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Many thanks to all those who have sent in congratulations for the twentieth anniversary of this website. It's
been through many changes, and has been hosted on various domains, but it's always been primarily about
Simple Minds, supporting the band, and getting the news and information "out there."
It's also amazing to think that this Simple Minds website predates eBay, YouTube, Wikipedia and many
other Internet institutions.
So here's to the next twenty years.
Just before Christmas, Martin Hanlin interviewed Jim
on his radio show and - in what is the definitive Big Music interview - went
through the entire album track by track.
The following is a transcription of the first hour of the show which was broadcast on KX 93.5 on
Sunday 14th December. It is also available to download as a podcast via kx935.com.
Part Two and Part Three will be coming soon.
JK: Hi. This is Jim Kerr on KX93.5
talking to all of you about our new album Big Music: how it was made,
how it was played, how it was dreamed up.
MH: This is Martin Hanlin, KX93.5 interviewing
Mr. Jim Kerr from Simple Minds, talking about the new album
Big Music. Good evening,
Mr. Kerr, because you are in London. JK: Hi Martin. Actually I'm not, I'm in Glasgow [Laughs] MH: OK, first mistake, so you're in Glasgow... JK: Your hometown. MH: Yeah, absolutely. We're going to go through the tracks of the album that just came out in the
UK and in America and it's a great record, I really like it a lot. Of course, I'm biased about that but I listen to a
lot of music and it's really, really great so let's talk about the album. MH: In terms of how many albums - the 16th studio album Jim? JK: This is the 16th studio album that's right Martin.
And I guess the first full release for five years, which doesn't mean to say that some people go "Oh, how come it took five
years?" In fact, it wasn't so much that the album itself took five years but over the past five years we've just spent
working all the time. We've been a working live band, and when we weren't doing that, we've been writing, recording,
demoing, social networking - whatever you do, but the music was central in our lives again. But probably about two years
ago we started to look at what was there and started to say "Right. How does this song hang with that song and how would
this feel as a body of work?" It's almost like throwing paint at the wall, and then you start to see a certain part
of the wall it starts to form and you go "Oh I can see how this might be a record on its own." And really that happened
over the last two years. MH: Fantastic. And talking about throwing paint at the wall and getting to put the record together we're
talking about writing the record at the moment, we'll get to the music really quickly how did you pick the first track,
and of course the first track is Blindfolded. Can you explain why you picked
that one and tell me a bit about it? And then we'll play it. JK: First of all when you do a record let's focus here, it's a record of songs. And you need not
only what you think are great songs good songs and great songs but you need them in a shape or form, an atmosphere,
a presentation that you think "This is where we should be right now." And that can be very, very speculative. But when
we got to Blindfolded and Charlie Burchill
my song writing partner chiefly he came up with the sound of it. We all sort of felt "OK, this is point 'A'. This is where
we should be. This is the territory we should be in. If it was a movie then this is the opening scene this tells you
what this movie is going to be about, it gives you a flavour of what's to come. We just felt that
Blindfolded, when that arrived, we thought "Right. This is where
Simple Minds should be right now. "And if you were to ask me "Where was it we felt
Simple Minds should be" then in an ideal world we felt Simple Minds should be classic
Simple Minds, it should resonate with the great trademarks of the past, the early Simple Minds,
but that's not enough in itself, it had to be more than that, it had to be contemporary, it had to be fresh. I mean some
could say those things are a contradiction in terms you're asking for it to be contemporary but you're asking for it
to go back to the past well, it is a kind of contradiction in terms but we like to think that the success of
Big Music is encapsulated in
Blindfolded, in particular, because it does both of those things. MH: Fantastic. So this is Martin Hanlin, KX 93.5,
The Real McCoy Radio Show, with special guest Jim Kerr from
Simple Minds. And I'm going to play the track Blindfolded.
MH: Moving through the record Big Music we're onto
track number two. I really like this track. It's a song called Midnight Walking.
And I notice on this that the writing is Kerr,
Burchill and Gillespie. Can you
tell me a bit about it? JK: Yes. Andy Gillespie - it's funny because we still call him
one of the new guys, but Andy Gillespie has been playing with
Simple Minds now since 2002 so we're talking about the best part of twelve, nearly thirteen years,
actually. And Andy is more than just than just a muso. He's a creative person
and we've been encouraging him to come up with stuff and to come up with ideas and it's taken a long time but
as soon as I heard the music to Midnight Walking which chiefly was
Andy's I thought "This is a beauty" and it had a sort of dancey element
to it. It does a great little logo at the start of it to me it was very much like a Kraftwerk logo but not
just like it, I think it was as good as some of the Kraftwerk logos. I mean a real great, great pop hook.
But we had a problem in a sense that coming out of just being Andy's there
was a little bit of an identity crisis because it wasn't that it was generic but it wasn't until when
Charlie came in with the second half of the song I think
Midnight Walking features one of Charlie's
best guitar breaks for years that it truly became a Simple Minds song. The great ballads of the classic
Simple Minds that I was mentioning earlier but you had this electro dance beat that some would say is
contemporary. MH: Talking about Andy being the new keyboard player is like
saying Mel Gaynor is the new drummer, who came in on the fifth record.
He is a real big part of Simple Minds in terms of everything he does. And I know luckily enough
I've got to work with Andy and his work rate is just incredible.
He really, really puts a lot into it. JK: Yes, it's funny you say that, I just left him about an hour ago we're currently in the studio
in Glasgow, rehearsal studio, because we're about to tour next year and we thought we'd get some rehearsals in this
side of the year, allowing us a break over Christmas, and then we'll pick it up again. Anyway,
Andy's a kind of a band leader, in that situation, he's a sort of group
leader he's very organised, he's very much a tech-head as well, he's been a great, great player and dependable. I
mean the likes of Charlie and I we're much more spontaneous, we'll
fly in, we'll turn things upside down but you need a real great nuts and bolts guy then
Andy's the guy and he can... if there's something going round and he'll
analyse the rhythms or he'll have a good dialogue with the rest of the musicians, he's very good that way he's
almost like a sort of school teacher in that sense in the line-up next year we've got a girl called
Catherine AD who's joining us for the first time for this tour and
Catherine's from a younger generation, she's never worked anything
on this scale and it's just been great to see how Andy talks to her and
encourages her and puts her at ease and gets the best out of her so all of those roles rather belong to
Andy, but it's great that he's mov ing into coming up with melodies as well. MH: It's funny you say that talking about Catherine AD
coming in and Andy doing that and the thing about Simple Minds
is that you always invest in the people Jim we've talked about this
before and it keeps on giving this extra life to Simple Minds. I mean you and
Charlie you're the driving forces and it's great that you bought
Catherine in and
Andy and I saw you bring Andy in and you
and Charlie did with Andy
and now he's doing the same with Catherine and that's that constant
investment. It's a great thing. JK: Well, that's right. The down side about that let's be honest, very few bands retain the same
line-up for more than ten years, some do, but very few do. And the ones that do there will be strengths within that but
there must be great frustrations as well, playing with the same people. But, anyway, in
Simple Minds' case, as you know as many people who know Simple Minds story our
lineup started to fragment our original lineup started to fragment after about ten years. And that was tough for us
for about the following decade because you're when you lose original members, it's always hard to get out of the prejudice
when a lot of people think of you as a zombie band or something. You just going around because you don't know what else to do.
But in our case, what we did was, we do invest in people, even going back to the
Robin Clarks and stuff, we really do. JK: When we play live, we want it to be a great gig but we also want it to have an element of show. And
it's great to bring in these people, especially when they're more than just appendages, they're stars themselves, let's
face it. We're quite often bring them to an audience that has just, until then, not heard of them, other they're on the verge
on being stars, after the experience with us they grow wings and they off and do their own solo albums and that stuff. But
it really benefits the band it benefits, we get tons out of it, the show gets tons out of it, and again we were brought
up with sport and in our case football but you could use it for basketball, you could use it to baseball, you could use it
to American Football - it's about the team, it's about having a great squad and it's about investing in new talent. Because
that energises, refreshes, gives you something you haven't got and why wouldn't you? MH: Before we go on to the next song, we're going to play the track we've been talking about,
Midnight Walking. And before we play it we talked about
Andy being a co-writer, and I know you won't admit to this but all
this happens because of the generosity of yourself and of Charlie. And that
generosity pays back into Simple Minds. And you'll hear it in this track so this is a track written
by Charlie Burchill,
Jim Kerr and
Andy Gillespie. This is Midnight Walking.
MH: So, Jim, we're going to talk about a song which I know it
really important to you and we're talking about rehearsals at the moment at a place called Gorbals Sound in Glasgow
where we grew up and the place where we grew up, let's talk about the song called
Honest Town. I'm sure you've got a lot to say about it because it's a very
important song to you. JK: Well it is. I don't hesitate to say that you yourself are crucial to the song because I should
explain that the song Honest Town is written well it's primarily about
our home town Glasgow and it's written about the generation that raised us, our parent's generation and that goes for
your mum and dad as well Martin but specifically the story of the song came
out of the fact that my mum passed away four years ago and in the weeks leading up to it I had come back home to
Glasgow we knew that the light was getting dim and I'd come back to Glasgow to be around, specifically for that,
I'd come back home. JK: But typical of my mum, she didn't want me sitting around moping and she was never happier than
when I was busy and being creative and working and such and at the time, you yourself was in Glasgow and you also said
"Well, why you're here why don't you come down and meet this kid called Iain Cook"
who you had found in previous years and you'd always been encouraging me as you have with others as well to go down and see what these kids have got, see if there's anything in common, see if we could write a song... not for anything specific, it might be their album, it might be our album, it might be a solo album, it might be a movie soundtrack who knows? But anyway, you did a great thing that night when you took me down to Iain Cook's because it began a relationship with this fellow who I should now say, for those who it might ring a bell, Iain is in a band called Chvrches who at the time I was working with him, Chvrches was just embryonic, it was just an idea that Iain was just putting together. Of course now, they've probably played in your neck of the woods half-a-dozen times Martin and they've had a top ten album in the States which they're very proud of.
JK: But, anyway, you introduced me to Iain and in about two weeks we probably wrote about ten songs
together all in various shapes and forms and all to varying degrees of successes as well, but one of the songs that
came out of it was Honest Town. It just had this melody from day one that
both you and I found rather haunting, bewitching, sad, but also with a great feeling of hope and I ended up writing
a lyric to Iain's melody based on the last journey that my mum made really because it was a few days before she passed
away and she asked me to drive her into town and there was a snowstorm or there had been a snowstorm, the snow had
ceased but they were advising everyone "Stay in. Don't to go out unless absolutely necessary" and she as sometimes
people do she came bounding down the stairs looking better than she'd ever looked for months and she said "I want to
do out." And my Dad said "You can't go out. " She said "No. I want to go out" and she looked at me and said "I want to go out.
Take me out into town. I want go into town and buy some clothes for Christmas because I'll be going to the Christmas dance."
And I just looked at her and I said "Great. Let's go." JK: And it just so happened that the drive from our neck of the woods into the centre of town where my
mum wanted to go, by coincidence, by happenstance, was though many of the landmarks of her life, of my life, of our lives
together where we went to school, where she met my dad, where she worked as a factory girl, the hospital where I was
born even and it gave her a great chance to reminisce. And she spoke about how much she loved her life and how much she
loved her city and she used the phrase "Honest Town." She said that it was an honest town and people have been asking me
when you write songs as personal as this, is it really hard to let it all go and I have to tell you that songs like that
write themselves you don't get a choice in the matter. People say you should write about what you know and certainly
one of the good things about getting older is that you have experienced things first hand usually and you've experienced
universal themes we all do at some point and loss is one of them and the song kind of wrote itself. MH: Before I play the track and I'm looking forward to hearing this because it's such a great song a
couple of little bits to the story that you're not really aware of because you're so busy singing and getting on with
stuff and taking care of people as usual, but I remember taking you to Iain's
and we went in and we did Honest Town and you did the vocal back to
Iain and I and both of us just looked across the room and he was like "Wow."
Because he hadn't worked with you before, he hadn't heard you singing and we just walked into that studio and you did it.
And that was the beginning of it - I don't think it really changed much vocally from there because it was absolutely
spot on. MH: But the other part of it, and I'm not going to let you interrupt me
Jim, as this is important: I sat in your house plenty of times with your
mum and dad and I remember about that time your Dad was always saying "Get him out of here. He should be working." That's
your dad, he's amazing at just getting us to do things; but your mum came to talk to me and goes "You know what? You need to
get my boy out working. He's in here and I don't want him worrying about me. He's got to work. You get him out of the door
and get him to work." And it was just like you were sitting there and I was so humbled by the generosity and it was
incredible. And then to go after that conversation to a few weeks later putting down
Honest Town it was just "There it is. There's the completion of that circle."
We've always been pushed by our parents. We're always really proud of the way they brought us up really proud of them,
but the moment was amazing. Incredible. JK: Yeah, these are people that gave us everything. I know the same with you
Martin but my Mum and Dad gave us the first couple hundred pounds
Charlie Burchill's Mum and Dad also to be said to start Simple Minds,
to make demos - they were worried, they didn't quite understand the world we were going into but they knew that they'd have
to shoot us to stop us. And rather than do that they decided to back us. I do remember I think there was two takes actually
on the version that's released on Big Music, a lot of the vocal is, well
you well know, but a lot of the vocal is that original take. And I think we did it a couple of times that night in
Iain's basement and I do remember the one thing you got me to phrase something
different in the chorus I can't remember exactly what it was but it was the making of it. MH: Thank you. The many comments that you take on we've always had this discussion and it's always
the same and I remember talking to producers that you've worked with and the vocal that we've always talked about you
know She's A River the vocals in that and as a vocalist you always
underestimate yourself and you can't see it and this was another great vocal and I'm really proud to be part of this
song and get to play it. So this is a track from Big Music and this is called
MH: So Martin Hanlin here with
Jim Kerr of Simple Minds on KX 93.5.
Playing the tracks from the great new album from Simple Minds called
Big Music. And we're at the track Big Music.
