|Dream Giver - Simple Minds Online Unofficially||Some Sweet Day 2000|
The following is a transcript of a radio interview between Todd Richards and Jim Kerr
broadcast on the 6th June, 2000. This transcription will also appear in Who's Doing The Dreaming
Many thanks to Todd for the transcript and the permission to post it here.
Many thanks to Todd for the transcript and the permission to post it here.
JK: No problem, It's great that you're doing it - Spreading the word, keeping the word, keeping the faith!
TR: I love it! I love the music....Of course everyone wants to know what's the story with the new record - is it going to be available in the States, what's the title, all those types of questions if you can help us out with that.
JK: Well, we actually finished the new record just before the turn of the year which is obviously some time off now. It's a record that we really felt proud of ...I don't know if pride is not a word we use a lot...definately something going on with this new stuff - and the title of the album is Our Secrets Are The Same. We delivered it to our company in London, EMI, got a really good reaction from them. We were looking in January to begin the whole marketing [process], videos etc - and then of course in January, got two quite landshift events within the music industry. One was the Warner Brothers/EMI merger and then, on top of that, the America Online/Warner Brothers merger. Really, I think the best way of putting it is, there is just a lot of issues within EMI just now that are "back burner". The marketing campaign, release etc. of our album has suffered. EMI were keen to put it out April/May but we felt against that backdrop with the whole company politics (people worried about thier jobs etc.), we felt that our record would not get the best shot and the shot that it deserved. So it's been on the shelf since and there's a lot of chatting as we speak. It's not a situation that we're happy with - although we don't like to be the kind of... you know... "musicians-who-go-around-complaining". But we need an album that gets the full backing of a record company and if EMI for whatever reason can't or won't do that... just now I think we'd be reluctant to... let them put the record out. Which I realise all that is dissapointing to everyone who's keen to hear more stuff but it's just the reality of what's going on just now.
TR: It's very intresting because as I understand it you left Virgin because you felt you weren't getting promoted enough - and here you are kind of in that same mode - is that correct?
JK: With Virgin I mean, to be honest - I'm sort of reluctant - because by and large we've been making music for two decades now and by and large things have gone... you know... relatively smoothly We've worked with a lot of great people within the industry - I think it's kind of indicative of what's going on within the music industry just now - all manner of companies that [are] either buying each other or selling each other or whatever. Unless you're an easy job - certainly in Britian you're a girl band or a boy band... the marketing for that is a "slam dunk". But if it's anything they have to get their head around then we've found that - you know they do give us respect but there's an element of going through the motions and... well we don't want that, you know we want a record that gets the works.
JK: In the case of Virgin I think it was more... - we probably got too familiar and therefore we were looking for outside... you know fresh input. The EMI group was the same group so we still had our relationship with the back catalogue etc. But it's the way it is just now - I think the people at EMI who say they like or love the music genuinely do - but... they haven't got their house in order just now. The sort-of sales team - everyone's wondering about what's going to happen with thier jobs. We don't feel that's the ideal situation for our record to go out in so... we're going to go looking at a few alternatives and I realise if you're just a fan, a fan of the music and that's all you care about, this sounds very sort-of labourious and dull. But it's kind of the reality of what's going on with the band just now. The irony is that individually and as a group we feel super-creative!
TR: It's very exciting to hear that - the last we heard you were shooting for an October launch date - I don't know if that is still the case?
JK: Yeah, well I wouldn't get too... well who knows? Record companies work three, four months in advance and sometimes six and on that scale. October's around the corner and... you know we really have to make sure that the record company is set up to promote the record on a worldwide scale and if not then maybe we're going to have to go somewhere else. But at the same time it's... we're actually working on new music you know... that's the one danger. Sometimes an album can slip down the crack because... you move on and an artist usually wants to, or is usually more excited about, promoting their most recent work and... that's my only concern that by the time we get this all sorted out, we've got a new album - another new album but if you're a fan I suppose the more the merrier!
