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SIMPLE MINDS The Elders

 

Simple Minds

Simple Minds

“Oh, when people talk about Simple Minds, I always think, you know, ‘which Simple Minds are you talking about?’ Are you talking about the early days one? Are you talking about the big MTV years? Are you talking about the pop stuff? Are you talking about the politic stuff?”

 

To some, Simple Minds will always be synonymous with the ‘80s Bratpack movie The Breakfast Club, and the theme song that they performed, Don’t You Forget About Me. To singer, Jim Kerr, the band is forever evolving, with new album Big Music – their 16th – just released, a recent retrospective box set and a host of artists such as Primal Scream and Manic Street Preachers citing them as a key inspiration. SHANE PINNEGAR reports.

 

In Britain last month, Q Magazine bestowed their prestigious ‘Q Inspiration To Music Award’ upon Simple Minds, presented by James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers.

Jim Kerr is noticeably humbled by the attention, and thrilled with the response Big Music has received thus far.

“Yes. Shaking my head in disbelief!” he laughs warmly. “In the past we’ve had albums that had good reviews, but I can honestly say that I don’t think that we’ve had an album that’s had such comprehensively good reviews. I would rather have that than not have it.”

The last five or 10 years have seen a dramatic reappraisal of the band’s work, during which they’ve gone from being viewed as ‘just another ‘80’s band’ to elder statesmen, of sorts.

“That was probably summed up best a couple of weeks ago at the Q Awards,” says the Scottish singer. “Basically a lot of acts over the last few years have been claiming Simple Minds have influenced them. It’s not something I could have seen happening, if you’d asked me four or five years ago.

“James from Manic Street Preachers, God, he has really fought our corner – he really stuck up for Simple Minds.”

Simple Minds had released five albums before their first big hits Promised You A Miracle and Glittering Prize, in 1982. Up until that point they’d been unfairly labelled a ‘lesser U2’, or lumped in with the New Wave movement, but the truth is that their early albums were unique, experimental, exploratory works of art. Kerr affably concedes the point.

“Thank you very much, for saying that about the earlier stuff. I think the guys that I’ve worked with, the guys in the band, I think they had amazing imagination, on those first albums. They were ahead of their time.”

When the hits did start coming, Simple Minds – more than almost anyone else of the era – seemed to master delivering irresistible pop songs with arena rock production and power. It’s a rare gift.

“Oh, when people talk about Simple Minds, I always think, you know, ‘which Simple Minds are you talking about?’ Are you talking about the early days one? Are you talking about the big MTV years? Are you talking about the pop stuff? Are you talking about the politic stuff of Mandela Day and Belfast Child? I mean, there’s really been a lot of Simple Minds within Simple Minds, and yet it’s always the identities, maintained so, I mean, that comes down to us have a very wide eclectic musical taste, but it also goes back to the fact, again, that those guys could play those different styles and pull it off.

“And so, you know, we should not be so disappointed if people like a certain state of Simple Minds, but not another state of Simple Minds, or tuned into a part of the story and tuned out to another part of the story. I mean, I could see why that could happen. Do I love that guy? Yes I do. He doesn’t owe us anything. If you even only like one song, that’s cool.”

The singer is supremely zen about many people knowing only a small period of his life’s work. With 16 albums, though, it must be hard to deal with as an artist when a large part of your audience only wants to hear the big hits from decades ago.

“It’s a great challenge to have, you know?” he says, amused. “I would rather have that than be struggling, like ‘oh, we’ve only got four good songs’. And what we’ve been doing is, first of all, we play songs throughout our journey, and maybe there’s 12 songs we play every night. The other 10 chop and change. And people come along, they’re going to hear the songs they expect to hear. For the hardcore, they’re going to hear some chestnuts they would never have thought they were going to hear.

“We have a laugh – because we know we’ve got the music, we’ve got the experience, we’ve got audiences to say that they pretty much love us before we’ve even played a note. All we have to do every single night is be brilliant!”

One Comment

  1. Pingback: INTERVIEW – Jim Kerr, Simple Minds – November 2014 | 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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