And I remember discussing this actually on this radio station with you. I think it was the first time that you
indicated that you were going to do this track as part of
your live DVD. So can you explain the whole philosophy behind Big Music
and why you called the album Big Music? JK: Ironically while I've been at pains to some people of what I've been talking about over the last
few months to express is that the "big music" that we refer to in the album title is not "Big" as in "bombastic big"
although having said that the title track itself is probably the most bombastic. But it's more about a celebration of
music a celebration of the fact that after all these years of listening to music, of buying music, of dreaming about
music, and then gravitating to writing our own music and performing our own music, of more than forty years of listening
to music, nearly forty years of writing it, creating it, and playing it, there's still nothing that manages to do to
me what music does in terms of the way it lifts me up, the way it consoles me, the way that it gives me courage, the
way that its helps me despair... all that stuff, that's what we get from music, this still mysterious thing, we don't
know why or how but we just know that it does. JK: And the track itself is really about that celebration although it's a pretty funny story about
how it came about as a song because the music itself is over a decade old but I remember
Charlie and I working on it in Sicily the main theme of the song but there
was something missing that we couldn't quite work out what it was. I certainly couldn't find a lyric that I felt was
really compatible with it we'd keep getting excited about the idea, it would come up every couple of years, and we'd
get excited but we couldn't quite crack it so we'd put it on the back burner. You know it would get lost in the midst of
all the other ideas and stuff. JK: But, anyway, as the recording was coming to a close, one of the guys who works with us, you know
him well, Simon Hayward Simon just
goes through all our Simple Minds stuff, he's like our chronicler now, he's a bit like our great
librarian he's found all the lost tapes, he knows where the bodies are buried [laughs] he said "Look there's this
track. You've got to do it." I said "What it is." He said "It's this one." And I said "Not that!" and he said "Yes, it's
dynamite. You've got to work it" and you know what he is right, we should really try one more time. I said it with a
sigh but I went back to Charlie and Andy
in Ireland and I said there was one more weekend and I said "Do you remember this one?" and
Charlie was like "Oh God, that" and I said "People are hearing it and thinking
it's great and we should maybe give it one more go and put our whips into it this last weekend and see if we can make
something" and Andy said "Yeah, alright" and
Charlie said "Yeah, alright" and I said is "The thing is I've got to go to
Switzerland to see Prince. Well, you do it" and it'd been organised with my friend, and it'd been organised
for months, it was her birthday and all that, and I said I would go and I couldn't get out of it and I didn't want to get
out of it either but it wasn't the best time I didn't like heading off but I said "Look. See if you can find the missing
musical piece in the next twenty four hours. And if you do, send me the MP3, and I'll listen to it and see what I make of
it - see if I can find a lyric to match." JK: Well, lo and behold, they did work on it, they found a piece of music, they sent it to me,
I got it about half an hour before I was going to see Prince. I was standing there at the hotel
with an amazing view feeling great and I got the track with the new piece and I thought "This is fantastic." I thought
"I've got to get a lyric to this and I've only got about twenty four hours to get it." Anyway I toddle off to see
Prince and it was one of those nights where Prince decided that he was not going to
play anything that anyone knows or certainly I didn't know and I'm a huge fan. I think he got carried away with the
fact that he was in Monteux during the Jazz Festival it was a set of bass solos and funky jams and stuff and quite
frankly it was the pits. And I didn't enjoy it at all and I started to get angry I started to get into a rage.
And it was like I was having this conversation with myself. I was I won't use the expletives but I was "Give me the
music, give me the tunes, give me the songs, give me the stuff that makes our hearts swoon, give us..." and lo and behold
that became the lyrics. JK: The next day on the plane I wrote this song. "Give us the songs that make me romantic, give us
the songs that make me ecstatic, give me the songs that keep the world turning, give me the words I'm still learning"
and the frustration of and I'm not criticising Prince it's not like I wrote this song in anger
at Prince but it just was the catalyst to me thinking "God, music still means this much to me." MH: So talking about music meaning this much to you, we've talked about this before, who for you even
if it's just a short list makes the big music for you, that makes the big music for
Jim Kerr? JK: It would have to include the greats: the Van Morrisons, the
Jim Morrisons, the David Bowies, the Lou Reeds he only passed away
last year and I think I listened to more in a year than I have since 1975 we call it big music, it could be called
deep music but I was listening the other day they're a band from your side of the pond to
War On Drugs they make the big music. MH: Last week I played a few tracks from the Berlin album. I meant to only play one from the
Berlin album Lou Reed and it just runs into another and I just had to let it go. So I'm
going to play a track from Big Music by Simple Minds and the
track is called Big Music.
MH: Talking to Mr. Jim Kerr of
Simple Minds on KX 93.5. Moving on in the record we're at a track, track five on the
new record and it's called Human. I love the lyrics in this and there's a
line I was going to ask you about it you say in the last line "I'm an exile searching for the right place." I mean
that's been your story for many years. Are you ever going to find the right place or do you like the journey? JK: I think I do love the journey and there are times in my life where I do think I've found the
right place and then, a couple of years later, I've upped sticks both physically and metaphorically and spiritually moved
on to something else. I guess I enjoy being restless. And even physically I tend to circle places I'm speaking to you
from Glasgow tonight which I don't remember ever leaving and I don't remember ever coming back [laughs] but we've spent
so much time away. In my case, it feels right to be here a lot, I feel a strength from it, I don't know if it's to do
with what we were talking about earlier about our parents moving away... I mean Glasgow made us, it made
Simple Minds, we're from there, we're made of rock and rain that we were from here, although we
were shaped by our journeys and our cultures and blessed to be shaped by both our experiences and the people we met
and nethertheless we're from here , we're a product, we're from a people, we're from an outlook, we're big Glasgow boys,
we're for me just now it feels... We're rehearsing I'm rehearsing literally a stone's throw from where the first
house I was brought home to when they took me out of the maternity hospital. And there must be some reason for this but
I feel I'm getting a strength from it. I don't know, it seems right. MH: It's weird. I'm the same as you. I got the bug I remember you and
Charlie disappearing off when we were younger and you ended up in India
of all places when you were youngsters and I remember you taking off to Italy. And it kind of affected all our
friends, the people around you, and we all started to this kind of wandering thing that made us who we are. But I'm
the same as you. I end up back in Glasgow and it's like you're coming up for air, you're coming up to get fed again,
before you go on another journey. And it's just so rewarding. It reminds us of who we are and what we should be doing. MH: Anyway, this is the track Human
by Simple Minds from the great album Big Music.
MH:Mr Kerr, from Simple Minds, talking about
Big Music, on KX93.5, here on Lacona Beach for the
Real McCoy radio show. We're moving through the album and we're going to play each track. And now
another track you co-wrote with Charlie Burchill and
Iain Cook and that's a song called Blood Diamonds. JK: I mentioned earlier David Bowie and I think that's us doing
David Bowie or it's us doing David Bowie doing David Bowie doing
Scott Walker. This is the kind of music we love. Iain Cook
got this beautiful again it's a great big poppy electro hook but the chords have a fantastic bed on it for my voice for
the kind of richness in my voice, it really gave it a great chance to kind of just glide. JK: I wanted to write a really modern pop song, a love song really I guess, a bitter sweet love song
although we'll be coming to more of that later on, but I remember at the time we were writing, Bowie
had just come out with that last thing, what was it called again, that Bowie song, about two years ago
nearly? [The Next Day] It was beautiful but I was thinking this was the kind of
Bowie, although he did make that album, probably about his first album in ten years I remember
when we were working on Blood Diamonds we thought if Bowie's
not going to make great Bowie music anymore then we're going to make it and that's what I
think when I hear the tune. MH: Yeah, we're talking about The Next Day record where that track came on and I remember
you and I talking about it at the time and thinking "Oh, wow great" and then out of nowhere this track comes out and
it does all the things you wanted it to do. But there's always been that Bowie influence in
Simple Minds' music even from the name and the whole lot - and he's always been a go to act as well there
are a few others, Roxy Music comes to mind. But it's amazing when you listen to it, it's almost like
you do this kind of cooking thing where you just make this musical stew of stuff that influences you. And it always comes
out with something original and I think that's what you've been doing since the day you started making music. JK: The DNA's there. The DNA: the music you're influenced by, the music you grew up on I mean
Simple Minds have been getting a lot of kudos recently from bands, and acts, and younger acts and
especially the generation below us they seem to be lining up to come out and give us a name check now. Which is
great and actually how you feel about that and it's great if anyone likes your music but if it inspires them to make
a sound of their own then even more wonderful but we just see it, before we make our music, we're still listening
to the same records we always listen to and it's very much part of our DNA and if there's a lineage are we're put of
that lineage then great but we never hold back in terms of wearing our influences on our sleeves. MH: Well that's the last modern version of that is the last Manic Street Preachers
album of course which even takes some of the lyrics from I Travel
and puts it in the song. And so like it's Manic Street Preachers doing Simple Minds doing
Manic Street Preachers and it's fantastic to hear it's like I get such a buzz out of it when I heard
the track and I thought "this is really, really cool" because it's something that there's a line in
Brian Eno where you're in I Travel "Airports playing Brian Eno"
that you did and for us it was just like a flag in going "This is great artist and we appreciate it and its influences." JK: Yeah. Well you see it in America, you see it in Americana, when you see
Springsteen and then there was acoustic, you see Dylan and you see Dylan
you see Woody Guthrie. You see Woody Guthrie well there's Johnny Cash
might've been there as well between Dylan and Woody Guthrie. But there's lineage and
there's a kind of passing down of the torch. MH: Yeah, absolutely. So this is a track, we're going to play
Blood Diamonds. And I'm sitting here you gave me a lovely present before
I left London recently and it's the vinyl version of Big Music. And going
back to how we grew up, so this is the end of Side One. So this is Blood Diamonds
written by Iain Cook and Jim Kerr and
The following was published in the December 2014 issue of Record Collector. It's a good
interview which takes a different angle at times although a thorough proof read wouldn't have gone amiss. And I'll forgive
them the rather paltry "Collectables" which was tacked on at the end.
Top Gear returned for their Christmas Special which saw the hapless trio goofing around in
cars, being hounded out of Argentina and precipitating a diplomatic spat. Not bad for a motoring show.
Meanwhile, the musical editor had been listening to so much of The Horrors that most of the
show was bedded with instrumental versions of Skying and Luminous. (Both albums come
highly recommended.) However Capital City got a brief outing when
Hammond managed to badly prang his car and smash the Top Gear Britain-Argentina football trophy.
And on that bombshell...
My Mentor: The Men Behind The Great Men
The Simple Minds singer on how his manager,
Bruce Findlay, influenced him.
Bruce's family owned a chain of record shops in Scotland.
It was called Bruce's, appropriately enough. Although we'd hang out in the shop,
I never met him, but I remember hearing in 1978 he'd started his own independent label. We [Simple Minds] had
a demo tape out, so I called him up to see if we could visit,
play some music and get some advice. Also if perhaps he would be interested in releasing a single.
I remember instantly getting a warm impression.
My songwriting partner Charlie Burchill and I met
Bruce in the office above his record store. We played him the music and,
how can I say this, he fell back and lit an exotic cigarette. His eyes were closed, smiling he was evidently into
it. He decided to see us at our next gig in Glasgow,
and afterwards he gave us our first piece of advice, which was that he felt Simple Minds
would go on to much bigger things than his little label could offer us. He didn't offer us a deal, but said
he'd love to manage us.
It wasn't just music he was a mentor in every area of my life.
We were boys from a housing estate; Bruce had travelled the world. He helped
us get a record deal, our first exposure and moulded the band. But while that was happening, we were growing up, going
through those first big adult issues getting married, getting a mortgage, going into debt.
Bruce had done all that. He knew how to deal with strangers, how to get
on with people, when to fight, when not to fight. He prevented us from getting into sticky situations.
I didn't tell the band when I decided to get married but I told Bruce.
When any of the other guys spoke about getting married, I'd talk them out of it: "Nah, you don't want to be doing that."
And here I was, head over heels in love. I was 23, I didn't know anything about how marriage worked. I told
Bruce and he said something like, "It's never going to work, but you should
do it because this is what you want. I support your decision." That shows you the magnitude of things we would go to him about.
He was like the big brother I never had. Bruce managed our band from 1978-1990. Many people would say he took us from
scrapping around trying to get pub gigs to being one of the biggest bands in the world. Not that he imposed himself,
that's just how impressive he was.
It was good to see the five-piece Simple Minds back for their appearance at the SSE Hyrdo for
the BBC's Sports Personality Of The Year 2014. They opened the show with a live versions of
Waterfront, but the visuals were often replaced with notable sporting
achievements of the year and sweeping shots of the audience.
TR: It's Running Late here on 88.3FM The Sting and there's
no surprise that I'm very surprised about this next one here. I've had the opportunity to first speak to this
gentleman since over a decade ago and it's been a real joy to see this band continue on kind of like from
out of nowhere again, a second time in their career. Because they did kind of go off into the ether a little bit at
least here in the States in the meantime Simple Minds have continued. What an amazing run all
around the world and they've finally made a return last year we were happy to be a part of seeing a show up
in Toronto and Boston and New York and all these great venues and just to say "Hey. We're out here. We're alive.
We're celebrating our thirty year career plus almost forty years now." And now they're coming back with
Big Music. I'm speaking of course of Simple Minds, and
Jim Kerr, is joining us here the lead singer of the band and lyricist as well.
TR:Jim, I can't tell you how excited I am
about all this. It's a real thrill.
JK: Well it's lovely to talk to you Todd. I'm taking in all the stuff you said
and it all sounds... the thing I'm finding difficult to deal with is the fact that it's ten years since
we last did this. But in my mind, everything is like two or three years ago. So hopefully we can make up with that today.
TR: Well, it's funny because, when we were talking about a year ago we talked about
the box set and then coming back to the States I
was counting up the years and it was about 1997 when we first had you on for a Simple Minds Marathon
and before that there was another Marathon and it's been a while [Laughs] This has been fun
JK: Well, before we go on, I should say that and you alluded to it there, you mentioned it that
there was a long period there when people could be forgiven for thinking that Simple Minds had
indeed gone off into the ether but you were always there supporting us... you and a few others but not many [laughs] and
we appreciate that.
TR: After the tour last fall, almost exactly a year ago, I had more people asking me about you guys bummed
that they couldn't see you or happy that they did get to see you and you could just feel the energy change. In fact,
I think I mentioned this to you, we had one of those retro tours come through Cleveland and after the show everyone
came to me saying "What about this band? What about that band? And at the top of everyone's list was "What's up with
Simple Minds?" And I said "You just missed them! They were just here."
JK: They could be forgiven. Because although it was sincerely ... it was a blast after a whole decade
to touch down and be able to play some dates in North America, it was only a few dates and we really did have a blast.
We loved each and every one of them and would love to have done more and that desire continues. So hopefully we will
get the chance to come and play to those people who were liked to have seen us or would like to see us. The only thing
I can tell them is and I feel confident in telling them this is that the wait will be worthwhile because at
least in my opinion, the band just gets better and better and it'll be worth it.
TR: That's the thing I've seen definitely seen over the course of Graffiti Soul
which we talked about hard to believe that we talked about five years ago now. And now this record is that the
live element of the band totally falls back into the recording element and you can see the songs evolve and you
can see those elemental things be true and it's all still Simple Mindseque if I could make it a
verb or an adjective rather. And that's been really exciting. There's a couple of songs on the album
Big Music - which I'm going to stress comes out digitally on the
4th November and I'm told physically on the 25th November here in the US - there's a few songs there that
have appeared before but have evolved. And we talked a little about that last year too that sometimes
Simple Minds songs, once they hit the CD case or whatever you want to call it, that's
not necessarily the final piece of the evolution.
JK: It's so true. I mean apart from the fact that certain songs really benefit from the live experience.
TR: Speaking of being on the road, you've introduced
Catherine AD into the line up by way of... basically she showed up in the
video for Honest Town and I was both fascinated, amazed, thrilled and
almost confused I was like "What's see doing here?" [Laughs] Could you quickly clarify? She's going to be on
the road with us next year so she's on the video. Which I think is great.
