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+++ BLOC PARTY'S GORDON MOAKES ON
BEING USHERED INTO THE DARK BY SIMPLE MINDS
+++

Writing for The Quietus, Bloc Party's Gordon Moakes explains
the impact a teenage love for Simple Minds had on his musical future

Bloc Party's Gordan MoakesFor my thirteenth birthday my parents gave me a tape of Simple Minds' second album Reel To Real Cacophony. Not out of some twisted desire on my parents' part to educate my young ears into the ways of dark European post-punk (I'm sure they would claim no knowledge of such a thing), but because I'd asked for it. This was an early sign that I might be a completist when it came to buying music, that no record would be left behind. My first brush with the band had come when I borrowed Live In The City Of Light, a triumphant distillation of all their worst mid-80s stadium pop moves, from Milton Keynes Library (a library with an unparalleled music collection. I mean does your local library stock Polvo? I bet it doesn't). And despite that record's self-important sheen, there was something about it that was alluring, that seemed to invite me in. My brother was an ardent U2 fan at the time and I guess I was looking for something just for myself, a band that spoke for me, that could be my badge. In the wind-swept guitar of 'Ghostdancing', in the stuttering calm of 'East At Easter', the hopeful/hopeless grasp towards the light that is 'New Gold Dream', there warned of a band with vision, that resonated with my emerging curiosity about music. Even the stark black Malcolm Garrett-designed sleeve, where the band's name was a logo in itself, said this was a band with identity, something you could belong to.

Reel To Real Cacophony though was an altogether more demanding listen and it took me a while to grasp it. Disillusioned with their own first record, 1979's Life In A Day, the band had turned in on itself and decided to make a wilfully dark and obtuse record. Full of disconcerting moans, stabs of ominously echoing guitar, curt yelps and clipped, bass-heavy rhythm, it was an attempt by the band to find its own sound, and to confound. From 'Citizen (Dance Of Youth)'s oppressive police state imagery ("You're cutting up our friends, making love to our sisters") to the dense synthesisers on 'Factory', the record felt heavy, monochromatic and uneasy. But it was intensely influential on the teenage me, years before I discovered Joy Division and The Holy Bible, proving just how close to the bone guitar music could get, how graphically it could warn of the world outside, and how stark and powerful a bass-line stapled leanly to a drum-beat could be.

Still further pleasures were to await as I delved into the rest of Simple Minds' back catalogue. What could be more neck-tingling than the strident bass-line that announces the beginning of 'As Trance As Mission' on 81's Sons And Fascination? Derek Forbes, along with Adamson, Wobble and Hook, was in the premier league of post-punk bassists, and was one of the reasons I picked up a bass myself. Forbes was as apt at the slap-friendly playing that became de rigeur around 81/82 as any of the smug twiddlers of white new-romance funk were, but his bass lines came from the punk end of post-punk: melodic and heavy rather than extravagant. He never strayed far from the Fender Precision at a time when John Taylor's idiotic Aria Pro II guitar was turning strung-high cocktail bass-playing into the 80s thing, and fretless basses, the Dead Kennedys vision of "ethnicky jazz" made flesh, were and always will be abominable. Forbes and the Minds' first drummer, Brian McGee, were the quintessence of no-nonsense working class rhythm section: in their hands, post-punk was able to become a genuine change of the guard, while their peers wandered up a cul-de-sac of yawn-inspiring noodling. Listen to 'I Travel', to 'Premonition', to 'Sweat In Bullet', to 'Theme From Great Cities', to 'Cacophony' and you will hear the best bass-playing of the early 80s full-stop.

But I digress. What Simple Minds had, from those early Magazine-inspired records, arguably into the front end of what became their 80s stadium pomp (I still care about a chunk of Sparkle In The Rain, especially 'Book Of Brilliant Things', where the lyric-writing was just turning towards the fantastic, if kind of empty, but still retained a hint of wonder), was that working-class identity made big, that dare-to-dream mentality made accessible.

These were kids from the Barras who had the balls to put on eye-makeup, to channel Dave Vanian, Eno and Neu! and challenge the idea that the 80s signalled a brave new world of elegance and sophistication. Those early records still have the power to creep inside. Empires And Dance is a record that paints a sobering, motion-sick picture of Eighties Europe: "Ideal homes falling down/Europe has a language problem...". Jim Kerr, who'd grown up with a stutter, had the eye and the voice of the outsider, seeing the London music industry and the machinations of old-world power as one and the same thing.

Yeah, in the end he tried to cop Bono's moves and looked like a tit when he slid around a stage like a Vegas magician. But across the first four or five records you can hear him lost in thought, looking wide-eyed at a troubled world and conjuring up the most vivid scenery. 'King Is White And In The Crowd' from New Gold Dream was Kerr's fascinated take on the Sadat assassination in 1981. "Youth's dance proud from the waist down... a rhapsody in black and blue". His was a voice from the new age of television news, slick fashion magazines and Thatcherism, but there was a note of doubt in there, like he was peering behind the facade.

