Kit Cummings for Pro Create
An interview with Jim,
Andy about the
Big Music album and its key songs. Interestingly the title card
is "The Album" suggesting that it was later renamed "Band Interviews." (And in earlier times, this would've been
called the EPK).
[Audio: Midnight Walking (with album logo)]
[Audio: Honest Town]
JK: "I think what's making us happy the most about the new record is apart from the melodies
and apart from the words and apart from the emotions is the structure. We needed an album that really showed that
Simple Minds were first of all vibrant the idea being we're nearly forty years down the road and still coming
up with new stuff is in itself is fairly unique."
JK: "I think one of the things that influenced the sound of the album was that a few years
ago the band went out on a tour called 5X5
where we essentially played five songs from our first five albums which
is almost a non-hits tour, if you exclude some of New Gold Dream.
We know that you can't go back, the past is
the past and the world has changed, technology's changed, we have changed, but you kind of riff off your early
work, you kind of look at your own work and it can remind you of certain things, certain feelings, certain emotions,
even taste for sounds it can remind you of how you were first inspired by those things."
CB: "I think the record's quite poppy. Normally we would get a balance on certain things
and some tracks on this we haven't even bothered doing that as we feel that strong melodies are what they are."
CB: "And it's great to let go like that. Especially after so many records where you tried
so many different styles and different sounds and things, it's really difficult to get something that's kind of
feels novel and challenging for us but with this record I think we got it."
JK: "I think the first track many people will hear from the new album, in fact some
people have already heard the track called Blindfolded
because we've been playing that live, although there
might be more many more commercial tracks I think Blindfolded is the
track with the most magic, the most artistry, I think it's the most unique track."
CB: "I totally love the chorus riff the chorus guitar riff. To me it's quite punky
and there's a bit of an edge to it. It's very contemporary even though it's very retro in a way. I like that.
And I just love the atmosphere of that track."
JK: "And in a sense it's a track that got things going because we decided three years
ago to get in touch with Steve Hillage who produced our earlier
albums and we hadn't seen Steve for decades
so we thought 'let's just get the ball rolling.' We weren't quite sure at that stage whether we were recording
or not but we thought 'let's go in with Steve.'"
JK: "What was amazing was when we worked with Steve
all those years ago at the time
the whole of the UK seemed to be on fire. It was the time of Margaret Thatcher and there were riots in Toxteth
and Birmingham and London itself where we were working at the time on Sons And Fascination
was the scene of riots
and all of this stuff. And here we were, about three days into recording, decades later, and you had the riots in
Tottenham just actually half a mile down the road from where we were in Notting Hill Gate. A lot of that scene
had caught on as well. So we were going out in the middle of the night, and there were police cars everywhere,
people running to and fro, and of course, our heads were full of music. It's was just like the world hasn't changed.
It's like all those years after we made Sons And Fascination
we were walking into the same scenes. Not only did
it seem that the world had not changed, catching up with Steve
after all these years, it didn't seem anything had
changed either. He certainly hadn't lost any of his enthusiasm and Charlie
and I's desire to continue being creative
was wholly still intact and, if you listen to Blindfolded then I
would hope that that comes through."
[Audio: Midnight Walking]
JK: "One of the things I've enjoyed most about the album is the collaborations outside
just the songs Charlie and I write. And as usual, we had a large pool of songs more than one album's worth and
although the vast majority of them are ideas that Charlie
comes up with and then feeds me this time around there
were two or three other writers involved and one of the main writers is Andy Gillespie
who although he has been
playing keyboards for Simple Minds for a long time now it's the first time
Andy has, however, been involved in writing."
AG: "Midnight Walking is a track I had been working on with
Charlie came up
with an absolutely blistering guitar line and it transformed the track, it just gave it an edge. The kind of edge we
were looking for at the end. It's classic
JK: "We were on tour we were in a place
called Tromso which is just inside the Arctic Circle.