TR: We're excited! Turning back to Our Secrets Are The Same, it's nice to finally have a name for the album. Who are the key players? Can you name a single for us? It's wishful thinking that I'll have it next week or whatever - but just on the terms of us who are keeping our discography straight.
JK: Well we worked - obviously with Charlie Burchill and myself at the helm, but... maybe of interest to some of the people on your shores, we worked with first of all a friend and a colleague, but also a fellow musician contributed as well in some of the songwriting... a fellow called Kevin Hunter who was formerly known with a San Fransico band in the 80's called Wire Train. Kevin, again it was one of these things where it was sort of a mutual friend, and he came over to my place for a few days and we... I guess he's a professional songwriter and he said "let's write a few songs not particularly for Simple Minds"... just to see... 'let's write songs' from the front of it. More than a couple ended up being quite the centerpiece of the record.
JK: So Kevin Hunter played a bit of guitar and contributed to the writing. On bass we had a young Glaswegian called Eddy Duffy, on drums... there was really a few different people playing, although Mel Gaynor did not play. At the risk of introducing a bit of nepotism, my younger brother did play, Mark Kerr, because I got him cheap and cause I'm a Scotsman... [laughs]...
JK: I guess both Kerr and Duffy - what they brought was this youthful energy and a desire to... they haven't made that many records before and such... Burchill and I, hopefully being the wild eye foxes and them coming up with a lot of the madness....
TR: Interesting! - You are striving to get a US release? This will be two records that haven't actually had an official US release, that they were only available with import status. Are you going for a US release and follow it up with a US tour?
JK: Of course. I mean we've been asked the last couple of years...the irony [being] we've been approached by a number of agents, you know, promoters, to tour the States, both as an individual entity and as part of some of the packages. What can I say? We love to play and we'd certainly love to play in America again with circumstances being right and a new product to promote and such. I'm actually optimistic - I'm optimistic, you know what the tools are there now. If it's hard to get people to release our records in the way we would like - then, hey - we can do it ourselves...
TR: Right! Sure!
JK: ...And as long as people like yourselves and so on are spreading the word then what can I say - it's very encouraging.
TR: I'm going to start a rumour right now and I apologise for doing so! There was talk that U2 is rumored to tour next year with the release of their album in October. The rumour was "Gee, wouldn't be great if Simple Minds opened up for U2"?
JK: Yeah! You know what? I didn't hear that rumour but the thought crossed my mind. I really... well... I think they should ask us!
JK: Ah... you know the reason I wouldn't ask them is they're so cheap [laughs]
TR: Now be careful... Don't go there, we have a U2 marathon in the works, you don't want to touch that! [laughs]
JK: I don't mean them personally, I mean thier accountants and such [laughs]. Hey, they're the greatest guys and they genuinely are but... you know we'd do a good job, we'd do a real, real good job and I think it would be a great night there... Charlie Burchill sees Bono frequently, I haven't seen him for about a year... I think both bands - and obviously a few other of our ilk - we encaptulate a period in time and we encaptulate a specific sound and even specific values. What can I say? If you like that style of music, it could be, an overwhelming evening.
TR: I'm getting Bono on the phone right now.....just kidding [both laugh]
TR: You mentioned values. Do you still feel motivated to be a part of political situations/benifit projects such as the Kosovo show last year? I mean Nelson Mandela is a free man now - would you play Mandela Day in concert?
JK: Well... sometimes you can play a song like that and it's more symbolic of... perhaps, even ironically, it's not so much about Mandela anymore, it's still about... Well, there's racism in every corner of the world still and I think as a band it's not a mission we set out to do... but I think artists, I shouldn't generalize but I hopefully this is one that's right, to be aritistic. I think you got to be sort-of idealistic in a sense. And there's a spiritual side of the music - I don't know why I'm so subjective but I think it is a positive music and the music would call out for positive words and it [Mandela Day] was more the way things fell together than an idea to pick up a crusade as such.
