Glaswegian arena rock stalwarts Simple Minds may not have been able to override a pandemic, but they’re a well-oiled machine, and exactly two years after they were initially due to play Cardiff, it’s finally happening. That’s Carl Marsh’s cue to have a chat with Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr.
In January of this year, you finally released the track Act Of Love – a mere 44 years after it was written, in 1978! Why so long?
Jim Kerr: It was an error! I mean, a naive error, but it wasn’t until 18 months later that we got a recording contract, and we were all flush with energy and creativity and had all these new songs on the horizon, so we just put it on the back burner. Then we had a [COVID-induced] break from everything, and wanted to come back with a record that reminded us of day one of Simple Minds, with a few updated lyrics to the track.
Are there other Simple Minds songs that you’ve parked for nearly as long before releasing them?
Jim Kerr: I’m not sure that many warrant the same kind of respect we gave to Act Of Love. The whole thing with that song is that I just loved that riff. I thought that was a cracking guitar sound. But, unfortunately, you don’t get many of them to the pound these days!
On the new album, to give you an example, there are two or three songs where we’re going, “when did the idea for that song come about?” – we’d think it was fairly recent, when in fact it’d be from about a decade or longer ago.
Songs also find their time. They are like puzzles, and sometimes you don’t find the missing piece. You’ll be thinking this is great, but something’s wrong, and you don’t know what it is. So, basically, there is always a lot of work on the shelf, and it’s really strange how certain songs find their way and others less so.
If it passes your and guitarist Charlie Burchill’s test, it’s clearly ticked all of the boxes. Simple Minds songs, in terms of arrangement and production, have always been about the whole package from lead vocals to keyboards, with nothing taking centre stage.
Jim Kerr: Yeah, I think we’re old school in that sense. The people who influenced us were about the whole package, for the most part. David Bowie would always have brilliant guitar players and backing singers. Roxy Music, likewise.
So, as you can expect, our lineup has changed – we’ve been going for 45 years. But, with whoever comes in, we always look for the kind of people that are – how can I say? – stellar within their own position. [Laughs] It’s corny to use football analogies, but still: you want a brilliant centre-half, a brilliant attacker, a brilliant left-back, etc… everyone in their position. We don’t have any people who are, you know… we usually have standards. I think that’s how we like the music to feel and appear.
I liked the football analogy as I’m a fan myself – I know you’re a Celtic fan. I’m Stoke City, for my sins – you’ve got to support the team where you were born, haven’t you?
Jim Kerr: Yeah, good for you. I can’t be doing with those people that support Man United and have never been to Manchester! There are even people in Aberdeen that are supporting Barcelona!
Simple Minds, Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Thurs 14 Apr. Tickets: £35-£65; £120-£245 VIP. Info: here
words CARL MARSH
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