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cry: interview with jim kerr

This introduction by Jim can be found on the Cry (Promo) CDR (where it's titled "Interview With Jim Kerr") and the Cry Album Sampler (where it's titled "Introduction by Jim Kerr").

My name is Jim Kerr.

I'm the lead singer of the Scottish band Simple Minds and I'm talking about our new album which is called Cry.

In April of 2002, Simple Minds will release their twelfth album of original material. The album in question is called Cry and the album was recorded basically in the last six months of the year 2001. Primarily the album was recorded in Sicily and in Glasgow - Glasgow, of course, being the hometown of Simple Minds and Sicily, in southern Italy, is a place that, at least half of the time now, I reside.

The fact is that it's been almost four years since Simple Minds last released an album of new songs. And of course, four years in the pop industry, is like an entire generation. That being the case, we felt that really to begin with any new momentum, it was imperative that we came back with an album that was, let's say, more focused than some of the work that we'd been doing in the mid-to-late nineties. For me it was important we came back with a pop album.

And when I say a pop, I mean songs that are very heavy on melody, songs that are really tightly focused in terms of arrangements, and even as I look at the track listing just now, and indeed the length of songs, most of the songs come in under four minutes which, it's safe to say, is quite a change of direction for Simple Minds.

Whenever I'm asked to describe the sound of the album, in a strange way for me, I have to say that the album is both contemporary sounding and, in doing so, is also just a bit retro. Anyone who's been paying attention to the popular dance charts over the last few months - certainly over the last year - may have noticed how increasingly a lot of modern music is borrowing from the eighties' sounds. And it is no secret that Simple Minds is perhaps one of the groups being sampled most heavily. Which is very flattering.

And similarly, some of those sounds, are coming, let's say, back into vogue. We ourselves have become more appreciative of early works - when I say early work I mean some of the albums we did prior to the breakthrough albums which featured songs like Alive And Kicking and Don't You (Forget About Me). Of course, in any modern recording, it's unavoidable to use some of the incredible technology that is available now, and we ourselves relied very heavily on that same technology, I think in the most positive sense. At certain times we three little studios on the go: one in Glasgow, one in Sicily and one in Dublin. And by sending music files through the `net and such, we were able to enlarge our group.

And it's worthwhile to speak about that group because while the very name Simple Minds to some people does conjure up the image of a group, especially a live group, the truth is that the core of Simple Minds really revolves around my partner Charlie Burchill and myself. Although having said that, on this album we really opened the door wide in terms of the amount of people who joined in on the song writing and, indeed, the collaborations. The technology helped bring all that together.

Of course, I would say that this is a vast departure in sound from the mid-eighties, bombastic, let's say stadium rock, Simple Minds. I think what is on offer here is a world apart. And, as I said earlier, if anything, this music probably reflects on the early albums like Real To Real Cacophony, Empires And Dance, Sons And Fascination, although I can hear elements of New Gold Dream in the album as well.

Certainly, for my part, the early aim of the songwriting was to keep things as simple as possible, and at this point in time, I like the simple emotions and the simple lyrics. Big choruses. And when it comes to the lyrics, it's amazing when you work with people who perhaps English is not their first language (and I'm not talking about Scottish people here [laughs]), a lot of the collaborators, a lot of the stuff was done in Italy, and it's amazing how effective things can be when you stick to the most simple languages possible.

The greatest thing for me recently, I have to say is, just to be happy once again, and excited by the process of making music.

Cry was chosen as the album's title, not necessarily because as a song it summed up the entire album - in fact I don't think one song sums up this rather diverse album - but the cry in question for me... It's not a cry of sorrow particularly, it could be a cry of joy. I just felt it was a very sharp and focused word. 'Cry' is a word and emotion that is understood universally. And again, in keeping things as simple as possible. It certainly leapt out as a potential album title.

In terms of themes of the songs, there are songs like New Sunshine Morning, and One Step Closer, which if they're about anything in particular, they are probably about an idea of some sort of rejuvenation, rebirth, and I felt that in terms of getting involved in music again. It really did feel like a new burst of energy. And we certain hope that this leads to a new momentum, that Simple Minds can carry through over the next few years.

We feel incredibly fortunate to have the kind of past that we've had, the kind of career that we've had, and there is nothing about that past that we would wish to change. But for the first time in a long time, we are equally excited about the music we are presently making, and indeed the songs that are still to come.

Jim Kerr