It's an amazing place because you can see the Northern Lights very clearly there in fact, it's a big part of the local
tourism. We'd arrived the night before the gig and it was arranged, literally, for everyone to go out midnight walking,
to see the lights. Unfortunately, in my case, I fell asleep and never made it. [Laughs] But when I spoke to the guys
in the morning, they'd had the most amazing time going out into the wilds and they'd seen this cosmic light show."
JK: "Then I thought 'I'm going to write a song inspired by the idea of going out
midnight walking.' Not particularly in the Arctic Circle."
AG: "And I think that's the thing I'm most proud of. When you sit down at a piano and play
then it's most obviously a piano. OK, it has an inherent atmosphere but it maybe hasn't got the atmosphere of
Aurora Borealis or walking about in the Arctic Circle at midnight and you have to conjure up soundscapes that might in
some way reflect that. So if I've managed to achieve that then I think that's job done."
[Audio: Honest Town]
JK: "I'm pretty confident whoever hears this album, particularly people who like the
album - I'm pretty confident that one of the highlights will be Honest Town."
CB: "We're doing a song called Honest Town
which is a collaboration with Iain Cook from
Chvrches. Beautiful song, really, really emotional."
JK: "Iain was introduced to me by a great associate of the
band called Martin Hanlin.
He introduced me to Iain probably about four years ago when
Chvrches was just coming together. And at the time
I was spending more time in Glasgow than normal because unfortunately my mother had been suffering and she
was coming towards the end of her life really. And I wanted to be around as much as possible. However, she wasn't
quite keen about me sitting around doing nothing she would much rather that... She was happy to see me but she
wanted to know that I was working, that I was pushing on, that I was inspired and conveniently
Iain was situated
half a mile away so we got together and it was just one of these things that just clicked and we ended up writing
about ten to twelve songs maybe. One of the first melodies Iain
played me was the riff for Honest Town. When I heard
it instantly there was something about the emotion in it that really grabbed me and it was an emotional time for me
anyway you know thinking about the backdrop and being back in Glasgow and the reason why."
JK: "The lyric itself was a phrase my mother used in one of the last conversations I had with
her about a week before she passed away, we... the whole of the UK was covered in the worst snow storm, the worst
weather circumstances that the country had seen for decades and Glasgow itself had ground to a standstill. Everyone
was saying 'Don't go out unless it's absolutely necessary.' The snow was up to... whatever. But my mum had it in her
mind to go out in what became the last time."
JK: "We had this really magical trip actually. She wanted to go through town... she wanted to
go for a drive through town. My Dad wasn't keen on taking her he was afraid of what the weatherman was saying. But I
said 'Let's go' and it just happened in circumstances that the journey we went on was all landmarks of her life and
indeed my life of growing up in Glasgow. And you know how it is anywhere when it snows and everything grinds to a halt
and the place becomes dreamlike and it becomes really static apart from the occasional falling snow and it was like
we had the world to ourselves and obviously driving very slowly and she was talking away she was talking about her
childhood, she was talking about the city she grew up in, she was talking about ourselves, our family as kids and stuff,
and in the course of this conversation the phrase "Honest Town" just came up. She used it. And when I went along to
Iain's studio later that night, I said to him 'I think I've got a lyric for this' and it's one of those songs that...
we always say that the great songs almost seem to write themselves and they fall together in minutes and that was
the case with Honest Town."
[Audio: Broken Glass Park]
JK: "One of the greatest things for me in the period of the last album,
was that I worked on this solo project called
Lostboy. And we only worked on it for a few weeks, and toured it
for a few weeks. And one of the things that was great about it was it was people coming into my life, other writers
and stuff, that energised me and indeed have gone on to energise
Simple Minds. And one of those people was
JK: "Owen came up with this tune that had something
about it had something of the nostalgia about it. I always liked these park songs MacArthur Park, Itchycoo Park and stuff and there was something about this
song that the phrase Broken Glass Park came up. I mean it is
pure nostalgia about the area that Charlie and I grew up
in and when we were young kids we used to escape into the park and when we were teenagers we would escape into it at night
and I won't go into details about what happened there but this park became central to our lives and
Owen really did
us a great, great service well, he gave me a great, great service in feeding me that melody."
