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our secrets are the same #1: information

JK: "About eight years ago, it was like getting blood from a stone. We were getting distanced from it and we were getting distanced from ourselves. Though we never decided to knock it on the head, the light maybe flickered and we were thinking, 'There's no rule book for this.' But artists have disappeared in the past - Lennon went to bake bread, Springsteen went to Nebraska, and I asked myself 'What am I doing here?'"

Record Collector Interview
Record Collector #364
July 2009

  • Discouraged by their musical output during the nineties, and anxious to maintain momentum, Our Secrets Are The Same started life as soon as the master tapes of Neapolis were delivered to Chrysalis. Charlie was booked into studios and working on new material during the release period of Neapolis and throughout its patchy tour.

  • During one period of writing, Charlie was working in a studio at Glasgow's Ca Va studios. Next door, the seminal Sly Silver Sly were working on their debut material. Managed by Martin Hanlin and Ged Malone, the group was formed by Mark Kerr, with Stuart Brown and Sterling Gorman. The position of bass was filled by Eddie Duffy.

  • Martin Hanlin also brought in Kevin Hunter, a songwriter and performer from San Francisco, who'd fronted the west-coat band Wire Train.

  • Everyone knew everyone else. Martin Hanlin was in The Silencers, Ged Malone was an old school friend, Mark Kerr was Jim's brother and Eddie Duffy lived on the same street.

  • Kevin Hunter ended up working with Charlie. The idea was simply to write some songs, not necessarily Simple Minds type material. Several became the centrepiece of the record, including the weepy ballad Space.

  • In the end, fifteen demos were written for the album, including Heatwave, Black Angel and Thin Girl. Jim was upbeat: "I already feel that this music is probably our most intimiate to date. Probably better described at this stage as small music with big emotional power, and as clumsy as this description is, it is the only way I can signal the effect of my current favourites of the batch: Our Secrets Are The Same and Christians - I am very excited about both of these new songs."

  • Charlie also worked on a song called Traffic which was originally recorded for Good News From The Next World. It was eventually dropped.

  • Other 'lost' songs from this period included The Garden (released as a Cry B-side) and Bird On A Wire (released as a Home B-side). Bird On A Wire was recorded as the "bonus" track on the album masters and was intended as a B-side.

  • It was originally planned to record the album at Ca Va with Stephen Lipson producing and Peter Walsh mixing. Instead, the album was co-produced by Charlie and Kevin Hunter. Another associate of Martin Hanlin's, Chris Fudurich, was the engineer and mixer.

  • The album was recorded between April 1999 and August 1999 at Ca Va studios and Jim's house.

  • The group comprised of Jim, Charlie (on guitar and keyboards), Mark Kerr on drums, Eddie Duffy on bass and Kevin Hunter on second guitar. Fudurich recalled getting really drunk one night and playing the theremin.

  • The first song completed was Hello. Jim was visited by director Michael Davis who was compiling a soundtrack for The Match - and Jim just happened to be playing the demos for the album. Davis picked Hello after just hearing the opening riff. With Charlie finishing the song in Scotland, it was transfered to Jim in LA for completion. Unfortunatley the song never made the soundtrack.

  • The credits were:
    Vocals: Jim Kerr
    Guitars: Charlie Burchill and Kevin Hunter
    Keyboards: Charlie Burchill
    Bass: Eddie Duffy
    Drums: Mark Kerr
    Percussion: Eddie Duffy

    Additional Keyboards: Chris Fudurich
    Backing Vocals: Kevin Hunter and Mark Kerr

    Produced by: Charlie Burchill and Kevin Hunter
    Mixed by: Charlie Burchill and Chris Fudurich
    Engineer: Chris Fudurich

  • The album had a working title of Album '99. It kept this title on all the masters.

  • Chrysalis were initially enthusiastic about the album. "The new demos sound amazing, and there are at least a couple of strong singles which should do well in the charts. We hope the new LP will sell better than Neapolis which was released when Chrysalis was still under reorganisation and Simple Minds had no real management. And I must confess at the time we focused much more on Robbie Williams than on Simple Minds".

  • Jeweller To The Stars and Space were selected as singles and remixes were commissioned.

  • Stuart Mackenzie of Toorkwaz mentioned completing the artwork for Our Secrets Are The Same. His website previewed some exclusive Simple Minds designs at the time, based on pictures and imagery from the Kosovo concert. These designs were also used for Travelling Man #3 and ended up being borrowed by other websites and bootleggers. It's unlikely this artwork was ever intended for Our Secrets Are The Same and was subsequently reused for the Cry CD booklet and Floating World tour programme. It's also used for this page.

  • "It's a record that we really felt proud of. I don't know if pride is not a word we use a lot. Definitely something going on with this new stuff, and the title of the album is Our Secrets Are The Same. We delivered it to our company in London, got a really good reaction from them. We were looking in January [2000] to begin the whole marketing process, videos etc." Jim

  • Corporate activities in 2000 undermined the album's release. Chrysalis started to merge with its' parent EMI, whilst EMI courted Warner Brothers. The release date slipped to April.

  • By April, things had got steadily worse as all the mergers were still unresolved. Simple Minds were concerned the album wouldn't get the full backing it deserved and so petitioned for its delay. The release date slipped to October.

  • The EMI-Warners bid fell though, and EMI desparately searched for other partners. Feeling that this process would continue indefinitley, Jim took the album to other record companies to attempt a new deal. EMI felt they could no longer work with the band and promptly booted Simple Minds off the label.

