arena, liverpool 21st july 2009
- 'Liverpool Daily Post' - 22nd July 2009
at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, avid Twitterer
Jim Kerr sent out a message on the social
networking site: "I hope they put strong
foundations in the construction of this new
venue as traditionally Simple Minds + Liverpool
means that walls shake."
By the end of
the band's frantic two hour set, the foundations
of the Liverpool Echo Arena were thoroughly
Minds herald from north of the border, each
and every time they come to Liverpool, they
treat it just like a homecoming – and
so do the crowds who turn out to greet them.
In the band's
deep and distant history, they cut their teeth
at legendary Liverpool venue Eric's and rubbed
shoulders with the likes of Echo and the Bunnymen.
So it's hardly surprising that the five piece
hold their Liverpool date up as one of the
highlights of their tour. Not bad considering
they played Edinburgh Castle at the weekend
and have a gig at San Marco's Square in Venice
on their itinerary.
else, other than Glasgow, would a song called
Waterfront resonate so soundly?
And it was from
the very first notes of the distinctive bass
line of that iconic song that Kerr and co
took to the stage and the band tore the roof
off the Echo Arena.
Giving the ecstatic
crowd no time to slow down, the tight five
piece ploughed onto a catalogue of classic
hits which span the band’s 30 years.
Songs such as
Glittering Prize, Big Sleep, New Gold Dream,
Alive & Kicking and Don't You Forget About
Me were woven together with new tracks including
sneak live previews of brand new Stars Will
Lead the Way and Rockets from the band’s
critically acclaimed Graffiti Soul album which
they will tour later in the year.
one-time stadium-fillers have slipped from
the wider public radar in recent years, they
have lost none of the skills which put them
there in the first place. Guitarist and band
co- founder Charlie Birchill, Andy Gillespie
on keyboard, Eddie Duffy on bass, the legendary
drummer Mel Gaynor and maestro Kerr made their
name live and that's exactly what they are
to gauge who works harder at a Simple Minds
concert, the band or the crowd, but given
some of Kerr’s on-stage shape throwing,
we’ll give it to the band.
A notable absentee
at the gig was fellow Glaswegian Kenny Dalglish
who is on tour in the Far East with Liverpool.
In his place in the front row was Mark Lawrenson,
who himself proved himself adept at throwing
with the crowd: "This is our first time
in this wonderful arena, it’s about
time you had a venue like this."
Just when the
crowd thought the night couldn’t get
any better, the band gave two encores which
featured Belfast Child and Sanctify Yourself,
and an explosive finale of Ghostdancing.
The walls shook,
but the Echo Arena was left standing ... just!
Jade Oddy - 'The
Scottish Sun' - 21st July 2009 (UK)
frontman Jim Kerr may have just turned 50
- but he's the happiest he's ever been. And
who could blame him? He's got a new woman
in his life, he's in the middle of a sell-out
European tour and the band's new album Graffiti
Soul sailed into the top 10.
Jim knew he
was in for a big year and pulled out all the
stops to make his milestone birthday earlier
this month one of the best ever.
He even organised
the band's tour dates to coincide with a birthday
bash in Paris.
He said: "I'm
not normally great with birthdays - I don't
get into them. But this time I wanted to really
celebrate with it being such a special one.
keen for the tour agent to draw the cards
so that it would be somewhere nice. So instead
of, say, Dusseldorf, I managed to get the
concert date in Paris! Not a bad place to
celebrate being 50.
on July 8, after the gig, a load of old schoolfriends
and family from Glasgow flew out to party
quite a night. I took the day off the next
day. We had done nine shows in ten days so
it was lovely just to stroll around this beautiful
singer's big bash was made even better by
the presence of his new mystery woman.
remains tight-lipped on her identity. He said:
"I am dating, yes. I'll let her do her
But I will say
she has taught me how to Tweet!
me a bracelet and that was my favourite present."
Jim is so loved
up he's even considering tying the knot for
a THIRD time.
He said: "To
use that cliche, I would say 'never say never'.
But for a while I was saying never.
I'd been there and done that and I'd made
a pig's ear of being married twice.
have a different take on that now. When I
was first a dad, I was only 24 and didn't
know myself, never mind the people I was marrying.
feel I could offer more. I always used to
blame myself for mistakes - now I give myself
marriage - to Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde,
57, - ended in 1990 after six years.
to actress Patsy Kensit, 41, also ended in
divorce in 1996 after four years.
Jim is devoted
to his two kids - Yasmin, 24, from his marriage
to Chrissie and James, 16, from his marriage
Both flew up
to Scotland last weekend for their huge gig
at Edinburgh Castle.
Jim said: "James
is turning 17 in September and he's excited
about the music industry. He was at Glastonbury
this year and he's increasingly interested
in how the business works. He asks more about
that than forming a band.
works for an organisation that manages artists
and puts on events. She has her mum's wits
about her. I've never had to worry about her."
Jim has managed
to forge good relationships with his ex-wives.
Patsy was at Simple Minds' headlining gig
at the iTunes Festival in London last Thursday,
while Chrissie met up with Jim's parents after
performing in Glasgow the previous night.
He said: "It's
all very civilised. But it took a lot of patience
and diplomacy on both sides. It's never easy
but they are the mothers of my kids and if
they're happy, then there's more of a chance
that the kids will be happy.
the really difficult stuff is when other boyfriends
and husbands come along. But if you put the
children first, you can remain cool-headed
are great women - they brought a lot to the
table. I still believe in marriage - there
is nothing to beat it when it works."
Jim was even
invited to Patsy's recent wedding - her fourth
- to DJ Jeremy Healy, 47.
He added: "She
very kindly asked me but she also knows I
don't like weddings.
it's Jeremy's day. What am I doing hanging
around? It's a bit Zsa Zsa Gabor, if you don't
mind me saying.
lovely that she asked me but she understood
when I said no. My daughter went, though."
Jim's band are
currently enjoying something of a renaissance.
Their 30th anniversary
tour has been a sell-out, while new single
Stars Will Lead The Way was released yesterday
and looks chart-bound.
But Jim is most
excited about performing at St Mark's Square
in Venice on Friday night - where the guest
of honour will be mum Irene.
has recovered from cancer after being diagnosed
in November 2007.
Jim said: "The
news wasn't good but she's doing fine. The
doctors are amazed. She's defying everything
they told her, which is great.
looks after her and they're so strong. They've
been together since they were 17."
Jim was all
set to postpone his 18-month-long anniversary
tour after her diagnosis. He added: "I'd
been living in Sicily and I decamped back
to Glasgow. But mum ended up saying, 'You
are making me bloody worse!'
'Listen, you have to go on tour. Make it great'.
She was at the Christmas gigs and was at Edinburgh
be in Venice to watch me and she's never been
there before. It will be lovely."
spending more time in Sicily for balancing
him after he suffered a low period.
He said: "I
could have been having a midlife crisis. My
career wasn't happening, I had no energy.
I'm not sure it was depression but it was
time for something new in every context.
for a wedding on the island and knew I had
to move there.
me get my mojo back and the music started
coming back. I realised I didn't want the
band to die."
castle 18th july 2009
Neil McEwan -
'Edinburgh Evening News' - 20th July 2009
way towards buses and taxis, damp enough to
grow cress in their underwear, the crowd filing
out from the Esplanade on Saturday night should
have looked a dismal sight but they were dancing
and jigging all the way down the hill because
they'd just seen Simple Minds on top form
and nothing could wipe the smile from their
The rain came
on literally within seconds of the support
act, The Silencers, taking the stage but they
still managed to warm up the crowd with their
bluesy soulful sound. From the appropriately
named Scottish Rain to the sing-along favourite
The Real McCoy they distracted from the biblical
downpour and set the scene for the main attraction.
All their good
work was almost undone by an unknown hitch
which prevented the headliners from following
them on for around 20 minutes, but as soon
as they hit the first notes of Waterfront
all was forgiven and forgotten and the Castle
rocked to a sea of jumping, swaying and clapping
Simple Minds are on record, their real strength
lies in live performance and this was a prime
example of their skills. Following the blistering
opening number they kept the energy levels
at eleven all night and if there had been
a roof, by the time Alive and Kicking came
on it would have been blown off by the crowd's
Jim Kerr is
clearly having the time of his life at the
moment with the resurgence of interest in
the band and he transmitted his joy out into
the swarm of happy followers hanging on his
Kerr is an old
fashioned rock showman who feeds on the adoration
of the crowd. Unlike Patsy Kensit's other
ex, you can't imagine him asking an audience
to stop clapping. He also could have a second
career in fitness videos as it's not many
50-year-olds who can show the flexibility
he demonstrated on stage.
descended the show kept up the same high-powered
feeling. Hit followed hit and, alongside a
smattering of material from the band's new
return to form album, were all sung back to
them by the crowd.
The band headed
off after playing their hearts out for over
and hour and teased the multitude before heading
back for a 20-minute encore to send them away
As Kerr's admitted
in several interviews, Simple Minds were in
the doldrums for a few years and had even
seriously considered hanging up their rock
hats. Saturday's audience were the beneficiaries
of their decision to give it one last try
and to reconnect with the spirit that made
them such a powerhouse in the eighties.
showed that they had truly recaptured whatever
it was they had been missing over the last
few years and the soggy Simple Minds fans
from across the globe who attended let them
know they'd succeeded it in no uncertain terms.
castle 18th july 2009
- 'The Glasgow Herald' - 20th July 2009 (UK)
Given that Simple
Minds' Saturday night concert at Edinburgh
Castle was ravaged by a biblical downpour
that lasted a full hour and continued well
into their two-hour set, it's fitting that
they opened with Waterfront, with its invocation
to "come in, come out of the rain".
If only we could have. The sound, at least,
was bright and clear, and the lashings of
rain finally let up during See the Lights
as Jim Kerr did his utmost to lift sodden
spirits. A shameless old ham, the singer declared
the castle "belongs to every one of us",
tied his tartan scarf to the mike stand and
indulged in a bit of light Glasgow-vs-Edinburgh
be magic!" he yelled, and some of it
was. The whirring Euro-funk of I Travel (its
"statues, parks and galleries" line
seemed particularly apt in the panoramic location)
and a note-perfect Love Song were thrilling.
Hypnotized and a handful of tracks from patchy
but sparky new album Graffiti Soul just about
kept pace with older glories, while Big Sleep
was the highlight of a batch of songs from
New Gold Dream, its hypnotic keyboard refrain
magically spinning out into the dusk.
It was followed
by a long Don't You Forget About Me, which
showed up Simple Minds' fatal flaw: too much
empty mid-tempo bluster, not enough surging
beauty. Musically flawless, they methodically
pressed all the stadium-rock buttons, throwing
in an obligatory snatch of Them's Gloria as
they whipped the crowd into a closing frenzy,
but throughout there was precious little sense
of spontaneity. Despite maximum effort in
trying circumstances, Simple Minds didn't
quite sparkle in the rain.
AND BRUCE'S SIMPLE FORMULA
- 'Edinburgh Evening News' - 17th July 2009
'THE buzz was
the first thing I noticed; the tension in
the air before the band came on stage."
Edinburgh music supremo Bruce Findlay is recalling
the first time he saw Simple Minds perform.
The year was
1978, the venue, The Mars Bar, a small Glasgow
pub which boasted Jim Kerr's newly formed
outfit as its resident band.
at the mixing desk was Davey Henderson. It
was a tiny wee mixing desk, ridiculous, almost
like a volume control," Findlay continues.
him was his sister, Jaine. She had a board
with four light switches on it. On stage there
were a few lights. Not much, an ultra-violet
light and a revolving mannequin's head with
another couple of lights. Jaine was switching
these lights on and off.
band came on stage they were greeted like
long lost heroes, even though they had only
been playing for a couple of weeks.
really bizarre. For a start they wore quite
heavy make-up. Derek Forbes the bass player
resembled one of the New York Dolls. Jim wore
a white tuxedo jacket with tight black trousers.