[Audio: Big Music]
JK: "We have a new song called Big Music. And it was written about venues like this,
playing our music to people like you. Hydro gig." - Footage from the Celebrate: Live At The SSE Hydro DVD
JK: "The title track itself, Big Music, which is another
this time the track goes back to... I think the music's almost ten years old or the riff is. It was always good but
I could never quite come up with a lyric I felt was good enough."
AG: "And we were working on it in Ireland just the three of us actually. And I came up with
some synth stuff and we pushed and pulled it around quite a bit I'd been working on the track before with
JK: "I'd got a weekend off that I was really looking forward to in fact I went to see Prince
play in Monteux. Meanwhile Andy
was left working on the music and I said 'By the time I come back, I'll have a lyric.
I'm sure about it.' I don't know where I got the confidence from but I'll thought go and see Prince and I've have an
amazing time. So I went to see Prince and he's Prince and he's great but I was very frustrated because he never played
any of the songs that I wanted him to play. I know the feeling quite a lot people come to see
Simple Minds and say
'Well you never played this or played that' but Prince literally never played any of the songs I wanted to hear.
And I was enraged I was furious. I could understand the artistic side of it but as a punter... I remember standing
during the gig and just thinking 'Give me the music. Give me the songs. Give me these songs that make me feel ecstatic.
Give me these songs that change my world.' Because Prince is one of these artists that indeed could lay claim to that."
JK: "Anyway, by the time I got back to Ireland, I'd scribbled all these lines listening
to the backing track of what became Big Music."
AG: "He went in and he'd basically cut his lyrics and the vocal in one take. It was
fairly obvious that there was something special happening there."
JK: "And I was quite happy by midnight on the day back that we'd nailed a lyric and a tune
that finally seemed to match and go together well. And really it's just about a passion for music, for playing music,
for listening to music and in our case, growing up in within this life of music."
JK: "A few years ago I was on holiday it was on the other side of the world actually, I
was in Indonesia and I woke up in the morning and as you do I checked the e-mail and there was this MP3 from
Charlie for a track he had titled
Human. There's a lot of tracks called Human - I don't think I'd have particularly
chosen it but within a few minutes I was already inspired to go to work on it."
JK: "It reminds me of the kind of track that was on
Sparkle In The Rain:
Up On The Catwalk
or Speed Your Love To Me
Big, brash drums, bombastic with an insidiously catchy chorus. Again I think it's one
that people will only need to hear once particularly live
Mel will go all over it and it's definitely the big
[Audio: Let The Day Begin]
JK: "There's a song on the album called
Let The Day Begin and it was written by Michael Been of a
band called The Call. Some people will know them but I think by and large many people this side of
the water don't know about The Call or Michael."
CB: "And they toured with us in America
for quite a long time. And he's an amazing
writer he had an amazing pedigree. He was in Martin Scorsese's Last Temptation Of Christ, he was an apostle
in that Martin Scorsese directed the videos, his backing band was The Band I mean, that's not bad. And he
was just an amazing writer."
JK: "Years later so many years later in fact last year, we got the chance to go back
and tour in America and in that time, sadly
Michael - fairly recently, had passed away, very sad. But we'd have
loved the chance to hook up with him again or the chance to play with him again but it wasn't to be. So on the
last tour of the States indeed we played Let The Day Begin.
It went down an absolute storm and sounded better
than we ever imagined that it would. Pretty much within about twenty-four hours since coming back to these shores
and landing at Heathrow we booked the studio in London and tried to capture it."
JK: "It's great to have it in the set, and great to have it on the album, and hopefully
it's a great homage to Michael as well."
No promo or standalone versions of the video have yet surfaced.
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