  • "Things broke down and we took the plunge saying to them, 'We would rather not work with you on this record and we'd like to take it back.' Had there been enthusiasm the record would have some out but EMI weren't very enthusiastic about putting it out. We looked to them for leadership and direction but we felt it wasn't there." - Jim

  • An unmastered copy of the album was leaked from EMI Spain and given to Catalunian DJ Jordi Tardà of Radio Nacional de Cataluna. In an attempt to drum support for its official release, he started to play songs from the album on his Saturday afternoon show. The effect was electric: fans tuned in from around the world, and unofficial MP3s of the songs started to circulate.

  • Broadcast dates were as follows:

    14th October 2000 Swimming Towards The Sun
    Jeweller To The Stars
    21st October 2000 Jeweller To The Stars
    Waiting At The End Of The World
    11th November 2000 Hello
    Happy Is The Man
    18th November 2000 Death By Chocolate
    Waiting At The End Of The World
    25th November 2000 Neon Cowboys
    She Knows
    2nd December 2000 Sleeping

  • The show from the 14th October was not recorded and Swimming Towards The Sun was unavailable for a couple of weeks. Then it was leaked from a different source and was of better quality than the broadcast files.

  • EMI made no effort to stop the leak. They couldn't give a damn.

  • The CD was eventually offered to fans for 250 US dollars.

  • CDs from other EMI offices also surfaced: one from Germany and three from London - all unmastered. However, since they didn't suffer from the MP3 compression of the files sent over the Internet, the quality was much better. These are now in fans' collections.

  • Jim felt the album had been damaged by this unofficial disclosure and the other record companies started to back off.

  • By the end of 2000, the album was utterly compromised, bootlegs were being made, and Simple Minds were left without a record company. It almost spelt the end of the band.

  • "...That's my only concern that by the time we get this all sorted out, we've got a new album - another new album but if you're a fan I suppose the more the merrier." Jim Kerr speaking to Todd Richards.

  • Simple Minds subsequently signed to Eagle Records and released Neon Lights and Cry. Mark Kerr continued to write with the band, and Face In The Sun was his follow-up to Happy Is The Man. Eddie Duffy returned to play bass for the band's live shows. And Martin Hanlin and Ged Malone became the band's management consultants.

  • Our Secrets Are The Same became the great lost album, a romatantic footnote in the discography.

  • By the release of Black And White 050505, Jim referred to the album as flawed: "...but the flaws make it more interesting. Sometimes its more interesting when it goes wrong; there's a few songs on that album that are killer: Space, Jeweller To The Stars, Death By Chocolate. We felt that we didn't record [them] right, the band didn't play [them] well, the arrangements [were] wrong. But, bad luck, that's the way it goes."

  • In 2003, there was a second attempt to get it released.

  • Jeweller To The Stars was re-recorded in 2005 and appeared on Black And White 050505 as The Jeweller (Part Two); whilst Swimming Towards The Sun was also re-recorded and appeared as a bonus track on Big Music.

    In the 1990s, Simple Minds lost their way and, by the end of that decade, Kerr had quit and moved to Sicily. "Charlie said, 'What are you gonna be? A fucking fisherman or something?' I went, 'Fucking maybe. But Iím just not gonna go through with this. We canít go around like punch-drunk boxers, just doing it cos they donít know what else to do.'"

    Local Heroes
    Q Magazine
    April 2018

    Born in another century. A century that rewarded our endeavours beyond all dreams. Simple Minds once had the very real opportunity to draw a line and put a full stop on what could have been the final chapter of our story. That was in the year 2000, when I was convinced for a multitude of reasons, that it would be the correct and classy thing to do.

    But after a decent night's sleep, and a surprisingly pleasant cold shower. I came to my senses.

    And by 2001, and seemingly with the flick of a switch, Simple Minds suddenly found themselves within a new century and on our way to being reignited, reborn, and very much at the beginning of a process of rejuvenation that has taken us all the way to where we are today.

    6th December 2018

    "Meanwhile, twenty years ago, Simple Minds were truly struggling to survive. With no management, and no record label. We had recently been booted off EMI - who unimpressed with our then recent work had not only refused to release our album, they had pretty much told us where to stick it! I guess I hadn't helped our cause when in the heat of an argument with the record label boss, I dramatically threw one of Charlie's guitars on his lap. Asking him to play us one of his tunes instead? Since he obviously knew much more than us - about how to write songs?"

    "That scenario seems comical to me now, not so much then. Sick to the teeth, I lost the plot. But how dare he come up to Scotland and raise his voice? You don't have to like what we do. No one does. But you do need to show respect if you want to engage. As we try do, with all we come into contact with."

    "Anyway, "The Boss" - a known bully - had steam coming out of his ears as a result of the humiliation. And I, not quite finished, and in the process of lining up a right hook to his substantial chin, then started to notice the fierceness in Charlie Burchill's eyes - as he stared me down with a look that said 'Jim! What the f*ck are you doing throwing my best guitar around. You clown?'"

    16th April 2019

our secrets are the same: quick reference
CD    Our Secrets Are The Same Chrysalis/EMI
1.   Swimming Towards The Sun(4:34)
2.Jeweller To The Stars(3:28)
4.Death By Chocolate(3:39)
5.Waiting At The End Of The World(3:25)
6.Neon Cowboys(3:53)
7.She Knows(4:10)
9.Happy Is The Man(4:13)

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