He looked very unusual with his jet black
hair cut in a pudding bowl style and, of course,
he was skinny and very, very, serious –
he spoke very little.
the lighting was back lighting, but the very
fact that they had lighting made them different."
For the next
12 years, Findlay would manage Simple Minds,
taking them from cult status to international
stardom. Consequently, he's in reflective
mood as he looks forward to their concert
at Edinburgh Castle tomorrow, a gig that is
in many ways a homecoming for the Glasgow
band who made their name in Capital.
Findlay first met Kerr a few days before seeing
him perform live. With a successful chain
of music shops to his name and his own record
label – Zoom – he was the man
to come to for advice, which is exactly what
the teenage Kerr did in the summer of 1978.
started my record label the year before and
had a little success with The Valves and PVC2,
so bands were coming to see me all the time,"
explains Findlay, who was also responsible
for putting Shirley Manson on the music map.
his then sound-man/pal and tour manager Davey
Henderson got in touch. Simple Minds had only
been going a couple of months but were already
beginning to build a bit of a reputation.
they came in and Jim was very serious and
they both looked very odd for Weegies, much
more arty than punk, almost gothic looking.
That intrigued me because right away they
looked different to all the other bands that
were coming to see me."
had cut their first demo in December 1977.
A five-track affair, Kerr brought it with
him that fateful day.
it on and was absolutely blown away by it.
Pleasantly Disturbed, a sort of Velvet Undergroundy-thing
with violin was a slow- building song, and
the more poppy Chelsea Girl, which for me
was going to be a smash hit, were the two
stand-out tracks," remembers Findlay.
very cautious, so the next Sunday I went to
see them and was equally blown away by their
live performance. I hung out with them for
the next couple of months, got them a couple
of gigs and even drove them to some of those
At the time
Findlay had also just signed a licensing deal
with Arista records, allowing the larger label
to distribute his releases on Zoom. Not that
Simple Minds were looking for a big record
weren't interested in any major record company,
they were very independent minded. On the
other hand, Jim, for all that he was only
19, was very astute. He said, 'I wish we could
get the money and clout that a major label
could give us but with the independence and
kudos that being with a small independent
label brings'. He wanted both," says
had already attempted to sign them direct
but had no chance, so I let them know this.
When one or two other record companies began
to sniff around, Arista came up with the idea
that they would give me the money to fund
The deal was
done in 1978 and a year later Simple Minds'
debut album, Life In A Day, was released.
Gigs at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh
Art College and Tiffany's followed and Findlay
knew they were hitting the big time when they
headlined Clouds at Tollcross and The Astoria
at Abbeyhill, promoted by Regular Music, promoters
of tomorrow's Castle Concert.
did more gigs in Edinburgh than they did in
Glasgow, but I always said to bands, 'You
must build up your own fan base in your home
town but you won't know you are happening
until you build a fan base in another town
as well'," says Findlay, confessing that
despite negotiating the deal that brought
the band that early recognition, he didn't
quite think of himself as their manager at
the record label boss but right from the start
they would talk to people about me being their
manager because I had got them their record
deal; a publishing deal; an agency deal and
fronted all the band's business.
a year into the deal I said, 'It's time you
got yourself a proper manager'. They said,
'But you're our manager, we're happy.' That
They might have
been happy with Findlay, but neither were
happy with Arista, Despite this, their third
album, Empires And Dance, was released on
the label in 1980. "The band hadn't been
too happy with the first album, although I
thought it was great. They were delighted
with the second album, Real To Real Cacophony,
and their third album. So was I, and so was
picked it up and the NME and Melody Maker
began writing about them in glowing terms.
But we weren't selling records and making
the Top 40, yet we were building a really
big following. So we fell out with Arista."
To further illustrate
his point Findlay adds, "Empires And
Dance should have been a hit. A track called
I Travel which featured on it, is iconic.
DJs still play it today.
a 12-inch remix of it and it should have been
a monster hit but it wasn't. So we managed
to get out the Arista deal and signed to Virgin."
album with Virgin was Sons And Fascination
in 1981 but it would be their 1982 studio
album New Gold Dream that would finally send
first Top 20 single, Promised You A Miracle,
came from New Gold Dream. That album was the
commercial breakthrough, the moment they became
stars," agrees Findlay.
also introduced the masses to Kerr's often
outrageous dress sense. From black tights
to flouncy blouses, Tammy hats to Kohl eyeliner,
there was little he wouldn't don for effect.
used to have a word with him about that, but
Jim had a wonderful self-effacing sense of
humour," laughs Findlay. "He did
care about the way he looked, and although
he maybe wasn't the most sartorial pop star,
it got him noticed and created an identity.
went to a Simple Minds gig you would see kids
going to the gig dressed as Jim had been at
the last one and being well miffed when he
came on stage looking completely different."
and their first manager parted company in
1990. They're still friends, Findlay looks
back on their adventures with pride and a
managed the band I would always say, 'THIS
is my favourite period,' when asked. Now that
I have not been with them for 19 years, I
can look back and genuinely say, hand on heart,
that my favourite period started in 1979.
when they released their second album on which
they discovered the sound that is Simple Minds.
That's when they became an influence on the
scene and other bands, even though we were
still the underdogs, chasing the dream. .
and the band jumping in a plane, going to
America on a cheap ticket, picking up crew,
friends and fans as we went - that whole sense
of discovery was fabulous."
Minds' Jim Kerr's heaven on earth
- 14th July 2009 (UK)
singer-songwriter Jim Kerr loves Taormina's
great location overlooking the Ionian Sea,
where he can see as far as the lights of Calabria.
I first went
to Sicily with my school when I was 14. It
was then that I discovered the world was in
colour – the Glasgow of my childhood
wasn't the vibrant city it is today.
I always enjoyed
touring in Italy with Simple Minds and I particularly
liked Sicily. We played a gig there once on
my birthday and a friend took me for lunch
the next day in Taormina, a little town on
the island's east coast. I fell in love with
it instantly, went back as often as I could,
made friends with the locals, and eventually
it became a home from home.
What's so special
about it? For a start it has a great location,
overlooking the Ionian Sea, and you can see
as far as the lights of Calabria. It's also
steeped in history. It's where the continents
meet, and has all sorts of influences, including
Arabic, Greek and Roman. There's also a wonderful
open-air, ancient Greek theatre, where they
have amazing concerts. But the real cherry
on the cake is that it has the most fantastic
view of Mount Etna.
In fact, Taormina
is so special that around 10 years ago a friend
and I opened a hotel there, The Hotel Villa
Angela (0039 0942 27038; www.hotelvillaangela.com)
One of my favourite
local restaurants is La Botte (24198; www.labotte1972.it)
where the fish, along with just about everything
else, is delicious. I can also recommend Tira
Misu (24803; www.tiramisutaormina.it), which
is more of a family restaurant, but is a great
place to dine al fresco at night.
is distinctive from the rest of Italy in that
it includes a lot more fish, be it squid,
salt fish, or tuna, depending on the season,
and you can see the fishermen bringing in
the catch if you're up early enough. The local
fruit and vegetables also taste fantastic.
Unusually for a Scotsman, I'm teetotal but
the local wines are said to be very good and
have started to win a lot of prizes.
A good time
to visit is May when it's not too hot, though
I first went in the heat of high summer and
As for any danger posed by the Mafia, forget
it. The Mafia is as dangerous for holidaymakers
as the Loch Ness Monster.
LONDON 16th july 2009
- 20th July 2009 (UK)
The iTunes Festival
is situated at a great atmospheric venue in
London called the "Roundhouse" and
runs throughout the whole of July with a different
band every night, tickets were given away
free to fans in a lottery on the internet.
Tonight I have the fortune of having a pair
of these such tickets to see rock super group
Simple Minds and being a massive fan since
the 80's things don't get much better than
this as the band have no played a small venue
of this size in a very long time. Arriving
at the venue everyone is presented with a
wristband and a smart itune laminate which
gives you access to 10 free tracks on the
i-tunes website. Tonight's support act "Vagabond"
arrived on stage a 8pm and were given a very
warm reception by the audience. Their guitar
based rock has a slightly bluesy feel with
some very promising tracks such as their new
single " Don't wanna run no more"
and set closer "I have been wanting You"
which included some really great vocal work
from lead singer Alex. The Guardian newspaper
reported the Vagabond could be the next "Worlds
biggest Band" on this show they do have
a lot of work to do before than can get that
tag, however I wouldn't be surprised if I
hear their tracks on a music channel or on
the radio very soon.
Minds recently played to a massive
sell out crowd at the Isle of Wight Festival,
as well as many other festivals in Europe
promoting their latest album "Graffiti
Soul" which is probably one
of the best albums since the late 1980's.
Arriving on stage with "Moscow Underground"
the opening track from the album, there is
a huge screen that covers the whole of the
back of the stage projecting images that tie
in with the tracks played. Jim Kerr covers
the whole of the stage effortlessly giving
the crowd exactly what they want calling out
his usual catchphrase "let me see your
hands" and the audience responds with
hundreds of pairs of hands shooting up in
the air applauding along to the music. The
unmistakable intro to "Waterfront"
started up and a whole bunch of 30-40 something
years old fans like myself got carried away
with the excitement of the show, seeing Simple
Minds at such close proximity in a much smaller
venue than usual was just such an awesome
experience. A stunning version of "New
Gold Dream" and the ever popular "Alive
and Kicking" ended their set with the
crowd again with their arms in the air waving
them from side to side as instructed by Jim,
however this was not to be the end as the
3000 strong crowd demanded more and the band
obliged with a four song encore ending with
Ghost-Dancing from the 1985 album "Once
Upon a Time".
LONDON 16th july 2009
- 'The London Paper' - 17th July 2009 (UK)
There's no getting
around it. Frontmen who are a teensy bit beyond
their first flush need guitars: strap on an
axe and come across all seasoned troubadour.
Crucially, guitarists are not expected to
non-guitar-playing frontman Jim Kerr has no
such luck and is forced to resurrect his trademark
hammy posturing about 20 years after its best
Just how sphincter-clenchingly
badly he does this is reflected in the awed
embarrassment which greeted the first two
songs. All of which is a shame because, if
you can get past the dad dancing, Simple Minds
are still a very taut rock outfit.
After an initial
flirtation with some new(ish) tracks we’re
straight into Waterfront, Don’t You
Forget About Me and all the best slices of
New Gold Dream, the 1982 album which catapulted
them to stadium rocker status.
hard not to notice that while they’re
still stirring in an anthemic rock kind of
way, they feel a little laboured too. Er,
a bit 80s, actually.
missing the point. We’re on a veguely
ironic nostalgia trip here and a lot of mums
(and dads) went home happy. Job done.
Minds' Jim Kerr on returning to Liverpool's
- 'Liverpool Echo' - 17th July 2009 (UK)
Last time Simple
Minds played the Summer Pops, there was a
very special fan dancing in the front row
– King Kenny Dalglish.
The former Liverpool
striker and manager has always supported the
band, and over the years, he and singer Jim
Kerr became mates. They even headed an ultimately
unsuccessful £30 million consortium
to take over Jim’s beloved Celtic FC,
back in 1998.
up in Glasgow in the early 70s, there really
wasn’t much else on, other than football,”
says Jim. “When he (Kenny) left Celtic
in ‘77 I remember thinking it was time
to do something else. I started looking at
what was going on in Liverpool.
music was so much more exotic than football.
Going to see bands, we knew which ones had
delivered, who’d set the place on fire
– and who had come on and looked at
their shoes for an hour and left.
to be the former as opposed to the latter.”
Glasgow then there was no scene – bands
were playing whiskey drinking music in the
pubs. We would go along to the pub and complain.