JK: Well, we thought we'd put her in there so people would at least when they come to see us
play would say "Ah, I know what this girl's all about. I know that face." And it wouldn't be "Oh the support act
has jumped on stage with them!" Not at all. Again, this goes back to a tradition of Simple Minds when
you go back to those days when we had Lisa Germano playing violin and the great
Robin Clark these people joined us. I mean they weren't session people,
they were artists in their own right and we again a band if you're going to tour so much then you want to chop it
and change it a little bit here and there. And Sarah Brown who sings with
us just now she's a real part of the show and I have no qualms in calling it a show, we hope it is a show, and
she's brought a lot to it. Well similarly I think Sarah's been with us
for four or five years and she's doing great I mean some nights I don't want her to stop singing. I'd rather
go in the crowd and listen to her.
JK: We wanted something new to the show, something else in the sound and obviously
Catherine AD I met actually I hadn't met her but we both worked on the
same project last year The Dark Flowers with Paul Statham. And
Paul had told me a lot about her and I said to
Paul we were looking to add something to the show and I said we were
looking for someone younger and a multi-instrumentalist and he said
Catherine AD would be great. And so we're looking forward to that.
TR:Big Music is the name of the new album from
Simple Minds and you've already premiered a couple of tracks via your website and a couple of
places around and we've just talked a little bit about Honest Town [video].
It's a very cool video, thrilled to see the band in a performance setting even though I know it's made for the video,
it's not a live performance per se. But there is that element of I hate to say of 80s cool but it's true, it made
me harken back to that feel and the fascination the way this group of musicians when you put them in the same
room becomes this thing called Simple Minds and that's about as esoteric as I'm going to get with that.
But there's also some other songs we need to talk about. Blindfolded is just
one heck of a cool I always like to call it driving song. It puts you somewhere, it takes you from the place.
And then there's the other track we've been talking about for quite some time now actually I think it came up in
the conversation we had last year during the marathon Midnight Walking
which comes from Andy Gillespie I guess in its originality. I couldn't be
more thrilled. These songs are diverse, it's a change, the whole album has an arc to it, it's really cool.
JK: Great. I have no hesitation in saying that as far as Blindfolded
goes, you think of the amount of music that Charlie Burchill's created
through the years with the band, I think Blindfolded is yet again a peak. There
are so many aspects of what he does that makes me think about that. But Blindfolded
was the kind of although we had ideas that we were working on we were looking for something to light the touchpaper,
we were really looking for a track that would say to us, "we've not only got another great song but we're looking for
something as a track that has something about it that kind of ticked all the boxes we would like to have ticked." Even
though we probably weren't sure what those boxes were we knew that to really get people jumping up and down, to get us
jumping up and down, first and foremost, but to get people jumping up and down more importantly [laughs], there had to
be a special song that said "Hey, remember the old Simple Minds? Well this is the new Simple Minds
that sound like the old Simple Minds brought into the future." And Blindfolded
did that it I think Blindfolded could've been on New Gold Dream
but no way is it a New Gold Dream pastiche or
New Gold Dream by numbers. It just has that. And
Charlie came up with... I was in the South of France and he sent me this and I
started listening to it ... I liked the lyrics that popped out and, anyway, when we started putting it together at
that time we were working with producer Steve Osborne and we said
"We need this track that has something of the other worldliness to it Simple Minds but in a whole
other world from where we've been on the last two albums. " All that was easier said than done, but when we got it and
we played it to a few people. .. We've got a few people around us who kick the tyres and everyone went: "Oh, hang on a
second. This is what it should be about. This sets the scene." And even though we knew it wasn't going to be a
radio song, we thought "This will be the song that this will be our John The Baptist. This can tell the world about what
is to come."
TR: Very well put. I like that a lot. I'll bring that one back in a couple of years with the next
record: "What's the John The Baptist song?"
TR: I'm also thrilled to see the reaction from the people closest to the song
[Let The Day Begin] I imagine. Robert Levon Been and gang over
at The Call have officially noticed and made posts on Facebook of yet one more interpretation of
Let The Day Begin that has carried you through the bonus disc of
Graffiti Soul into the live set and, again, evolved into what shows
up now on Big Music. And I couldn't be more thrilled about it you and I
have had many conversations about Mr. Been back in the day with The Call opening up, I'm
just thrilled to see his memory supported and I know you love the live album The Call got together with
Michael's son and brought that to light so I just thought that was really cool and come full circle.
JK: We're also delighted. At the start of October last October when we were setting out to do the
dates that would lead up to the American tour... We were getting kind of sentimental, we hadn't been to America for ten
years and we associated playing in America with ... we associated it with seeing Michael either if
he wasn't playing with us then he'd be around and loved them to bits and loved his music to bits. And I was thinking
because with Michael's passing a few years ago, he wasn't going to be there and I thought
"Hang on a minute. He's not going to be there but, maybe, one of his songs can be there, maybe some of his music,
some of his spirit can be there. So we thought "Let's learn Let The Day Begin"
because I remember Michael telling me about Let The Day Begin,
he had a little glint in his eye and he said "You know this song is not a million miles away from one of your songs
Waterfront" because Michael loved that tune and,
anyway, Let The Day Begin does have that blues feel to it but the lyrics
were really the thing that sealed the deal for me and he's an amazing lyric writer.
JK: Anyway, we thought "OK. Let's learn this. Maybe we can slip it in the odd night" as an encore.
But no, we knew in the rehearsal room, everyone was looking around going "This is no encore. This is in the set.
This works!" And every night the song went down a storm obviously people who knew it, arguably half the people,
maybe more, didn't know it. But it went down a storm and was sounding and feeling so good that the very next day after
we got off the plane, back home, we went in, there was a free day, we went into London and got Gavin Goldberg
and Andy Wright and there you have it. Even then we weren't sure what it
was going to be maybe a bonus track or whatever but the good thing was that most the people coming into the studio
outside of the band the engineers, producers they didn't know it was a cover, they all thought it was a Minds
song and you could see the reaction and so I guess it's very much a Call song, it's very much
Michael's song, but I believe in a way we might have made a little bit of it our own as well.
TR:Big Music is the new album by Simple Minds.
It's available digitally and in physical forms; both on CD, Deluxe Edition CD and also and I think I might actually buy
this too double vinyl. I can't wait. [Laughs] Oh yeah baby. Absolutely, it's going to be fantastic. And hopefully...
hopefully... something in 2015 in the live set here in the States. We have our fingers crossed right now. And it's
going to be fantastic. Jim Kerr thank you so much for all the music over the
times a personal thank you again for a wonderful show, I got to see about a year ago at the O2 with
Ultravox opening up talk about a great bill. And I have the recording I still listen to it all
the time and it still resonates very well for me and I can't thank you enough for all the music over the years and
helping us explore it with you and built it along and hopefully we'll have you here in Cleveland soon.
JK: I would love that, I would love to play in Cleveland. I know they're not from Cleveland, they're from
Akron, but a few years ago playing with the guys from Devo and them talking about Cleveland and all
that, was a real, real pleasure. But yeah, as I said, we loved playing in the States last year can't wait
to get back, can't wait to get out and prove ourselves so thank you very much.
TR: You can find out more about Big Music at the
Simple Minds website: www.simpleminds.com (they have all
the YouTube links on there.) I call [the album] the "Big Tease" because every song is highlighted in some respect
and so you know what you're going to get there. It's beautiful to swim in that music, let me tell you just now,
it's just fantastic.
Todd Richards Running Late WBWC 88.3FM The Sting
dream giver, big music, big music reviews, q award, acoustic sets, honest town, bbc sports personality, stereogum interview, houkago tea time, saints and sinners
I've had many anxious e-mails expressing concern about the lack of updates on Dream Giver recently.
This shared nervous feeling was heightened by the fact that the website went uncharacteristically quiet on the eve of
Big Music - new information and updates should've been more frequent, not less.
However, things are very different behind the scenes. I've been working intensively on a forthcoming
Simple Minds release to make sure it's as complete and as good as it should be. In my new role, I've
been helping Universal Records and
ensuring the quality of their forthcoming Simple Minds releases from conception right through to final
approval. This means, unfortunately, that an unofficial fan-based music website does tend to get a little neglected.
So, this update will summarize everything which has been going on over the last month. And, in typical
Dream Giver style, I'll attempt to add a little more. For instance, I've now published information
about all the collectables from Big Music, including all the promos which
have now started to circulate.
The first project I've been working on has now been formally announced. There's much more
to come but be assured that when things go quiet on this website, then there's no need to worry it's just that I'm
quietly working on another Simple Minds release.
Big Music was released on three formats on November 3rd. It was released
by Caroline International in the UK and Ministry Of Sound and Sony in Europe
"Their best album in 30 years." **** Mojo
"Simple Minds at their ideal fighting weight." **** Q Magazine
"Big Music is the genuine article: a remarkable record that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder
with any of Simple Minds' first five albums." **** Record Collector
"A brave new phase of their career." 8/10, Vive Le Rock
"A vibrant return to founding principles." Uncut
"This is the Simple Minds we want." 7/10, NME
Mojo Magazine November 2014
Q Magazine December 2014
Uncut Magazine November 2014
Vive Le Rock Magazine November 2014
NME November 2014
Record Collector November 2014
Oh, and keep an eye on the NME for the next couple of weeks...
Simple Minds received the 2014 Q Inspiration Award and the whole band
(including new-recruit Catherine AD) were in London to receive it.
It was presented by James Dean Bradfield - the perfect choice to present the award and
recount how Simple Minds effected him and his band.
"Thanks to Q for inviting us to the ceremony this afternoon. Thanks even more for the flattering award.
James Dean Bradfield gave a beautiful and eloquent description re the impact of our music on him.
We in turn dedicated the award to everybody who has listened to our music and to everyone who works
on our behalf. They are our inspiration." - Jim.
"When asked why there are fewer misbehaving rock stars now, the 55-year-old star told
"We're missing Liam. We need him. These things go in cycles - this time next year they'll be
someone coming over the horizon to turn up and do something."
Jim and Charlie also signed some
memorabilia for Water Aid which was later auctioned online.
A follow-up brief interview was published in Q's January 2015 issue (on sale now):
The lead to the launch of Big Music has been notable for a new
acoustic version of Simple Minds. As Jim explained to
Billy Sloan, the band had avoided acoustic versions "like the plague" as
"Bongo on the Beach versions never appealed." Yet, the chance to play an acoustic session on
Chris Evan's show was far too good to pass up, and with
Mark Kerr completing the trio, this new version of Simple Minds
discovered they had something special.
Chris Evans Breakfast Show, BBC Radio Two, 26th September 2014
I didn't expect the acoustic set to be this good. When Jim
announced that they'd be tackling Don't You (Forget About Me) and
Alive And Kicking I wondered how they could've taken on these
huge songs with such a minimal set-up. And as the pictures revealed, they were squeezed onto a tiny sofa
at the back of Chris Evans' studio behind three other guests. But they worked wonders.
De Wereld Draait Door ("The World Turns Around"), Vara, 30th October 2014
"Making our way to Berlin and Amsterdam this week. In these final days leading up to the worldwide
release we will of course be talking about our new album Big Music,
as well as playing various acoustic sets featuring both classic and new songs. There will be more precise
info about all of this as the week unfolds." - Jim, 26th October 2014
Billy Sloan Session, Radio Clyde, 2nd November 2014
The acoustic promotion continued with a session for Billy Sloan on
the 2nd November. "Will be back home in Glasgow this weekend, performing an acoustic set for Billy Sloan's
Sunday radio show on Clyde 2. Billy has supported Simple Minds since our
debut gig in January 1978, his belief in our music never wavered.
We look forward to giving our best for Billy!" - Jim, 2nd November 2014
The whole of Billy's show was devoted to his guests.
Jim and Charlie were in
the studio selecting their favouite tracks, Billy played several tracks
from Big Music with Jim and
Charlie giving the background information behind them and the rest of the
show was filled with classic Simple Minds songs from the past.
"Over the last five days we have been in Berlin, Amsterdam and Glasgow. Next up in Paris where we'll
arrive tomorrow and prepare to spend the next few days talking about the new album
Big Music. The trip will also include a few more acoustic sets
with various radio stations. More details to follow." - Jim, 4th November 2014
"It doesn't matter whether you are playing a football stadium or whether you are playing somebody's
living room. If the crowd's into it, that makes you want to do it even better. It's a night we'll never forget. You
can hear the arrangements Charlie came up with on songs like
Alive and Kicking. When he first said we could do an acoustic version of
Alive and Kicking or songs like
The American, I thought 'You're kidding on.' These European
electro art-rock records are complex songs, but they have big chunky choruses and that's what works more than
anything else." - Jim, 3rd November 2014
"It's terrifying but wonderful. The essence of the thing is the same. We love it. Even though you can't
imagine a bigger disparity between a huge gig and somebody's room, actually there is not that much of a difference.
It's the same thing, music to get everybody together." - Charlie, 3rd November 2014
Charlie were interviewed by Lucy Cotter
about seeing their old videos, the new album and whether they'd be recording for
Bob Geldoff's new charity single. The show was closed with an acoustic version
of Honest Town (with Mark)
The main act tonight was the boxing match between Felix Sturm vs. Robert Stieglizt
but Simple Minds were also there, miming to a playback recording of
Cafe Corsari, Antwerp, Belgium, 13th November 2014
I'm at a loss to explain this one with Jim
and Charlie interviewed at a bar table by a giant
chicken. But - credit due - the chicken did ask some good questions including the band's first gig
in Belgium, their first festival (along with Wertcher footage from 1983), what their children think of them,
the success of Big Music and what they
would write a protest song about today.
They then played an acoustic version of Honest Town for the chicken.
Jim was interviewed in the studio before
the band performed in an outside square to a small enthusiastic audience. The
event was covered by www.rtbf.be.
Good quality copies can also be found on YouTube.
There was also a Q&A session with the audience between each of the songs.
Honest Town is the first single from Big Music
and the video was first published on the The Guardians' website on the 29th
It was added to the Radio Two A-List on the 9th October, repeating the success and promotion of
Broken Glass Park. "We're delighted. Can't wait for the rest
of world to hear Honest Town. And all the other songs from Big Music for that matter." - Jim.
It isn't known if there will be a physical release of the single, but smartly packaged
Honest Town 4-track promos were distributed: these included various edits
of the main song, the Iain Cook remix and an instrumental version (Caroline SMBM12).
The Telegraph also published a
behind the scenes video
promoting the new album and single. This is one of the bonus videos which will be included on the Deluxe version of
Three track promos featuring the edit, album and instrumental
versions are already circulating.
Simple Minds will be performing at the BBC's Sport Personality Of The Year. It's going to
be held at a familar venue - the SSE Hydro in Glasgow - and will take place on the 14th December. Further details - including
how to buy tickets - can be found on the BBC's website.
Even with my never-ending obsession with music from the early '80s, it's a pretty rare opportunity
when I get the chance to write anything about my favorites from that era. Last week, one of those rare
opportunities popped up. I called Jim Kerr, the frontman of the Simple Minds i.e., the man who
sang a handful of my favorite songs, ever while he was in Glasgow to talk about the band's first new record
in five years, Big Music. It's a title so appropriate for the
Simple Minds' music that it's surprising it's taken them more than three decades to apply it.
