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interview by holger erdmann

1.    Question #1(2.03)
2.    Question #2(1.38)
3.    Question #3(1.13)
4.    Question #4(1.31)
5.    Question #5(0.59)
6.    Question #6(1.46)
7.    Question #7(1.06)
8.    Question #8(1.17)
9.    Question #9(1.17)
10.    Question #10(0.58)
11.    Question #11(1.20)
12.    Question #12(0.46)
13.    Question #13(1.07)
14.    Question #14(1.51)
15.    Question #15(0.58)

Sanctuary -

CD with black and white label in jewelcase.

release date
July 2005

additional information
Extremely rare, hardly any copies of this promotional CD from Sanctuary have ever surfaced.

Holger Erdmann is never heard during this CD; all you hear is Jim answering the questions. Therefore a local DJ could record their own questions, with Jim's answering, producing what sounds like their own personal interview. Normally a sheet would be provided with the sheet outlining all the questions, but the copy with this CD has got lost.

Therefore in the transcription below, you'll have to work out the questions from Jim's answers.

Question #1
JK: If there was a burn out, I think the reason would've been quite simple in the sense that from, let's say, 1978 until probably '91, we just didn't stop. And I don't mean we didn't stop like we weren't working hard - we loved it, we didn't want to stop... well certainly when I say 'we' I mean Charlie and me... this was it. With hindsight, looking back now, I would have said - if I was doing some things again, one of the things I'd have said is we should've paced that better.

But there was a point where it became that and the only way I can explain to you is after '91 or '92, it felt like the band had grown so big, that we were the proud owners of a jumbo jet without any fuel. We didn't have a new song, or anything, and trying was like getting blood from a stone or it sounded like a parody of ourselves or it sounded to be an attempt to be something from our past.

And also around us, things were starting to crumble: The keyboard player [Mick MacNeil] left, he was a big, big part of it; our manager [Bruce Findlay] was a big part of it and when I say the jumbo jet, it felt like we were losing one engine. And also within those years of working, which we loved, we also tried to have lives outside of it and they were crumbling. And I think it was just a period of... there's a rise and there's a fall. There's a decay.

You could say 'But this band didn't do it' or 'But this band had...' but not really. Only one or two...

Question #2
JK: ...the only thing I'm very keen to always emphasize when I say to people 'we were burnt out' I would hate - let's call it 'the common guy' - to read this and and think 'what do they fucking mean burnt out? They live in a great place, they do this.' They're right but there was - let's just say if you live super close to the mountain, one day you can't see it anymore. And I think there was definitely an element of that.

But we never felt like giving up really. We never felt like quiting. We never felt like really - we stepped back - but we never really walked away. People talk about careers but you don't get a map, there is no 'This will happen, that will happen'. But I did remember looking at people I really respected, that had long careers and I thought 'How do you do this?' People like Neil Young and Lou Reed - of course Dylan, even John Lennon - I mean this is exalted company - David Bowie. They all had periods where they got lost, where they disappeared up their own arses, where they tried to come back, false starts, and I thought 'This is something we're going to have to go through.'

Question #3
JK: No! I never thought that. There was maybe some moments when I thought 'It's finished!' That's a different thing from thinking 'I quit.' I have to be honest, there was a point where I started feeling very estranged from the music industry. When we signed to Virgin Records they had The Sex Pistols, they had Peru Ubu, they had Magazine, they had John Foxx. In the '90s they were jumping up and down: we have The Spice Girls, we have the new Janet Jackson and I was thinking 'The world is passing me by.' 'No, but The Spice Girls are really good!' People justifying it. And wasn't thinking of quitting, but I was thinking 'Maybe it's not for me.'

Question #4
JK: 'Cry' was to see if we could keep the heartbeat going - and what was the effect. I think on 'Cry' we managed to turn the car around at least to going in the positive, or the right, direction. After that it was to see how far can we take it. Can we take it one mile or can we take it two thousand? The great thing about 'Cry' is that it let us play again. And when we played again, we realised we wanted it. Because part of it wasn't sure if we really wanted it. We wanted it for some days, but did we really want it? Because, thankfully, life has been good to us and there are other things in our lives. And when I was thinking 'maybe it's over', the thing that frightened me about that was my attitude which was 'that was great.' It wasn't like 'Oh no!' Why was I not so upset? I was thinking 'That was great. No-one owes us anything. We don't owe anyone anything. We invented this little thing. We did great.' I was thinking I should be fighting more.

Question #5
JK: 'Cry' let us hear echoes of what it could be. But with this one [Black And White 050505] we had to go back and do it the right way. Which was to live together, work together in the studio, not sending files or people going to studios at different times, 'Oh I have to go, I'm buying a new car.' First of all, we mapped out what we wanted - easier said than done. We wanted a classic Simple Minds record in the sense of big emotional pop music, atmosphere, drama, but with the energy and the youthfulness. How do you get that? But we wanted a new energy.

Question #6
JK: I'm delighted to hear that. Because that's what we wanted. And very rarely do you get what you want. You know, we want 'this', but it doesn't turn out that way. We weren't going to settle for less; the melodies were making me think 'this is strong'. But now can we bring the band together? Can we work it like we know it has to be? And as you say, suddenly these plants that couldn't grow for years start to sprout and you think 'Fucking hell. This is happening. This is there.' When I listened to the first track Stay Visible I had in mind... This was later on after we'd signed the deal, when we started working we were working without a record company... but later on when we signed the deal, with this track I had in my head 'OK, the guy's going to have to go to you people - the radio - and say 'Here's the new Simple Minds album.' And I could imagine most people say 'Yeah, I like them, but it's been a while.' And he had to say 'Give it thirty seconds.' And I had this fucking thirty seconds to make or break. Put it on, and I think on Stay Visible, I hope and I can say this because I didn't write it the melody so it's not me, but when you hear the piano melody, this bass riff comes in, I thought 'Job done' in terms of it delivers what we wanted to say.