One day he (the landlord) called our bluff
and said ‘if you could do any better
do it next Monday night’ so it was kind
of pulled together from one night.”
and guitar player Charlie Burchill he formed
a punk band. The duo then recruited Mick MacNeil,
Derek Forbes, Brian McGee, and became Simple
One of their
first gigs outside Glasgow was in Liverpool.
frightened of playing Eric’s because
it had a reputation and you always get heckled
by the local bands,” laughs Jim. ”We
thought ‘we’re going to get stick
here’ and we did. The first time we
played we probably deserved it and the heckling.
the same manager as China Crisis and we liked
them, and that first track African and White,
so we became mates. We met the Bunnymen in
Rockfield Studio, we liked the same bands
– and, of course, football.
Ian McCulloch a lot. They are so underrated.
He doesn’t under rate himself mind –
but he does write great songs,” Jim
laughs at the thought. “I know they’re
a big cult band but in the mainstream not
a lot of people know all their songs. If we
had been in Liverpool or they had been in
Glasgow we would have probably been in each
After more than
three decades on the road Jim says he still
feels appreciative, rather than jaundiced,
about all that’s come his way –
and desperately thankful to the staunch bunch
of Simple Mind fans who continue to follow
wishing to patronise them, our fans have given
us this incredible life,” he says, humbly.
“A life beyond our dreams. We won the
lottery – in fact more than that because
you could win the lottery and it could be
managed to have a life, of touring, travelling
and music. We’re beyond thankful.”
The former husband
of rock star Chrissie Hynde and actress Patsy
Kensit is surprisingly down to earth courteous,
informative and candid, Jim seems rather dismissive
of celebrity antics.
never been much of a drinker,” he admits.
“On my 30th birthday I’d had too
much to drink and then had a horrendous night
on stage. Not only physically horrendous,
but the audience had paid good money and got
– from me anyway – a shadow of
a performance. It just wasn’t on.”
a performance he gave 20 years ago (Jim is
now 50) is a sweet reflection of Kerr’s
love for his job.
Over the years
the line-up has reverted to the original pair.
Jim and Charlie are the last two musicians
remaining and 31 years on aren’t thinking
asked myself what keeps us going so many times,
particularly in the periods when it hasn’t
been going swimmingly well,” he laughs.
honest there haven’t been many of those
periods. We’ve enjoyed 99% of the ride.”
Asked why he
does it, Jim seems slightly stumped.
it’s what we do. Making music and touring
makes sense to us.”
out of bags, somewhere between London and
Glasgow, he’s not sure where his home
“Despite trying to rebel and attempt
to settle down, it’s not for me. Recently
I’ve been in Sicily. Honestly I’m
always in transit. Even now there are bags
at the hotel which I’ll leave with them
for a month and then come and pick them up.
have my books and candles and things which
people have in their lives, not in their bags.”
If his life
on the road doesn’t include taking advantage
of his star status, what does he spend his
“I like walking and hiking, I’ve
got one of those fold-away cycles and I take
it with me. There are museums everywhere and
I like reading. I’ve got my studies,
my days are full.”
HALL, NORWICH 17th july 2009
Ian Clarke -
'EPD24' - 17th July 2009 (UK)
years ago simple minds bought out an album
called Sparkle in the Rain which changed their
approach to music.
A year later
the Scottish rockers recorded the song which
has surely become their best known anthem
- Alive And Kicking.
And turn forward
the clock to July 2009 and both titles were
very apt last night as the ever green band
sparkled in the rain and prove they're very
much still alive and kicking.
lit up an otherwise miserable summer's night
at Blickling Hall with a 100 minute set, ranging
from their early tracks after they formed
in 1977, to numbers from their new album Graffiti
the evening with Waterfront - one of the hits
from the Sparkle in the Rain album - and as
soon as front man Jim Kerr got the 3,000 strong
crowd clapping and waving their arms above
their heads the scene was set.
sang the line from alive and kicking “the
rain keeps falling down on me” with
extra gusto as they got wetter and wetter
- but nobody seemed to care.
The old hits
kept coming and included New Gold Dream; Promise
You a Miracle; She's a River; and I Travel.
Earlier in the
evening The Stranglers provided excellent
support for Simple Minds and the highlights
of their set were Golden Brown, Walk On By,
and No More heroes.
Minds legend Jim Kerr still going strong at
- 'Sunday People' - 28th June 2009 (UK)
legend Jim Kerr is about to turn 50 - and
with £50million in the bank, homes in
Nice and London and a luxury hotel in Sicily,
you would think he might be putting his feet
But after 30
years fronting one of the best live rock bands
in the world, Jim will spend his birthday
on July 9 performing hits from a new album
in front of thousands of fans in Paris on
Simple Minds' gruelling six-month international
And the Glaswegian
singer - who has sold 35million records worldwide
with five No1 albums including Sparkle in
the Rain and hit singles including Don't You
(Forget About Me) and Waterfront - is as full
of energy and passion as he was in 1979.
the haircut is much, much better.
Jim says: "I'm
50 - I can't bloody believe it. It's great
to feel as vibrant and bushy-tailed as I do
and I hope I stay that way for a good while
really befuddled by it because I don't feel
any older. Mind you, I only have to look back
at pictures of myself in the 1980s.
think 'What on earth was I wearing?' and I
can't believe some of the haircuts I had or
the trousers - especially that big flappy
pair at Live Aid. But we were just boys then."
A tidal wave
of 1980s nostalgia sweeping Britain has seen
groups like Spandau Ballet, ABC, Kajagoogoo
and even The Nolans reforming.
But while contemporaries
are busy dusting off their headbands and padded-shoulders
to revisit the glory days, Jim and guitarist
Charlie Burchill, 49 - the two original members
of Simple Minds - are thrilling old and new
fans with their 15th album Graffiti Soul.
Jim said: "We've
never felt so energised and if we can celebrate
our 30th anniversary and still get people
excited about the new stuff that's wonderful."
Next month they
perform in Norfolk with The Stranglers. And
their support act on tour are '80s legends
OMD - Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark.
Jim said: "I
still get the same buzz I always did from
being on the road. Every single night, every
single concert you want to give your very
best - play like it's your only night on Earth."
one of the reasons he is still at the top
of his game is that he is a teetotal vegetarian
who has always shunned drugs.
of the wild man of rock really belongs to
the '60s and '70s," he says. "Of
course there are a few new bands who go out
acting like kids in a candy store and will
try everything, but these days it's more about
having a mental edge. The thing that has stood
me in good stead and kept me in fairly decent
shape is that, unusually for a Scotsman, I
am not a drinker."
So has he got
any advice for younger bands starting out
no manual for this game," he says. "There's
a point when it becomes more than a band and
more than a career - it's your life.
been very lucky to have kept going out on
the road all these years. We haven't always
been on top of our game but that's just life,
isn't it?" Jim's one regret is sacking
one of the band's founder members, bass guitarist
Derek Forbes, now 53 and playing with New
Wave cover band Fourgoodmen.
He said: "It
was a stupid thing and we could probably have
sorted it out.
so bad about it and I still do. That was his
band and his life and it was something silly
and I do regret that.
are part of the journey and I can't complain
because the journey's been great.
of that journey has been two high-profile
marriages which broke up - but Jim has remained
a devoted dad and stayed on remarkably good
terms with his ex-wives.
In 1984 he wed
Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of The Pretenders,
and they have a daughter, Yasmin, 24, who
is now an actress.
The couple divorced
after six years and in 1992 Jim wed actress
Patsy Kensit with whom he has a son, James
16. Their marriage lasted four years.
Jim said: "Despite
the separations and going our different ways
we have all still maintained a link and are
He says he is
"technically single" at the moment
and clearly has no shortage t e of female
admirers. But is he ever likely to tie the
He said: "I'm
not ideal marrying fodder. I'm a bit of a
freak. Back home in Sicily I'm in bed at 10pm,
I only need five hours of sleep a night and
I'm up at 4.30am working. But if I suddenly
feel like going to India I can.
I should be looking for an insomniac who likes
travel and doesn't mind hanging out in Sicily
with the Mafia!"
Kerr on Kenny Dalglish and Nelson Mandela
Laura Davis -
'Liverpool Daily Post' - 25th June 2009 (UK)
Jim Kerr describes
himself as a bit of a nomad. He grew up in
Glasgow, toured the globe as lead singer of
Simple Minds and has settled (sort of) in
His music too
has meandered around the world – its
subject matter travelling to wherever there
is social plight.
In 1988, Belfast Child mourned the Troubles
in Ireland with the emotive line "Some
day soon they’re gonna pull the old
The same year,
Kerr and co paid tribute to the world’s
most famous anti-apartheid campaigner, then
well into his 27-year prison stretch, with
Mandela Day, and reissued the song that had
become an anthem for eighties American teenagers
thanks to the movie Breakfast Club –
Don’t You Forget About Me.
been a fantastic journey with many twists
and turns," says Kerrs, who is bringing
the band to this year’s Summer Pops,
in his Glaswegian tones.
enjoyed 99% of it but it’s not always
give the content of many of their songs, Simple
Minds have been dubbed "the most politically
charged band of the eighties".
But Kerr, 49,
is a bit taken aback by the description.
a wee bit surprising to us," he admits.
write songs about Belfast and anti-apartheid
obviously I can understand why it is.
seem like a crazy thing to say but in a way
that wasn’t the point really. The point
was they were the themes of the day, when
Margaret Thatcher was in power and we resented
her and her policies.
young and idealistic."
While he still
feels concerned about world issues, commenting
at one point in our conversation on the "heart-wrenching
sight" of "people coming over to
Sicily from Africa on tiny little boats",
Kerr feels they couldn’t top Belfast
Child as an anthem for political problems
think, forgive me for saying this, but we
did it as best as we could.
"In a way
the song’s become not just about Belfast,
it’s become a metaphor.
a song about violence and war and it could
be anywhere where that stuff’s going
on. I don’t think we could write a better
song than we already did."
changed since the 1980s, he adds, becoming
less an obvious part of youth culture but
more an intrinsic part of every day lfe.
were so different way back then. There was
much more evidence of polarity. It was very
East and West and the Berlin Wall and the
Cold War and Labour and Tories, anti-apartheid,
pro- apartheid," explains Kerr.
are all encompassing. If you go into a supermarket,
the coffee you buy is a political choice.
If you fly to Paris for a weekend you could
say it’s a political choice, buying
a pair of jeans or training shoes... it’s
the issues never go away, they maybe change
geographically but it’s still about
injustices and how they manifest."
was a chance to revisit and celebrate some
of their old political subject matter –
performing at Nelson Mandela’s 90th
birthday concert last June.
wrote Mandela Day, there had been horrific
institutionalised racism and Mandela himself
was this mysterious man. There hadn’t
even been a picture of him the 10 years prior
to his release," says Kerr.
years on, here he was, this old man still
with a glint in his eye, still fighting for
the causes close to him. It was a great, great
own words, it’s been an exciting two
decades for Simple Minds but, like anything
you continue to do for such a long time, there
have been lulls too.
was a period about 10 years ago where we were
running low on gas, it was a bit like getting
blood out of a stone and although we obviously
didn’t decide to call it a day, why
in the end did we not?
really is our lives – it seems like
it’s what we were born to do. Why do
we do it? Why does a shark swim?"
for their work is the reason they have kept
going, adds Kerr, whose ex-wives are the Pretenders’
Chrissie Hynde and Holby City actress Patsy
made it possible to get through the periods
that were a bit rocky," he says.
Lennon was at home baking bread for a few
years when I guess he felt he wasn’t
at his creative best."