So I signed up, and Simple Minds became my band between the years of 13 and 16, at which point Suede and the Manics came along and the stuff that Kerr and his peers started to represent in the 90s just collapsed around my ears. It couldn't last because to ignore the musical movements that were actually happening around me (riot grrrl, androgyny-rock, DIY) and stick with this safe, adult rock, would have been betraying what even Kerr himself held dear back in '79. There was a real change in the air, and I had bands to watch and be inspired by and interact with. But a part of my heart will always belong to the wonder and danger of Simple Minds. For me, they opened a door into the darkness.

Gordon Moakes - The Quiet Us - August 6th, 2009

+++ SIMPLE MINDS TO PLAY PRESTIGIOUS FORMULA 1 CONCERT +++

F1Rocks Singapore 25th September 2009Simple Minds will perform at the prestigious F1Rocks concert to celebrate the Singapore leg of this years Formula 1 in September.

The festival show will happen at Fort Canning Park, Singapore on Saturday 25th September.
Support will be provided by NERD.

Other acts taking part in F1Rocks include Beyonce, ZZ Top and the Black Eyed Peas!

Tickets cost $140 USD with VIP tickets at $500 and will go on sale on Wednesday 5th August.

For more info please visit F1Rocks official site.


+++ 'SUMMERPOPS' ECHO ARENA,LIVERPOOL 21st JULY 2009 +++

On arriving 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 tested.

Although Simple 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.

Well, where 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.

Although the 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 doing now.

It’s difficult 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 some shapes.

Kerr quipped 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!

Kevin Matthews - Liverpool Daily Post 22nd July 2009


+++ STARS WILL LEAD THE WAY +++ Stars Will Lead The Way

The Cenzo Townsend remixed version of Stars Will Lead The Way is available for download from today (July 20th).

 

+++ EDINBURGH CASTLE 18th JULY 2009 +++

Edinburgh Castle 18th July 2009Squelching their 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 faces.

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 forEdinburgh Castle 18th July 2009 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 bodies.

However good 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 reaction.

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 every note.

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.

As darkness 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 deliriously happy.

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.

This performance 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.

(5 out of 5)

Neil McEwan - Edinburgh Evening News
Photographs by Denise Tinning

+++ ROADHOUSE, LONDON 16th JULY 2009 +++

'iTunes Festival', Roadhouse, London 16th July 2009The 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 'iTunes Festival', Roadhouse, London 16th July 2009stage 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.

Simple 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".

Dave Chinery
Photographs by Dave Chinery


+++ STARS WILL LEAD THE WAY +++

The second single to be released from Graffiti Soul has been announced. Stars Will Lead The Way will be released on July 20th. More news to follow shortly.

Stars Will Lead The Way Promo Video 
Screen grab from the Stars Will Lead The Way promo video.

+++ GRAFFITI SOUL WORLD TOUR +++

A new Graffiti Soul World Tour page has been added to Crashing Beats & Fantasy. Set Lists, Photographs & Videos can be found here.

 

Simple Minds 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 up.

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 tour.

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.

But thankfully 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 yet.


"But I'm 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.

"I still 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."

Jim believes 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.

"That idea 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 today?

"There's 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.

"We've 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.

"I felt 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.

"But mistakes are part of the journey and I can't complain because the journey's been great.

Another part 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 great friends."

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 knot again?

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.

"Perhaps I should be looking for an insomniac who likes travel and doesn't mind hanging out in Sicily with the Mafia!"

Rachael Bletchly, Sunday People 28th June 2009

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 Sicily.

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 town down".

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.

"It’s 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.

"I’ve enjoyed 99% of it but it’s not always been easy."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, give the content of many of their songs, Simple Minds have been dubbed "the most politically charged band of the eighties".

But Kerr, 47, is a bit taken aback by the description.

"It’s a wee bit surprising to us," he admits.

"When you write songs about Belfast and anti-apartheid obviously I can understand why it is.

"This may 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.

"We were 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 everywhere.

"I just 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.

"It’s 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."

Politics have changed since the 1980s, he adds, becoming less an obvious part of youth culture but more an intrinsic part of every day lfe.

"Things 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.

"Now politics 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 everywhere.

"Ironically the issues never go away, they maybe change geographically but it’s still about injustices and how they manifest."

Recently, there was a chance to revisit and celebrate some of their old political subject matter – performing at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday concert last June.

"When we 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.

"Even 20 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 birthday party."

In Kerr’s 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.

"There 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?

"Music 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?"

This enthusiasm 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 Kensit.

"It’s made it possible to get through the periods that were a bit rocky," he says.

"Even John 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 gig.

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.

"It was 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.

"In the early days we loved playing at the Royal Court.

"Liverpool 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.

"When we 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.

"Why? Because the audiences really are amazing and never let us down."

Laura Davis, Liverpool Daily Post 26th June 2009

Blicking Hall 17th July 2009


+++ 'ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL' +++

Jim Kerr at the Isle of Wight FestivalSimple Minds delivered the goods yesterday afternoon at the 'Isle of Wight Festival'. The bands performance drew in the biggest individual crowd for the final day although the set was cut short by two songs due to time restrictions.