Question #7
JK: When I think of Charlie and I, there's a lot of reasons why we can still work together, apart from saying 'we're friends'. Well, we are genuinely friends. More than friends. But we know how to fight. And we know how to have our wars. And it always seems that because I do the interviews and stuff that I'm the boss. But I'm not. Sometimes he's the boss. The greatest thing of the relationship for me is that usually if I'm not on form, he is on form. And visa verca: if he's not on form, I'm on form. But when we're both on form, it's working. And on this one... I would say on Cry, he wasn't really on form - he'll kill me for saying it - but on this one, we were both committed to the same extent.

Question #8
JK: Definitely the metaphor, and abstract, interest me more because - they just do. I enjoy the puzzle. The other songs seemed to write themselves - those words seemed to annouce themselves from the music and you have to sometimes resist the pressure to be coherent. If someone comes into this it looks like some kind of jazz poetry. I sometimes wonder - the music is so evocative, the atmosphere is so strong, then you think No, the combination of the words and the music - the picture announces itself. I said this before, but I remember in chemistry class at school, I remember the very first day I saw the chemistry experiment where he took one thing, then took another, put it together and it was magic. When he explained how it worked, it wasn't magic anymore. In fact, I didn't want to know about it. With some songs it's exactly that.

Question #9
JK: What happened was - it was almost like waiting for the moment. I had the music for, maybe about two months. It was pretty much as is - in terms of the demo. I was playing it all the time in the car, I had that whole sense of journey with it. Delighted, I felt, because the Simple Minds sound is back. Delighted. This sense of chase was in it all the time. And at the same time I was reading a book called The Unbearable Lightness Of Being. It was a book by a Moroccan journalist called Jelloun. And the book itself was about the chase of political prisoners. And this whole chase, and they were dreaming of going home, and such - and it was all coming around me at the same time. And [it] definitely influenced the characters in that song on Stay Visible.

Question #10
JK: Well I actually do feel home now in Sicily, I do. I've been going now, on and off, for twenty years. I'm a Scotsman, there's no doubt about it, but I dream in Italian, and speak in Italian. I get up in the morning, I feel it. But in the song Home itself, it was less about the home in the physical sense, as opposed to the spiritual quest. All of us, somewhere, are searching for this place and this peace and Home is really about this traveller who is searching for an inner peace.

Question #11
JK: Sicily especially. In Italy, it's not so much I feel the art there, I feel the Gods there; I feel the Greeks, I feel the Romans, I feel the Saracens... I can actually feel it. In terms of nature, it's the most incredible nature. So, all of these things are giving me a zest for life, giving me an energy. On a superficial level, the football is everywhere, the women are fantastic - well there're my taste! - and it's a very sensual life. It's almost decadent, and that's decadent in the sense that they're eating pasta if they win 40 million in the Lotto, they'll be eating the same pasta the next night. And they have worries and concerns like everyone, but somehow at one o'clock, the sun's shining, a little table is put outside with a napkin... You tell me why, you eat Mozzarella cheese, it doesn't taste of anything but you eat it there, the same cheese with this basil - it's ecstasy.

Question #12
JK: Very, very interesting you say that. Because, first of all, I'd never thought about it. But when I'm thinking now it's making me think... Jeweller is an old song. It's five years ago. When I was in a much darker place... myself... I was much more negative, lost, isolated... dark side of the moon. It's really, really interesting that you say that. We've always loved the melody, wanted to bring it through but the lyrics... yeah... they were written from a place where I was feeling lost.

Question #13
JK: Charlie's melody seemed to have in it this... how could I describe?... there was almost something Eastern about it. It was alot slower originally, a lot more brooding, and I think the slower, brooding danger, I think probably brought up the kind of... [pause]... bitterness? I Kiss The Ground: it's saying... it's sort of saying "I've heard it all, I've heard it all, whatever your religious text is.. whatever... I want this" I believe [unable to transcribe]... which isn't how I believe but it seemed all the sacred texts have been so misused and so corrupted to manipulate and it was saying "Bullshit. I believe this piece of stone." But this piece of stone has so much connected to it.

Question #14
JK: With Black And White, to be honest, there really wasn't a definitive... Sometime with an album something pops up and you say "That's the album title". From the piece of music originally from the Black And White song, we just felt it was the most... it seemed early to us to say "This is the banner." Black And White itself is so overused, and it's been used a million times, and it's hard to give it any new life but yet we felt, "We can use this. How are we going to use this? What's the context? What's the framework?" It even seemed to say to us... I think there's two sides to the album. There is the collection of songs, four or five songs which are poppy, more optimistic, naive, positive and then there are these more pragmatic, even desparate, songs like Dolphins and such, seem to have the light and shade. So that was forcing the black and white.

The numbers were... it were playing first of all on a tradition of Simple Minds had of this New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)... that was one thing. And secondly when we finished the album, it was the date, and quite a remarkable date, in May. And suddenly it was "That could be an album title in itself: 050505". "Yeah, and it could also be the number of a pizza hotline." So that's not going to work! But at the end of the day you're really looking for something that jumps out and is memoriable I suppose.

Question #15
JK: The great thing about this album is already we're looking forward to playing it live. Simple Minds are a live band. We always tour with each album. But this album you can just hear the songs will work live. And I think will stand up to the classic repertoire that we always play. I can already imagine beginning the show with Stay Visible, it seems to already announce itself. So, certainly the last few months of the year are about promoting the record, but starting to rehearse for the tour and we will tour for most of next year.