Whether it was the massive choruses of pop-era Simple Minds, like
Don't You (Forget About Me) or
Alive And Kicking, or whether it was the twistier, artier stuff
from Empires And Dance or
New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84), there's always been an expansiveness
to their music. At its core, Simple Minds' music has always sounded to me like the product
of city rhythms, but also possessing a hunger to see and consume and understand all the permutations of our world and
the people in it. Movement's always been a major theme, and accordingly my conversation with
Kerr touched on little bits and pieces from the whole of this 35-year arc he's
been on with the Simple Minds from the new, big music to the old, big music, to his love for his adopted home in Italy.
StereoGum: The first thing I want to ask you about is the title "Big Music." I was reminded of
the Waterboys' use of the term "The Big Music" when I first heard about it.
JK: You've got a good memory. [laughs]
StereoGum:So how'd you wind up naming it that?
JK: Well, you're right about the Waterboys, [but] it came from the
song itself. The title track. It's quite a cute story actually.
We had that music, this basic melody and the idea of the music, for about a decade now. And every time we went
to it, we would get excited but I'd have some kind of stumbling block. I could never really get anything I
thought matched the music or matched the track well. So, it would come out and it would go on the backburner,
come out again and go on the backburner, and finally it really disappeared into the mists of time. We had
forgotten about it. Last year, just as we were about to close the door on tracks for the album, the keyboard player,
Andy Gillespie, he said, "Listen, I've found this piece of music when
was this done? It's great. You should really look at it," and all that. And Charlie Burchill
and I, were saying "Oh, not that one, it's slipped through our fingers so many times." [Gillespie] said, "Well, give me a
chance to work on it over the weekend, see if I can maybe find the missing piece." I said, "Well, great, you can do that,
but I'm going to see Prince in Switzerland." It had been organized for months. I said, "If you get anything,
send me a MP3." I went to Switzerland, and the next day he sent me a MP3, and he found this missing musical piece
for the track which I thought sounded great. Anyway, I go and see Prince. As I'm in there, it's one of
those Prince nights where he doesn't play anything, really, that you want to hear. Some funky twenty
minute jazz solos. It was cool, because it was Prince, it's always cool. But I was pissed, you know?
I was actually saying, "Give me the music, give me the tunes, give me the big tunes!" I was kinda talking to myself
and willing him to play the stuff I wanted him to play. Well, he didn't, but I was flying back on the plane, I was
listening to the track, and all the sudden really, what came to me when I was watching the thing was how much music
still meant to me, how much the big melodies still meant to me, how much the emotions of music still meant to me
after all this time, especially when you go to see it live. That became the song, not so much about Prince
but about the effect of music. Once we got to doing the song, we started talking about it being a title track.
And then, you know, when the marketing people came in they were like, "Oh, that's really good, because people in
Italy and Germany can see Big Music and everyone understands it. It's such a catchy thing." And I was like, "Yeah, but
what about the Waterboys..." [Waterboys' frontman] Mike Scott might chase me down.
But we're quite happy with it.
StereoGum: You worked with Iain Cook from
Chvrches on some of these songs. I was wondering how you came to meet him and how you found
the experience of working with him?
JK: It was a great experience. Exactly four years ago, it was a sad period for me because my mum
was on the verge of passing away and I'd come back to Glasgow to be around during the last weeks. I was staying at
the house with Mum and Dad. She actually said to me, "What are you doing sitting around, go and do some work." She
just knew I wasn't being myself, obviously. I thought, "You know what, I'm probably freaking out just sitting and
moping around, she's right." So Iain and I had a mutual friend [Martin Hanlin] and
he said, "I'm gonna take you over to see [him]." I'd just previously done a solo record and worked with various
people, and I was thinking about maybe doing another one. He said, "There's this kid that it'd be good for you
to work with." I said cool. Iain was only ten minutes away, and it was amazing
because the neighborhood Iain lived in was only three houses away from where
we started as a garage band, really, as Simple Minds. It was like coming back full circle, but in
Iain's basement. I went in, and I had never met him but I could see from
all the stuff he had on the walls that he was a real music guy. I said, "Look, let's do something." He said, "Well, I've
been working on a couple of things. I listened to some of your earlier records and I've been working on a couple
of things that might be of interest to you." And, indeed, one of the first things he played me became the melody for
the track Honest Town." That was four years ago. They were just sort
of putting together Chvrches, they hadn't even found Lauren Mayberry yet, I don't think.
Chvrches were just starting out. But it's been amazing to see the success that they've had.
Iain Cook and I wrote probably about ten songs over a period of two weeks.
StereoGum: Do you think the other stuff will wind up coming out at some point?
JK: I think it definitely will. There's two that I think well, then we're gonna have a
fight as to whether he gets them for Chvrches or I get them. Not really, I'll do whatever
he likes to do. I mean, definitely, in my opinion, there's enough quality for them to see the light of day.
StereoGum: The other collaboration I was curious about with this record was that you worked with
Steve Hillage again, for the first time since he produced
Sons And Fascination / Sister Feelings Call
in 1981. What was it like bringing him back into the fold so many years later?
JK: What had happened was, we did this thing about five years ago it was interesting,
we repackaged the first five albums and put them out in a box. We called it X5.
[We did a tour] and we played five songs from [each of] those first
five albums. For a lot of people who love those albums it was really special, and it was special for us as well.
In doing that, we tuned into the essence of those earlier records again. To be honest, some of that process resulted
in some of the songs on Big Music. Steve
came to the London gig. It was great to see him, I hadn't seen him in the longest time. He said, "I've got a little
studio just off of Ladbroke Grove, where we used to work. [Ladbroke Grove is a tube stop in London, not far from
the Portobello Road Market Ed.] We said, "Look, next time we're in London we'll get a couple ideas and we'll come in
and just see what happens." And, indeed, that's what we did. We worked with Steve
on two or three tracks and it got the ball rolling.
StereoGum: You've said this record deals with similar themes you've always been
attracted to, and in particular I'm thinking of when you said you were writing about "great cities and movements of people."
I've definitely always thought of Simple Minds very much as city music, but I was interested to hear
how you thought about this stuff in relation to the new record, and how that might fit into the grander scheme of older
Simple Minds music.
JK: They say that artists have two or three themes that they're always going back to or riffing off.
If that is the case with Simple Minds, this idea of movement, or searching, or being on the move:
it's obviously been the story of our lives, albeit through touring. But even before we were touring,
Charlie and I used to hitchhike all over Europe. We were living out our
version of the Beatniks, you know? Our version of Kerouac and all those guys. We would hitchhike to see
bands, but then we'd hook up with people and end up in some [situation], living in Leipzig for two weeks or something
like that. I guess it comes from a restlessness. Not sort of "ants in our pants," but a kind of restlessness. Especially
in Europe the States also, where you've got that landmass but in Europe cultures and landscapes change within a hundred
kilometers, and there's worlds within worlds. Within those worlds, there's good things going on. Within those worlds,
there's tragic things. Especially back then, you know, when you had the Berlin Wall and all that stuff. That seemed to be ...
we always felt with our music we were on some kind of journey. We still do, both metaphorically and physically.
Likewise, looking around, the first track of the album, Blindfolded, it
opens with an image I remember the first time we'd been in El Paso in Texas, and Juarez, and first hearing about
the immigrants across the border there and they go through these trips trying to come from one world into the next.
Where I [live] in Italy just now, it's also a gateway for immigrants coming in from Africa. There's a lot of problems a
lot of them die on the way, lose their lives just making this journey. It seems to be that some of that imagery just pops
in the songs. I'm sitting in Glasgow just now, I'm a Scotsman but third generation Irish, and there are people here
who are the same thing. We're here because people went on the move. All of America's there because people went on the
move. These are universal themes that are ongoing.
StereoGum: On the notion of movement and everything when did you move to Italy? I didn't
realize you lived there.
JK: Well, what happened was I first went to Italy with school. School took us on a trip when I was
fifteen and I like to say I don't know what age you are, but it was like I discovered the world was in color. Glasgow don't
get me wrong, I love Glasgow, but in the '60s and '70s the city was on its knees. It was kind of bankrupt. It was pretty
monochrome. Going to Italy was like, "Wow, look at this." I fell in love with the place. I've been going ever since.
Probably about ten, twelve years ago was the only time in the band where for about a year we kind of started to think,
"You know what, maybe this is it." Getting songs was like getting blood out of a stone. We didn't just want to go around
like punch-drunk boxers because there was nothing else to do. We'd been looked after, we didn't have to do that. We weren't
quite sure what was going to happen, but within that I thought, "Alright, here's my time to go and settle home in Italy,"
which is what I always wanted to do, and get the language, and all that stuff. I did that. That was about ten years ago,
no, twelve years ago, sorry ... no, fourteen years ago, I've got it. And then as soon as I got everything set up,
the music kinda came back to us. We've been pretty busy ever since. I do have my place there, I do have the language,
but I haven't had the chance to spend as much time there as I thought I was going to.
StereoGum: And you own a hotel there, right?
JK: I own it, I don't run it. There's professional people running it. It would last
about a month if I was running it. Not only that, but I'm not there to run it. That was part of a thing
I got into there. I got into it with a partner and he ended up bailing. It's mine and my son's now, he looks
after it and he works in it. It's cool.
StereoGum: In the last ten or so years, there's been a lot of music where you could really see
the influence of the early '80s coming back, whether melodically or bands just going synth-pop or whatever.
At this point, you've kind of seen your style come in and out of vogue a few times. I don't know how much you keep up
with contemporary music, but what's it like seeing that unfold?
JK: I guess this stuff all does go in cycles, not just in music, but in literature, architecture, design,
fashion. You know, one minute you're in fashion and then you're completely out of fashion, but if you hang around long
enough and don't get desperate, suddenly you become "classic." You see that happening all the time. It has been... I mean,
the thing with Simple Minds is that there's many Simple Minds within
Simple Minds. There was definitely an electronic art-rock phase; a lot of people associate us with the
big MTV pop age. Other people you talk to and they say "Oh, Simple Minds are stadium rock." I'll say, "Hang
on a minute, I think it can be all those things." We have been all of those things. The electronics, I think those
first four or five records... I can say it without thinking I'm blowing my own horn, but, you know, people do see them
as pioneering. For decades now, the stuff's been getting sampled. It's a great thing to see. But, yeah, I mean, it's
thrilling. I'm not blasι about it, even though I might seem blasι when I talk about the procedure of things going
in and out of fashion. One minute, no one wants to know you, and the next minute it's like "Oh, they're using your music
on the fashion catwalks in Paris." You think, "Well, what's gone on?"
StereoGum: Whether you met them or just heard them, have you come across any newer artists
in the last five or ten years that you heard some Simple Minds influence in? Or anyone who's told you
they were really inspired by you when they were younger?
JK: We don't really meet them so much, you know, but you read stuff. Bands like Editors,
but yeah there has been quite a few and then there's been people you'd never expect. This isn't from the last ten years,
but the other day over at the Q Awards, people like Billy Corgan come up. I read an
interview with Ryan Adams, who I'm a big fan of, and he was going into a lot of detail about our
earlier records. I wouldn't think Ryan Adams, I can't see the association. You're never quite sure
what people listened to when they were kids, and if it's been us and we've inspired them or even given them a good time,
then that's great.
StereoGum: It's funny you bring up Ryan Adams, because I interviewed him in
September and we actually talked about the Simple Minds."
JK: Did you? Maybe it came from your interview.
StereoGum: We didn't really go into detail in mine, but he was talking about what music he
listens to when he runs. He was talking about how he's always loved early '80s music and he mentioned Simple Minds.
JK: Well, you know what, if you ever talk to him again I run to his music! [laughs] Especially
that track "New York, New York," I love that.
StereoGum: To go back to what you were saying about how Simple Minds have been
all these different things, from art-rock to stadium rockhow do you feel about that divide between the earlier,
more experimental years and the poppier MTV years? I'm wondering what you think of the pop breakthrough years these days,
based on some of your comments I've read. Whether you aren't really a fan of how things went after that. Not that you've
disparaged it, necessarily, but I've seen a few comments where it seemed like you were more about the earlier stuff before that.
JK: Genuinely, I like the pop years as well. The Once Upon A Time
album, that we did we decided to do that, that's what we wanted to do. I've gotta say, when we really put our minds into
something, we're pretty good at pulling it off. You know, if you're gonna do lots of other people have done America
and failed miserably. So we said, "Let's do this." We went to New York and we worked with
Bob Clearmountain and
Jimmy Iovine, these great American guys in these American studios.
In my opinion, we flourished. It was a different... I could see why people who liked the earlier records might go,
"Hang on a minute, this is not my thing anymore." But, you know, things evolve. We couldn't... we had a voracious appetite
for listening to all different kinds of music. If you were in our touring minivan in 1978 and 1979, you would have heard
all the German electronic Krautrock, but you also would've heard Springsteen. You would've heard
Diana Ross, James Brown. Our [original] drummer [Brian McGee] was
the biggest damn ELO fan in the world. He didn't last long. [laughs] There was only two kinds of
music to us: great music and music that wasn't worth its salt. Obviously through the periods we would tune into different
styles we were consumed by, and I think sometimes we just moved too fast for certain people. I could understand that I
didn't like it, but I could understand it. And then when it came to this thing, when this MTV thing took over the world,
that was like, suddenly... it's hard to describe, there was nothing, and then MTV was in every bar in the world.
Go into Tokyo, MTV's there. Go to Australia, MTV's there. Go to the north of Scotland, MTV's there. You're like, "You know what,
we better get on that." If we want people to hear the music. So, no, I don't... on one hand, I understand that the band's
imagination was probably at its most fertile in those five years, those early five years and those early five albums,
but when it came to songwriting when you say, "Let's do a big pop rock album," you know,
Once Upon A Time, it hits the mark. So I'm not tough on it. There's
a few records that I am tough on because I think we didn't finish them off. We were one or two songs short, and
for that, you know, I feel bad. You know, all of the periods, I embrace them.
StereoGum: Is there a particular Simple Minds record that's your personal favorite,
or sums up the whole story for you?
JK: I think, New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84), for the critics...
when I think about making that record a smile comes to my face. It was just one of these things where everything we
tried worked. Other records you think, "Yeah, we went in, and the first half worked and the other half we were
tearing each other's hair." It just worked. The weather was good. We finished the album, and we played it for the
next six months to ourselves. We just loved it. You know, it's hard to separate all the great feelings with that.
But, you know, you mentioned Hillage and
Sons And Fascination, and although we didn't quite have our chops
together and some of the things were a little bit over-ambitious, but there's nothing wrong with that. I have a great
affinity with that record also.
(It's now Saints And Soldiers according to the label but I wouldn't believe that!)
And nothing feels the same. As details of
Big Music and the
new European tour are revealed,
then it will become apparent that things are slowly changing in the Simple Minds camp.
Nothing drastic or dramatic, but enough to keep it fresh, dynamic and interesting.