He pauses, then
launches spontaneously into all the reasons
Simple Minds is looking forward to their Liverpool
Indeed one of
the reasons he turned to music was because
of a certain Liverpool FC manager who used
to play for his favourite team.
because of a man called Kenny Dalglish who
left Celtic and went to Liverpool and I thought
‘I’m gonna give up on football
and do something else’, because we loved
Kenny so much," he reveals.
early days we loved playing at the Royal Court.
has such a great heritage of music and certainly
when we were growing up there were a lot of
Liverpool bands that were our contemporaries.
were first booked for the Summer Pops I thought
‘I don’t fancy that, some tent
down by the docks’, but it was great
and we’ve done some of the best gigs
of the latter part of our career down there.
the audiences really are amazing and never
let us down."
Mark C Strong
- 'The List' - June 11th 2009 (UK)
A worthy attempt to reinstate the band as
stadium-filling rock contenders (while also
marking their glittering 30-year anniversary),
studio set number 15 ticks most boxes for
fifty-somethings, Simple Minds.
Four years on
from the fart that was 505050, Kerr, Burchill
and co, shake off the shackles of that set
to claw back some credibility.
OK, it is commercial
(and it’s intended to be), but tracks
such as opener ‘Moscow Underground’
and flagship downloader ‘Rockets’,
remind us of just how potent the band can
be. Stalwart fans should be mildly ecstatic
with at least two other songs, ‘Kiss
& Fly’ and ‘Light Travels’,
while the deluxe edition features an additional
disc of various odds’n’sods covers
from the likes of contemporaries Siouxsie,
Magazine and The Stranglers.
- 'The Quietus' - June 10th 2009 (UK)
Re-invention is a concept that Simple Minds
are entirely familiar with. Their back catalogue
began back in 1979 with post punk debut Life
In A Day, which borrowed significantly from
bands like Magazine while also incorporating
a subtle crossover into pop; the band bunny-hopped
across genres thereafter, culminating in late
1980s mega-stardom on the back of the grandiose
pop-rock heralded by 1985’s Once Upon
30-plus year career, however, the influence
of Europe (the continent, not the band) has
remained as much of a constant as the voice
of Jim Kerr; and his fascination with European
musical texture has coloured much of their
output. The darker, new wave aura of Real
To Real Cacophony and Empires And Dance hinted
strongly at time spent listening to Kraftwerk
and Neu! — at this point in their career
Simple Minds actively promoted themselves
as a “European” band, as opposed
to a purely British or Scottish one.
A label change from Arista to Virgin saw the
release of the band’s next two albums,
the first of which — Sons and Fascination
— built on and perfected their Euro
blueprint, while at the same time launching
the band toward a significantly more commercial
audience. 1982's New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
was the result, and frankly it changed everything.
Some of the more experimental aspects of the
past were there for sure but they were mingled
with arena-sized pop; and that shift wasn’t
exactly welcomed at first by the band’s
though, was the kind of appreciation and adoration
reserved for the only the biggest of bands.
This was fuelled by their well-produced, anthemic
pop-rock which pushed all the right buttons
in the lean years of the mid 80s. It was clear
that this was an entirely different band.
Inevitably, decline followed, and in this
case it was as much to do with intra-band
wrangling as it was with complacency or an
inability to remain relevant. Line-up changes
ensued — never ideal circumstances for
producing supreme creative output —
and by the mid 1990s Simple Minds were, whether
they liked it or not, on musical exiles with
no instructions on how to return any time
recent attempts at a career jump-start failed;
not surprising, given their changing musical
fabric and a couple of albums that suffered
so severely from lack of direction that they
couldn’t find their audience with sat
nav. But, to most people’s surprise
(except perhaps Kerr’s himself), new
album Graffiti Soul represents a significant
and rather effective re-evaluation of what
ingredients were so vital to Simple Minds
in the first place. Just listen to opening
Krautrocker 'Moscow Underground' or synth-infused
'Blood Type O' and you’ll hear what
we’re talking about.
Hi Jim, it’s
Mark from The Quietus in London
Jim Kerr: ”Come
on you don’t sound like a man from London
Yeah ok, I’m
"I thought so. I just need to say before
we start that I love the Quietus.”
good to hear. Why is that then?
not trying to curry favour or anything but
it’s the best thing out there right
and I’ll pass that on. The aim is to
exactly the word I wanted to use. I love all
the stuff and the way it’s done.”
[I prefer RateMyTurban.com, Ed]
. . . the question I need to ask is: will
Celtic win the league?
well they really shouldn’t, but they
just might I think. Rangers aren’t much
better and the two of them are like two tired
boxers plodding on to the final bell. The
football in Scotland is rubbish nowadays anyway.
Dundee Utd are probably, in fact they are
the best team in Scotland just now.”
[Celtic didn't win, Ed]
Do I take it
that you are less abreast of football affairs
than previously then? I mean you did bid to
buy the club back in 1998 right?
pretty easy to stay abreast nowadays really
with all the online stuff but there aren’t
that many hours in the day and there is so
much better football out there to watch so
it doesn’t appeal quite as much ‘cos
the standard of football is so bad. As far
as wanting to buy the club yeah it’s
true. At that time our bid was in place and
everything but the man in charge at the time
was really shrewd in that he actually used
our bid to inflate the share price and keep
it up there. That way a few people made a
bit of money as a result. The club is in good
hands now and in a lot of ways I am glad it
didn’t come about.”
The new record Graffiti Soul sounds as if
it might be a conscious effort to be a little
more relevant. True?
a conscious effort in that we really felt
it was time to get our mojo back to some degree.
Also we had a remit because we’d done
this whole 30th Anniversary tour thing and
had patted ourselves on the back and all that.
We’re not really very good at looking
backwards generally so when we made a pact
do this new record we wanted to make sure
that whatever we came up with exuded vitality
and energy and wasn’t a punch drunk
ghost of our former selves. We enjoyed the
live audiences so much and thought how good
it would be to play live with a really great
record under our belts. So, we wanted to sound
in some ways like classic Simple Minds but
with a contemporary sound. How do you do that?
Especially given that by ‘classic’
you are harking back to a previous era. We
think we’ve found that balance though.”
says a lot that it should all begin on the
Yep, a few would
expect a big "Wooahhh!"-type anthem?
course they would but this is more atmospheric
and somebody described Charlie’s guitars
as being more ‘spiky’, which is
a word I liked to hear. The whole track is
a quite understated with that whole Krautrock
type beat too. It kind of whispers in your
ear saying ‘Come in here’. Charlie
and I actually disagreed about this song and
he’s the more commercially minded one.
He kept saying ‘But it’s dark’.
When I said, ‘Yeah but it’s dark
. . . and sexy’, it was a done deal.”
in fact I had to calm myself down about it
all. [laughs] It was a different thing because
we went to work every day and really, really
Is that a new
feeling, going to work every day?
you’re young there’s nothing else
in your life but the band but when you get
older, inevitably you have more things in
your life to dedicate time to. So yeah, it
felt good to be doing like it means everything
and it confirmed our passion in it all.”
Do you and Charlie
get on OK nowadays?
by and large, but we do argue now and then.
In fact the other day when we came to London
recently to do some interviews we were in
a taxi going to the hotel to chat about things
going forward and all of a sudden this fucking
huge argument breaks out. One of our colleagues
was with us at the time and commented on how
intense it was. I think it’s a good
thing because it shows that the passion is
still there. It’s all part of being
in a gang; that’s what a band is all
about. Even during our difficult periods we
never blamed each other, or in fact anyone
When you slipped
off the radar you mean?
slipped so far off the radar we were in Alaska
Why do you think
few reasons. Firstly if you’re a big
successful band and things go wrong, you’re
going to get it in the neck. We were in denial
about a lot of things too and there was a
huge implosion going on within the band. I
remember during that period when we were making
one of our records back then and I was sitting
watching telly seeing bands like The Happy
Mondays and The Stone Roses coming over the
hill. All I could think was ‘Fuck, this
is going to be difficult’, but you have
to remain strong. There were glimpses of light
during that period and we continued to play
live and enjoy it and also make money; but
we were totally out of the picture. When you
think about it, very few of our contemporaries
have stayed constantly relevant; U2 and Depeche
Mode, maybe, but they are definitely the exception.”
on the agenda?
suppose six or seven years ago it was a consideration.
The frustrating thing is that people can’t
say ‘You guys could have made it’
because we did it. We weren’t just contenders.
Very few bands lose it and get it back if
you think about it. Take That did maybe .
. . and Tina Turner.”
Yeah but she
lost it, got it back, and then lost it again.
“Yeah you’re right. To get there
alone, that’s a story. To get there,
lose it and get it back is something amazing.
This album as you know is our first for Universal
and they could be excused for not expecting
much. They probably thought it’ll be
fine and they’ll make a bit of money
but we really threw the gauntlet down. We
decided also that we wanted to take the album
through the territories, which could be considered
a bit risky. We went to Germany and there
was a thing on the TV about Mickey Rourke
winning something. I said ‘If he can
make a fucking comeback, surely we can.' So
we compare our rebirth as a story a bit like
Minus the plastic
How do you feel
nowadays about your early post punk material?
There are a few bands that owe you a bit of
credit I believe
like it all and for me the ultimate post punk
band that comes to mind is Magazine. Them
and, of course, Joy Division, early Bunnymen
etc. That was the classic post punk sound
Away from music,
Mandela was a cause you were attached to.
Any particular reason?
up you get to know things are either right
or they’re wrong, it’s as simple
as that. My grandad used to tell me about
Africa and what a place it was when I was
a wee lad and he’s always mentioned
what the blacks had to endure then, so it
gets imprinted on you at an early age. Then
later when Thatcher’s government are
tolerating this horrible Apartheid concept
and somebody [Jerry Dammers] comes to you
and asks if you want to be involved, it’s
automatic and I didn’t need to even
think about it. I have always liked songwriters
who can get a message across in a song and
pull out the truth, like a Springsteen or
a Peter Gabriel, and before I didn’t
even know who Steve Biko was. So to do Mandela
Day and Belfast Child was important. Although
with Mandela Day it carries slightly less
fireworks now because Apartheid is no longer.
Racism is still around though.”
On a similar
note, you were involved in Live Aid and at
the time you seemed to be one of the more
vocal participants. Do you think for some
others it was just an excuse for a career
leg-up rather than dedication to a cause?
lot of them honestly didn’t have a clue
why they were there back then. Geldof was
very good at getting people involved for sure
but I am not sure all of them thought it was
you seem to have avoided most of the better-known
pitfalls consistent with the rock & roll
lifestyle. Is that fair comment?
have never consciously run away to hide or
anything. I live in Sicily nowadays but I’m
not hiding and in some ways it puts where
you’re from in perspective. There are
enough things to do deal with in life and
I’ve always tried to channel my effort
into the stuff that actually matters.”
by that soft lilting voice
- 'The Portsmouth News' - June 5th 2009 (UK)
'Music is a mysterious thing. It's so subjective,'
says Jim Kerr, frontman of legendary 80s rock
band Simple Minds.
Today he's in
a relaxed and frank mood. But, despite his
excellent articulation and engaging charisma,
I can't concentrate on what he's saying.
Instead, I am
transfixed by his voice – a sort of
soft, lilting Glaswegian accent in smooth
For Jim, think
Billy Connolly, if he dropped down a few octaves
and was less excitable.
For me, picture
Mowgli from The Jungle Book as he is hypnotised
by Kaa the snake.
I'm not normally
a fan of Scottish accents, not least that
harsh Glasgow sound, but Jim had me completely
entranced as we chatted earlier this week
during his quick stint back in UK.
After last weekend's
festival performance in Sweden, Jim left the
rest of the band in rehearsing in Belgium
while he nipped back to the London studio
to work on new material.
'I just arrived
this morning,' he tells me as he prepares
for a day 'in the studio, demo-ing songs for
Jim's a busy
man at the moment. Following their 30th anniversary
tour, Simple Minds headed back into the studio
to record their 15th album – Graffiti
It was released
last week and entered the UK album chart at
It was released
in 24 other countries too and Jim's been touring
around for months on the promoting trail.
