Jim Kerr, the frontman for the Scottish pop group Simple Minds, says, he is once again "hungry" for success.
During a recent interview, Kerr says that he," believes in the obvious, when you are creating music, you have to be a fan of music." And Jim Kerr is excited about Simple Minds latest musical project. The group's new disc is titled, "Cry", and the Simple Minds are currently on a world tour. "Our desire this time around," says Kerr, "is to take our passion for the music to a higher level of involvement. We want to make some more magic with our music and then share that sense of magic with our fans. I'm still very much connected to our initial sense of passion and the relentless desire to play. I'm probably more hungry now for this then I was whenever I first started out over twenty-five years ago." With a growing number of younger British House, rave and techno recording artists and record producers, utilizing musical samples from the classic Simple Minds hit singles, as well as recording cover songs of Simple Minds music, Kerrs hopes that the group will once again enjoy popularity on a scale that Kerr says he couldn't have imagined even five years ago. "It's great! Any recognition is certainly a welcome thing." In the following interview, Jim Kerr speaks about the music on, "Cry", his love for football (soccer) and the personal lessons he's learned from being a celebrity.
(Q)- The British pop music scene is currently obsessed with overnight fame and stardom and the publicity that comes with being a celebrity.
Jim Kerr- You're right.
(Q)- Many British pop groups now come and go in only six months time. It's sad isn't' it?
Jim Kerr- Yes. I'll tell you why. I grew up being interested in artists and being interested in art and creativity. Kids in Britain today grow up and the main thing they're interested in is celebrity. And, it's almost like, doesn't matter what you're famous for, as long as you're famous. And just how long you're famous, well we'll deal with that later. I think it's sad. I mean, that's what it is. All of these magazines are out now about fame. I mean, that was queer, when I was growing up. I wasn't interested in that, I was interested in Bob Dylan. So there's that. Then the other thing is that the record companies in the UK, none of those record companies are owned by music mavericks anymore, they're owned by the stock market. And the stock market needs bimonthly reports. They're not interested in, "Hey we're building something up four or five years down the lane." They're interested in, "What's the Christmas bonus?" But, yes it is sad to see how the kids are when it comes to celebrity in the UK.
(Q)- You personally have been at the center of attention from the British media.
Jim Kerr- Yeah.
(Q)- At one time in your life, you had people follow you around to take your photograph and reporters writing about almost everything you did. Your success with Simple Minds in the mid-Eighties and your marriages to, Chrissie Hynde and Patsy Kensit, brought you into, days and nights of intense attention from the British media. Reporters have were watching your private and public life for years on end. What did you learn whenever your own life was in the British media spotlight and you personally effected?
Jim Kerr- Well you highlight things as it was. There was things about it that I really didn't like. I really didn't like. There was stuff that could have created a real low ebb. I mean a real low (personal) ebb. I'll tell you what saw me through though. Twenty-five years ago, I was hungry for a record deal and I'd have paid anyone to let me do this. When I was hungry to get a record deal, if someone would have come to me and said, "Look, here's the deal. You're going to get this and it's going to go like this and it's going to go like that. And you're going to enjoy this and you're going to enjoy that. But, in this last thing, you're going to get this and this is going to be a pain in the ass. It's going to be humiliating, degrading, awful and confusing. Now, I'd have said to them," Give it to me in a minute! I'll take it! Bring on whatever!"
(Q)- Why?
Jim Kerr- Because at the end of the day I get to do what I want to do. I get to do this and if I've got to pay some, then I'll pay.
(Q)- Monetarily or otherwise.
Jim Kerr- Otherwise. I mean, I'll pay. I mean I'll tell them, "I'll pay. OK. I'll pay, now give me that right now. It's a deal. Great! Now let me play the music. If I've got to deal with that (The attention of the media reserved for British celebrity) then I'll do it. Cool. Whatever." That's what I learned.
(Q)- In addition to music, there is another passion for Jim Kerr. Football. You're passion for the Celtic football (Celtic FC) team has been well documented. You were a part of a consortium looking to take control and run the Scottish football club Celtic (Celtic FC). What are your feelings looking back on that opportunity?
Jim Kerr- It was a real great opportunity, a great franchise.
(Q)- You and another rock star, Irishman Bono Vox, who is the frontman of U2, were also part of the plan, correct?
Jim Kerr- It was a great franchise. But more than that, it was more like a social thing. Out fathers loved it our grandfathers etc. For a while it was real doldrums, the club was suffering. So a group of people came together with a plan and the money, to take it forward and in the three or four months ensuing, we just couldn't work out a deal. The seller didn't want to near when push came to shove.
(Q)- Bono Vox is your neighbor in Ireland correct?
Jim Kerr- Yeah.
(Q)- What was the good side to it all in the end?
Jim Kerr- The good side to it all is that the club has since gone on and come into fruition. In fact just now, they're Local Champions and they've done well in Europe as well.
(Q)- Why such passion for the sport and the team?