The new single, Honest Town, gets its radio debut today, as it's
due to be played on Ken Bruce's morning show on BBC Radio Two.
Pretty standard so far, as such a promotional gesture was used for
Broken Glass Park. But the fact that Simple Minds
are then appearing on Chris Evan's show to perform an acoustic set of four songs on
Friday morning does break the pattern. Not the full band, not the electroset line-up, but a new acoustic
version of Simple Minds.
Evans has already raved about the new album. "@achrisevans: The new Simple Minds album is
oFf the chuffing charts. As fresh as a newly laid free range chuckie egg. Seriously good. Well done everyone."
So two shows to tune into this week. Fresh, dynamic and interesting. Expect more of these twists.
Big Music will be getting the big multi-format release. The obligatory
single 12-track standard CD is joined by a limited edition deluxe edition (a tasty little box-set modelled on familiar
lines comprising of the standard album, a bonus CD, interview and video DVD plus a double-sided poster)
and a limited edition double LP set.
The album's standard artwork has also been revealed. There have been some nods to Depeche Mode's
Music For The Masses, except that features three limp orange speakers on a flimsy pole, whilst
Simple Minds have opted for a floating Death Star steel speaker array. It should
now be apparent how clever the design is a section through the floating speakers yields the new Celtic cross logo.
And it's this version of the design, rendered in silver, which graces the front the limited edition deluxe edition.
celebrate: the collection, big music
Those who take interest in the record company details on sleeves and, admittedly that's not going to be many will
have noticed the sly change in branding from Virgin to Universal.
This shouldn't be surprising since the Universal takeover of floundering EMI
was widely reported, even escaping the music business press and appearing as a footnote in the mainstream media.
From a fan's perspective, this should be welcomed. I'd often privately joked that Virgin
were a record company who didn't release anything, whilst Universal were well known for
releasing almost everything. It was widely expected that EMI's new masters would be fully
delving into dusty music archives and releasing everything they could in order to recoup their outlay.
This is the climate which lead to Celebrate: The Collection.
From a fan's perspective, especially those who'd purchased the 2CD and 3CD sets, then the inclusion of a singular
CD package is seen as naively unnecessary, perhaps cynically exploitative. Yet it's business:
Universal simply realised that Virgin hadn't hit the whole potential market
and took steps to push the band's music into these new areas.
Celebrate: The Collection is a budget compilation, aimed for
small retail outlets and targeted for that impulse buy.
I expect the Virgin brand will gradually disappear. The company's offices have
now closed, many of the staff were issued with P45s, and for many the series of gigs at Koko on the
surface, a 40th anniversary knees up was perhaps their personal swansong with the company. But whilst
Celebrate: The Collection may not set the
Simple Minds scene on fire, it will be very interesting to see what Universal come up with next.
This current Celebrate Tour, that started in Febuary 2013
in Dublin, Ireland, will rather abruptly come to an end in a few days time. On Friday 12th of September
to be precise. An audience in Durham, UK, will witness the last chords ring out on a remarkable tour
that consisted of 119 gigs, in 23 different countries, and featured 70 different songs throughout
the various nightly setlists that were played the world over.
Undoubtedly the passing of this last gig and tour, will also mark the passing
of yet another entire phase in our band's history. But as always with Simple Minds,
as one era comes to a close, a new one is already in motion, as anyone who has heard or seen the clip
for the new song Blindfolded, will more than verify.
And so where do we go from here? Well, with no thoughts of stopping whatsoever, we have already started
thinking about writing/recording schedules for the next studio album - our 17th.
While simultaneously getting set to announce a whole new phase of live touring, one that will take us way into the future.
And so it is with great thanks that we recognise the plentiful magic moments that occurred while performing
for all who came to see us during this tour. It's been wonderful. But I reckon it could get a whole lot
more wonderful still.
Thanks for hanging in with us!
"And so it begins." When I wrote that, before disappearing on holiday, I knew that the album campaign was
starting behind the scenes, but didn't know how quickly it would actually start. The unveiling of
Big Music has been a slow gradual affair, and some fans are still
questioning whether this is actually it - but the long wait for the first Simple Minds studio album since 2009's
Graffiti Soul is almost over.
This questioning is perhaps prompted by the way Big Music gradually crept
into the fans' consciousness. It hasn't been traditional in the sense of a classic album launch a few months silence and
then *wham*: a new single, a new album, track listings, artwork and release date. Unlike
Black And White 050505 and Graffiti Soul
which followed these tried and tested marketing rules, Big Music has been more akin to
New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84): tracks have been tried out in public,
new material has permeated the set-list, demo names and song titles and even snippets of lyrics have appeared in
the public domain. Big Music is already almost familiar despite not even being released yet.
But it has begun... and the album will be released in November.
Blindfolded are now live staples. And the album will include these, and several
other already familiar song titles and also several other surprises.
The campaign for Big Music officially kicked off on the 4th September.
The Blindfolded video was uploaded on the official site to create
anticipation for the track's radio-debut on Steve Lamaqc's Six Music Roundtable
the same evening. Lamaqc was quick to clear up any confusion surrounding the song:
Blindfolded was a teaser and not the new single. His studio guests
were generally appreciative of the song despite a glut of so-called 80s bands selected for review that week
and some guests not being Simple Minds fans.
The video was suitably abstract, a rolling montage of mirrored
scenes of Paris and Berlin. Again, it was a teaser; the big band performance video would have to wait for the
first single proper.
The new logo was also officially unveiled on the same date with the official site draped in this new livery.
Yet, those with keen eyes, and a sense that something was starting to happen, would've clocked the new logo
on Mel's drumkit a few day's previously at
the Electric Picnic gig.
The new artwork is very clever and some have already correctly guessed what it is. All will become clear
when the album's sleeve itself is published.
big music, metro, tienen, skanderborg, copenhagen, linlithgow palace, colmar
And so it begins. Behind the scenes, work has started on the final parts of the album. This includes a promotional video
for Blindfolded which has been shot in Paris and Berlin
with the band by Damien Reeves of Noisebox. Release date? Late 2014.
"Out of Italy en-route to Belgium. We have had great nights at Suikerrock Festival before.
Hoping for yet another tomorrow night." - Jim, 1st August 2014
"Thank you to all for the reception last night. Third time at Suikerrock - always
memorable." - Jim, 2nd August 2014
Chris Evans' Car Fest, Cheshire, UK 2nd August, 2014
"After the recent successful shows in Northampton and Kew Gardens in London, we are now
looking forward to the various UK gigs throughout August. First up is Cheshire this coming Saturday night.
See you there!" - Jim, 1st August 2014
"Thanks to all for the welcome last night. Great atmosphere at the event. Organisation
was superb, the audience as good as any anywhere. Thanks to
Chris Evans and the BBC for the invite." - Jim, 3rd August 2014
"Back home and getting very excited about our one and only Scottish date at
Linlithgow Palace... one week from now." - Jim, 3rd August 2014
"Next up Denmark. The Danes have supported Simple Minds ever since our
first gigs there in 1979. Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen on Friday will be special - as will
Skanderborg the previous night." - Jim, 4th August 2014
"It was seeing the atmospheric images from Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel show at Linlithgow
Palace a couple of years ago that convinced us it would be only a matter of time before someone would come
up with the idea of using the historical site as the background to an open air music festival. We are delighted
that it has come to pass this year, even more delighted that Simple Minds will have the honour
of being involved in what will inevitably be one the highlight of our touring activities this summer."
"As to what the audience can expect from our set at Linlithgow Palace? Well of course we will
play all the "big hits," those that are received ecstatically night after night as we continue to tour the world.
But in fact we will be choosing songs from throughout our career, from the first album all the way up to the
current. Some new songs also. Simple Minds now try to never play the exact same set twice,
we always look to add the odd surprise, Linlithgow can expect that."
"Playing in Scotland is always amongst the highlights of any tour, it is our home after all. The recently
released Simple MindsCelebrate Live DVD,
filmed at The Hydro in Glasgow last year, more than gives an idea of the connection between
Simple Minds and our Scottish fans."
"Scotland had produced an abundance of remarkable music over the decades. We look forward to playing
alongside many of the artistes who have contributed to that at this Linlithgow Palace event. We invite everyone
to come alone,g and we promise to give 100% of ourselves during our performance on the night." - Jim, 24th June 2014
"Many thanks to the fans at Linlithgow for their support through a rain drenched day. Wonderful
gig in a wonderful location, would be great to see this place as a regular venue (with better weather
of course). Truly great audience." - Charlie, 13th August 2014
Foire Aux Vins, Colmar, France 13th August, 2014
"Thank you for the reception in Colmar last night. It was the last French gig of the tour, we enjoyed every one
of them and appreciate the on-going enthusiasm for our music in France. See you next year!" - Jim, 14th August 2014
manic street preachers, the one show, ken bruce, morzine, nice, northampton, london, taormina, molfetta, rome, ferrara, torino, turin
Neu! Gold Dream indeed!
The Manic's latest album is put under the microscope by Alexander Tate.
Those still unconvinced should listen to Dreaming A City whilst thinking of
Theme For Great Cities. Connections and parallels continue.
As part of the build-up for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Simple Minds appeared
on the BBC's flagship light-entertainment they'll-never-better-Nationwide programme
The One Show. Jim shared the sofa with
Lulu and Claire Balding and the band closed the show with
Alive And Kicking.
As part of the build-up for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Simple Minds appeared
on the BBC's light-entertainment they'll-never-better-Wogan radio programme
The Ken Bruce Show. This was much, much better.
Again the whole programme is available on the BBC's website
and video of two of the songs can also be seen here.
And it was a rare outing for the Electroset line-up of Simple Minds which included
"Also remember receiving a "telegram" in the small Nice Hotel, informing that
Simple Minds were number 1 on Billboard Charts with
Don't You (Forget About Me). Best days of our lives? No!
It was great then... but it is still great now. We are really looking forward to playing in
Theatre Verdure tomorrow night. It will be better than ever. A promise." - Jim, 15th July
"Italians have supported Simple Minds since our earliest days. They made us
feel so good that we ended up living there - almost! We are looking forward to returning next week
and what a great way to start - by performing at Teatro Greco in Taormina. Looking forward
to giving our very best, as always." - Jim, 18th July
"Hello and welcome to everyone who is going to see Simple Minds tonight at the
Teatro Greco. If it is your first time in Taormina I am sure you will really enjoy the town and
the venue, you will also understand why we think it is a truly magical place. Thanks to all for
coming to see us in Sicily - especially the many who have travelled from far and wide.
We appreciate it!" - Jim, 24th July
Many thanks to Enrico for the ticket scan, set-list and pictures.
"Ged Grimes is delighted to be back in Rome.
We all are, and very much looking forward to the show tonight. But first we must say thanks to
all who gave us a fantastic reception in Puglia/Molfetta." - Jim, 27th July 2014
"Had the feeling that last night's gig in Rome was very special. We certainly
enjoyed it as much as any previous Rome show within our career. Sicily, Puglia, Rome
and now Ferrara, these Italian dates are wonderful." - Jim, 27th July 2014
"Had the feeling that last night's gig in Rome was very special. We certainly enjoyed
it as much as any previous Rome show within our career. Sicily, Puglia, Rome and now Ferrar,
these Italian dates are wonderful. Thanks to all!" - Jim, 28th July 2014
"Another amazing night in Italy. Ferrara was an experience, the audience was better
than ever. Thanks to all...we will be back most certainly" - Jim, 29th July 2014
"It has been a while since we last played in Torino. We hope to make up for that
tomorrow night in what will be our last show of this great Italian tour." - Jim, 29th July 2014
"Considering the torrential downpour that occurred during the show, last night's crowd in
Lignano were amazingly supportive throughout the almost two hour show. Together... we
sparkled in the rain. Unforgettable! Thank you. - Jim, 30th July 2014
"Big thanks to all the people at Lignano last night. It rained for most of the gig but
they stayed and made it a memorable night. Grazie a tutti." - Charlie, 30th July 2014
"Jim threatened to never buy me an ice cream in
Taormina again if i didn't post something on FaceBook." - Charlie, 30th July 2014
Many thanks to Martin for the photo-pass, ticket and set-list.
"After last night's downpour, it is nice to arrive on a beautiful sunny morning here in Turin.
Very much looking forward to tonight's show." - Jim, 30th July 2014
"Who are the best audiences to play to? Well, we are lucky because everywhere we
go we get great audiences. But....considering the crowds we have played to over the
last few nights, the Italians are surely up with the very best. No doubt about it." - Jim, 30th July 2014
"Tonight's show (Turin) will be the 6th show in 7 days. That Simple Minds
have energy to burn is no secret. It is however our crew, including the drivers etc, that really
put in the extra effort to enable such a schedule. Hats off - big thanks to all of them!" - Jim, 30th July 2014
"Ciao Italia: Until the next time! We enjoyed every minute - sunshine and rain.
Taormina, Molfetta, Roma, Ferrara, Lignanon and Torino - thanks to all for these unforgettable nights." - Jim, 31st July 2014
Many thanks to Martin for the ticket scan, set-list scan
and all the photos.
absolute radio, cornbury, exodus
Absolute Radio have the biggest microphones in the game but
don't let that put you off - or the various cutlery related mishaps and etiquette blunders by
the guy in the background which would put any finishing school in disgrace. (My favourite is at
0:50 where he drops his fork, retrieves it from the ground, inspects it closely, shrugs and then
The real star of the video is Jim where he
fields the usual banal questions with grace. He talks about headlining Cornbury, playing festivals in
general, things that could go wrong, favourite song live to get the crowd going (which of course
is Waterfront), is it still fun to play the big hits,
how lots of bands are influenced by the early Simple Minds (a much better question),
how do you remain contemporary and relevant now (another good one) and what will happen in the end once it's all
The most interesting part of the interview is around the eight minute mark. Not because the guy in the background
is seeing how much stuff he can pile on his fork in one go... but because the conversaton is about new material:
Q: Are you writing new material now? JK: The album is
just about finished. That'll come end of this year or early next year. Q: Do you have a name for the album yet? JK:Big Music.
"Andy enjoyed playing there last night. We all did.
An audience of all ages made us feel appreciated. New and old songs are going over fantastically well,
the highlight for me is Dolphins... thanks to all once again." - Jim, 6th July 2014
What song would you use to introduce Ridley Scott's forthcoming
epic Exodus: Gods And Kings? Well, Belfast Child of course!
I know what you're thinking. What have previous woes of Northern Ireland got to do with the
Biblical struggle of Moses and his people and their return to the promised land? But all is not as it seems,
as the trailer's editor has skillfully edited Sydney Wayser's haunting cover of the
Simple Minds' classic to produce an eerie, poignant backdrop for preview reel.
Back in the day... well the early nineties to be precise, the Perfecto remix
was the one to look forward to. Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne
crafted some unique reworks which built and highlighted the originals rather than strip them down
to virtually nothing and plump some random new tune on top.
They never remixed anything by Simple Minds although their work for U2
is well known. (Even Better Than The Real Thing and Lemon being their
So where are they now?