'For the last
two or three months I've been travelling far
and wide promoting the album and that'll continue.
'It's all part
of the process. When you've made an album
and you're happy with the result, you want
people to know about it, you want them to
be as enthusiastic about it as you.'
'But now the concerts have begun, that becomes
Jim's laid back
manner belies his work ethic. It's hard to
imagine that while touring and promoting his
new album, he's found time to return to the
studio and start work on the next.
writing, always stockpiling ideas,' he says,
explaining the band's creative process.
a point where you go "okay, these songs
sit well together.
have something in common. There's an album
here," and that's when you book the studio.'
Soul, that point came a year ago, and what
Simple Minds have come up with in that time
is being described as a triumphant return
to form for the band who enjoyed six number
one albums and numerous hit singles such as
Alive and Kicking and Don't You (Forget About
Jim says he
enjoyed making the album and attributes its
success to the band's experience and hard
He says: 'Recently
the band's been very prolific, we seem to
be on a bit of a roll, but we've been working
hard for a long time so we've gained a wealth
'If you'd asked
us last year what we wanted to achieve with
this album, we'd've said we want it to be
energetic and contemporary, but to maintain
that classic Simple Minds sound.
'It's a contradiction
in terms for something to be classic and contemporary,
but I think somehow we have managed it and
that's why the album's doing so well.'
The new release
cements their place as one of Scotland's most
Jim and Charlie Burchill are left from the
original line-up, the band have never split
up, working as a solid unit for more than
Jim has had
less luck in his personal life, with two high
profile divorces under his belt.
He was married
to Chrissie Hyde, lead singer of The Pretenders,
from 1984 to 1990 and then to actress Patsy
Kensit from 1992 to 1996.
He was subsequently
quoted in the press as saying that his independence
meant that he was not cut out for married
But when I ask
about reports that he'd vowed never to marry
again, he says: 'I think I said that it was
unlikely, but I've learned though experience
never to say never.'
As if to prove
the point, he's going back on his own customs
next month as he prepares to celebrate his
not one for birthdays, but this one's a wee
bit special and we'll be playing in Paris
that night,' he explains.
But he'll have
no time for birthday plans just yet.
Simple Minds have a gig in Germany, then they're
off to Spain, before appearing at the Isle
of Wight festival on Sunday ahead of Pixies
and Neil Young.
been to the festival before and is disappointed
that he won't get the chance to see many of
the other bands.
'I would love to watch, but I'm arriving from
Spain just before I go on stage.
'There are a
few factors that make this such a special
festival. Obviously there's the whole back
story. The very name itself is part of rock
'n' roll history. Then there's the geography
of the place. There's a magic about it's location.
Since it's been revamped and relaunched the
bills John Giddings has been putting together
have been pretty spectacular. It's nothing
less than remarkable every year.'
So what can
festival goers expect from Simple Minds' performance
Jim says 'an
incredible live band on top of their game
playing the songs that you would expect and
some surprises too.'
I say –
prepare to be hypnotised.
- 'The Quietus' - May 31st 2009 (UK)
To say that Simple Minds had slipped off the
radar would be an understatement; but to add
that Jim Kerr has one of pop-rock’s
best voices would not be hyperbole. There’s
little doubt that the identity crisis that's
plagued Simple Minds for the last ten years
has more to do with intra-band implosion than
plain old musical irrelevance — and
one always suspected that Kerr’s voice
and keen ear for melody could bring them back
from an unplanned career hiatus.
That said, attempting
to sound contemporary while revisiting a ‘classic’
sound requires trapeze-artist balance: the
slightest slip results in indecently swift
relegation to the bargain bin. Fortunately
in this case Kerr and Co have got it right,
thanks to a quietly understated collection
of material that has just enough spikiness
to appeal to a contemporary audience without
completely sacrificing some of the facets
that for a period made Simple Minds one of
the biggest bands on the planet.
2008 at Rockfield Studios in Wales, Graffiti
Soul does, not as one might expect, open with
a rousing anthem a la ‘Alive and Kicking’.
Instead we get the Krautrock rumble of 'Moscow
Underground’ — by far their best
material in years — and therein lies
a definite statement of intent. Simple Minds
have absolutely nothing to prove, and certainly
don’t need to re-affirm their considerable
worth to the music buying public; they’ve
been there and done that.
What was required,
though, was a creative reinvigoration, and
by and large they're right on the mark. Lead-off
single ‘Rockets’ is a case in
point, its typically infectious guitar intro
complemented brilliantly by Kerr’s smooth
delivery, which sounds at times a bit like
Robbie Williams, and in a good way. The title
track is another example of the kind of understatement
that makes this particular incarnation of
the band so refreshing; they resist the temptation
to launch the sonic equivalent of the kitchen
sink into the ring when lesser plumbing components
will suffice. More surprisingly, ‘Blood
Type O’ demonstrates a bass-driven European
feel, recalling a bizarre mix of Eno and very
In general there
is less of the admittedly effective but increasingly
bombastic arena-rock that characterised Simple
Minds' commercial zenith. Instead, there's
more of the textured and almost underground
feel of the years that led up to that point,
with a particular focus on subtle ambient
sound. In the long run this provides for a
far more rewarding listen. Graffiti Soul is
the creation of a band that make no apology
for their past but at the same time exhibit
a concerted and obvious desire to be part
of the future — a rather welcome and
Thomas H Green
- 'The Telegraph' - May 26th 2009 (UK)
It’s easy to forget that 20 years ago
Simple Minds were level pegging with U2 in
the globally successful Celtic rocker stakes.
In 1991, however, U2 released Achtung Baby
and spent the rest of the Nineties showing
they could playfully subvert the idea of stadium
rock while selling out the world’s hugest
venues. Not only that, they injected their
sound with the electronic thrill of contemporary
dance music. Simple Minds, on the other hand,
in the wake of an earnest folk-flavoured chart-topper,
Belfast Child, trudged on down the path of
bombastic, self-righteous arena rock and slid
slowly from view.
What they didn’t
do, though, was split up. With 2005’s
Black & White 050505 album they attempted
to recapture the New Wave edginess of their
Glaswegian post-punk roots. It was a nice
idea but the songs didn’t match it.
Happily then, their new album is a good deal
more approachable. It harks back sonically
to the period immediately prior to the global
superstardom the group achieved when Don’t
You (Forget About Me) appeared in the film
The Breakfast Club.
their 1983 album Sparkle in the Rain and its
breakout hit Waterfront, the production on
Graffiti Soul is polished to a US radio-friendly
sheen but, in an unlikely turn of events,
it also boasts eight triumphant pop-rock numbers
and a band that sounds relaxed and full of
vim. Stately rock songs such as Rockets and
Kiss and Fly build effectively around clanging
riffs of the kind guitarist Charlie Burchill
once made his signature, while Light Travels
and Blood Type O throb with light-hearted,
throwaway hints of Brian Eno, Bowie and Seventies
Kerr, meanwhile, is in hearty voice, notably
when running the gamut from louche to leonine
on This Is It.
Not a sudden,
flawless comeback, by any means, but for fans
who’ve been waiting for Simple Minds
to relocate their previous form, Graffiti
Soul is well worth a listen.
out of 5)
- 'Contact Music' - May 26th 2009 (UK)
Many people's residual image of Simple Minds
is of their crimes against popular music,
Belfast Child and Mandela Day. Whilst being
responsible for even one of those should in
most cases be punishable by ten years locked
in reality TV hell, the Glaswegians' early
pedigree - most present on the hypnotically
brilliant New Gold Dream and it's more rock
orientated successor Sparkle in the Rain -
is a worthy and now frequently overlooked
check and balance.
is the band's sixteenth studio album, but
the noughties has seen them facing an increasingly
hostile press and an indifferent public, with
the likes of 2002's Cry and 2005's Black And
White 050505 pilloried by the former and ignored
by the latter. Now, with an eighties synth
pop revival in full swing - and the likes
of White Lies recycling their formula - cynics
might question the group's motives, but on
the evidence presented here, Jim Kerr and
co. aren't quite ready for the Christmas nostalgia
One of the most
compulsive features of their early work was
the sinuous, dry funk bass of Charlie Burchill,
and it's pretty much Graffiti Soul's DNA,
particularly on opener Moscow Underground,
where it rumbles Peter Hook-esque underneath
a suitably multi-layered soup of dreamy ambience.
It's fair to
say that there's nothing startlingly new here,
but having wisely ditched the stadium pulp
lyrics and faux-celtic stylings of old, there's
a sense of quiet distinction. Both the title
track and This Is It bounce along with an
energy and lack of pretension which seems
to illustrate that the protagonists have now
accepted their limitations, and are prepared
to stretch - rather than over-reach - these
You would expect
such maturity from a band who released their
first album thirty years ago, but now arguably
they find themselves in profile terms having
come full circle. Demonstrating that patience
is a virtue, by sticking to their guns they've
now arguably met popular music culture coming
back the other way. A footnote however: Graffiti
Soul will come with a partner covers album,
and I for one would prefer to be on a different
continent rather than listen to their versioning
of the Beach Boys Sloop John B.
- 'The Scotsman' - May 25th 2009 (UK)
There's an odd,
explanatory sleeve note on my copy of Simple
Minds' new album. "Graffiti," it
says, "is the name for images or lettering
scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in
any manner on property. Graffiti is sometimes
regarded as a form of art and other times
regarded as unsightly damage or unwanted."
Really, you don't say?
It's a little
bizarre that Simple Minds, in an age when
Banksy is an international celebrity and Tate
Modern has just staged a big graffiti art
exhibition, think it's necessary to explain
what graffiti is. But perhaps it's telling.
For a long time
now, this once all-conquering Scottish band
have seemed stuck in a timewarp, admirably
attempting to embrace the provocative and
new but somehow doing so in such a clunky
way that it makes them look even older and
Often I find
myself wondering what Jim Kerr must think
about the career path of U2. Long ago, U2
aspired to sound like Simple Minds. Both,
post Live Aid, found huge success by making
epic, earnest stadium rock with a conscience,
supporting Amnesty and the Free Nelson Mandela
campaign. U2 then cannily reinvented themselves.
Realising that their po-faced worthiness was
starting to work against them, they embraced
irony, postmodernism and camp, cherrypicked
ideas from musicians half their age, and managed
to remain both successful and, in most people's
eyes, culturally relevant, lauded by everyone
from Q to the NME.
activities since 1990 have sometimes seemed
like a parallel but less successful version
of the same project. Around the same time
as U2 were borrowing ideas from the Chemical
Brothers with Pop, Simple Minds were going
back to their synth roots with Neapolis, and
listening to trance and techno. More recently
they, like U2, have returned to the kind of
music that made them big in the first place,
revisiting their 1982 breakthrough album New
Gold Dream. And yet, while U2's No Line On
the Horizon is currently inescapable, Graffiti
Soul – despite being accompanied by
a tour of sizeable venues – has the
distinct whiff of a cultural non-event.
Why should this
be? It's partly just down to the random ebb
and flow of fashion – and, in that sense,
rather unfair. It's partly because, for 20
years now, U2 have simply been writing more
memorable songs than Simple Minds.
one suspects, it's because compared to U2
there has long been something slightly hamfisted
about Simple Minds. Jim Kerr will turn 50
in July, but still thinks he can get away
with lyrics like "I could still cut through,
a war machine with its missiles set on you"
or "Cruising in control, admiring the
spread beyond the neon sprawl", words
which conjure unfortunate images of middle-aged
spread and rusty tanks.