Predictable ITV's coverage featured 'Don't You (Forget About Me)' and 'Alive & Kicking'. Absolute Radio's coverage was top class, broadcasting the whole show, six songs are available here.

Waterfront
I Travel
See The Lights
Stars Will Lead The Way
Rockets
Ghostdancing / Gloria
Don't You (Forget About Me)
Promised You A Miracle
Someone Somewhere (In Summertime)
New Gold Dream
Alive & Kicking


'Don't You (Forget About Me)' Isle of Wight Festival 14th June 2009. 

+++ 'GRAFFITI SOUL' +++

'Graffiti Soul' slipped to #68 in this weeks UK album chart. After entering at #10 in its first week the album then dropped to number #27.


+++ 'GRAFFITI SOUL' ENTERS UK ALBUM CHART AT #10 +++

'Graffiti Soul' entered the UK album chart yesterday at #10, their first appearance in the Top 10 since 'Good News From The Next World' reached #2 over 14 years ago. Sales reached 11,465 for its debut week on sale.

Full credit to the excellent promotional work by Universal, Noble PR and all the Simple Minds fan sites for spreading the word. Of course there needed to be a product to shout about and boy have we got that in 'Graffiti Soul', in my opinion the best Minds album for 20 years. Bring on the tour.

+++ 'VAXJO ROCK FESTIVAL' SWEDEN 30th MAY SETLIST +++

Simple Minds first gig of the year took place at the 'Vaxjo Rock Festival' in Sweden on Saturday night. A crowd of around 2000 witnessed the first live airings of 'Rockets' and 'This Is It'. Keep On Rocking In The Free World also featured in a Ghostdancing medley.

Waterfront
Stay Visible
Rockets
Mandela Day
Ghostdancing / Keep On Rocking in the Free World
Big Sleep
Promised You A Miracle
Don't You (Forget ABout Me)
Alive & Kicking
Belfast Child
New Gold Dream

Encore:

This Is It
See The Lights
Sanctify Yourself

 
This Is It 'Vaxjo Rock Festival', Sweden 30th May 2009 (poor quality).

+++ GRAFFITI SOUL REVIEW +++

To say that Simple Minds had slipped off the radar is an understatement. Similarly, to add that Jim Kerr has one of pop-rock's best voices surely wouldn't be not be hyperbole. There’s little doubt that identity crisis which has 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 Kerr’s voice and keen ear for melody could always bring them back from an un-planned career hiatus.

That said; attempting to sound contemporary while revisiting a 'classic' sound requires trapeze-artist balance and the slightest slip results in indecently swift bargain-bin condemnation. Fortunately in this case Kerr and Co have got it right, courtesy of a quietly understated collection of material with 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.

Recorded during 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 in that there is 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 it’s right on the mark. Lead-off single ‘Rockets’ is case in point with a typically infectious guitar intro complemented brilliantly by Kerr’s smooth delivery, sounding at times a bit like Robbie Williams, and in a good way...The title track too is another example of the kind of understatement that makes this particular incarnation of the band so refreshing; resisting 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 early Berlin.

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 makes no apology for their past but at the same time exhibits a concerted and obvious desire to be part of the future, and as such it’s a rather welcome and surprising outcome.

Mark Eglinton - 'The Quiet Us' 31st May 2009


+++ SIMPLE MINDS STILL GOING STRONG +++

Don't 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.

"We came 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.

"And some 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."

Kerr, chatting 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 week.

The band are now embarking on a world tour that will reach Australia in November.

Australia owns another crucial piece of the Simple Minds puzzle.

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.

"It was 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 world.

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.

"Well, 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, among others.

Neil Young's Rockin' in the Free World and Christine by Siouxsie and the Banshees are Kerr's favourites.

"Someone said to me there's a stigma against covers. I said, 'No, there's a stigma against bad covers'.

"When we 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.)

"(Sicily) 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 wonderful."

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.

"So here's 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.

"It's not an understatement to say that life would never be the same again," Kerr says.

"Can you 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?

"If you 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.

"And if 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 bad'."

But Kerr isn't prepared to share the gory details on some of his juiciest stories.

"I live 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?'

"I can't give you names and places. Let's just say we were invited into the candy shop and we enjoyed all the candies.

"But being 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.

"My girlfriend 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," he laughs.

"Guys are like, 'Having a coffee and a sushi'. That's it. Oh great."

But according to Twitter, it seems Kerr recently enjoyed rhubarb tart. No kidding.

Sally Browne - 'Courier Mail' 24th May 2009

+++ JIM KERR: ALIVE AND KICKING At 49
AS SIMPLE MINDS RELEASE NEW ALBUM +++

You'd expect 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.

Despite some 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 celebrity antics.

"I've never 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."

Worrying about 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.

"Without 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.

"We've 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.

"Growing 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.

"Live music 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.

"We wanted to be the former as opposed to the latter."

With friend 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.