Well, Steve Osborne is currently co-producing Big Music.
A great choice as I always liked his work with New Order and The B52s.
As for Paul Oakenfold he has just released a new double compilation of cover remixes called
Trance Mission. If that does sound a little like a Simple Minds cover, then
its should come as no surprise that Paul has remixed that standard-of-the-remix
Theme For Great Cities. In the first link below,
he talks about the project whilst the second link is the track itself.
empires that dance #1, barcelona, manic street preachers, empires that dance #2
George Porter gives the lowdown to Irvine Beat FM about
Empires That Dance and their new version of Changeling:
"Thanks for the wonderful reception in Barcelona last night. Following on from Athens, in fact
we have had exceptional audiences throughout this tour. We appreciate each and everyone - thanks for
coming to see and hear Simple Minds." - Jim, 26th June 2014
Many thanks to Phil for the set-list.
Journalist Keith Cameron highlights the Manic Street Preachers and their continuing
references to early Skids and Simple Mindsin this article.
And finally... it needs no introduction... Changeling by Empires That Dance:
Empires That Dance - Changeling is officially released. The accompanying video
is an astonishing piece of work considering that it was put together on a shoestring budget. Filmed on location
in Edinburgh and Glasgow's West End, you may see a few recognisable faces in there. Special thanks goes to
Martin Poschinger from Sweet Invaders Movies for producing a video that in
our opinion polarises anything that established bands produce. Martin and his assistant
John Provyn have worked tirelessly on our multimedia with new videos and
a new website.
We are externally grateful to them. What started out as a pipe dream for the band is now a reality and
available for you to download now via various outlets including iTunes. Enjoy!
Purchase Changeling on iTunes.
Many thanks to Grigorios for the set-list and all the pictures.
"On our way to a city that unfortunately we have only played in a few times. Each time fantastic.
Hoping to make up for our absence tomorrow night at "En Lefko Festival"
in Technopolis, Gazi, Athens." - Jim, 19th June 2014
"Best audience so far? It is possible. Thanks to all for giving us such a great night!" - Jim, 20th June 2014
"Boy, they were gritty last night!
Grit is living life as though it is marathon, not a sprint.
Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals.
Grit is having stamina, grit is sticking with your future day in - day out,
Not just for the week, not just for the months, but for the years,
Working very hard to make that future a reality."
And what do the fans think about Empires That Dance's version of Changeling?.
"You may know Gordy Goudie. He's written, produced, played and even sang for
Simple Minds over the course of four albums. Here he is in his Kitchen of Visions where he and
Jim Kerr created magic talling about the imminent release of Empires That Dance - Changeling."
"Full Moon Fever last night, even if darkness never really arrived in Bergen. We love
playing there, audience and venue make it so. Once again thank you to all, especially those
who travel from far and wide to see Simple Minds. Next up... Athens" - Jim, 14th June 2014
And how did Empires That Dance's new version
of Changeling? come about? Andy Inniss reveals all.
"Thanks to all who came to see us over these last days, including last night's red hot show at
Hilchenbach Fest. Next up, beautiful Bergen this coming Friday night. Minds are on the move,
no doubt about it. See you there!" - Jim, 10th June 2014
montereau, emmem, empires that dance
Festival De Montereau Confluences, Montereau, France 6th June, 2014
"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
"We were all happy with the first gig of the tour last night in Montereau. (Well organised festival,
congrats.) Weather was amazingly good, audience helped us immensely - thank you. New songs felt
good also - Imagination can and will get much better.
Blindfolded had an almost perfect debut. Went
overnight direct to Netherlands in Holland. Met some fans who had travelled some distance
to see us here. Thank you - all of you! We will do our best tonight. Now we have started, we just
want to play." - Jim, 8th June 2014
"A day off in warm Dusseldorf is always a welcome thing. If the rain does not materialise,
I look forward to a good long walk by the river. More than that, we are all looking forward to our
first German date of this tour - at the Hilchenbach Fest tomorrow evening. See you there." - - Jim, 8th June 2014
"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
With new songs being mentioned again, it felt like a good time to collect together everything. So
The Return Of The Lostboy and
Big Music pages have been updated with all the tracks mentioned
Ken Bruce, Radio 2 (Wednesday 23 July, 9.30AM)
Ken Bruce brings his popular morning show to his home city for the duration
of the Commonwealth Games.
In the first of two shows in front of a live audience, his guests include
Simple Minds, Paloma Faith and Paul Heaton and
Jacqui Abbott of The Beautiful South.
To make the distribution of tickets as fair as possible we are operating a random draw for tickets.
You can register for tickets at any time until Monday 16 June at 4PM.
You can apply for a maximum of four tickets per person and should you be successful, you will only
receive tickets for a maximum of five events.
The commerical deluxe format of the Celebrate: Live From The SSE Hydro has
now appeared on Amazon.
Scheduled for release on the 28th July, this deluxe format only includes a CD and DVD. Only the Super Deluxe Edition
ordered through the official site - and being dispatched now - includes the full gig. It remains to be seen how
it's been edited down for commerical release.
It's now the turn of Nicky Wire to namecheck Simple Minds which he does
in the current issue of Mojo: "They made five stupendous albums up to Sparkle In The Rain,
so futurist, and coming from these working class kids. It takes you back to a time when the working class could
express themselves and they were not refused entry into hipster realms full of people from public schools
and Derek Forbes is one of the greatest bass players ever."
So what does Bruce Findlay think of Empires That Dance's
new version of Changeling? As part of their ongoing teaser campaign,
you can find out below:
johnny and the self abusers, big music, linlithgow, live in paris 1995, empires that dance
Alan McGee's autobiography
is reviewed here
and reveals many connection between the
Creation Records boss and Glasgow, notably Johnny And The Self Abusers
and the Saints And Sinners bar. Worth a read, if not only for the throwaway remark that
McGee once auditioned as Simple Minds' bass player.
Simple Minds' concert at Linlithgow in August has now been officially added to the official
programme of Homecoming Scotland 2014. Read more about it on STV's website.
The final word, before Celebrate: Live From The SSE Hydro
hits door mats, in the band's DVD discography is Live In Paris 1995.
Immortal who put the release together asked me to promote the release back in April 2012 but
I stayed clear of it. As did the official site who by their silence suggested this product, although probably
just on the right side of the law, wasn't officially sanctioned by the band.
Released simultaneously on CD and
DVD, Live In Paris 1995 is simply a recording of the
band's gig at L'Olympia, Paris on the 1st November 1995.
But the DVD, despite its smart packaging (and jarringly out-of-context cover picture of
Jim from the
first Mandela show), simply features the mushy
SECAM French broadcast complete with original broadcaster station logo.
So it's considered a bootleg and rightly so.
Empires That Dance are back with an updated version of the
classic Changeling. A teaser video gives
a great preview of how it will sound. But the full video - which wil be uploaded soon - was shot
in Glasgow and features many old Simple Minds haunts and several cameos. One to
definitely look forward to.
(Watch to the end of the teaser for a clue.)
commonwealth games, family tree and electrosets, sessions, verona, bad neighbours, the now show, manic street preachers
The Herald Scotland have listed
Simple Minds in their line-up of acts who will be playing at the Commonwealth games.
The brief lull between tours has allowed me to tidy up some parts of this website. The Family Tree
section has been changed slightly with the Simple Minds ElectroSet line-up now considered
a separate entity rather than part of the main lineage. (The ElectroSet line-up runs in parallel with the main
Simple Minds and there seems to be little point in expanding the family tree needlessly every time an
ElectroSet gig takes place).
The same argument could be said of the various Proms performances. This is more time consuming to change, thanks to the number
of links pointing back to various family tree versions, but is something I might deal with in time.
One section which I've now finished is the list of the band's sessions. This was more
difficult than it seems as the concept of a session overlaps with exclusive live performances, rare rehearsal broadcasts,
promotional studio performances etc. But all the Kid Jensen, John Peel and
Billy Sloan sessions are now all listed.
Interestingly there's another blurring of the edges, as Simple Minds treated some of their early session
appearances as free studio time for preparing demos. The so-called Empires And Dance demos
were in fact a radio session - but the details of that session (such as the station and DJ) have been lost. So are the songs
themselves demos or sessions? I think they could be called both.
On the eve of the forthcoming DVD release, I've finally documented the last Verona collectable.
This press kits were put together for the pre-release media screening of the film and the second press release includes many
hitherto unknown facts about the filming itself.
Current film Bad Neighbours includes Don't You (Forget About Me)
in its soundtrack. Apparently it's suitably used during an "80s flashback!"
Don't You (Forget About Me) was also pastiched on BBC Radio Four's
The Now Show. Broadcast yesterday (just before the nation switches off to avoid The Archers),
comedian Mitch Benn used the song to highlight the court cases against Google and the desire of some individuals to remove personal
history from the Internet:
Could you forget about me?
I already erased my browser history:
On-line, the places I go,
Things that I see and do - nobody needs to know.
Don't tell my colleagues or wife,
What sort of activities take up half my life.
They think I've been working all day,
Not staring at things I can't afford on eBay.
So could you forget about me?
Don't let them know:
Nine hours of cat videos,
Endless Twitter debates,
Checking FaceBook updates.
I love it. The Manic Street Preachers metamorphosis into a shouty Simple Minds is almost
usb sticks, classic pop #1: catching up with simple minds, classic pop #2:o2 review, discography updates, don't you (forget about me), manic street preachers
Full details of the recently issued USB sticks and
downloads from Bleecker Street have now been added. In general, these
recordings are excellent and are highly recommended. Apart from a few indexing problems on the first couple of recordings, there's nothing else
to note - they are essentially flawless.
The Manic Street Preachers are back with new album Futurology. They've used the cryllic font again for the artwork - first used
for The Holy Bible and Journal For Plague Lovers - which was inspired by the sleeve design of Empires And Dance.
But the Simple Minds' connection is being further reinforced by James Dean Bradfield who is now namechecking the band
as an influence for their Walk Me To The Bridge single: "[It's] an emotional European driving song with early
Simple Minds synths and a Heroes-esque Ebow guitar solo."
alfacam studios, prague, poznan, warsaw, zagreb, zagreb petition, zagreb review, skopje
Simple Minds prepared for the European Tour at the former Alfacam Studios in Lint, Belgium. Alfacam were taken
over by AED Group in September, and the former redundant and unused studios were brought back to life, when
Simple Minds used them to test out their stage show.
"A longish day spent travelling from Warsaw to Zagreb, and with the final two gigs still to go, I am sure most
of us would admit to feeling a little "zapped." That won't be a problem however once it is time to go on stage.
We always find a reserve of energy, topped up by the energy that transmits with the amazing audiences who come to see us.
No problem." - - Jim, 4th March 2014
"Been too long since we last played in Zagreb, almost 8 years I think. We have great memories of
our Croatian shows in the past, including both Split and Krk. Delighted to see that our fans here will
welcome us back with a sold out show. Thank you!" - Jim, 3rd March 2014
"Andy prepares the new song
Midnight Walking. With only two gigs left on the tour we
are still keen on the idea of playing it at least once before this series of gigs comes to end.
Zagreb or Skopje? Who knows. - Jim, 4th March 2014
"I know, I know, I already said that Milano was the max! But... the audience in Zagreb was unbelievable
really. What an experience today, with only a few hours to go before the start, we were within minutes of
having to rethink our situation. But thanks to the chiropractor, sports doctors... plus a couple of injections
here and there, all went off more than fine in the end. The band played incredible tonight in my opinion.
But this audience in Croatia deserved that and more. Thanks very much to all in Zagreb, including also those
who travelled from Split, Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary, and Italy." - Jim, 4th March 2014
The gig was not recorded due to logistical issues.
The concert was fully sold out two or three days before the gig (approximately 4000-5000 people). Some fans from Slovenia, Hungary and Italy were also there (and Jim gave
them a huge welcome.) The reviews and comments after the gig in the Croatian daily newspapapers and musical portals were
excellent. Despite the fact that Jim felt unwell (with a virus and some back trouble)
he performed with 100% effort as did the rest of the band. During Dancing BarefootSarah took off her shoes and danced for real barefoot! so these two moments
showed that the band was in a good shape. - Davor
Many thanks to Otto for the poster, ticket and set-list and Davor for the
Bleeker Street didn't release the Zagreb or Skopje shows due to "logistical issues."
Which was unfortunate given Jim's reaction to the gigs. So, passionate fans
a petition for the recording of Zagreb to be released - as it's believed
someone did record them. Click on the banner below for more information.
Since I became a fan of Simple Minds 16 years ago, I have seen
Simple Minds live many times in many countries. Among many other cities, I saw the band in
Zagreb, Croatia twice - first in 2003 and then again in 2006. And of all the audiences the Croatian crowd was
far the most enthusiastic. I always returned home with the feeling that I have to go back to Zagreb whenever
Simple Minds would play there.
So when the 2014 tour dates were announced, I was very happy to see the
Zagreb date. I booked my ticket and was really expecting my return to to Zagreb. The city was full of posters promoting
the gig - including huge billboard posters as well.
The venue itself was a basketball hall. We got there about half an hour before the doors opened so it was easy to get to
front row. More and more people came inside and once it was totally full. The show was sold out.
When the first sounds of the intro of Broken Glass Park began, the
arena exploded. The Croatian audience was simply amazing. There were approx. 4-5 thousand people there but they
made a noise as loud as 20 thousand would make. They enjoyed every second of the concert, from the first sound till
After a few songs Jim said hello to the crowd, mentioning that he had good news
and bad news as well. The good news were that they have a lot of music to play, and the bad news was that he had some
pain in the back as he was not that young any more. At first I thought it was kind of irony, but soon I could see that
something was not OK. While Jim and the band gave their best ever performance,
at some points between songs it could be seen that Jim was suffering of pain in
his back. Sometimes when he wasn't moving he was leaning to the side of the stage. Those of us who were in the first rows,
close to the stage could see sometimes on his face that something was wrong. But still, he gave his best. It seemed that
the amazing audience gave him a lot of extra power to give as a full and superb performance. His voice was clear and powerful.
And the same stands for the entire band. That night it was really fun for them to be on stage, it wasn't a job to do.
Even Sarah Brown was so satisfied that during
Dancing Barefoot she took off her shoes and ran and jumped all around the stage.
It was a night to remember.
I think before the concert started Jim was afraid if he could give a great
performance that's why it was decided not to release the Zagreb concert after the show. Too bad that at the end
it turned out that it was the best concert of the tour. But the show WAS recorded. We saw some sound engineers
working during the show, there were the extra microphones recording the crowd - so there is
a recording out there. And I think that the Zagreb audience, Simple Minds fans and the world deserves to
hear this amazing live recording. Simple Minds on their best!
The gig was not recorded due to logistical issues.
Many thanks to Zoran for the pictures.