JK: Well the answer is "Yeah", I still... In my own city just now there is a lot of immigrant kids from Croatia and such, and I think about the bill that just went through and what it's done to their young lives and how it will affect them and such. It's not a crusade but it's... what can I say? There's a song there and I suppose it deals with the human condition.
TR: You mentioned before of distributing your own albums. That makes one think of 'whatever happend to simpleminds.com?' I imagine you plan on relaunching it as a part of the new album campaign....
JK: We do, we do, and more than that, we really have to get it right.
JK: The mistake we made in the last one... the last one was a great tool to communicate but it's major failing was it was a Simple Minds site for Simple Minds only really at that period. And I think we now got to get together as sort of 'mother of all sites'... a mother of all Simple Minds sites that... we've got to get the whole family tree together almost from day one because if we don't do that kind of thing someone else may do it and they may do it wrong. Certainly we should get it together the way we... well our version of it. I mean there's... we should put it out the way we saw things happining and what it felt like at the time. That's a collosal production! It's not something we really have to get... sure the best time to launch that would be with the new record... but we have to work with people that... and the technology that can put it accoss in the best way.
JK: A production like that: to make it pay, to maintain it, to keep it as useful as one would like, there's got to be some revenue streams. To date the point was, ironically, the band didn't own anything... you know the record company owns the materials... Yeah you know, we could have sold a few T-shirts or whatever, but that's not really the thing. We can't wait to be at the stage, which is coming real soon, where we can broadcast, webcast [and] download all that stuff and then perhaps we can have something that's... you know, has all the bells and trinkets and is Simple Minds Mall as well because... I think at the end of the day that's what people want. They want to hear the stuff and they want to get access to aquiring it.
TR: Would there be any chance that the future website would be used as a staging point for a new fan club? I know a lot of people where dissapointed with the demise of Travelling Man?
JK: That's right, that's right. That's why I say it's got to be the 'mother-of-all.' I guess what I'm saying is that we'd like it to be as all encompassing as possible and finally get it up and running, and something that could stay the course. There's been so many false dawns with the various things for a multitude of reasons. I mean Travelling Man, not taking away from the people producing it, but... you know you come at it with the best intentions... people are very enthusiastic and you say look it's easy to get issue one, issue two, issue three going but soon... you know you're running a magazine. You've got to have someone there full time... people demanding stuff and you need professionals, and professionals need [to be] paid and blah blah blah. It's like taking out of the relm of the pure fan...
JK: Again it is an odd thing, the band. We go through periods of where we want to be open and talk till the cows come home about what we're doing and why we're doing, how we're doing and then there's periods where you want to forget about Simple Minds - purely so when you come back to thinking about them you come back refreshed. I guess that can seem like you're being evasive or cold or, I don't know... snubbing the loyal crowd but... It's hard to really put it across without sounding selfish or cold. We are a band and band's are a bit eccentric. When it fits they don't mind being in public service but if I want to disappear into the Himalayas for six months then I've got to go.
TR: With the fan club I know that everyone was really jazzed to have the Real Live 91... in that they could see a CD every year or something.
JK: Yeah, good. I hope that we get... whatever arrangement we get involving the new record gives us the freedom to put out stuff what we want, if we want and as frequently as we want. Listen, I can't wait until the day comes when we write a song and put it online and you hear it that night.
TR: That's going to be trouble for me - I'll never be able to collect it all! [both laugh]
TR: Last time we spoke we mentioned the possibility of a Simple Minds box set. You're still 'in the family' with Virgin so the back catalogue is open to you. So obviously you won't have the Kate Bush problem here in the states where she couldn't put out a box because she was on too many different labels here.
JK: Actually your question very very timely. I'm due to meet Steve Prichard from Virgin next week regarding that very subject. I like him a lot, he did a great job with [the] Roxy Music box set and a Genesis box set. He's got a lot of ideas, we've got a lot of ideas on top of that. But remember one thing we should talk about is imminently (I mean about a year's time) Simple Minds have a chance and will maximize the chance to... I don't know how to say celebrate, commemorate the potential for a twenty-fifth anniversary. When there's an opportunity like that - it'll be twenty-five years since... It'll almost be twenty-five years since Burchill and I started writing Simple Minds stuff and playing. I mean Simple Minds first started rehearsing and writing in 1977 and next year will be twenty-four years done. We want to start putting together the stuff, the box so that when that anniversary comes the whole thing has an added meaning, an added resonance, an attachment to it, as opposed to appearing out of space - "here's a box set".