"I've asked myself what keeps us going so many times, particularly in the periods when it hasn't been going swimmingly well," he laughs.

"To be honest, there haven't been many of those periods.We've enjoyed 99 per cent of the ride."

"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."

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."

Assuming that Jim is telling the truth - and he genuinely enjoys galleries more than groupies - his attitude to rock star life is a breath of fresh air.

Polly Weeks - 'The Glaswegian' 21st May 2009

+++ GRAFFITI SOUL REVIEWS +++

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 more conservative.

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.

Simple Minds' 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.

But mostly, 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.

Then there's 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 Burchill.

In between, 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.

Graffiti Soul 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 own home.

(3 out of 5)

Andrew Eaton - The Scotsman

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' best work.

Rockets fizzes 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 joyous return.

Download this: Light Travels, Teardrop (from bonus CD)

(3 out of 5)

Colin Somerville - Scotland on Sunday

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 festival.

Paul Cole - Sunday Mercury

By locating 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.

(2 out of 5)

Pete Paphides - The Times

+++ SIMPLE MINDS - ALIVE AND KICKING AFTER 30 YEARS +++

Don't you forget about Simple Minds, the world was reminded after Jim Kerr and co's storming set at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday concert in London's Hyde Park last June. Despite the collapse of Sanctuary Records hampering their last effort Black and White, the Belfast Child stars are back with a new label, and storming new single Rockets.

Having thrilled crowds across the UK and Europe on their 30th anniversary tour, Simple Minds returned to the studio to record Graffiti Soul, their 15th studio album, with sessions in Rome, Sicily, Antwerp and Glasgow.

Ahead of the album's May 25th release, Lewis Bazley talks to founder member Charlie Burchill about 30 years in the business, covering Neil Young and surviving in a changing music industry.

Had you always planned to do a new record after the anniversary tour?

Some of the tracks were ideas that were a couple of years old, but we wrote the album mainly in the summer last year in Glasgow. And the 30 years thing was something that Jim and I were oblivious to! But our agents said 'It's 30 years, you should have a bit of a party!' The fans were very happy too. But it's all well and good shouting about 30 years and everything; we thought we should make the album sound good as well!

You mentioned Graffiti Soul being written and recorded in Glasgow - you and Jim both live in Italy, so why did you choose to return home to make the new album?

A couple of reasons really. One of the things was that Jim's mum had a health issue, so we thought we'll put it on the backburner. She's fine now, she's doing really well but she kept on at us to finish the record. So, we said 'ok, we'll go to Glasgow and write it there'.

Was it strange for Jim being back at home?

I think so, he was sitting again at the same kitchen table where he wrote the lyrics for our second album! But we had a fantastic period in Glasgow, working in this rehearsal space with all these other bands around.

Am I right in thinking that when you started work on Graffiti Soul, there were some tentative sessions with the original lineup?

Well, there's a bit of confusion about that. EMI, who have our catalogue, were going to release a greatest hits album which we weren't part of, but we said 'if you're going to do this, you should have something novel in there, something new'. So we thought we should do something with the guys, they're part of it, and we're friends anyway. So we had a get-together as a group and then we went into to try and work on a couple of cover versions and we thought we could maybe work on something new. But it soon became evident that we were trying to do it in two days and we needed a lot more time than that. So we put it on the backburner.

Coming back to the covers - you've also got the covers CD In Search of the Lost Boys, featuring songs by Magazine, Neil Young, Massive Attack and others coming out with the album - how did you pick those songs?

Obviously they're tracks that we love and that mean something to us but, at the same time, part of it was picking songs we thought we could play! (laughs) We didn't want to sit their and craft these things like you would with a studio album, we just wanted to play them!

Do you think you might play any of them on your upcoming tour?

Yeah, I do. Not consistently but we might bring out Rockin' in the Free World or something. Though we're playing the Isle of Wight festival, with Neil Young, so we're definitely not going to play it there! (laughs) We'll leave it to the master.

In the late 80s you were notably political in songs like Mandela Day - how do you feel about what's going on today?

I'm disappointed with the so-called leadership that's happened in a lot of countries and I can understand people being p****d off.

You guys have been around for 30 years, it's your 15th album and you've been through a changing industry - where do you stand on the likes of Spotify and illegal downloads?

I do feel for younger bands. What if it gets to the point where new artists can't survive? That could be a reality. We were lucky, we came up in a period that allowed us to do this group, but it's more difficult now. I think there's hope though. I think people will keep buying because they want to support the bands.

You mentioned playing the Isle of Wight festival - what other plans do you have for touring the album?

We're doing festivals, we're playing a couple of nights at Edinburgh Castle, we're off to the States in September and we'll maybe come back through Australia, go through Europe and we'll probably finish up next year in the UK.

Finally, Don't You Forget About Me is obviously your signature song - have you ever got sick of it?

Yeah… (laughs) It's a love/hate thing! To be honest, I like it much better now. You can't escape it and we didn't write it, but it's a great track. I enjoy playing it live and people love to have a dance to it.