"Tonight's show in Skopje is the last of a series that began almost 6 weeks ago. Before we know it though,
we will be back out in early Summer, embarking on another 3 month's
worth of shows. Simple Minds really are on a mission, firstly to continue improving in every way what
we do as a live band, but also to show that as one of our fans put it "You remind everyone that concerts are not
about flying angels, or armies of showbiz dancers, but more about truly iconic performance." And as yet another
commented "The atmosphere was so relaxed, everybody was smiling, the band and the music were fantastic, there was a
great energy between the band and the audience, an amazing harmony." And with these words they sum up what we are
setting out to achieve with out live music. We aim to give 100% no matter where we walk on and plug in. It could be a
club, theatre, arena, stadium. Wherever we are, we care only about the people who come to see us. No other recognition
necessary." - Jim, 6th March 2014
"Karlsruhe - thank you. Next up - Tier. Dolphins
made its comeback to the set tonight. Last time it was played live must be quite a few years ago.
Did it work? Of course it worked, but it will get better. Simple Minds
will get better too. We are not even half as good as think we could be. A lot to be getting with,
time to roll up our sleeves. Thanks to the audience in Karlsruhe for making us feel so welcome
and so good!" - Jim, 11th February 2014
"German audiences: We are now exactly half way through our 16 German dates. It is
worthwhile saying that the audience at every one of these shows has been generous to
Simple Minds - beyond belief. Thanks to everyone so far who has come to see
us in Germany, we look forward to the rest of the dates immensely." - Jim, 11th February 2014
"Great to see Peter Walsh after the show in Koln.
Peter, as some will know, was the producer of what many
believe to be our finest album - New Gold Dream.
That is saying something considering the list of album producers we have worked with, including
Steve Lillywhite and
Trevor Horn. I still find it hard to believe that
Pete was only 21 years old when he produced that record.
The guy youngest in the room, the rest of us were 22! In any case the Simple Minds
story owes so much to Peter Walsh in particular. You are always
welcome Walshie!" - Jim, 17th February 2014
"New tunes - best live songs? Light Travels was played
for the second time in the last three days. With this new arrangement it could perhaps become one
of our best live songs. Similarly, Big Music and brand new
Spirited Away, are all due to start featuring in the live set. We
need to start airing them now in order to have them sounding great for the
planned summer shows." - Jim, 17th February 2014
"Another leap forward: Spring weather during these last two days in Germany, always
a nice feeling. With only two more weeks to go, it feels like we are heading into the
last lap of this winter tour. Well, it might be winter outside, but thanks to the audiences,
the atmosphere in the venues has been red hot. Listen out for news of some of the new songs
that we plan to introduce over the upcoming shows. Simple Minds
are getting ready to take yet another leap forward."- Jim, 18th February 2014
"In the end we got there, and Furth felt pretty fantastic. Not that it was easy.
Ged Grimes has been troubled with a virus recently,
Sarah Brown was equally in a bad way, and I also could feel
that I was also on the brink of something quite draining. But we don't get to "call in sick", and
that is just the way it is. Glad for it too, as we would not have wanted to miss out on last night." - Jim, 21st February 2014
Whilst Big Music was played, it wasn't included on the
USB sticks or made available as a download.
"We might be bunged up as well as full of the sniffles, but that does not mean
that we are not thinking about the summer months. Many dates are about to be announced over
the weeks ahead. If we have not got to your country/city yet, a little patience please,
we probably will sooner or later. You should understand though that it is not just a matter
of us deciding to perform in a certain place, in fact it is up to a local promoter to offer
us the opportunity. In that case, maybe give them a call and ask why no Simple Minds?
While you are at it, warn them in advance, that we will only come if they provide good sound,
good lights, and... er... a huge pot of spaghetti backstage! See you in Summer hopefully!" - Jim, 24th February 2014
Whilst Big Music was played, it wasn't included on the
USB sticks or made available as a download.
"Arrived at 5AM after driving through German and Swiss borders. Watched the city start to come
alive as the cars, trams, trains started to transport the early morning commuters to work.
Blue skies are not always expected in this city but it was stunningly beautiful start to the day.
Always get a thrill about being in Milan, it is that kind of place. Never forget our first time.
Charlie and I were still 16 and hitch-hiking through Europe,
almost penniless, and with whatever small amount we had rapidly running out. Our accommodation
that night was the floor of Milano Centrale Station. I could see it from from the window of my hotel
room this morning. Those were happy days, time was on our side. Time is a lot less on our side now.
These are happy days still, because nothing stops Simple Minds. Can't wait for tonights gig!" - Jim, 25th February 2014
"Arrived in Berne around 5:30AM, still high with the pleasure from our time in Milan.
We fell in love with playing in Italy way back in our very early days, that love continues
I am sure. Thank you to everyone who came to see us play, you made us feel so good, made us
forget our flus and viruses too. A very special thanks to those who arrived hours before the
doors opened, waiting patiently outside. I know that more Italian dates are about to be announced
for this summer. See you then!" - Jim, 25th February 2014
"After the high of Italy, and all the success of shows in Germany over these last weeks, don't
think we are less than delighted to be in Switzerland, which in in its own quiet way happens
to be yet another of our favourite countries to visit. The Swiss have been supporting
Simple Minds for decades and in return we will want to give only our best tonight
in Berne." - Jim, 25th February 2014
"A little moment's rest - before the last week of the tour. Prague, Poznan, Warsaw, Zagreb,
Skopje... and then... home!" - Jim, 27th February 2014
"Always been a regret that we have never played in Poland as much as we would have liked to.
We are however taking our Big Music to both Poznan and Warsaw this weekend. Looking forward to
it very much." - Jim, 28th February 2014
live recordings, bielefeld, london
I've heard nothing but good things about the current Bleeker Street live recordings. If you're
thinking about purchasing a stick or download, or have been put off by the uneven Concert Live
offerings, then go ahead and buy one. You won't be disappointed.
""Das Konzert in Aurich war super klasse!!!!!" according to Edith Haberland.
Well that is great to know. We certainly loved our time there, thought the audience in
Aurich was super klasse in fact!" - - Jim, 9th February 2014
Thanks to Ulrich, Fred for the set-list and
Martin for the poster and pictures.
"Staying, very visible in Bremerhaven. Blistering hot reaction last night. Likewise
Charlie Burchill's guitar on
Stay Visible. Although it is some years since we
played this song live, it somehow felt better than ever. As though the song has finally found its
place, its time. Cannot tell you how satisfied we are with these on going German gigs - and
what a week it has been - with the reintroduction of Stars Will Lead The Way,
Stay Visible plus the debut of
Dancing Barefoot. The whole band seems to have a
determination that is more driven than ever. Unstoppable. Long may it continue. Thanks to all
who come to see us. Cannot wait for tonight's gig in pretty Aurich - and possibly looking
to bring back Dolphins any day now." - Jim, 7th February 2014
A truly great show including everything you can expect from Simple Minds. I've been
talking to people I encouraged to get tickets during the interval and they seemed to enjoy it
so much even though they don't know a lot about the development of Simple Minds in the
past 20 years or so. There was some disappointment when I said they won't be playing
Belfast Child and
Mandela Day songs people expect to hear when a
Greatest Hits Set is on the bill. For me this is just another reason to love this band or
how would you feel singing "Mandela's free..." a couple of months after Madiba's death?
A fine non-political statement to leave those tracks out.
Back to the show. Stay Visible was a big surprise and
it never sounded so good to me. The band and especially Sarah Brown
performed superbly throughout the gig but Jim seemed to
be slightly exhausted after the interval. But advance warning was given as he said that the
audience should save the energy for the 2nd set.
I went with my daughter to the Stadthalle Bremerhaven. My grandchildren stayed with her grandmom... ah
well and they were watching The Breakfast Club recently. The story continues. To those who
are going to the forthcoming shows: Enjoy and DANCE!
hamburg, big music ep, hamburg, munster
Many thanks to Martin and Fred for the set-list and
Martin for the ticket and photos.
"City of science, city of sculptures, city of the Peace of Westphalia, city of bicycles,
Hanseatic city - Mόnster is a living metropolis with many faces." Well, it felt like the City
Of Simple Minds last night. The noisiest audience of the German tour so far?
It is possible! In truth, all the German shows so far have been red hot. We look forward to the next
few over the upcoming weekend." - - Jim, 6th February 2014
"On Monday in Helsinki, it was certainly below zero outside, nevertheless it felt a bit like a
Finnish sauna under the stage lights. More extremes, I guess. And these are truly smart cities, within
beautiful countries. It is evident, likewise it is a real pleasure for us to have the opportunity to play
here. That was the case when we first came to visit back in the late '70s.
It is still the case. Thanks to all in Scandinavia who still support Simple Minds." - Jim, 27th January 2014
Having seen Simple Minds in Helsinki just two days ago and being very impressed by their performance,
I had already made up my mind that this was going to be just as good. Boy was I wrong: it was even better.
The stage in Cirkus was twice the size of the Helsinki concert's stage, meaning there was a lot more room for
Jim to walk around and interact with the audience with more ease. The
sound was incredibly clear: standing pretty much in the same spot again as I did in Helsinki standing,
second row from stage, between Jim and
Charlie I was now able to pick up and hear every instrument and
voice. While the Helsinki gig had some issues with some of Andy's synths and
Ged's bass (especially when he didn't use a pick) being mushed underneath
everything else, none of this occured in Stockholm. The setlist remained otherwise identical to the Helsinki
concert but Glittering Prize had been cut back to its "fun size" version
familiar from the Northern Meeting Parklive album from 2011 and
was preceded by a similarly halved Promised You A Miracle, during which
Jim tested how well the audience remembered the words (we did good). The crowd
warmed up somewhat quicker than in Helsinki, and at least one instance of crowd surfing occurred, much to the
chagrin of the venue's security personnel.
Just like in Finland, the audience was 100% won over by the end of the night, and just to make it even more memorable,
Jim and Charlie both seemed to remember
my face from Monday's concert and Charlie
even came up to me to place his guitar pick into my hands at the end of the gig!
As for the concert recordings, the audio quality for both the Helsinki and the Stockholm gigs are
very good, with Stockholm being the superior one in regards of mixing.
Just picking up on the rest of this interview which got "lost" back in April last year... It's too good to lose.
The Real McCoy Interview #4
MH: Here's the big leap. That was 1981 [The American]
and we go onto 1982 when New Gold Dream happens. And that's a long time
from releasing the first record [Life In A Day] and getting to where
we are now. And you end up with a hit single and you end up on Top Of The Pops. How was that? That must've
been a big change for the band after five or six years of not having a commercial success. I don't think you'd be
able to do it these days but it's amazing it happened then. JK: You're quiet right. Back in those days I spoke earlier about glorious debuts but normally
you weren't expected to break through on your first album. It was a different world. A lot of the record companies
back then were owned by maverick guys and music freaks they were owned by people who kind of understood art
and sometimes you just had to wait for everything to fall into place. And artists had to go and earn their
core following. You'd be touring and touring, and when you weren't touring you'd be honing your writing
and honing your recording skills. JK: And it all added up. Maybe by your third or fourth record, you would break through. Even thinking
of some of our contemporary bands: The Cure, The Bunnymen, U2 it
wasn't until their third and fourth albums that they broke through. These days you'd be dumped after the second
album as no-one can earn any more money. But in our case, although I've been saying a few times we weren't selling
records, we were growing in stature live. And anyone coming to see us live anyone from the industry knew we were on
the right track and it was only a matter of time until we'd come up with the song that breaks through and takes us
beyond just a core following. And all of the things fell into place for us for the album
New Gold Dream which was our fifth album. JK: We recorded it in the spring and summer of '82 and around that period we had our first radio
hit with a song called Promised You A Miracle.
[Audio: Promised You A Miracle]
MH: I remember going to see Radiohead I think it was in Houston - when it was
OK Computer and everyone was raving about it and I was like "It was really good" but it's not as good as
Simple Minds at the Lyceum in London when they were doing the New Gold Dream tour. JK: Wow. MH: That tour, and those shows, it was just something about the band. It wasn't like "We'll get commercial
success" and you were cool; you were so determined in terms of the lights and the atmosphere. [I remember] actually
getting a ticket and going to that show. And these things we're friends and this is my personal opinion but
I remember going there and I bought the ticket and I went because I wanted the experience the full experience of
the live show. And it was just incredible and as a live band, it took me places I haven't been taken before and
I really, really enjoyed it. So a big thanks for that.
MH: We're moving on to 1984 and an album called Sparkle In The Rain.
If we could talk about that and the producer there was a change there but also there was a relationship between the
band and U2 where the two of you seemed to be very friendly and really worked together and took
stuff out of the clubs it was a time when you moved out of the clubs and started doing shows outdoors. How did
that come about and what's your relationship like with the boys from U2? JK: It's funny. I mentioned earlier about our contemporaries. The funny thing was when you finally
met people like Ian McCulloch or when you come across Robert Smith and indeed
finally the guys in U2, one of the things that you realise pretty early on is that you all shared the
same record collection, and you were all at these gigs. If we'd seen Iggy Pop in 1977, we'd have seen him in
Glagsow and they'd have seen him in Liverpool or they'd have seen him in Dublin. So there was so much in common. JK: That is the thing even Depeche Mode, these are guys from Basildon, Essex who
grew up together; U2 were a school band; essentially the same as Simple Minds
who came out of a school. You have your different ways of going about things and different sounds but you've got
so much in common. In the industry, and people don't know this, sometimes we shared the same agent and all
of that stuff. So you would be out touring together. I think some of the great tours we did some of
the line-ups being in Australia and the line-up was: The Pretenders,
Simple Minds, The Eurythmics and Talking Heads. And we toured I
think we toured for two weeks together. It was just fantastic and so you go out there and you've got a relationship
with people. JK: And in the case with U2, we used to play these huge festivals. This was before
Glastonbury and all these things really took off in the UK. I have to hand it to the Europeans; there were festivals
in Holland like Pink Pop and in Belgium there was a two day festival called Torhout-Werchter. If you got on there
then you were really getting somewhere. And lo and behold, U2 would be playing and you would stand
and watch them up close. I remember the first time we saw them they'd just come of the plane and had been awarded
the first gold disc for the War album in America and they were as high as kites and they went on before
us in Belgium and they were really, really good. But talking to them afterwards they were really down and they were
tired and they hadn't really come up to the mark. I thought they were great. Anyway we went on and we just happened
to have one of the gigs of our lives we just killed it and so we were really happy about that. The next day the
roles were reversed: we went on before them and again it came across so good happy as anything. But then they
came on and it had gone up about ten levels and it was unbelievable. It was one of the best things I'd ever seen. JK: So it's been a great pleasure to play with people as well. We mentioned Peter Gabriel
earlier. Played with Lou Reed, played with the Rolling Stones we've seen them work up
close as well as fantastic bands like Magazine and The Silencers (of course) and
The Pretenders it just goes on and on.
MH: So I'm going to play a track from Sparkle In The Rain.
I was thinking of Waterfront or
Up On The Catwalk. I really have to mention
Mel Gaynor on drums who came in on this record.
And I remember when I was on tour with you I think it was around 1989 I used to play in the shows and we were playing
arenas and stadiums and soon as the show finished I would change really quickly and ask the drum tech
if it was OK to sit behind Mel. So that whole tour I used to come straight off
stage from The Silencers and get changed and run out and sit in the little den behind
Mel's drumkit so I could watch him play because he was just phenomenal.
