Home Interviews Interview: JIM KERR (SIMPLE MINDS)


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Scottish singer, Jim Kerr, was a founding member of Simple Minds, in the late 70’s. Over the last 30 years, the band has toured the globe countless times, played to packed stadiums throughout the world and sold in excess of 40 million albums. So why, then, is he now recording a solo album and playing to smaller audiences in more intimate venues around Europe and the U.K.?

“It was weird to begin with.” Jim admits. “There was no one more surprised about it than me. And people asked ‘Well, why didn’t you do a solo album before?’ And the answer is, logically, ‘Well, I’ve been in a band.’ Have they fallen out with me in the band? Not at all!  I’ve become much more prolific than I ever knew I was and so there is so much more material and I decided I needed to do something with it. It wasn’t really (suited to) Simple Minds so I thought ‘What am I going to do with it?’  Eventually, the idea came up and I thought as long as I can manage the time… Simple Minds are like most classic bands. We do an album once every four years but there are periods when there’s not a lot going on and that’s where I see Lostboy growing. It’s too early to give you examples of how this endeavour will go but I just feel that if you’re out there and doing stuff and being clear then it can all be good for the other band as well.”

The singer wants to make it perfectly clear that his current solo project by no means spells the end of Simple Minds. In fact, he is balancing both jobs simultaneously. “I’ve been sort of switching horses between Lostboy and Simple Minds the last few months,” he explains, “and I’ve been really enjoying it. Sometimes, I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew when I go from playing to 10, 000 or 20,000 one night to crowds of 500 the next with the new project. But I’m loving it all, to be honest, and it’s all been very energising.”

Jim says that it keeps him on his toes. “Actually, one sort of feeds the other and looking back now, you think well, that would be kind of obvious, but I wasn’t sure that would be the case. That’s a bonus as well. While you’re exploring one thing, you come up with ideas that would be best for something else.” However, he is aware that the pressure will increase over the following months. “It’s going to get intense. I’ve already been on the road in one capacity or the other, between promoting and playing, since March and it’s September now. And I’m pretty much occupied until Christmas so this is heading into the home straight. I have about ten days of recording new stuff with Simple Minds but, beyond that, it’s all Lostboy.”

Jim always remains mindful of his fans and what they might expect from him. He is well aware that most of his fan base will stem from Simple Minds and that they will have certain expectations. “It’s funny, just a minute before you phoned,” he tells me, “I was looking at the chat room and Facebook pages and all the Simple Minds stuff. I look at that every couple of days to see what’s going on and that’s where the responses are. On one hand, you might say that you would expect your fans to be positive but I’m not so sure and I’ll tell you why. Fans in general are very conservative. They like the classic line-up. They like the classic sound. They really don’t like to see bands being messed around with. And when I first mentioned this project, they said ‘well, what are you doing? What about Simple Minds then?’ so basically, I wasn’t expecting quite the thumbs up I’ve been getting. I’ve just been looking at someone on there (Facebook) who’s bought tickets for six different gigs. And that’s typical for a lot of people.  A lot of people, who like Simple Minds, really seem to like Lostboy.”

Kerr travels with a slightly different line-up of musicians on tour to that playing on the album itself and the line-up on the road is somewhat fluid. “I played at one place where a rock band played with me,” he explains.  “Not quite the guys that played on the album but about half of them. But also, for some of the promo, I put together this electro set as well. It was essentially a two man version of it. Well, actually, there were three of us. We had a girl singing with us as well. And that worked well too. I guess it was like an acoustic version of the album. Although, the acoustic thing doesn’t work with me but the electro thing does. Some of the gigs I’ve done with a whole rock band and other gigs with the electro set. On one hand, I want the image of Lostboy to remain focused and, yet, at the same time, I want it to be flexible. If I were to play a festival or something, I would go with a full bodied rock band but if I was in a small club, I would do it with just the electro set which I have been and getting away with it. And, although I have a reputation, I’m going out there with a new thing and it’s got to earn its stripes. So I’ve got to work hard to get this thing established. If it works, it will take a lot of effort and that’s where we start.”

Simple Minds were in Australia briefly earlier this year, for just two shows. “The whole thing was on very short notice,” he points out. “We did one show in Sydney in a smallish theatre (Star City) and then we did the F1 thing in Melbourne.”

Unfortunately, there are no immediate plans for the band to make a return visit to our shores for a full tour. “But Simple Minds will continue.” Jim assures me. “We’re always recording. We’re always moving ahead. We’re just coming to the end of a tour now.”

He is hoping, however, that he will get the chance to bring his Lostboy show to Australia some time soon. “I’d love to. Let’s see what reaction the album gets and we’ll see what happens. One of those winery gigs would be nice…”

by Sharyn Hamey


Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2010.  All rights reserved

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