Lewis Bazley - 'In The News' 18th May 2009


+++ SOCCER AM +++

Soccer AMJim Kerr appeared on the popular Saturday morning show Soccer AM earlier today. Hosted by Helen Chamberlain & Max Rushden Jim chatted about 'Graffiti Soul', Celtic FC, the classic SKY TV ad featuring 'Alive & Kicking' and meeting Pele. Jim couldn't participate in 'The Road To Rome' due to a groin strain! To view Jim on Soccer AM then click here.

+++ ROCKETS VIDEO NOW AVAILABLE ON ITUNES+++

Rockets Video Now  Available On iTunesThe promo video for 'Rockets' is now available to buy via iTunes. The high quality version (40.6mb) is availble for just £1.29p.

+++ MINDS SIMPLY ON MUSIC +++

Scottish singer Jim Kerr has been with Simple Minds since the beginning. In advance of the Graffiti Soul Tour later this year, Polly Weeks finds out how he has survived three decades in the music business relatively unscathed.

You’d expect 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. Despite some 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 handshake, he’s the consummate professional.

In fact, courteous, informative and candid, Jim seems rather dismissive of celebrity antics.

“I’ve never 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.”

Worrying about a performance he gave 19 years ago (Jim is now 49) is a sweet reflection of Kerr’s love of 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 Minds fans who continue to follow the band.

“Without 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.

“We’ve 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.

“Growing 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 his youth watching bands, dreaming of the day he could get up there on stage.

“Live music 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.

“We wanted to be the former, as opposed to the latter."

With friend and guitar player Charlie Burchill he formed a punk band. The duo then recruited Mick MacNeil, Derek Forbes and 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 now perform with Eddie Duffy and Mel Gaynor and 31 years on Jim isn’t thinking about retirement.

“I’ve asked myself what keeps us going so many times, particularly in the periods when it hasn’t been going swimmingly well,” he laughs.

“To be 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.

“Because it’s what we do. Mak-ing music and touring makes sense to us"

Still living out of bags, unsure where his home is, he accepts that his fragmented lifestyle wouldn't suit everyone.

"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.

"The bags have my books and candles and things which people have in their lives, not in their bags."

If this life on the road dosen'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."

Assuming that Jim is telling the truth - and he genuinely enjoys galleries more than groupies - his attitude to rock star life is a breath of fresh air.

Belfast Telegraph, 15th May 2009


+++ GRAFFITI SOUL REVIEWS +++

Almost the Miracle they’ve been promising

The ongoing 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".

Graffiti Soul 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.

(3 out of 5)

Daryl Easlea - Record Collector

Veteran Scots Stadium Rockers Regain Credibility

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.

Download: Moscow Underground / Rockets / Light Travels

(3 out of 5)

Peter Kane - Q Magazine

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.

(4 out of 5)

David Buckley - Mojo Magazine

+++ RADIO MAGNETIC +++

Jim Kerr will be appearing on www.radiomagnetic.com on Wednesday (May 13th) afternoon where he will be talking through 'Graffiti Soul' track by track. The interview will then be available as a podcast from http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=292069303


+++ CLAUDIA WINKLEMAN SHOW +++

Claudia WinklemanJim Kerr made another appearance on BBC Radio 2 last night, this time on the Claudia Winkleman Show. To listen to the interview via the BBC's iPlayer (forward to 42 minutes) then click here (available until 12:02am Saturday 16th May 2009).


+++ GRAFFITI SOUL LISTENING PARTY +++

graffiti soul listening party

simpleminds.com are hosting a 'Graffiti Soul' listening party tonight between 8pm-10pm (UK time). To be one of the first to hear the stunning new album then just simply login to your simpleminds.com account or register here.

+++ HMV GLASGOW 'GRAFFITI SOUL' SIGNING +++

Simple Minds will be appearing at HMV Glasgow on Monday the 25th May. The band will be signing copies of their new album 'Graffiti Soul'. More details to follow.

+++ FREE 'GRAFFITI SOUL' ALBUM SAMPLER +++

To claim a free digital download of 'Graffiti Soul' album sampler simply click here. The download consists of brief snippets of 'Rockets', 'Stars Will Lead The Way', 'Light Travels', 'This Is It' and 'Kiss and Fly'.


Simple Minds 2009

For immediate release, London, England

Hailed as one of the best "live”"rock’n’roll bands in the world, Simple Minds are pleased to announce the UK leg of their forthcoming "Graffiti Soul" World Tour. The UK concerts will take in seven dates, and will dovetail the highly anticipated release of Simple Minds’ 15th studio album "Graffiti Soul", released on May 25th. Very special guests will be "OMD".

Jim Kerr said - "Particularly in these times it is vitally important for us to give as much value to our audience as possible. Playing a full set of hits and other surprises, I know that OMD will contribute so much towards making each of these shows into memorable events!" Between them both, Simple Minds and OMD have sold 75 million albums worldwide as well as chalking up over 40 hit singles.

