Evening Times

‘We’re still a band with something to prove ... I just feel full of music again’


than anywhere else and it is the same with gig venues. If you say the Barrowland­s or King Tut’s every band knows about them.

“The music produced over the past 25 years has been such a continuous stream to the extent that when we travel people know Glasgow as a music city.”

HAILING from such a city does have its disadvanta­ges though, as Jim admits their first home gigs as proper rock stars left the group disorienta­ted. “In the early days, funnily enough, I never thought we played that well in Glasgow, we were a bit overwhelme­d and distracted by it all,” he says, thinking back to the early 80s.

“But the last few years when we have played Glasgow the shows have gone well and I hope that is the case this time.

“This band was made in Glasgow and doing wee gigs at the Mars Bar in Sauchiehal­l Street as the band started out was just amazing.

“Playing the Barrowland was something special too – I think we were the first band to play it after it was re-opened, when we were on the cusp of a breakthrou­gh.”

The group has had a lot to do with Glasgow’s stellar musical reputation. From their early days, gigging out of Toryglen, Simple Minds rose to become one of the biggest bands of the 1980s, selling out stadiums across the world and appearing in some of the decade’s defining moments, such as Band Aid.

They are still, unquestion­ably, an arena band and the day Jim speaks to me he is in Hamburg, waiting for a show there.

He does not need to be doing them, of course, being in a wealthy enough state that he can now live in Sicily most of the year.

But the love of live performing has meant he has never been tempted to walk away from it all.

“We still view gigging as something fundamenta­l to the band,” he says. “I have been shaped by our experience­s in this band, because it is what we have done since we were 18. It defines us as people and the way we function, so we couldn’t walk away from it.”

However, there were moments when he considered it. Unlike the title of one of their biggest hits, Don’t You (Forget About Me), towards the end of the 1990s Simple Minds had become the forgotten men of rock, having been dismissed as relics of a previous age. Jim admits that creatively the well had run dry.

“Maybe seven or eight years ago it was getting very dark for us, and ideas were thin on the ground,” he says. “We were a bit like punch drunk boxers who didn’t know what else to do, but we knuckled down and tried to see how far we could take things, starting with Black & White in 2005.”

That album kick-started the band’s creative juices again, and Graffiti Soul, their 15th studio album was released this year, to a warm critical response and strong sales.

JIM says: “I know it will be expected of me to say this, but I think Graffiti Soul was our first full-blooded attempt at an album in a while, and it is that full-bloodednes­s that has made it such a complete of work.

“We are still a band with something to prove, still energetic, still imaginativ­e. There is a tremendous confidence in it.

“I feel full of music again – I can’t believe it. I didn’t feel like that 10 years ago. There is a particular energy with the band right now.”

He is also bullish about other aspects of his life. Simple Minds’ rise in the 1980s came at a time when pop and politics were meeting head on and tracks such as the No 1 hit Belfast Child were searing in their portrayal of the conflict in Northern Ireland. However, Jim says the group never had ambitions to be seen as political torch-bearers.

“We never set out to write a political album – we were just young men writing about what we saw and how we perceived things.

“I mean, we detested Margaret Thatcher, like most Scots, but someone said to me, ‘Thatcher would have loved you – you set up companies , you went round the world and became wealthy.’ We were like archetypic­al yuppies!

“But if people ask us about why we did the Mandela thing (a huge gig at Wembley in 1988, aimed at securing Nelson Mandela’s release from prison), it was because in Glasgow if you were asked to help someone, you helped them. It was just part of our character.”

It is not the only Glaswegian aspect he has retained – he still passionate­ly follows his beloved Celtic on a regular basis. Yet, when he lists the band’s greatest gigs, it is the home of their

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