If you had to pick a track off Sparkle In The Rain what should we play? JK: I think if you're talking about Mel
you have to play Up On The Catwalk because he plays this thing on
there that's probably the most interesting thing about the song, and it's not a bad song.
After eight long years, Simple Minds finally returned to Helsinki, Finland, and it was
worth the wait. Their previous gig, which took place in Helsinki's Kulttuuritalo
back in 2006, suffered from poor sound and some technical difficulties with Mark Taylor's
keyboards, causing a lengthy delay before the gig started. While the band did good, I always felt it wasn't a
very successful event. Yesterday's concert, on the other hand, couldn't have gone any better: all the bandmembers
were in top form, the venue (The Circus) was much more suited for the band's trademark big sound, the crowd was
louder and more enthusiastic, and the setlist was a good compilation of new songs, classics and a couple of
rarities and covers (actually, it was the same setlist from their gig in Riga).
Broken Glass Park kicked off the concert. Right away, the band was
really into it and it didn't take them long to get the audience going with them. Charlie's
familiar guitar riff announced that my personal favourite, Waterfront,
was next. There seemed to be some technical issues with Charlie's
equipment during the song but thankfully it didn't become a reoccurring nuisance for the rest of the concert.
Once Upon a Time and One Step Closer
were once again played back-to-back (it's amazing how well these two songs work together, despite there being
about 1617 years between them), and Let There Be Love followed with what
seemed like an extended bridge before the last chorus. All the Things She Said
appeared in its original studio guise, after which came what in my opinion was the biggest treat of the night:
War Babies, done in its glorious new arrangement! Hilarity ensued when
Jim accidentally elbowed Ged's
mic stand and a crewmember with a shaved head ran to re-set it with tape to prevent further unwanted surprises.
Whilst the stand was being taped, Jim took the opportunity to briefly
rest his hand on the guy's head as if it was that of a small infant, thus working in an impromptu visual element
to match the song (and prompting a big grin from Ged).
Glittering Prize appeared in its 5x5 rendition
but when compared to the recording from 5x5 Live, I felt it was played much better this time.
The first set closed Let the Day Begin. The song now featured a long, ethereal
piano/synth intro by Andy, during which
Jim referenced it being "written by our friend called Michael Been."
I was a huge fan of the original studio recording but I think I might be loving the new live arrangement even more,
mostly because there's so much more happening with the keyboards. The band then walked off to take a ten-minute-long break.
The second set started with Andy and
Charlie's techno arrangement of the demo version of
Speed Your Love To Me, which was instantly followed by the two performing
Neon Lights with Sarah Brown
doing the vocals. When Jim,
Mel walked back on stage, we were treated to
Someone, Somewhere (In Summertime) and
This Is Your Land, complete with lots of crowd participation, especially
for the latter two songs. Blood Diamonds followed and was relatively well received,
but when it sequed straight to The American, the crowd went insane... and so did
Ged, who seemed to be having as much if not even more fun as the audience
members while pumping out that classic bass line and successfully out-cooling the rest of the band with his poses
and moves. The enthusiasm was carried on to Love Song, also met with roarious
applause. If there's anyone who says they did not feel upbeat at that point, they're lying.
The second part of the concert was closed by Don't You (Forget About Me)
and at this point it was already clear that both the band and the audience was at full energy and it seemed
like both would just endlessly keep going on. Jim asked us to sing the 'la-la-la-las'
in different languages, such as Finnish and Japanese, and quipped that it all sounded very much the same.
The encore shot straight to upper atmosphere with New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) and
Sanctify Yourself, followed by the fantastic new arrangement of
Space, and ended gloriously with Alive and Kicking.
When the band walked out to receive their ovation, everyone was smiling, and it was the smile you have when you're
at your happiest. There's no doubt the concert had far surpassed people's expectations, and when I walked out to get
my USB stick of the concert recording, I talked to other fans as well as eavesdropped on various conversations,
trying to figure out the general opinion that the attendees had of the gig.
"It may have been 18 degrees below outside, but inside the venue it was business as usual as the
pulse stated racing and the sweat began to flow. It felt good to be back playing live, it always does,
a few weeks break might rest the body but inevitably everyone including band and crew starts to get
fidgety, even with the delights of home comforts. And so to Riga, we were very taken by the friendliness
of the Latvians, and although far too cold to venture much of a look around I can still vouch for the
prettiness of the city."
The second lot is a Big Music T-Shirt (medium size, one of the 11 in white and 11 in black made for
Jim for the Hydro gig),
a signed photo and one of Charlie's plectrums.
Ever wondered who the people are behind the scenes that you never really hear about or just read their name
in a tour programme? In a series of interviews I was lucky enough to meet some of these people who managed
to find some time out of the hectic schedule.
In this first interview I was lucky enough to speak to lighting guru
Stephen Pollard at UEA Norwich.
Steve Pollard Interview
Shaun Tranter: You've basically been working with the band nearly all their career. Steve Pollard: I started working with band on the Empires and Dance tour
in New York in 1981.
ST: So from there in 1981, to now in 2013, with the advancement of technology I presume your job has
got a lot easier over the years? SP: No, not really. It's just different - just a different set of problems really. I'd say
there's a different element of difficulty to it, as back in the early days we had hundreds and hundreds
of lights, each one had to be focused separately. Now we have lights that change colour, we can put patterns
in them, move them around to create different focuses. One problem is though there are more things to go wrong
with them, but it's as hard as you make it and I try to make as many different looks as possible for the different
songs, so I have a lot of work to do making sure everything is how it should be for each show and as you saw in Lincoln
each venue has its own problems.
(The interview was originally due to take place in Lincoln but was postponed as the ceiling was low and Steve
had to modify the lighting.)
ST: From when a tour is first conceived is it a case you have meetings with the band to find out
what they are looking for the light show or is it a case of "Hey Steve were going on tour. Come up with some ideas." SP: In a way yes, they leave it entirely up to me.
ST: So where do you get your inspiration from for a light show? SP: Just from the band's music and lyrics really and there's a lot to be inspired by. Certain songs
strike me a certain way. For example Belfast Child
is about the troubles in Northern Ireland and the blood spilt as a result of that, so obviously there's a lot of
red in the lighting and that's the way it's been since day dot. Atmospheric
songs tend to be darker and a little bit more atmospheric and I just use my best judgement and good taste I suppose to
come up with something that's appropriate for every number and we'll enhance it. I'm not creating a side show for
these guys I want them to live in the sort of 3D world I create on stage and they inhabit the architecture of the lighting.
ST: Having been with band since 1981 has there been one tour that's been more challenging to do a light
show for than any others? SP: Each tour has different challenges. This tour has been the different sizes of the venues as you saw at
Lincoln. One of the biggest challenges is playing outdoors having the daylight to contend with because it robs you of anything
like say a mystery intro. Stadium shows or tours are always a challenge especially when you're playing near the summer solstice
or playing in one of the Scandinavian countries and you put up this entire lighting production and basically it never gets dark.
But you can't argue with the seasons. Then there's the other elements of the weather: the rain, the wind would blow away all the
smoke you put on stage. It's the roll of the dice when you play outdoors; sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. SP: The tours like when we play the O2, Wembley Arena or the NEC are slightly easier in the fact
that it's generally the same size stage so that makes things slightly easier, and you generally get the same sort of vibe
every night and you know what you're up against with regards stage size and ceiling height. With this tour we are chopping
and changing on a daily basis just to utilise the show to its potential.
ST: When we came to see you in Sheffield in 2008 your set up was a lot bigger. SP: It needed to be as we had video screens and we were playing the arenas so a certain amount of a
spectacle is expected and you're going up against other acts as such that go into these venues. So the band need to be seen
hence the video screens at the side so that people can see what the guys are doing which I enjoy adding that element to it,
it brings the band closer to the crowd and makes it a little bit more intimate. On stage we had a bit more stuff up there
and we can add a video element as a backdrop. It is what it is and we come prepared let's put it that way.
ST: You also had at Sheffield a little monitor on your console with song lyrics scrolling down, is
it a case that you're looking at that for certain lyrics in songs to then press certain lighting buttons so the lights change? SP: Yeah as such that was for the backdrop video so we could cue the video as the song progressed, you
just press a button and it was also used for lighting cues as well but it's basically used as a prompt. It's a helpful thing
to make things runs smoothly and less to remember.
ST: The console that your using at the moment is that one that you've always used or are lighting consoles
all the same? SP: Not really. As technology has improved over the years we have moved with it so we've been able to have the
latest and the best equipment as we've progressed through the years, but for the last few years the one I'm using at the moment
has been the weapon of choice so to speak.
ST: Having watched you operate the lighting console at Lincoln it reminded me of watching a keyboard player play,
as your fingers were going ten-to-the-dozen and you as such know where all the right notes are but in your case it's the lights
and you know where everything is and you're as such in auto pilot? SP: Yes. Whereas a keyboard player knows where the right notes are and the keyboard never changes the only
things that changes on a keyboard is the sound. On my keyboard it stays the same and it's the lights that change by pressing
different buttons to get different looks and then just playing along to the songs to create the different lighting effects.
ST: Do you sit down with a pen and paper and design the stage set and lights? SP: I used to draw it. Now I use AutoCad which enables me to make a 3D model of it, so I can work with the
3D model and use a programme that simulates the lighting set which really helps as it means we don't need to set up the
lighting rig until the very last couple of days so we then put it up to check it works, then I fine tune it, but a lot of
it is done on computer now. When we were in the studio in Ireland rehearsing the songs I'd create some lighting effects for the
songs and we did that for a week. Prior to that I spent a week working on my own getting ready for them.
ST: So with AutoCad that must make your life so much easier? SP: Yeah, it is as you can cut, paste, crop. I learnt to use AutoCad kicking and screaming but it's
the way forward.
But if you turn up today with a hand drawn drawing people look at you: "What's this?" The main thing with AutoCad is the speed
you can do things at and once you've got your 3D model done you're away, so it makes no sense to use a drawing board and pencil.
ST: With all the tours that you've done what has been your personal favourite lighting set? SP: I think 30 Years Live
has been one of my favourites, I think that was a cool look. But over the years there
is something about all of them, you just have to remember the reason why you created it in the first place, that feeling of "wow"
when you first create it and then see it in its full form. It's like on this tour there's almost 30 dates and after a while
it becomes second nature, but then you look up and think "That looks really good" and its always satisfying to get comments back
and a lot of the reviews mention the visuals for these guys and that's very satisfying from a personal point of view.
ST: On the 30 Years Live tour we were at the front and
I went out to get a drink and as I walked past the raised seats at the back of the floor area I turned to look at the show
and just stopped and marvelled at what I was missing by being on front row as the light show was amazing. I was that
tempted to ask someone in raised seats if they would swap seats for a bit so I could really appreciate the light show. SP: That's what it's for: to enhance the show to create a backdrop. I think you miss a lot of the light show if
you're up close to the band. Also the sound is very good back there as you're getting a lot of stuff off the stage: bass, spill
and things like that. Sometimes it's harder to hear the lyrics closer to the stage because there are no monitors there anymore
because they are all using in ears now. There's a guy mixing the sound so the best sound is gonna be where that guy is,
but saying that it will sound great anywhere in the room. Gone are the days where you had bad sound because the room was
difficult for various reasons, but they've got it down to such a science today.
ST: Like yourself, the sound guy Olivier has been with band on numerous tours now,
so obviously that helps when you have the same people for a number of years.? SP: Yeah Olivier has really taken things up a notch with the sound. I have nothing but good things
to say about his ability.
And with that it was time for Steve to shoot as it was almost show time.
"This year is set to end just like it began, with Simple Minds playing live in Scotland."
"And after Edinburgh twelve months ago, followed by Stonehaven this year, playing live at Hogmanay in the
country of our birth is starting to feel like a tradition of its own, and a pretty fine one at that."
"Personally, I kind of prefer to be "working" on the night that sees the entire world celebrate seeing out
the old and ringing in the new. I can't say why in particular, it might be connected to some superstition or other,
but I feel it is good to start the year by doing something positive, doing whatever it is you like doing best even.
Somehow the idea of starting the year as you would like it to continue just feels good to me. Hence the appeal of
sweating it out - as the bells ring it in. Or more appropriately perhaps, as the "fireballs" bring it in - in Stonehaven."
"(And er, it is "Stonehaven" please note, and not "Stonehenge" as a rather over excited French friend
referred to it, while calling me to ask for tickets for this "Amazing concert at Stonehenge that Simple Minds
will play on New Year's Eve!)"
"In any case, seeing out the old and ringing in the new, may well also describe my own hopes and expectations for
Simple Minds next year. Given that the first few months will be spent
touring much of Europe, and picking up where we left off in
the London 02 arena a weeks ago. From then on, we look forward to
releasing our first filmed in concert in decades, followed itself - at some point - by
the release of our 17th studio album. (We are not quite finished recording yet,
but I reckon we are not far from completion either.) Fingers crossed that all comes to fruition, and if so, it
certainly looks set to be a memorable year for our little outfit."
"This passing year will be memorable in its own way of course, and mainly for the amount of wonderful shows
that we experienced as we traveled further and wider than we have in a very long while. As for picking out any highlights?
Well, the highlight is the same as ever, and it is a two part thing."
"The first part is the welcome we receive every time we walk on stage. You have no idea how much that means.
How much encouragement it creates within our on-going desire to make every single concert as great as it can be."
"The second part, is the look of obvious pleasure evident on the faces that we see from stage, particularly at the
end of a night where the band and audience have worked together to create the kind of experience that is unique to live
music that is hopefully performed at its best."
"And it is with that image in mind that I thank everybody who has supported Simple Minds over the last
year. Likewise we thank everybody who is planning to do so over the year that lies ahead."
"Music in whatever form, can be a most special thing. But it counts for nothing without people who are willing to listen."
"Thanks again to all of you for listening to Simple Minds' music. We wish you a happy and peaceful
New Year, and we hope to see you you out there - somewhere!" - Jim, 26th December 2013
"Flood alerts? Gale Force Wind Alerts? Not here! Looks like quite a fine night to me. A night for blasting
our music loud and clear. We want to hear you Stonehaven!" - Jim, 30th December 2013
"The Morning After The Night Before: We had a ball in Stonehaven last night. Thanks for letting us
spend Hogmanay with you. Thanks to all who came to see us, including those who traveled from far and wide.
Thanks also to those who worked hard for months on end to organise the event. It was our pleasure - Happy New Year!"
- Jim, 1st January 2014
The latest three CDs from Concert Live have now been reviewed. The quality
ranges dramatically: from the excellent recording of the O2 at London to the extremely poor offering from Amsterdam.
The Amsterdam recording suffers from both poor mixing and audience pick-up. Periodically only individual instruments can be
heard and/or individual members of the audience shouting or chatting. At times, it reminded me of an 80s bootleg recording.
However, it is of very limited interest to those who want to hear what each band members are doing; I appreciated it
for allowing me to hear the complex melodies conjured up by Charlie and
Andy, but that is its only saving grace.
I expect the London concert will be the one eventually pressed up and offered through on-line retailers.