Tickets for the UK will go on sale at 9am on Friday April 24th by calling the National Credit Card Hotline: 0871 424 4444, or book online at www.ticketline.co.uk

Dates include Newcastle Metro Arena (Nov 30), Birmingham LG Arena (Dec 2), Manchester MEN Arena (Dec 3), Sheffield Arena (Dec 5), Cardiff International Arena (Dec 6), London Wembley Arena (Dec 7) and Glasgow SECC (Dec 11).

"We are very excited to announce the UK leg of the Graffiti Soul tour,"Says lead singer and founding member, Jim Kerr. "Graffiti Soul is one of our most powerful albums to date. The new songs have an undeniable rock and roll edge and immediacy to them and we can't wait to perform them live!"

Click here for the full online announcement -
http://www.noblepr.co.uk/press_releases/simple_minds/simple_minds_graffiti_soul.htm

For further ticket and tour information please contact:
Peter Noble and Will Taylor at Noble PR Consultancy, Tel: 0207 272 7772, peter@noblepr.co.uk, will@noblepr.co.uk


+++ BILLY SLOAN JIM KERR INTERVIEW +++

Billy Sloan came up trumps again last night on his Radio Clyde show. World exclusives of the stunning 'This Is It' from 'Graffiti Soul' and a cover version of 'Christine' by Siouxsie & the Banshees which will feature on 'In Search Of The Lost Boys' were given a warm reception from the Minds community. Jim Kerr also appeared on the show and revealed that the band have already started work on the follow-up to 'Graffiti Soul'.

Expect another exclusive track from 'In Search Of The Lost Boys' next week along with more tracks from 'Graffiti Soul'. Catch Billy Sloan every Sunday between 7pm - 10pm, live streaming can be found here.

+++ AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND TOUR DATES +++

Jim Kerr has revealed on Twitter that the band have spoken to agents concerning a tour of Australia & New Zealand in early November. Jim also mentioned that it is a possibility that the band could be supported by Australian band Icehouse. Icehouse supported Simple Minds on selected UK dates in mid 1981 with the Minds then returning the favour by supporting Icehouse on an Australian tour in late 1981.

You can follow Jim here http://twitter.com/jimkerr09


+++ UK ARENA DATES ANNOUNCED +++

Simple Minds today announced plans for 9 UK & EIRE Arena dates later in the year. Tickets go on general sale on Friday 24th April. Members of www.simpleminds.com can view a video of Jim & Charlie announcing tour news, members can also purchase tickets from the official site on Tuesday 21st April at 10.00am.

30.11.2009 - Newcastle Arena, UK
02.12.2009 - Birmingham NEC, UK
03.12.2009 - Manchester MEN, UK
05.12.2009 - Sheffield Arena, UK
06.12.2009 - Cardiff CIA, UK
07.12.2009 - London, Wembley Arena, UK
09.12.2009 - Dublin, 02, Ireland
10.12.2009 - Belfast Odyssey, Northern Ireland
11.12.2009 - Glasgow SECC, UK

The support act for these shows will be OMD. Expect more tour dates to be announced soon for shows in South America, North America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.


+++ JIM KERR SCOTTISH INTERVIEWS +++

Jim Kerr has been busy promoting 'Graffiti Soul' in Scotland over the last couple of days. Jim is continuing the promotional push today in France and then Germany. To view interviews from STV and BBC Scotland then please visit the links below.

Jim Kerr returns to his roots (STV)

Jim Kerr on Graffiti Soul (STV)

Jim Kerr on Graffiti Soul (BBC Reporting Scotland)

+++ 'ROCKETS' PROMO CD +++

Rockets Promo CD (Sanctuary SMR1)Artwork for the promo CD of the new single 'Rockets' has surfaced on the Internet.

The CD carries the Cenzo Townsend 'Radio Mix' of 'Rockets' (3.29) (Cat No: Sanctuary SMR1) and no doubt can be found on ebay very soon!

 


+++ FOLLOW JIM KERR ON 'TWITTER' +++

jim kerr on TwitterJim Kerr has joined the popular world of Twitter. Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users' updates known as tweets. Confused?

It's a great way of following Jim and finding out how the 'Graffiti Soul' promotional push is progressing and what the bands plans are for the weeks ahead.

Jim is in Scotland for the next two days promoting the new album with media & retailers which includes a full recorded interview tomorrow with Billy Sloan which will be included on his Radio Clyde show on Sunday (19th April).

Simple Minds fans in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan will hear news soon concerning the release of Graffiti Soul.

You can follow Jim here http://twitter.com/jimkerr09


+++ BILLY SLOAN SIMPLE MINDS BONANZA +++

Billy Sloan gave Simple Minds fans a treat earlier this evening by playing 6 songs in his three hour show. 3 songs received their first airing, 'Moscow Underground' and 'Light Travels' from the forthcoming album 'Graffiti Soul' were given a surprise first play after Jim Kerr had given Billy permission to play tracks from the album earlier this week. Billy also continued to play another weekly exclusive from 'In Search Of The Lost Boys', this time it was a cover of 'A Song From Under The Floorboards' by Magazine.

