Rockfield in Monmouthshire is where the sound of Simple Minds grew somewhat organically over a period of three years from mid ’79 onwards.


We recorded two albums in both studios (Real to Real Cacophony/Empires and Dance) but in addition we also used the nearby ‘Old Mill House’ as a writing base for four albums, composing muchSons and Fascination plus some of the early compositions for our landmark album New Gold Dream. Being the case it is not exaggerating to say that Rockfield became a kind of second home to us as whenever we were not busy out on the road touring we would usually be in Monmouth creating our next set of works.


The initial appeal of the studio lay in the fact that we were looking for a ‘residential studio’ that was comfortable enough without being overwhelming or pretentious as some of the other studios could be. We were after all lads from the housing schemes of Glasgow and had little time for the ‘the lord of the Manor’ vibe that seemed to part and parcel of many of the other residential studios. Rockfield suited us perfectly therefore in that it was as good as anywhere from a technical point of view, plus it had a homely low key feel, with a warm and friendly staff that made you feel both special and very welcome. I guess that combined with the fact that we always got such
good results was why we returned so often.


Of course the town of Monmouth itself was an added bonus and I recall frequently visiting the small record shop in the main street that specialised in all the current releases. It was where I would go to buy all the punk/new wave singles as well as whatever rarities I could find from idols of mine such as Iggy Pop and David Bowie. All of which is kind of ironic as unbelievably during one of our lengthier stays we were electrified to discover that none other than Iggy Pop himself had booked into the other studio while we would be there.


It was a thrill to see Iggy on a daily basis in the Welsh countryside, and it was even more thrilling when his close pal David Bowie visited Rockfield for a few days. Being huge fans it really was all too much for us and particularly for myself who ended up at the microphone sandwiched between Iggy and Bowie as we put a chorus together on an Iggy song called Play It Safe.


As fate would have it no one was around to grab a snap of that for me which is pity as it is something that I would love to have with me now. Nevertheless nothing can dissolve the fantastic memories of our time spent in Wales. We went there an embryonic band from Glasgow tryng to find our way, and left some years later arguably one of the bands of our generation.


Rockfield…the best days of our lives?


Jim Kerr