Interview: Jim Kerr, Simple Minds
Make no mistake about it, Simple Minds are rock royalty. That is why their gig at Alnwick Castle next month is sure to be an electrifying night.
Since their modest beginnings playing the Glasgow pub circuit the band have become worldwide superstars with hit albums and singles on both sides of the Atlantic, include six UK number one albums and a Billboard number one single.
The song that saw them rise to the summit of the charts Stateside was the anthemic ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’, its opening bars still instantly recognisable whether they’re heard at the end credits of classic 80s film ‘The Breakfast Club’ or blasting out of a car stereo.
Lead singer Jim Kerr, speaking from London where Simple Minds are recording their new album, still has to pinch himself at what he and his bandmates had achieved.
“When we first started all we were thinking about was getting another gig as there were never any guarantees” he jokes.
“Back in those days no-one really went on forever.
“We are very, very fortunate to have had the career we’ve had. I really love our story. We never imagined we’d make it big let alone still be going now.
“I was walking through an airport in Texas not so long ago and heard one of our songs; moments like that are still pretty surreal.”
Over the course of their three decades in the music industry Simple Minds have played in front of some huge crowds at some high-profile events including Live Aid in Philadelphia and Mandela Day at Wembley Stadium.
“We established ourselves as a great live band. It would be fair to say that I think,” says Kerr.
“Like a lot of bands we’ve had our times when we’ve felt a bit out in the cold or old fashioned, but even then we had thousands of people coming along to our shows.
“I just love playing live – whether it be in a pub, theatre, arena or an outdoor venue. I went to Alnwick a long time ago with my kids and I’m really looking forward to going back.
“It should be a really special night playing in front of the castle.
“We always associate the summer with playing outdoors. It’s a completely different experience as the elements come into play and you get a real mixture of people in the crowd.”
Kerr is promising that there will be songs to keep both diehard and occasional Simple Mind fans happy at the Alnwick concert, just one date of a big UK-wide Greatest Hits tour.
“All the big ones will be in there and then some sorts from the very early days to keep the hardcores happy.
“We like to chop and change things quite a lot which helps keep it fresh not only for us but for the people who have seen us a few times; they don’t want to be seeing the same show twice.
“We’re just busy finishing our latest album at the moment and there’ll be a few songs from that in as well.”
As well as Simple Minds’ back catalogue still being hugely popular in its original form, their songs have also been used by artists such as Nicki Minaj, David Guetta and more recently by the cast of hit film ‘Pitch Perfect’.
“It’s a great compliment to have someone sample your music but there have been some mixed results,” Kerr mused.
“My youngest nephew rang me at Christmas to tell me one of our songs was in a computer game he’d been playing.
“Anything that gets our music heard by a wider audience is a good thing.”