Jim Kerr- It's in the name really. It's a Scottish club but it was founded by Irish immigrants. I'm Scotch but from Irish parents. I was born in Scotland but I'm from Irish parents. In Glasgow, immigrant communities haven't always got a lot going. So they gather around a sport and institution. And when that sport and institution does well, everyone feels they're connected to something positive. And everything feels that they can be winners. And, I guess I grew up with the same thing. I grew up with this club that was winning all of the time. Back when I was growing up, industrial-wise, Glasgow was on its' knees. Things were tough, times were so tough, the city was on its' knees. It was rough trade. But when the team was doing well, you'd feel, 'Ok, I don't come from Paris, I don't come from Vienna. I don't attend Oxford (University) but we don't suck, basically.
(Q)- Several younger British techno, rave and dance artists are utilizing music samples from old Simple Minds material. What are your feelings regarding that development?
Jim Kerr- I think it's great because I think we're part of a lineage. David Bowie and Roxy Music influenced me. For us to get any kind of recognition feels great.
(Q)- Does it bother you whenever Simple Minds fans want to hear only the songs from the Eighties?
Jim Kerr- Nostalgia. For me it's par for the course, because who wants you brother's records or your older brother's values? And similarly, another generation, once there's been enough time, finds a value in it. You see that in architecture and in fashion. The younger generation finds a value in it at a later time. Nostalgia, in some sense is inevitable, when it's empty,
(Q)- What are your expectations in regards to the Simple Minds USA concert tour?
Jim Kerr- We haven't been in America for a long time, so we're hoping that things work out. The band is not expecting so much but we do expect to get on-stage and blow people away with our music. When you do that little things start to happen.
(Q) For 2002, Simple Minds are not as popular with audiences in the USA as they were during their glory years of the Eighties. Is it like starting over for you in the USA with the upcoming tour?
Jim Kerr- Not really. When we go to work and roll up our sleeves, things happen.
(Q)- To you as a lead vocalist, what is your attitude whenever you're performing?
Jim Kerr- It's this, last nights performance doesn't mean anything, it's fucking history, it could be a hundred years ago. Next week, could be twenty years in the future. When I've got to go on-stage, I'm thinking in my head, those people who are coming out to see us and who support the band, have probably been looking forward for weeks, even months. And, as far as they're concerned, this is the only night and the only place that exists in the world, while I'm on-stage singing these songs. So, they're coming out to have a have a great night. And, they don't care if I've been singing out on tour every night for nine months, the night that I'm on-stage singing for them, is it. So, I've got to go on that stage and in that two hours we are up on-stage, while it may sound melodramatic, I've got to spew out my life to them. I've got to spew out my guts to them.
(Q)- Why?
Jim Kerr- Because this is the only thing that I have, this is the only thing I do. This is the nature of the beast. This is all that I've ever wanted to do. I mean, I'll say that I also want to be make contact with another human being as an individual while I'm up there on-stage.
(Q)- Does nostalgia ruin pop music for all to many of the fans?
Jim Kerr- When it's for only the sake of nostalgia and there's absolutely nothing new brought into the mix. I mean, some people get nostalgic for breakfast.
(Q)- As far as music, Simple Minds is back with a new disc titled, "Cry". The previous discs did not sell all that well. So, why is Jim Kerr still recording music and performing?
Jim Kerr- I can only say that I've maintained the passion to continue to do what I do. Now when some people ask me, "Why do you continue to do what you do?",I say, "Why does a shark swim?". I don't know if this is the only thing that I know how to do. But the fact is that it's what I want. I'm as hungry now. It's what I want. The idea of coming up with a melody or an emotion, that will work within a musical content and expressing that is still important to me. It's fucking fun when it works, it's simply magic. Because making music is a mystery to me. I love music because you don't get a plan, you don't get a map. It's so subjective. I don't use a map. It's a bit like when you're taking your first chemistry lesson and the teacher takes one powder and mixes it with another powder and then it's, "Boom!" Something amazing happens and it's great. Then when they tell you how it works, it's boring. I still have the "Boom" factor, I still see making music as magic. It's so great when it gets validated and someone wants a copy of what you've done. Yet, at the same time, it's such a fucking piss-off when you've got the music in your head and it doesn't work out well and you don't get it right. Which is all a part of it was well.
(Q)- The majority of your international audience knows Simple Minds as a recording group, for the Simple Minds songs from the Eighties.
Jim Kerr- When people only know you for this or that, we're hip to that. And we know that people say about us, "You got that big success back then." Yeah we got that success when there was more money spent on us then at any other time. Now, that is not really magic, while it's great fun, it's not really magic. But, we're going to play and step on-stage every night, if there's two people or two hundred thousand and something elemental is going to happen when we play. We're going to dig it. Every night we step on-stage, people dig it at a fundamental level and I still think that is a rare and great thing.
(Q)- What is your feelings regarding the early Simple Minds classic hit songs?
Jim Kerr- At different times, it comes back to that magic thing. I don't know why some songs, you go at them and years later the song has a new relevance or a freshness with a new meaning. I think if you've earned a body of work, then you've also earned the right to reevaluate and rediscover the music. We're not afraid to go back to the early songs because I'll tell you why, they songs sound pretty good.
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