- "I said to Charlie when we started thinking about the next record,
'I think it'd be good for Simple Minds to have a more dancey feel again.' I meant that in terms of Simple Minds'
dance music: songs like I Travel and Love Song,
with those kind of funk basslines running through them." - Jim, Classic Pop Magazine, March 2020
- "It sounds to me like a dance album, and when I say dance, I don't mean rave. I mean
Simple Minds dance, as in rhythmically, with great bass lines, similar to the period when we did
Love Song - some of the new stuff to me is making me think of that.
Charlie and I are excited about it - once we have got a bunch of songs
and think we have the making of something, unlike the old days where we would go
in and record in one go." - - Jim, XNoise Interview with Mark Millar, October 2019
"I was reminded to go check the Jasmine planted last October. Situated under an old olive tree that stands just
outside my door, I was startled at how it has grown. In keeping with the theme, I guess. That reminded me that I needed to
check out an original song demo written and made six years ago with the working title
Jasmine Revolution. Coincidence, or what?
Jez Coad (producer of both Simple Minds albums
Black And White 050505 and the follow up
Graffiti Soul) had co-written that almost forgotten song with me, just
about around the time I was thinking of a
follow up to my Lostboy! AKA solo thing. However, that and quite a few
other Jez tunes had been put on the "back burner" as
Simple Minds touring schedule took priority and well, time just marches on relentlessly in the way it does.
It is only one of very many ideas that I almost had forgotten about entirely. I suspect Jez
had also. Both probably always meaning to get round to reappraising at some point in the future."
- "But Simon Hayward, (another Lostboy! AKA cohort) had for
some reason recently recommended that I should get Jez to dig it out for me, and
that I should now give it a good listen with "fresh ears". And so I did just that, last night. And my impression going back
and listening after so much time? Loved it!"
- "But within a heartbeat, I now could also hear what was wrong with it as is, and how it could be much improved particularly
in the vocal melody. At this point I have to say how much of a talent Jez Coad is.
Many hardcore Minds fans who appreciate
A Life Shot In Black And White and
Blood Type O will already know that. All of them being
Jez's tunes. Additionally, Simple Minds will always owe so much to
Jez for nurturing us through a tricky period in our history, one that nevertheless laid
strong foundations. In turn leading to the current positive momentum. All thanks to Jez.
And there you have it. Mere days after completing recording on our latest album - the 17th. I am already excited about getting
round to revisiting Jasmine Revolution and what might well turn out to be the first song of our 18th release. But let's not get
too ahead ourselves. Right? - Jim, 28th March 2017.
"Spent an enjoyable few days in London. Plenty of pleasure - including museums and parks, but almost as always some exciting
work took place. Plenty of birthdays were taking place also. My son and my ex are only days apart. Happy Birthday to them!"
"Particularly buzzing with the progress that was made on a new song. It is a Ged Grimes tune
that I have always believed was full of potential - but as yet despite various committed attempts, has not quite felt finished
in the writing. Particularly so in the lyrics and top line melody, where logically it always seemed complete. And yet, somehow
it never quite left us feeling that it had delivered enough in an emotional sense."
"For me, a song/piece of music is almost all about how/and if/ it makes me feel? And above all, if it takes me into its
world enough to 'really make me care?'. Of course all that high fallutin' stuff apart, it matters a ton that you can hum or whistle
it after only one or two hearings. That surely goes without saying."
"I suppose that all seems easy enough to understand. But it is never easy to explain why a feeling works strongly enough,
or not, through music. In my experience you just have to keep faith in the original excitement, and yet push forward over time,
returning again and again with new perspectives, trying new and additional ideas until at last some kind of breakthrough is made.
It is then, if you are lucky, that the melody finally soars more than before, and the right balance of emotion bursts through,
complimenting each other precisely."
"It is usually then that all in the room look at each other with an expressions that says "We are definitely onto
something here." Some reading this could be forgiven for thinking. 'Hang On! Still writing? I thought
the new Simple Minds album had already completed recording?'"