For the most
part, his lyrics still seem cut and pasted
from Rock's Big Book Of Clichés. Bono's
do as well, admittedly, but somehow Bono gets
away with it due to the sense that he's a
clever man playing with the language of rock
and roll. Kerr, you suspect, just couldn't
think of anything better.
the production. Is there really any excuse,
in 2009, for a group of female backing singers
going "na na na na na" foxily? It's
like Living in a Box all over again. The drum
tracks, meanwhile, often sound like they were
recorded by a clock-watching session musician
in 1987. It's an occupational hazard, perhaps,
for a band consisting of two core members
and a string of hired hands. But you long
for a brilliant young producer – or,
alternatively, Brian Eno or Daniel Lanois
– to shake things up a bit.
All these drawbacks
are a shame, because they distract attention
from the good things about Graffiti Soul.
The album starts very promisingly –
opening track Moscow Underground is a reminder
that what Brian Eno has been doing with Coldplay
lately was done by Simple Minds decades ago.
Closing track This Is It, meanwhile, has a
sense of purpose, a rousing chorus, and some
genuinely thrilling guitar playing by Charlie
though, Simple Minds often sound like they're
taking an indulgent stroll around a well-established
comfort zone and, if a tune turns up on the
way, that's a bonus. Perhaps this is for the
best – pushing themselves artistically
has, in the past, resulted in some of their
worst records. But that doesn't make songs
like Stars Will Lead The Way any less tired.
at least sounds like a band enjoying themselves,
as demonstrated further by a bonus disc of
cover versions. It's not that much of a bonus
– they barge through Rockin' In The
Free World and Whisky In The Jar like a pub
band, not a good thing in this context. As
for their hamfisted take on Massive Attack's
Teardrop, there are certain kinds of fun that
should only be had in the privacy of one's
- 'Scotland On Sunday' - May 24th 2009 (UK)
Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill get back in
the groove, with the former exhibiting the
sinuous vocal control and the latter the textured
guitar work that characterised Simple Minds'
and crackles but succeeds in reining back
the bombast, while Kerr produces his best
lyric in an age for Light Travels, a couplet
or two of old-school simplicity. This Is It
builds chiming chords in a neat structure,
while Moscow Underground revisits the musical
travelogue which was the band's speciality.
A reminder of past glories, if not a wholly
Light Travels, Teardrop (from bonus CD)
out of 5)
Paul Cole - 'Sunday
Mercury' - May 24th 2009 (UK)
Jim Kerr puts
it simply: “We wanted to make a full-blooded
record of ballsy pop songs.” The result
is the band’s best album since the glory
days, packed with trademark anthemic songs,
gorgeous guitar licks and arena-sized ambition.
Opening with the brooding and blurred Moscow
Underground, Charlie Burchill’s riff
helps Rockets blast off, then aptly repeats
the trick with Stars Will Lead The Way. Light
Travels chills out Bowie-style, Kiss And Fly
is a U2-tinted slowburner with an infectious
chorus, and This Is It will have fists pumping
skyward at this year’s Isle of Wight
- 'The Times' - May 23rd 2009 (UK)
an equidistant point between their arty beginnings
and the palliative bluster of their hangar-filling
years, Simple Minds’ 15th album should
have something to please anyone who has ever
liked them. In truth, it’s hard to imagine
any of these songs gaining traction with those
for whom they are intended. The rabble-rousing
generalities of Kiss and Fly and Stars Will
Lead the Way are emblematic of a sincere but
obsolete positivism that needs the deranged
energy of youth to vindicate it.
KERR: ALIVE & KICKING AT 49 AS SIMPLE
MINDS RELEASE NEW ALBUM
Polly Weeks -
'The Glaswegian' - May 21st 2009 (UK)
a rock and roll star of 30 years' standing
to have a larger than life ego and a string
of tales about rehab. Yet the opposite is
true of Jim Kerr, lead singer of Simple Minds.
high-profile relationships - he was married
to singer Chrissie Hynde and actress Patsy
Kensit - he seems to have survived a life
on the music scene unscathed.
With a cup of
coffee in one hand and the other reaching
out for a firm hand shake, he's the consummate
professional. In fact, courteous, informative
and candid, Jim seems rather dismissive of
been much of a drinker," he admits."I'm
a poor drinker... On my 30th birthday I'd
had too much to drink and then had a horrendous
night on stage. Not only physically horrendous,
but the audience had paid good money and got
- from me anyway - a shadow of a performance.
It just wasn't on."
a performance he gave 19 years ago (Jim is
now 49) is a sweet reflection of Kerr's love
for his job. After more than three decades
on the road, the singer feels appreciative,
rather than jaded, about all that's come his
way - and desperately thankful to the staunch
bunch of Simple Mind fans who continue to
follow the band.
wishing to patronise them, our fans have given
us this incredible life. A life beyond our
dreams. We won the lotto - in fact more than
that because you could win the lotto and it
could be meaningless.
managed to have a life, of touring, travelling
and music.We're beyond thankful."
Jim's humble nature could stem from his childhood.
From an early age music was, and has remained,
his first love.
up in Glasgow in the early 70s, there really
wasn't much else on. In fact I was saying
to someone the other day, 'There was only
football and music'. The other guy said: 'There
were girls too'. I replied: 'You must have
been lucky'." Jim spent most of his youth
watching bands, dreaming of the day he could
get up there on stage.
was so much more exotic than football. Going
to see bands at 13 or 14, we knew which bands
had delivered, who'd set the place on fire
- and who had come on and looked at their
shoes for an hour and left.
to be the former as opposed to the latter."
and guitar player Charlie Burchill he formed
a punk band. The duo then recruited Mick MacNeil,
Derek Forbes, Brian McGee, and became Simple
Minds. Number one records followed such as
Don't You (Forget About Me), Alive and Kicking
and Belfast Child.
Since then the
line-up has changed and reverted to the original
pair; Jim and Charlie who now perform together
with Eddie Duffy and Mel Gaynor and 31 years
on, Jim isn't thinking about retirement.
myself what keeps us going so many times,
particularly in the periods when it hasn't
been going swimmingly well," he laughs.
honest, there haven't been many of those periods.We've
enjoyed 99 per cent of the ride."
trying to rebel and attempt to settle down,
it's not for me. Recently I've been in Sicily.
Honestly I'm always in transit."
If his life
on the road doesn't include taking advantage
of his star status, what does he spend his
time doing? The answer: "I like walking
and hiking, I've got one of those fold-away
cycles and I take it with me. There are museums
everywhere and I like reading. I've got my
studies, my days are full."
Jim is telling the truth - and he genuinely
enjoys galleries more than groupies - his
attitude to rock star life is a breath of
MINDS STILL GOING STRONG
- 'Courier Mail' - May 24th 2009 (AUS)
you forget about me, they sang in 1985, and
how could we? Far from being a reunion act
as one journalist in the UK mistakenly called
them Simple Minds have been consistently releasing
albums since 1979's Life in a Day.
In the 1980s
they had a string of hits including Waterfront,
Promised You a Miracle, Alive and Kicking
and Belfast Child, and they've experienced
many milestones in their 30-year career, including
performing at Live Aid and headlining the
Freedomfest concerts for the then-imprisoned
Nelson Mandela. (They actually wrote a song
for the South African leader called Mandela
Day, and Simple Minds were instrumental in
organising a 20-year anniversary of that concert
last year, for Mandela's 90th birthday.)
But a landmark
moment early on in the Glasgow band's career
actually took place in Australia. It was here
in 1981 that they were handed their first-ever
gold disc for record sales.
out to Australia in 1981," frontman Jim
Kerr recalls. "There was a piece in the
newspaper saying, 'Who is this band? Have
you heard them?' And we left about two months
later with a gold disc.
klutz in America might say, 'Yeah, it's only
Australia and it's a small market', but everything's
relative. We were building up a head of steam
but the success in Australia really helped
us believe that we could be pop stars."
on the phone from a friend's place in Nice,
is in good form. His thick Scottish accent
rolls off the tongue like a peaty scotch whisky
and he's happy to chat about all things, from
the pros and cons of Twitter to the success
of Scottish internet singing star Susan Boyle.
This year also
brings new milestones – the 30th anniversary
of the band's first album (they actually released
two in 1979) – and Jim's 50th birthday.
They are also celebrating the release of their
15th studio album, Graffiti Soul, out last
The band are
now embarking on a world tour that will reach
Australia in November.
another crucial piece of the Simple Minds
It was here
Kerr met Chrissie Hynde, the legendary Pretenders
singer who was to be his wife for six years.
"How could I forget that?" he says.
They were playing on the same tour together.
a great bill – the Talking Heads, the
Eurythmics, The Pretenders and Simple Minds."
It was Don't
You (Forget About Me), the theme song to classic
1980s coming-of-age movie The Breakfast Club,
that gave Simple Minds gold discs all over
The song was
a No.1 hit in the US. Although they didn't
write it, the song remains one for which they
are most remembered.
But one thing
Simple Minds are sure they want people to
get right is that they are not a reunion band.
They never split up.
So, when one
UK publication mistakenly referred to them
as a reunion band, Kerr felt compelled to
comment about it on his blog.
this is where I'm a wee bit prickly,"
Kerr says in good humour, "but this is
our Glasgow pride. How dare they refer to
us as a reunion band. We're not quitters!"
Their new album
features 10 new tracks, including lead single
Rockets, and a bonus disc of cover songs,
called In Search of the Lost Boys, which emerged
as a fun side project.
The boys cover
Massive Attack, Thin Lizzy and the Beach Boys,
Rockin' in the Free World and Christine by
Siouxsie and the Banshees are Kerr's favourites.
said to me there's a stigma against covers.
I said, 'No, there's a stigma against bad
play covers, hence the title of the album,
In Search of the Lost Boys, you throw off
your whole ego in a sense."
Kerr now lives
in Sicily where he runs a hotel in the picturesque
village of Taormina. He fell in love with
the island years ago on his frequent travels.
(Fellow British singer Mick Hucknall similarly
runs a winery on the Italian island.)
is so cosmic. You've got that volcano that
sits bang in the middle of the place. It's
Europe, but Libya's nearer than Rome is. It's
that fringe. It's got history beyond Rome
and Greece, Arab, everything – it's
But there was
a point 18 months ago when the album almost
didn't get made. Kerr, the eldest son, got
a call that overnight his mother had been
taken very ill. Immediately he downed tools
and flew to Glasgow to be with her. But his
mum – "a tiger", he calls
her – insisted he keep working, so he
invited the rest of the band to Glasgow.
He found himself
sitting around his parents' kitchen table,
late at night, composing tracks as he would
have done in the early days.
me, a 50-year-old guy, back in my parents'
house. And coming back from the studio at
night there was this great sense of deja vu
whenever I would get an idea because, you
know, the house is pretty quiet and there
I was and I remembered the same feeling years
ago when I was writing some of the songs that
became fundamental to the Simple Minds story."
It was a David
Bowie concert that first made the young Jim
Kerr want to be in a band. At the age of 13
he saw the chameleon perform as his famous
alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust.
an understatement to say that life would never
be the same again," Kerr says.
imagine that then? We know so much about music
now, but there was no source of reference
then. He came from Mars."
So, what did
Simple Minds want out of being in a band?
asked us 30 years ago could we imagine going
on for this length of time, of course, there
would be no way. We had no concept of 30 days,
let alone 30 years.
you said to me, 'What do you want out of this?'
we had no idea about riches and fame or celebrity
and all those things that are kind of commonplace
now. I think we would have said to you, 'We
want to be a great live band and we want to
tour internationally and have an international
reputation'. That's what we wanted."
Of course, what
came with that were the perks – the
fans, the parties . . . "Well, we won
the Lotto didn't we? Genuinely, never a day
goes by without something or other popping
up where I think, 'I tell you what, this isn't
But Kerr isn't
prepared to share the gory details on some
of his juiciest stories.
in Sicily now, and in Sicily we have this
thing called 'omerta'. It means silence. People
ask about the mafia and you say, 'What mafia?'
give you names and places. Let's just say
we were invited into the candy shop and we
enjoyed all the candies.
a Scotsman, I think come Monday it was time
to get back to work and I think we knew how
to get the most out of it, yet at the same
time, we hoped that this was going to be a
marathon rather than a shooting star."