Expect another exclusive track from 'In Search Of The Lost Boys' next week along with more tracks from 'Graffiti Soul'. Catch Billy Sloan every Sunday between 7pm - 10pm, live streaming can be found here.

+++ FIRST 'GRAFFITI SOUL' REVIEW +++

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 fans.

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?

Lauren John - www.music.co.uk


+++ 'ROCKETS' PROMO VIDEO +++

Simple Minds' long awaited Promo Video for the new single 'Rockets' has been released via www.simpleminds.com

The video, which was filmed in a warehouse in London has received comparisons to the bands 'Chelsea Girl' promo video, no bad thing in my view. 'Rockets' is released on May 18th.

( UK and EIRE residents only, World to follow shortly. )

Graffiti Soul


+++ 'WHISKEY IN THE JAR' COVERED +++

Simple Minds' version of 'Whiskey In The Jar' by Thin Lizzy was given it's first airing on the Billy Sloan show earlier this evening. The track will feature on 'In Search Of The Lost Boys' which will accompany early copies of the long awaited new album 'Graffiti Soul'.

Billy Sloan will play a new track from 'In Search Of The Lost Boys' every week on his show (Sundays between 7pm - 10pm) over the next month and live streaming can be found here.


+++ DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT…SUNDAY! +++

SIMPLE MINDS / PIGEON DETECTIVES / THE SCRIPT /
GOLDIE LOOKIN CHAIN / JUDY COLLINS AND ARNO CARSTENS
COMPLETE SUNDAY’S EPIC LINE UP AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL 2009

Isle Of WightSimple Minds, The Pigeon Detectives, The Script, Goldie Lookin Chain, Judy Collins and Arno Carstens join the immense main stage bill for Sunday 14th June at the Isle of Wight Festival 2009. This year’s line up is guaranteed to kick off the festival season in sensational style, also featuring Neil Young, Stereophonics, Razorlight, The Prodigy and Basement Jaxx to name but a few.

Click here for the online announcement:

Since forming in 1977 Simple Minds have had 6 UK number one albums making them one of the most successful Scottish bands… ever! Their astounding live shows have won them huge critical acclaim across the world, and their first appearance at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival is set to be as epic as ever. Renowned for their number one hits such as ‘Alive and Kicking’, they first hit the top spot with the album ‘Sparkle in the Rain’ paving the way to rock royalty. Their 15th studio album ‘Graffiti Soul’ is due for release in May and will see the band return on fine form.

“We are very excited about playing the Isle of Wight,” says Jim Kerr. “This is the first time Simple Minds have played the festival, so as you can imagine, we’re really looking forward to it. We’ll be performing songs from our new ‘Graffiti Soul’ album and some classics gems.”

The Pigeon Detectives, one of the most popular acts of 2008 are due to hit the Isle of Wight Festival’s main stage with full force this year. With the success of their debut album ‘Wait For Me’, and its follow up ‘Emergency’, the Leeds quintet are renowned for their high-energy performances and sing-a-long anthems.

Multi platinum selling rockers The Script, join Sunday’s spectacular main stage line up. Having sold 600,000 albums in 2008 alone, securing 3 top ten singles, the Irish three-piece have gone from strength to strength and are set to bring down the house with their intense blend of rock and pop.

Welsh rappers Goldie Lookin’ Chain, never cease to amaze and amuse with their unique take on bling, riches and rides, so prepare to learn a lesson or two from the outspoken 8 piece at the Isle of Wight Festival 2009. GLC’s new album ‘ASBO4LIFE’ is due out this summer so expect another selection of culture crushing classics from the Newport boys.

Folk legend Judy Collins completes Sunday’s line up and no doubt one of the most eclectic festival bills to date. The Seattle songstress began her career in 1960 covering songs by the likes of Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan with her unique soprano singing style. The Grammy award winner has dabbled in various musical styles including rock’n’roll and pop so expect something very special at this year’s festival.

Now in its eighth year since its reincarnation in 2002, the Isle of Wight Festival brings together 50,000 free spirited, music loving, friends, families and festival goers in front of one almighty stage, in a simply stunning setting. It is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive and well-loved festivals on the calendar and the two UK Festival Awards for ‘Best Major UK Festival’ and ‘Outstanding Contribution to Festivals’ (awarded to John Giddings) is proof of just that.

The Isle of Wight Festival takes place 12th – 14th June at Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight. Tickets are on sale now, for tickets and more information check out - www.isleofwightfestival.com

For further information about Simple Minds and the new Graffiti Soul album, please contact:

Press - Peter Noble at Noble PR Consultancy Ltd - 0207 272 7772, peter@noblepr.co.uk
TV - Niki Sanderson / Non Stop - nikisanderson@nonstop1.co.uk
Radio - Joe Bennett / Lucid PR - joe.bennett@lucidpr.co.uk
Regional - Neil Adams / Neil Adams PR - neil@neiladamspr.com
Online - Sarah Thompson / Charm Factory - sarah@charmfactory.co.uk

For further information on the Isle of Wight Festival 2009 please contact:
Jacquie, Katy or Victoria at Amazing Media on 0207 292 8860 - firstname@amazingmedia.co.uk

For “Isle of Wight” TV/Radio enquiries, Tony Barker at TX Media
0208 883 4244 - tony@tx-media.co.uk

www.isleofwightfestival.com

Graffiti Soul


+++ 'HERE'S TO THE SPARKLE IN THE RAIN' +++

Another week and another Billy Sloan world exclusive. Simple Minds' stunning version of the The Call's song 'Let The Day Begin' was given its first airing tonight. The track will feature on 'In Search Of The Lost Boys' which will accompany early copies of the long awaited new album 'Graffiti Soul'.

