Out Of The Blue
Interview - October 1989

"A cross between Prefab Sprout and The Waterboys," the British music press said of Scottish rock band Deacon Blue. Then the word became "This band won't fail." But when the press accused them of being a "stadium-rock band," Deacon Blue replied (reasonably enough) that they are simply a rock band. In search of the truth, I went to rock heartland, Selina's pub in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, to catch Deacon Blue, on their Australian tour just as the new album When The World Knows Your Name, hit the stores.

Deacon Blue were up and pumping out a veritable river of sound, banks of stage lights were inflicting the mandatory retinal damage on the audience, and singer Ricky Ross was centre stage, incessantly palming back his hairstyle. Definitive stadium rock, all right. Decibel vanity incarnate.

But the next night, in the revolving restaurant atop Centrepoint Tower, Ross named Bruce Springsteen as his favorite artist. He's thirty-one years old, was born in Dundee and now lives in Glasgow. He used to be a teacher. Warm and intelligent, he spoke with enthusiasm about theater, film and Scottish nationalism. He hates Thatcherism and has few illusions about the world he was born to.

"The British music scene tends to exhaust bands," he said. "We're fortunate not to have caught up in the fashion cycle that devours careers. The Smiths were spent in just two years from the weight of responsibility the music press put on them as 'the last great band.'"

As our restaurant slowly circled around the Sydney skyline, I came around (please forgive the pun) to liking Ricky Ross. Perhaps it was just that I'd like to think I can pick a songwriter whose aim is true:

And I'm thinking about home/ And I'm thinking about faith
And I'm thinking about work/ And I'm thinking how good it would be
To be here some day/ On a ship called Dignity

Larry Buttrose