The Last Decade

The Last Decade

Looking back on it all now, I can say easily that I feel a whole lot better about the state of things within Simple Minds at the close of this decade than I did at the start.

In fact glancing back ten years ago from now, I would have to say in all honesty that I could not see much evidence of a continuing future. Why was that? Well, the short version is that with absolutely nothing going our way at that point in time, both commitment and inspiration had as a result become worryingly scarce. Worse of all, belief that a change would come in some shape had all but evaporated and as we all know very little is possible without the right amount of faith.

By no means the only ones, tired of diminishing returns, our record company at the time – despite signing the odd considerable cheque – also were devoid of any ideas themselves and promptly gave up on the idea that Simple Minds would somehow rise to fight another day. We had made plenty of money for them in the past after all, so no skin of anyone’s nose seemed to be what they were saying, if anything at all.

Their ears and eyes were now in any case on a dancer singer from Take That called Robbie Williams. Oh, and they had also signed a new group that was called Coldplay. (The band of the decade in my opinion!)

Showing no interest and therefore no enthusiasm for the release of our latest effort titled Our Secrets Are The Same, the album languished in some imaginary vaults and was in the end even denied an official release – until that is, it turned up years later as part of a special collectors edition. It duly seemed that we no longer fitted in anywhere.

That is a humiliating experience for any recording artist and it was an almost mortal wound that just about killed our creative heart.

Understandably then, lacking severely in confidence or even the necessary energy to mount a decent protest, we did little more than shrug rather pathetically and accept the record company’s view that the record was in someway unmarketable, despite the fact that one executive confessed that had it come from a brand new artist they would be delighted with the prospects for it.  How strange!
Resultantly if ever there was a moment when we needed someone to put an arm around us and remind us of our natural potential, it was right then. But nothing of the sort was forthcoming and with no management support to coach us back into the rightful ways, we became isolated to everyone and everything.

Things remained that way for an amount of time it has to be said, or at least until both Martin Hanlin and Ged Malone eventually turned up and immediately began convincing with their belief that Simple Minds had the wherewithal to patiently and successfully experience a creative rebirth. More importantly they convinced us of how important our group was to the many who had supported us throughout our career. They told us it was up to us to turn it around and to stop looking inward, they were right!

If I am sounding a bit too much hard done by, I will dispel that notion by saying that much of the blame for our situation back then had to be laid fairly and squarely with ourselves! No one can make music for you after all. If you want to make great music that demands to be heard, you have to not only set about somehow doing it, but in addition you must open the doors and convince others that what you are attempting is worthwhile. In our case we sat back, tinkering away while waiting for things to somehow come to us, But that was never going to happen as the entertainment industry is a ruthless beast and unless you are out there creating momentum, whatever past kudos you may have collected is soon frittered away.

In truth, far too many years spent locking ourselves within a studio in the remote Scottish countryside had rendered us well out of synch with all else going on. With no deadlines to work with, weeks soon dissolved into months and months into years with nothing much being produced that we or anyone else were happy with.

Little surprise then that at one point we began to question whether the band still existed? What kind of band is it after all that never plays and then goes year on year without releasing music? And that pretty much is how it was at the start of the last decade for us. But that was then of course, while thankfully, this is now!

Now – for the record  – not only feels good to me! It feels bloody good! And I say it with the same absolute certainty I felt when we were on stage over these last weeks and likewise with the same assuredness that I felt this time last year, when we left California with the mixes of an exciting new album that became known as Graffiti Soul.
Through that record and those shows, the evidence that Simple Minds are hitting new career peaks is too strong to be argued with. Anyone who differs is both entitled to their opinions as well as a dunce’s cap that I will autograph and dedicate personally!
The questions of course are how did the turnaround begin, what led to it, and how are we managing to pull it off in the way that we are? (Using the present tense on purpose as Simple Minds are a continual work in progress.) All answers will have to wait for another time and another place, but that cannot stop me revelling in the fact that our group is currently in the rudest health.

We might not be clogging up the No1 spots in the album charts. Likewise our globetrotting stadium tour might be on hold for a little while yet. But the real reward in all of this currently is witnessing the amount of people that we are making very happy.
Our growth will continue as will our new found strengths, I am convinced of it, and that is the biggest difference between the start of the decade and the position we find ourselves now.

Merry Christmas and Happy New year!

Jim Kerr