced in a famous, expensive recording studio usually, where we would then work under the guidance of a
designated producer and engineer.
Both would have come with proven successful track records, having already worked on albums that we would have admired and in
most cases possessed in our own record collection. We’d be very thrilled to now have them working for us.
Six to seven weeks later, which back then was considered a luxurious amount of time, and probably only affordably to acts
fortunate to have deals with major record labels, we would then emerge into the daylight (literally) with our latest new album.
Finally just less than a couple of months later, our new album for the most part would find itself stacked among thousands
of other albums in record shops situated within the length and breadth of the UK at least.
That was always an exciting moment to behold of course. It was the culmination of an intense few months work that whizzed past
at lightening speed. (International releases might take a months or so more than domestic.)
These days the process of recording Simple Minds is much more fragmented and is worked on over a matter of
years. The once deliberate lines between writing and actual recording are now entirely blurred, technology and its now myriad
practicalities make that so.
Therefore it is right to suggest that now we are in someway always working on our recordings, always writing, always tinkering
with new creativity, even if we are physically spending much of our time simultaneously touring and performing. Or for
that matter busy getting on with all those other things that are important to our lives.
No longer necessary to be trapped inside a studio throughout the recording process, our new work can now still be moving forward
as our more stationary producers upgrade and re format ideas and arrangements that we might be in the mode of sending to them on
a regular basis.
Likewise, no weeks of recording time in studios now need to be booked in advance, and for that matter no groups of people need be
assembled in order to advance the project. For example if Charlie Burchill wants to roll
out from his bed in some arbitrary hotel room in Thailand, and decide that being full of inspiration, he wants to lay down some
of his signature guitar solos? The difference theses days is that they could be recorded perhaps on his mobile phone and sent
off to a studio in Battersea London. Some great guitar work maybe completed even before he has had his first gulp of morning
coffee, or perhaps even changed out of his fluffy pyjamas. (What do I know, it is a while since we shared rooms while touring?)
Alternately I could be out walking in the middle of nowhere, and suddenly find the missing idea that I perceived was holding back the
arrangement of a song that until that point was failing to "deliver"? As with Charlie,
I can now quickly send off the file of my inspired idea to our producers, only an hour later that action could take the new song
recording off in an entirely new direction, progressing our album further.
They are of course entirely able to respond immediately " What the f*ck are you thinking Jim,
are you out of my mind?"
The point being, we are always in creative mode. Potentially!
Of course, if desired we could of course go back to working in that previous fashion, and it certainly had many elements that I
do miss. Much in the same way that as individuals we could if truly desired, go back to "a quieter less distracted life", one without
mobile phones, internet, personal computers etc. But the chances are we probably won’t? And if we do, it will be as an experiment.
A fun, but curious one I’m sure.
Finally, one major difference I perceive makes for a laughable contradiction, especially so given we are getting excited at the
prospect of our latest new album soon appearing on the horizon.
The reality of that is the fact that nowadays we don’t really set out to make these things that we for some reason still call
“albums”. Least so not much in the "entire way" that we did back throughout the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. Working then with 8 or 9 tracks
only, we almost went with the first songs that we managed to complete and in turn excited us enough to believe they might also
excite or interest an audience. Those songs were our new "slab" of creativity at that point in time. Thrown together - we would
declare it as "our new album." (New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84),
Sparkle In The Rain,
Once Upon A Time, all had almost no more than 10 song ideas involved in their
creation. Then again they seemingly needed no more. Or hang on, I reckon Sparkle In The Rain
maybe ran out of steam at some point and could have benefitted with a couple of more top notch compositions?)
Now however we work on 20 to 30 ideas throughout a period of 2 to 3 years. Convinced that they all have some potential, but also
knowing that most of the “sketches” will not make it to final selection for that current record. Or, will perhaps not make even
the one after? Nevertheless, there is always an underlying feeling that those ideas that are being shelved - are hopefully the
seeds of future recordings - confident somehow that they will be developed further and most probably find their day. Nothing
goes to waste.
And as for the songs that do make it? Well of course they are chosen because of their perceived quality at that point in time.
Equally important, they are also chosen as to how good they hang together with the style of the other songs. It is that kind of
coherence that makes for the feeling of a complete and connected album. As opposed to just a bunch of songs playing one after the other.
If you are interested in more of this kind of stuff, the technical blurbs etc, and how Simple Minds went about working
on our last album Big Music. Then maybe
check out this interview with producer Andy Wright.
Having both Andy and co-producer Gavin Goldberg on our team over these
last years has brought an immense amount to the current vitality within our work. We are very lucky indeed to have the relationship
that we do with both of them.
23rd October 2017