"And if course it has. But there is a keenness to get a move on with the early stages of writing for the album after our
next release, and for what I hope will be the backbone songs for a fantastic new album. One that's good enough to find us (and you)
feeling that we are still artistically potent in the decade after this. In other words the songs now being worked on will surface
in 2021, all part of five year plans that we subsequently make for ourselves."
"And there really is no sign of stopping for Simple Minds. Not now, and not ever that we plan on. The
hand of fate will of course decide in due course what really is to be. But as far as writing, recording, performing etc? We are
enjoying this period in our lives and careers as much as ever."
8th September 2017
- At the time of the release of Walk Between Worlds,
Jim was working on four songs which would form the backbone of the new album.
"I'm rushing into the next album just now. We've got the bit between our teeth. Where that drive to move on comes from, I don't
know. But it's kind of a characteristic of mine - moving ahead." - Jim, Classic Pop Magazine, January 2018
- During the many promotional interviews for Walk Between Worlds,
Jim mentioned working on a new idea called
Love Til You Hate Me. Another new idea was to resurrect a really old one, which
was Act Of Love (although I'm not sure how serious he was about that one!)
- "Once the songs are written we begin recording them. This we have been doing since 1977, when we entered a professional
recording studio for the first time. Coincidentally, we already have new recording time booked for next month.
No again changes there? We go on as we always have, which is my point. Even if, the technological aspects within the
recording process are forever changing." - Jim, 2th November 2018
- "In London this morning it is equally sunny, and the darkness associated with winter has been replaced with the
new light of a different season. That feels good. I'm here to do a number of things, including finishing off work
on the writing of a couple of new songs. Two among many that is, of which we will work on during the months ahead.
When will these songs see the light of day? No idea. But they will play a part in our future, and on the subject of things surreal?
The reality being, that having now begun work on a new phase, means that our little band is destined to have released music
in six different decades entirely?" - Jim, 27th February 2019
- "It worked, back in Spring '85, when I came to spend a week or so finishing off lyrics to bunch of songs that became
the backbone of our Once Upon A Time album.
I Wish You Were Here,
All The Things She Said, plus, my favourite at that time,
Oh Jungleland, all featured. In Nice again, thankfully it still works. Sky and sea
remain as blue as ever, meanwhile this new music contains the same kind of uplifting energy as it did back then.
Some things never change!" - Jim, 14th March 2019
- Whilst promoting 40: Best Of: 1979-2019 and
the 40: Years Of Hits, Jim mentioned
a new song called Ice. He also revealed their current writing and recording methodology.
- "We kind of record three or four EPs in a sense, because that way, when it's three or four songs, everyone
can keep focus, otherwise, it starts to sprawl - whether its the producers or engineers, it all gets a
bit overwhelming. So we do four sessions where we record three or four songs, and we have already done two
of those sessions. The thing is we would put it out as soon as possible, but the way the industry goes, and
the way promotion is, they are keen on a gap. (Laughs) The new album won't be out next year, but it will be
the year after." - Jim, XNoise Interview with Mark Millar, October 2019
- Because Charlie and I, we began playing in the street, and in this summer,
amongst the other things that were going on, we sat in my room in Glasgow, playing about, and
Charlie said "Let's play about with the gear and see what emerges." And a whole bunch of
songs came out. The idea that no only have we had all this, but there's foundation stones for still more to come, is
incredibly pleasing." - Jim, Interview with Billy Sloan, 2nd November 2019
- One song was ruthlessly rejected. It was based on a 'softer idea than ususal' by
Charlie. "I'm not going to write a song about turning 60. But, let's
just say, I considered the challenge of writing about getting older. Maybe it was Christmas coming on and I was getting
sentimental. It's the kind of song that if Neil Young did it, people would say 'That's amazing! The guy is so honest,
he's writing from the heart.' I played it to a couple of people, who went, 'Oh wow! That's really sweet.'" However,
their manager, Ian Grenfell vetoed it immediately. "He heard it and said 'Fucking no. You're not that old. Leave it out - you're not
fucking Clive Dunn" - Jim, Classic Pop Magazine, March 2020
- Another troublesome song being considered was Island Life, a
Neapolis out-take. "We've been around the houses three or four times with this song. We've kicked it into touch, swore we'd never look
at it again, convinced ourselves it's a pile of crap. Then, one day, it turns up on a random playlist on your iTunes
and you go "There's that fucking terrible song again... No, hold on, this sounds great." Sometimes, a song just needs to find its
time. I'm quite sure that's the case with most writers who are as long in the tooth as me and Charlie." -
Jim, Classic Pop Magazine, March 2020
- Six songs had been demoed by March 202, four of them fitting the dance brief for the new album. It's been
produced by Andy Wright and Gavin Goldberg.