Billy Sloan will play a new track from 'In Search Of The Lost Boys' every week on his show (Sundays between 7pm - 10pm) over the next couple of months and live streaming can be found here.

Graffiti Soul


+++ CENZO TOWNSEND GIVES 'ROCKETS' THE RADIO MIX +++

Cenzo TownsendCenzo Townsend has completed a 'Radio Mix' of the forthcoming Simple Minds single, 'Rockets'.

Townsend, who has mixed and produced for such acts as Snow Patrol, Franz Ferdinand, U2, Kaiser Chiefs, New Order, Echo & The Bunneymen, Bloc Party, Editors and The Pigeon Detectives.

"Remixing a track that Bob Clearmountain had previously worked on was a little overwhelming as I admire his work so much. I did not want to change that much from the original except make the over all thing sound a little brighter by bringing out more of the guitars and the chorus vocals, particularly the girl backing vocals. It is a really great track that has so much to it."

Graffiti SOul


+++ AMERICAN TOUR DATES NOT YET CONFIRMED +++

Despite recent reports stateside, Simple Minds have not yet confirmed plans to tour North America in September.

The positive news is that while offers to tour are being considered it may be some weeks yet before the group is in a position to give full details of their autumn '09 touring schedule. Simple Minds office today released the following statement:

'Although discussions with various promoters and agents are taking place, we once again urge fans to be wary of reports of concert activity unless they are confirmed on Simple Minds official website simpleminds.com. It is only then that they can be 100% sure that formal agreements have been made. With respect to North America we are still some way off being in a position to confirm specific dates. What is without doubt however is that Simple Minds have a strong desire to tour worldwide both in support of their new album 'Graffiti Soul' as well as rewarding the international fan base for their loyal support. Within the coming months we hope to confirm shows in North America, Canada, Mexico and South America, with dates in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the Far East to follow.'

www.simpleminds.com

Graffiti Soul


+++ 'TEARDROP' GETS THE MINDS TREATMENT +++

Billy Sloan gave another world exclusive this evening by airing Simple Minds' version of the classic Massive Attack song 'Teardrop'. The track will feature on 'In Search Of The Lost Boys' which will accompany early copies of the long awaited new album 'Graffiti Soul'.

Billy Sloan will play a new track from 'In Search Of The Lost Boys' every week on his show (Sundays between 7pm - 10pm) over the next couple of months and live streaming can be found here.

Graffiti Soul


+++ 'ROCKETS' GIVEN ITS FIRST AIRING +++

Billy Sloan gave the new Simple Minds single 'Rockets' its first airing on Radio Clyde on Sunday. The uplifting track which contains a cracking hook and trademark Charlie Burchill guitar riff has the Simple Minds community singing its praises.

Billy Sloan was joined in the hour long programme by Jim Kerr who announced that some copies of 'Graffiti Soul' will be released as a limited edition deluxe edition which will contain an album of cover versions called 'In Search Of The Lost Boys'. Bands that are covered on the nine track album will include Magazine, Thin Lizzy, Neil Young, The Call, Nick Lowe, The Stranglers and Siouxsie & The Banshees.

Billy Sloan will play a new track every week on his show (Sundays between 8pm - 10pm) over the next couple of months and live streaming can be found here.

Graffiti Soul


+++ 1,000,000 UNIQUE PAGE IMPRESSIONS +++

Crashing Beats & Fantasy broke through the 1 Million unique page impressions barrier earlier this week. Since the websites re-launch in July 2004 a total of 1,012,876 unique page impressions have been recorded and the site has gone from strength to strength. Can I personally thank all of the Simple Minds community for their continued support and taking time out to visit the site, I hope it's been worth it! Here's to a great year of new music and concerts from the Minds.

Shaun Edwards

Graffiti Soul


+++ 'GRAFFITI SOUL' TO BE RELEASED 25th MAY 2009 +++

Simple Minds have released details of their long awaited new album. 'Graffiti Soul' will have an International release date of 25th May 2009 via the Universal Music Record Label. Plans are being finalised for a world tour and dates are expected to be released soon.Graffiti Soul 25th May 2009

"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 label.

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'.

Produced by 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 Music's 'Avalon'.

"Graffiti 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 in years.”

Although the 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.

Continues Kerr, “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.”

In addition 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)’.

"It was 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 more.""

www.simpleminds.com

Graffiti Soul

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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