Even today Simple
Minds have all bases covered. Kerr is not
shy to talk to his dedicated fan base, regularly
contributing to a blog on the band's website
and jumping on networking website Twitter.
showed me it in January and I thought, 'Why
would I need that?' I hated the name. But
listen, I'm the guy that 15 years ago saw
people texting in Italy and thought, 'That'll
never catch on'. I thought only teenage girls
would do that. And I thought that was the
same with Twitter as well.
"I go on
maybe once or twice a week. But I went on
the other night (and) someone popped up and
went, 'I think I'll have a sandwich' and disappeared.
Seriously, that was pretty fucking profound,"
like, 'Having a coffee and a sushi'. That's
it. Oh great."
to Twitter, it seems Kerr recently enjoyed
rhubarb tart. No kidding.
Aidan Smith -
'Scotland on Sunday' - May 10th 2009 (UK)
Thirty-odd years ago, the Sits Vacant column
tantalised me with exotic possibility: "New
Scottish Record Label – Staff Wanted."
This music-mad school-leaver passed the interview
but, on being told he'd have to start by flogging
elpees in one of the would-be impresario's
shops, he lost interest in this new gold dream.
Shows what I
know. The man behind the grand plan would
quickly propel Simple Minds to world fame,
so maybe I could have ended up part of their
road crew, in charge of plectrums. This is
what I'm telling Jim Kerr, in an effort to
endear myself to him, but it's obvious he's
you became a journalist and now you work for
a respectable Scottish newspaper – bully
for you," he says. "If you're so
interested in culture and stuff, how come
this is the first time in 12 years your newspaper
has wanted to interview my band?" It's
a fair point. Despite Kerr once singing "Don't
you forget about me", some of us did,
and he knows how long the rejection lasted.
are arguably Scotland's biggest rock act:
35 million records sold; No 1s here and in
America and just about everywhere else. The
early to mid-1980s were their pomp; then,
like U2's Bono, Kerr found his political voice.
The pair became international statesmen in
leather trousers and, however well-intentioned,
exposed their bands to ridicule. U2 eventually
got their mojo back; the Minds didn't.
they have now. Their 15th studio album, Graffiti
Soul, has been earning them their best reviews
in a long while – maybe 12 years, in
fact. When I meet Kerr in a London hotel,
in the company of his schoolboy friend and
guitarist sidekick Charlie Burchill, he gets
the perceived snub off his chest and quickly
moves on. Recently he's had far more important
things to worry about.
I was going to have to can this album when
my mum got cancer," he says. "But
when I moved back in with her and my dad –
me, almost 50, after everywhere I've been,
living with the folks again – she was
amazing and just wanted me to get the job
downstairs in the kitchen at 3am because I've
always slept funny hours and she'd be there
because of the cancer. Then I noticed we were
sitting at the same table where the Sons And
Fascination album was written. I'd play her
some of the new songs and she'd go: 'I like
the beat on that one.' She was an inspiration."
stopover in Glasgow required Burchill (usual
address: Rome) and Kerr (homes in Sicily,
Nice) to book into a local rehearsal studio.
"The guy at the front door didn't look
up as he pointed down the corridor to room
12," adds Kerr. "Not that we were
expecting special treatment. We were like
every spotty punk band in that grimy little
building and I just thought: 'Our lives from
here on in depend on what we do this day.'"
Kerr, it's obvious,
hasn't lost his flair for the grand statement,
or the odd grandiloquent one, as he seeks
to solidify the band's heritage. Simple Minds
"broke the mould" in demanding that
London came to them. They turned down 1980s
roadshows because these were beneath a group
with a "rock'n'roll heart".
Today, a Wednesday,
they could announce a Saturday gig in Buenos
Aires or Tokyo and sell all 6,000 tickets
by showtime. And he seems to be comparing
their reinvigorating return to Glasgow with
"Dylan going to the Joshua Tree and Springsteen
But he's also
brutally honest and self-critical and painfully
aware, at crucial junctures, of his own ludicrousness.
"There have been times this past decade
or so that I've thought it was all over,"
he says. "It wasn't just that nobody
was interested in us, it was worse: I wasn't
interested in myself. I was a shadow of who
I was before and I was like: 'How is this
going to get any better?'"
His mood lightens.
"We've got loads of regrets and many
of them concern troosers." Worst breeks?
"That would be Live Aid." I'm not
laughing as loudly as I should. "If I
said the word 'yachting' would you remember
them? Big billowing f***ers. Two things threw
me that day in Philadelphia. One, Jack Nicholson
introduced us on to the stage. Jack bloody
Nicholson! Two, I started to feel them flapping…"
he hardly gets a word in today, is clearly
an important figure in the Minds story. Says
Kerr: "Charlie keeps me right, or almost
right. I can get carried away with the new
idea, thinking it's the best ever. He'll go:
'Nah, don't think so.'" When the band
got stadium-huge, the "Jim Kerr thing"
took over. "I'd swan off round the world,
waxing lyrical about the music's deeper meaning
and the kind of skylines it invoked, and Charlie
would be sat at home going: 'It's just a G
and then a B, you know.'"
The pair like
to tell stories about how their boyhood friendship
was cemented on a building site. Kerr: "Both
our families moved to Toryglen in Glasgow
while the estate was still under construction.
We'd raid the workies' huts and diggers for
nudie books and read them on our sand mountains."
every Saturday we'd catch the No 2 bus to
Knightswood to play football and try to make
Jimmy Scotland, who was prone to fits, bang
his head off the goalposts."
Jimmy and Irene, scraped together £150
for Simple Minds' first demo tape. Irene worked
at the baker's next door to the bookie's where
Burchill's mother Ellen collected the betting
slips. When the band flew to the States for
the first time, Ellen said to Irene: "Charlie's
gone to America and he's not got his keys
so I'll have to wait in. He's not got a jacket
When was rock
fame at its maddest and Toryglen furthest
from their lives? "The Patsy Kensit thing,"
says Kerr without hesitation. He means marriage
No 2 (Chrissie Hynde was No 1) and specifically
"the marriage of rock'n'roll and showbiz
where she'd be adamant we had to go to dinner
with Michael Winner for the sake of her job
and I'd be like: 'Well, it's my job no' to.'"
He had a daughter with Hynde and a son with
Kensit and remains good friends with both
Would he marry
again? "George Galloway asked me recently
what kind of women I liked and I said: 'The
kind with jobs!' I'm quite set in my odd little
ways so anyone who took me on would have to
be pretty understanding. Hopefully there are
one or two like them around."
of rock and politics was similarly problematic
for Kerr, although as the son of a Communist-supporting
brickie's labourer who learned about the injustices
of apartheid from his grandfather, he makes
no apologies for having worn his conscience
on his sleeve. Bono's name comes up again,
with Kerr joking that the Irishman would "turn
up for the opening of a can of tuna –
as long as it was the right kind", although
Kerr stresses he remains a big admirer.
time left for a funny story about the Wembley
concert celebrating Nelson Mandela's 70th
birthday which would seem to absolve Kerr
of any charges of opportunism: "A big
dinner with Clinton and the rest was organised
for the night before but we didn't go –
I'm always turning them down, me. At Wembley
there was a mad, unseemly rush to sit next
to Mandela for a photograph; Annie Lennox
was right in there but we hung behind and
stood in the back row. Then Jerry Dammers
said: 'Everyone who's written a song about
Mr Mandela take a step forward!'
There are no
numbers like Mandela Day or Belfast Child
on Graffiti Soul. "I don't think I could
better these ones; in any event I think I've
said all I want to say politically,"
adds Kerr. Instead the band have tried to
rediscover their pop spirit from before they
got all serious. I tell Kerr that I Travel
remains my favourite Simple Minds track; it
was the thunderous floor-filler at student
union discos when I was at journalism college.
"Ah yes," he says, "that was
the career you gave us up for – your
loss." He might be right. It could have
been great fun travelling with this band,
from Toryglen right round the world and back
again – and demanding big enough trouser-presses
for my boss's Live Aid breeks would have made
me feel tremendously important.
- 'Record Collector' - May 2009 (UK)
Almost the Miracle they’ve been
debate for what has been the best Simple Minds
album since 1982’s New Gold Dream has
been finally been answered – it’s
here. Though possibly light on to-die-for
melodies, the groove and feel of Graffiti
Soul is classic Simple Minds. It’s like
they’ve found the word "grace"
again in their dictionary instead of "gigantic".
came about after Kerr temporarily relocated
to Glasgow following years living in Sicily,
writing at the same kitchen table that he
wrote the band’s early material, something
he hadn’t done since the early 80s.
You can almost hear his skin tone turning
from tan back to pasty white. Jim Kerr has
talked about his desire to make "a full-bloodied
record of ballsy pop songs" and that’s
exactly what it is - straight in to dazzling
opener Moscow Underground, the pace and tension
doesn’t let up. All the things you expect
- shards of twinkling guitar from Charlie
Burchill, oblique yet powerful lyrics from
Kerr – are all here, deftly delivered.
Our august journal
gave Black & White 050505 five stars in
2005 and said it was the best since back then.
Well, today Graffiti Soul gets an oldfashioned
three and it’s better than that.
Peter Kane -
'Q' - April 2009 (UK)
Veteran Scots Stadium Rockers Regain
Seeing how The
Killers, Editors and White Lies seemingly
have such an in-depth working knowledge of
Simple Minds' back catalogue, maybe it's time
for these one-time U2 pretenders to be taken
seriously again. Backing that up is what might
well be the best album Jim Kerr and Charlie
Burchill have put together since 1984's Sparkle
In The Rain. Sounding big, powerful and re-energised,
yet shorn of the self-important bombast that
effectively torpedoed their career in the
'90s, such tracks as Light Travels, the unrelenting
motorik drive of Moscow underground and hook-laden
lead single Rockets can still show all those
young upstarts a thing or two.
Underground / Rockets / Light Travels
- 'Mojo' - April 2009 (UK)
Fifteenth studio album successfully
recaptures their mid '80s heyday
Without a UK
Top 10 single or album for 14 years, Simple
Minds have been off the scene, in chart success
terms, for longer than they were on it. Graffiti
Soul arrives when newer acts like White Lies
are revealing just how much of the Minds'
musical DNA has been passed on. There are
glimpses of the antique brilliance of Jim
Kerr and co's art-rocking roots on the propulsive,
half-heard quality of Moscow Underground,
and the beguiling melody of Blood Type O,
whilst the first single Rockets and stand-out
track Stars Will Lead The Way have the sort
of riffs that would've filled stadiums in
the '80s. The music is taut, the vocals, if
anything, under-emoted and the overall feeling
is that of a muse rediscovered.
Lauren John -
'www.music.co.uk' - April 2009 (UK)
The Simple Minds story is a long an eventful
one, too long to recount in an album review,
but a quick peek into their history does tell
us a few things. Firstly, Simple Minds are
a band that despite line-up changes are still
a powerful and passionate song writing unit,
and second, that this passion often runs alongside
experimentation, which hasn’t always
been well received, even by loyal Simple Minds
So the question
is, how will everyone react to the 15th Simple
Minds album Graffiti Soul when it’s
released? Well only time will tell, but for
now here’s my insight into the new release.
I was first attracted by the title and definition
of Graffiti in the album artwork. It reads
“Graffiti is the name for images or
lettering scratched, scrawled, painted, or
marked in any manner on property. Graffiti
is sometimes regarded as a form of art and
other times regarded as unsightly damage or
unwanted”. I repeat this as having listened
to the album, and read up a little on the
band, it seems to be a well thought out and
very apt title. I’d describe Simple
Minds as an art form, albeit one that will
appeal to certain types of music fans.