- Charlie is currently obsessed by the Moog One, a retro-designed piece
of kit. "A lot of our music flows from whatever new gear Charle's just
bought. He gets really excited by an old analogue sythm or some guitar effects pedal and it becomes the talisman of the
album." - Jim, Classic Pop Magazine, March 2020
Life During Wartime
As though the sky itself had fallen and now lay submerged under the surface of the water.
Not to be missed, I decided to pull over and get out the car for a closer look - in doing so unavoidably recalling
the kids bedtime story of 'Chicken Little.' - a tale with a moral in the form of a chicken who believes that the
sky is falling and the world is coming to an end.
Despite the odd negative 3AM thought, I don't believe the world is coming to an end. At least not more than I ever did - that
means never. That said, I'm not stoic enough (yet) to stop myself occasionally wishing that this current shared reality is
nothing more than a warped dream that we are all due to wake from imminently.
But no - this is real life baby.
And as David Byrne sang in the Talking Heads classic Life During Wartime: "This ain't no party, This ain't
no disco. This ain't no moving around."
So instead of being on stage over the last months, doing what I love doing more than anything else. I returned to Scotland
and went back to doing the things I love doing almost as much: Making banana bread, watching highlights of football matches
from back in the years when players wore shorts painfully tight, making DIY face masks out of some old bandanas that I had
You know I'm only kidding. Right?
Instead, I went straight back to my studio room and began to lose myself in writing stuff. Stuff that from somewhere
inside I feel the compulsion to express.
The good news is that within days the Simple Minds creative supply chain was open for business. Testament being
new tunes that started to arrive from Charlie Burchill,
Owen Parker and
Martin even managed to find a demo recording of a long lost song. An idea of
ours from somewhere around the late '90's, most likely when we were busying ourselves with preparations to record
Our Secrets Are The Same.
Working on that idea again earlier this morning, I felt like a kid who has rediscovered a once favourite toy - thought
to be lost forever - now turned up within the darkened corner of a dusty attic room.
And Jeez! What a treasure of a song this is now turning out to be.
There is more to life than work however, or there should be for those lucky enough to have any work, and of course
I've missed the ongoing everyday interaction with others.
But I've also experienced some unique moments over these weeks.
Moments that I would have most likely missed under normal circumstances.
Standing at the waters edge, staring at my solitary reflection on the surface of the remnant of Scotland's ice age - being one!
1st May 2020
When The Headphones Come Off!
"We're closing in. That's right. The finishing line is within touching distance and over this next week we'll cross over.
I'm talking about the recording of the latest Simple Minds album.
"And although I might have given up counting how many albums we have released over the decades, there is
still the same sense of achievement in the air now as when we put the finishing touches to our
debut recording back in 1979.
"Perhaps even more so? Considering that we have managed to push on through with the completion of a
brand new album, within a year where the world over we have all witnessed work/life plans of so many, unavoidably
come crashing to a halt as a result of the pandemic.