TR: I'm excited that he's working on it becuase he did such a great job as you said - with the Roxy Music box, which unfortunately was never released here in the States, it was an import only. The Genesis box, it was also a rare treat to hear those old tapes. Would you be wanting to go that way as opposed to "every-single-you-ever-put-out" kind of collection? Would you rather go into the demo stages....?
JK: Yes! Yes! I think I'd get it out because the way I see it if we don't look at kind of every scrap... I mean I know there has to be an editing process but... If we don't look at every scrap, if we don't do it, someone else will do it. And they'll do it poorly or shoddily.
TR: That's perfectly legitimate.
JK: That's my attitude to it, try to find the rarities as well as. Because, well you know for people that already own everything there's that added pleasure of having something else.
TR: It's been great preparing for this, one time a year - I wish it was more. My friend Aaron Burke, who has co-hosted with me in years past, let me borrow his collection to do some exploring. It's been great chasing down the Australian Edition of Real Life with the 5 live track EP bonus CD from the Barrowlands, or the four Theme Boxes - which, if I can say, are like the "golden fleece" of Simple Minds items. [JK laughs] If you can get your hands on one of those Simple Minds [items], fans think you're just God-like these days. They are so hard to get your hands on these days...
JK: Well, you know what, I think my mother's got a garage full of them... [TR laughs uncontrollably!]... maybe we could do a deal! [laughs]
TR: Well hey, you know, bring them over!
JK: I'm like 'Mum, what do you got in there?" and it's like 'Oh, it's one of these box sets'... [both laugh] She's a collector.
TR: That's... well, hey, mother's pride, you've got to love it! We also talked about the video items last year, such as Glittering Prize and the Verona Concert... not to mention the bootleg items that have popped up from the last few tours. Would you want to also go that way as part of the twenty-fifth anniversary? I realise that material is extremely dated...
JK: Yeah, you know, I guess we want it out and we want to show where we've been and where we are. Then people like you can look back and go "oh look they had hair then and now they're bald"...[laughter]
TR: It's just that with DVD....I'm trying to bail you out there, I don't want to comment on everyone elses hairlines! There's so many different things you can do with that (DVD) technology. I know it isn't as quickly taking off in the UK as it has here, but I've been amazed at some of the music titles. Eurythmics just put out a live DVD video of a performance last December, and the first thing I thought was how much depth there was to it. You could have the live performance, then the voice over track explaining the song, link to the lyrics, the album cover image, 5.1 surround sound etc.
JK: It is great, it's so great. You know, all you have to be up for it, enthusiastic and think it's worthwhile and think that the record company is going give it a shot and you go the distance. You start to be really creative. That's what's so great about all the new tills and formats, they're... if you want to be creative, there is so much more now.
TR: Speaking for me I vote for the videos - put'm out!
JK: Well, I've got my kids to think of, how embarrased they are with some of the outfits you know.......[TR laughs] I don't want to do damage!
TR: They'll grow up to become rockstars I'm sure...
TR: In the CD-ROM portion of Neapolis, you talked about how bands you listened to growing up are still playing (The Rolling Stones, etc.) Do you feel like you've made that kind of mark in the rock world?
JK: We are aware there was a period called the "eighties" and there is no doubt that we were... well again it's all subjective... there's no doubt in our mind that we were one of "the" bands of that generation. And, you know, no one can take that away - not saying anyone would try to. Yes, sometimes we do see carlessness where people omit us from whatever, or perhaps they only know about Don't You (Forget About Me) or something like that. We're very aware of how much music we made, how much love we put into it and thankfully how much good feeling it gave so many across the world and that's kind of "big enough" and important enough and that is stature alone.