In true Simple
Minds style, this is a mix of ambient dance
inspired tracks, and some lighter rock, mixed
together with Jim Kerr’s recognisable
vocals. Songs like Moscow Underground have
quite a heavy, underground feel to them, whilst
others like ‘Light Travels’, to
me have a somewhat mystical air. I’d
say that the Minimalist approach to lyrics
didn’t quite hold my attention, but
the hard work that’s gone into the sequencing
and production of these songs is evident.
My personal preference is leaning more towards
the lighter, more infectious sounds that come
from ‘Rockets’ and ‘Stars
Will Lead The Way’. Look out for some
well crafted melodies and instrumentation
here. For me it’s an album that reflects
the classic Simple Minds that I am familiar
with, with some interesting stories in the
lyrics to keep things fresh. I hear that the
band celebrated their 30th birthday in 2008;
that can’t be bad can it?
writer Kim Sklinar attended the London preview
show for Simple Minds' new album 'Graffiti
Soul' on 31st March, meeting-up with guitarist
Charlie Burchill the following day.
Kim Sklinar -
'www.allgigs.co.uk' - 4th April 2009 (UK)
Our afternoon starts in a shady office on
a beautiful sunny day in West London. Charlie
straight away recognises my Northern accent
- joking neither of us (me from Wakefield,
he a Glaswegian) have lost ours. Without further
ado, Charlie and I buckled down for a chat.
So, in a previous
interview, you said that Simple Minds being
together felt 'good', although 4 years previously
it would have maybe been 'I'm not really enjoying
it anymore'. With a new album and tour on
the way, how does it feel to where you are
well, we were asked this about low periods
in the career - of over 30 years we've been
going - and in the early 90s I suppose we
were like the old guys with all the new stuff
coming through. At that point we never, ever
lost the enthusiasm for writing or doing what
we do or anything, but Jim likes to refer
to it as saying we retreated and licked our
wounds. In the studio we were up there and
we spent longer than we should have done on
albums and stuff like that, and at that time
we should have really been plugged into something,
and that happens. Then we got it back again
and we're really, really bang on form.
At the album
preview, you announced that a special edition
of your next album, 'Graffiti Soul', will
include a CD of covers. Where did the inspiration
for some of the covers - such as Thin Lizzy,
Neil Young - come from, and why did you choose
those particular tracks?
know one thing is mainly because we love them
and there's a special thing with them. But
picking them, you have to pick the ones you
know you can play and do it well in a live
way. Some of the tracks - there's a Siouxi
And The Banshees song on there - were more
crafted together. It's really all about of
you pick the ones you can play and everyone
will get into. It's pretty eclectic.
I was born in
the early 80s and your songs were soundtracks
to my early youth, who do you think the new
album will be more popular with, hardcore
fans my parents' age, or people like myself?
it would be probably the die-hard fans, who
will be by nature a bit older, but at the
same time this is the thing that keeps on
coming up. Obviously today, younger people
don't really have this problem of being in
and out of fashion where it's not cool to
be like that, it's brilliant. There's less
of that and they've got a much wider scope,
and it's smart to be like that.
what I'm finding now - I'm really surprised
- when we play our shows there's a lot of
teenagers that are obviously brought along
by their parents...I'd never have gone to
a show with my parents. I'd have never have
listened to what they were listening to. But
it's different now...so maybe there's a chance
that maybe if they heard it [the album], without
thinking about it, maybe they'd go at it.
Which do you
enjoy the most - recording, writing, touring,
promotion, or the days off?
an easy one, a really easy one. Hands down,
it's the touring, because the rest's hard
work. The recording can be really hard work,
but the touring is what it's all about, it
makes everything else make sense.
Plenty of artists
are announcing reunion tours at the moment
- Spandau Ballet and Depeche Mode just last
week! Do you think this will be a one-off,
or are Simple Minds back for good (I mean,
you wouldn't want us to 'forget about you')?
is, we never really went away. We're definitely
not in that category, we were touring sold-out
shows last year and we've been making albums.
We're constantly working, and Depeche Mode
are the same, they've never stopped either.
Great band, I know the Spandau thing came
up though, but we're always touring.
have influenced a plethora of modern bands,
for example Texas, Bloc Party, Stereophonics
etc. In turn, do you think they may have influenced
your new material?
our album, but saying that, the next one that
we do...because bands like MGMT have done
me in. They're just so good. I just can't
get it - how they can make a record like that,
it's brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Haven't
seen them live though.
there's like Elbow, and you know that Nina
Persson? From The Cardigans...the second album
she's done is amazing. Really great. And Empires
of the Sun. Jim [Kerr, the band's frontman]
for new album was to create something with
a contemporary-sounding album full of vitality
- that was recognisably Simple Minds - do
you feel that this is what you have achieved?
we did. We wanted a bit of energy and we wanted
it to be quite focussed, we didn't want it
to sound like we've been around for thirty
years. That's was really it, and I think we
achieved that. Most of the reactions are that
people are listening to the album and saying
we're really on form - which is exactly what
we wanted. I hope it continues ['Graffiti
Soul' is set for release in May]
What was the
inspiration for the title 'Graffiti Soul',
do you have a 'Graffiti Soul'?
I know where
it came from - Jim explained it - We had a
few titles for the album, one of which was
'Blood Type O', which is one of the album
tracks. But Jim was on a train and he heard
these little kids just outside London, and
they knew every bit of graffiti they were
passing...and were raving about it. At one
point, one of them said 'this one's got the
graffiti soul' - and he thought it was brilliant.
Jim worked it into what we were doing in a
way. You know, you can say music is a bit
like putting your stamp on there. That's our
graffiti, it's our thing, it's in there [points
to his heart].
you're going to be playing Edinburgh Castle,
headlining the Isle of Wight Festival for
the first time... You guys are professional
world-tourers, if you are going to be announcing
any other dates, do you think they will be
smaller venues or are you going to be doing
all the festivals in Europe in the summertime,
then we're off to America in September, then
we're going to maybe come back through Australia
then back to Europe to do that again and maybe
intimate appearances then?
is maybe going to be a small show in Belgium
actually as a warm-up in a small place. We
love doing that because we're really loud.
Do you prefer
playing the smaller venues?
better fun really because there's something
about the pressure of the whole thing in a
smaller place. Playing the NEC for example
is always fantastic, it's just a shame that
people have to be that far away. You get the
big screens - that helps, but you still want
to get closer.
banter about Radiohead/Kings of Leon and the
great aren't they...yeah KOL, the guy saw
us and wanted to be in my band! I said, 'we
should get him in then' [jokes about a duet],"aye,
that'd be brilliant" Charlie laughs...
You seem to
be loving a lot of the music around at the
moment, what was the last song you listened
Birds & Monsters by MGMT.
If I asked you
to list some classic stand-out moments from
your extensive career, I imagine it would
having number one albums, playing the Nelson
Mandela and Live Aid concerts, your first
time on Top of the Pops...Apart from those,
what big things surprised you about your career?
When I look
back, I think the fact that we've managed
to change musically so many times and still
somehow keep our identity. It's something
we've never really talked about it much but
now's a great time to talk about it...if you
look at our early albums until now and go
through them, they're so different with the
range of sounds we've employed, and we've
still managed to keep our identity. I'm really
proud of that. We've taken on a challenge
and we've done it. I would never envisage
us being the type of band that were really
big but you can imagine when you get to the
third and fourth album and people say 'well,
I never bought that one this time' and you're
like 'why?'. That can happen to a lot of bands,
a sound is a sound and that's it. We've never
suffered from that and it surprises me we've
managed to achieve that.
gigs all over the world, do you like playing
the UK? How does it differ from other countries?
the difference is mainly that, in the UK,
we do listen do a lot of music. There's a
lot of great stuff, it's diverse. In Europe,
the local artists can be really dodgy, it's
a bit Eurovision Song Contest. In the UK we
have a lot of rubbish too, but nevertheless,
we've been exposed to some really great music.
It makes it a bit more discerning - not cold
- same as the States. You're challenged because
you've got all this other stuff. They're all
to the album. It was written on location in
Antwerp, Rome, Sicily and Glasgow - do you
think these locations affected the sound at
all, particularly as you're from Glasgow and
Sicily is somewhere Jim has lived?
worked in Sicily we were working with a friend
in a tiny, tiny studio - a bedroom really.
In a way, that shaped what we had equipment-wise
and the way certain things were written. Then
we went to Glasgow and we were in a dingy
little rehearsal place with about fourteen
other bands around - it was great. We worked
really fast and we wrote a lot in over a small
period of time. Again, then Rome [where Charlie
lives] we were working on stuff, and Antwerp
where we were doing a one-off thing with an
orchestra so while we were there we wrote
stuff. Locations add something to what came
out, it definitely comes through. Maybe if
you have another band nearby you will write
something different because the guys are going
to play it, and if you're working on something
atmospheric in a box...they all have a different
bearing on the way it turns out. Then you
have to find some way of recording it and
sticking it together and making it sound like
it's a moment in time.
featuring the original Simple Minds line-up
of Burchill, Kerr, Gaynor and Duffy is out
on 25th May on Universal.
soul universal music record label PRESS RELEASe
'Noble PR Ltd'
- 15th February 2009 (UK)
"Hot on the heels of their 30th Anniversary
Celebration Tour that saw them playing to
over a quarter of a million people during
their sold out 2008 European/UK arena tour,
and their performance at Nelson Mandela’s
90th Birthday concert in London’s Hyde
Park, Simple Minds are about to enter the
most prolific period within their extensive
career with the highly anticipated brand new
album 'Graffiti Soul' due for international
release on May 25th by Universal Music Records
Their 15th studio
album, 'Graffiti Soul' was initially written
on location in Rome, Sicily, Antwerp and Glasgow.
Simple Minds then returned for the first time
in almost three decades to the famous Rockfield
Studios where the Scottish group originally
recorded their earlier seminal albums 'Real
To Real Cacophony', 'Empires And Dance' and
sowed the seeds of 'New Gold Dream'.
Jez Coad and Simple Minds, the new album was
mixed in Los Angeles by the legendary Bob
Clearmountain, who previously mixed Simple
Minds multi platinum ‘Once Upon a Time
album’, and who’s mixing credentials
include Bruce Springsteen's 'Born In The USA',
David Bowie's 'Let’s Dance', and 'Roxy
Soul is a bold and energetic collection of
songs, and we could not be happier with the
result,” says lead singer, Jim Kerr.
“Stylistically, this is a truly vibrant
rock’n’roll album that’s
bursting at the seams with quite possibly
the most ballsy pop songs we have written
heart and soul of ‘Graffiti Soul’
is contemporary in sound, the feel of classic
Minds is evident, although the spirit of some
of Simple Minds’ original contemporaries
such as Joy Division, Magazine and the Stranglers,
are not far away.
“It’s taken us a while, but over
the last couple of years Charlie Burchill
and I have put together a great team of individuals
to work with, and that, as well as a revitalised
and energetic new commitment has triggered
an effect that has dramatically overhauled
Simple Minds. ‘Graffiti Soul’
is testament to that.”
to the launch of the new album, Simple Minds
are in the process of confirming an extensive
'Graffiti Soul’'world tour that will
encompass a lot of songs from the new album,
plus the band’s best loved classics
including ‘Alive and Kicking’,
‘Sanctify Yourself’, ‘Waterfront’,
‘Promised You A Miracle’ and ‘Don’t
You (Forget About Me)’.
a great pleasure making the new album,”"concludes
Kerr. Sometimes you hit a period where everything
just fits together perfectly and turns out
exactly as you hoped it would. ‘G'affiti
Soul' reflects that very sentiment, and much