family tree
press releases
mailing list
site map

neon lights: generic interview

  • The following is a transcription of the generic interview with Jim which appeared on the Neon Lights Generic Interview promotional CD:

    1. Can we have a brief precis of your career?
    Simple Minds were formed in 1978, the axis being myself, Jim Kerr, vocals and lyrics, and Charlie Burchill on guitar. Charlie and I were school friends going back to when we were eight years old. Grew up listening to.... The generation then was the Roxy Musics, the David Bowies, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Peter Gabriel etc.

    The classic tale really. Of not only playing the albums incessantly but wanting to get instruments to emulate the sounds of the artists who inspired us. I suppose the turning point came in 1977 when the whole punk explosion came. We formed a band, infamously called Johnny And The Self Abusers, and although the music was not up to scratch, there was something about the spirit about what the band were doing. Which very quickly made Burchill and I realize that this is what we wanted to do with our lives.

    So we formed Simple Minds in 1978, again most of the members coming from Glasgow. Within a year, after supporting many headlining bands; bands like Elvis Costello, Suzy And The Banshees, Ultravox, we finally got a deal with Arista Records.

    The early eighties was in some ways encouraging for Simple Minds as a live act but not in terms of commercial success. And it wasn't until signing with Virgin Records in 1982(sic) that the band achieved, not only national status, but international status with New Gold Dream.

    2. What were your first recording sessions like?
    The first recording sessions, they were both a day at the funfair (in as much was like kids going round this room "What does this do? What does that do? Can we try this? Can we try that?"). It was great, great fun but also, as I say, we didn't have a clue what we were doing. We needed every help from the engineers and producers.

    But to hear yourself on the big speakers, to hear yourself with the bass drum, to hear yourself with a great keyboard sound, it was very special and very encouraging.

    3. ...And your first live show?
    The first live show was a success, inasmuch that within minutes of being on stage, Burchill and I realized that this was definitely what we wanted to do with our lives. The fact that the audience was two drunk men and a dog [laughs], gave us a dose of reality. But, nevertheless, it was a baptism of fire. And, of course, we didn't have a clue, again, what we were doing with monitors or about stage sound etc. But as soon as you walked on stage, in this case the stage was about 3" high, it felt that you were on a different planet. And a great planet. And a place that we have lived most of our lives since.

    4. Tell us about the new album, Neon Lights.
    I hope the impression the listener will get from the new album will be, in a funny way, both déjà vu, and also a feeling that Simple Minds have moved on. I say that because, we're working... The team we're working with, as well as the traditional musicians and guitar players and bass players etc., we're working with a lot of younger kids, sort of programmer DJ type guys, who are engrossed in the eighties. And I myself don't believe in going back, and I wouldn't want to go back - I loved the period as we lived it. But for these kids to go back and sample and bring a new perspective to the past is quite interesting indeed.

    They somehow managed to make the past seem fresh. And I'm confident that this freshness and new spirit will prevail throughout the recording of the new album.

    5. What are your current favourite bands?
    When I think currently the music I've been listening to - probably the last five albums I got. You can't get much more current than that. Everything from the world music of Manochild to, of course, Radiohead, and I heard the other day the new album of Bjork, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    So it's a matter of sometimes I don't buy records for a couple of months and then I'll just go and buy ten albums and get engrossed for a week in music.

    It's probably safest to say that the music I'm listening to most just now really is our own and the ideas of the collaborators we're working with and such.

    6. What was the last live show you went to?
    The last live show I went to, of any named artist, was a David Bowie concert, which surprising was probably a couple of years ago. It was a fantastic setting in the south of France. Really small gig, with the sea behind them and beautiful hills and I'm a big fan of Bowie and over the years I've seen him do some great shows and some not-so-great shows but this particularly was. He was back in sparkling form. It was a great Bowie night.

    7. How do you feel about playing live?
    Simple Minds now straddle both sort of spheres inasmuch that Simple Minds are Charlie Burchill and myself, a duo, but when it comes to playing live, we put together a great band. And Simple Minds are known for their live shows.

    Just as we're excited about the new material, we're also excited with the current talks which would seem that early next year we begin our first world tour for five or six years. And that will be a challenge. It'll be fun and I can instantly imagine some of the new songs and some of the cover versions fitting into the set perfectly.

    8. Tell us about the forthcoming studio album.
    The recordings for the cover album really came out of simultaneous recordings for our new album which we expect to see in the spring of 2002. Currently completing that album, no album title as we speak. But I suppose over the last year we've been working on it. Already there are some clues in Neon Lights. And if I was to try to describe it, I would say that it's electronic rhythmic pop-rock.

    But really the idea is to finish the album recordings and immediately start thinking about how we're going to present stuff live.

    9. What are your ambitions for the future?
    In terms of personal ambitions for the future, I don't have dreams in the same way that "I would love for this to happen or for that to happen," I'm just so happy with the way things are just now. Inasmuch that once again, we're making music we like, and are proud of, and, more importantly, are enjoying doing.

    Our band is obviously very important to us, as is our family and friends and such, but it's not just a band, it's taken up most of our lives now, and it means that every time we play everything, every time we do something concerning the name of the band, we want it to be premium quality.

    If anything, the ambition is to try and live up to that and to make sure it continues.