TR: Makes sense, and well said. Last year you mentioned that your car stereo had Travis and Moby in the deck there, Both acts have had a fabulous year since then. I'm asking for the fortune telling here...what's on the Jim Kerr playlist of late?
JK: Well actually I'm in a fairly new car, it's only about two weeks old and I've only been out twice so I've got only one CD in the CD cartridge. It's some goofy Italian house disco funk thing. [TR laughs]. I don't think it in your charts in the remote fututre.....[JK laughs]. I have been listening a lot more to the sort of ambient dance culture which... is sort of formless there's not really a personallity there. There's usually compilations with like forty tracks on them - you're never really sure what the track is. I've been listing to quite a lot of that, a lot of, sort of, electronica and stuff.
JK: It's funny, there's a festival two weeks from now and both Moby and Travis are playing. It's about a mile from where I live - I'm looking forward to seeing that. I like a lot of the Scottish bands, and they've been getting attention in the States - especially College Radio and independant radio... I'm sure you're the same... people from everybody from Belle and Sebastian, Dot Allison, ... we already spoke about Travis... I'm just quite happy to see them do well.
TR: You're business dealings outside of the music world have gotten some attention lately. What can you tell us about your educational website and .....a sushi bar? I can't wait to try out the sushi bar!
JK: Well great! I'm looking forward toward the opening of that next week. I guess what it is that I am a musician, songwritter, performer - that's what I am but... What I really am is sort of a creative type who is producer in such that. I like the creative process - whether it's a sushi bar or a song or it's helping a movie get made. I love a good idea - whether I come up with it or mostly someone else comes up with it, but maybe I like to play a part in either trying to take the idea to fruition, maybe that involves the finance, or maybe that involves some of the team or networking or promoting or whatever. Over the last year, probably about this time last year - we were preparing, Charlie and I, we both got involved with and part financed probably the biggest student website in Britan called Student 24-7.com but actually that's had change in the name. (If you look at it just now on www.stewed.com). It was an exercise for us, we felt that it would be a real cool thing to be involved in it. We also thought it would be a learning process in the whole online, e-commerce etc. So there's been that.
JK: The sushi bar is... you know I'm enjoying being in Glasgow just now, and I'm Scottish through and through, I'm Glasgow through and through. But I'm also very... I'm a product of the different travels that I've endured. Whenever I see someone as I said with a good idea, some of the young kids, some of the young entrepenuers, approach me with different ideas - I'm happy if it feels right. The sushi bar is called OKO, so that is coming up. I'm trying to think of what else is imminent... I've been spending a long time, in all places, in Sicily. It's a part of the world that I really love to visit and I intend to spend a lot more time there when I'm older... and I'm currently building a small hotel there. I guess what it is... I'm not a businessman in any traditional sense, but I get passionate about things and if there is an opportunity to make a business out of these passions it seems to make sense.
JK: It all sort of relates to the story, at the risk of being crude, people say, you know "you're either a artist or a businessman"... When we did our first gig ever, in 1977, it cost us ten pounds to hire the van, it cost us fifteen pounds to hire the P.A. We were paid the pricely sum of five pounds! Now we were already twenty quid down! - it was like "Uh-oh, how's this going to work?" [both chuckle] You needed to have a business ethic!
TR: Rock and Roll perpetual debt! As always I have to pick your brain for what request you want us to play today. Any particular song you want to make sure we get on the air?
JK: Yeah! I'd love you to play... usually when I'm asked I plum for one of the more obscures... this is not so obscure, but it's a song that I heard and I thought "that's good song I haven't heard for a long time... what about "All The Things She Said"
TR: I can do that - sure! I love the sulky, kind of R+B feel remix you had on the War Babies single by the way.
TR: It's been great speaking with you again. I appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. It's nice to know that the support of the fans is recipricated. We can't wait to see you play in the States.
JK: Good stuff. Again, what can I say? Keep the faith! We have no intention of giving up ourselves - we've got so much music to bring.
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