"How we've managed to make sure that the music never stopped, where necessity meant collaborating remotely,
plus dealing with ever changing quarantine regulations etc, and thankfully managing to keep healthy ourselves in
these times - as we carried on pursuing our working goal? Well, that has all made for an interesting story.
One that we will no doubt talk about much more around the release of the record. And what to do now... as the
headphones come off on the last days of recording?
"I'm already thinking hard about the next album.
Because as already said. "The music never stops."
18th October 2020
- Jim followed up this post on October 24th, remarking it was the
last day of recording in Germany, with Charlie finishing a guitar solo on
an inspired tune written by Ged Grimes. So the album is finished.
- There was a suggestion that new material could be released in the last months of 2020. Any such plans were distrupted
by the ongoing uncertainty with the COVID-19 virus and various lockdowns. So nothing was released.
- Jim opened up more about the album after Act Of Love
was released, and the tour resumed in 2022.
"... And within a few months [from March 2020], Charlie and
I managed to - Charlie was in Holland at the time - we managed
to organize some time in a studio in Hamburg - it was still open and you could still go into Germany at the
time - and it was one of the few places where you could work without too much restrictions. And as you
quite rightly say, we pushed on with a record that we keep thinking we've finished, but every time that
happens, and we're just about to go out of the door, and Charlie will
come up with a new idea. And we think 'Hang on a minute. That's really good.' But,
for all intents and purposes, we've do have a record finished, I think!" - Jim,
Billy Sloan Show, 22nd January 2022
Sound and Sense
Turning up in Sicily 18 months ago, at the height of Covid and the ensuing restrictions, we could sense
the worry and sadness around Taormina.
Still beautiful with its omnipresent blue skies, our hometown, one that lives and depends almost entirely on tourism,
had been forced to close its doors entirely as indeed had our favourite place Hotel Villa Angela.
Normally full of visitors and guests, like hospitality venues around the globe, its rooms and corridors had lain
ghostly quiet for months on end. Heartbreaking for all involved, no more so though than for the hotel staff who
have for two decades prior had worked to create the small hotel's warm and welcoming reputation.
Not for much longer though. Or, at least not for much longer once we arrived with the notion that rather
than leave the building dormant, we should put it to use in a way the architect would never have imagined.
As a result, within a couple of weeks, Charlie Burchill had organised the
delivery of speakers, microphones, computers, screens, guitars, keyboards, and all the other paraphernalia and
equipment Simple Minds amass when working together on creating new music. And suddenly, what an unbelievable
place we had for ourselves to work in!
Don't get me wrong. Nothing can compete with the history that surely reverberates inside the walls of say,
Abbey Road studios In London, or other legendary recording studios around the world. Nothing can compete either
with the design and technological expertise that those places pride themselves on.
But tell me another recording studio that overlooks a still active volcano - Mount Etna, and a stretch of blue sea
where the ancient Greeks first arrived in Sicily, followed by Romans, Byzantines, Arab, Vikings, Bourbons, Aragonese etc.?
(Now that's what I call history.)
Then again, I suppose Abbey Road has a famous zebra crossing outside its windows.
There's a happy ending to this story and I'll make it brief.
Over the next year, we worked continually in Villa Angela.
Actually, that's not true. In the peak summer months we went to the beach most days. In the evenings we
drove madly through the hills on our vespas, arriving at the peak of Monte Venere to catch the sunsets.
Soon enough though, the walls inside Villa Angela were bouncing to the sound of Simple Minds' music as a
handful of new anthems began taking shape.
The results? You will have the chance to listen to in the not too distant future.
Happier still! A couple of days ago, for the first time in almost two and a half years, Villa Angela opened its doors
once more. The impromptu recording studio is no longer there of course.
But the staff are delighted to be back at work and the guests are arriving by the hour.
Meanwhile, the recording of our new album, also worked on in Hamburg and
London is now complete - and Simple Minds are thrilled at being back out on tour.
Life goes on!
1st May 2022