Where are Deacon Blue now?
Sunday Herald 23rd may 1999

The activist

Ricky Ross was Deacon Blue's songwriter and lead singer. For the last five years the 42-year-old Dundonian has pursued a relatively successful solo career, and remains a committed member of the SNP. He has reformed the band to raise cash for the Glasgow-based charity Braendam, an organisation that helps fund support groups for families suffering from extreme poverty.

On going it alone

"I'd done it before Deacon Blue, so I never really strongly identified with being in a band. I'd only wanted to get the band together as a vehicle for my songs, so I knew that Deacon Blue would be a temporary thing. I always knew that there was only so long you could be in a band anyway. Everyone did to be honest.

Splitting up the band was the right thing to do and nobody argued against that. We just felt that, creatively, it had got to the point of no return. Life had also become more difficult for us - touring with a baby was very hard. I think the main thing, though, was that we felt there wasn't another record to be made. And if there's not another record to be made, there's not a lot of point in continuing, really.

A solo show is much harder work. Doing a big, arena-sized show with a band is actually quite easy. But with a solo show, you've really got to do everything yourself. You've got to create the atmosphere, sometimes you've even got to turn the gig around if it's not going in the right direction. And you don't have a big band to fall back on. I actually find it quite daunting at times. You have to communicate with people a lot more."

On Braendam

"Braendam are facing a major funding crisis. The main thing is that we've sold the tickets and hopefully the whole thing will also bring some publicity for them and other people will become involved. It'll help them get through the next few months. The money generated will go toward staffing costs, to keep their staff at present levels. They're also looking for a new flat or office space and they can't afford that at present, so hopefully we can help with that too."

The light entertainer

Dougie Vipond is the band's drummer. Probably best known for his regular appearances on television (he has just returned from Italy for the purposes of the BBC's Holiday programme), the multi-talented media-hound is also gearing up for his new sports show on Radio Scotland, Left Field.

On broadcasting

"It's kind of bizarre. I'd presented a couple of episodes of On and Off The Ball while (the show's host) Stuart Cosgrove was away. I basically got the job because I had a loathing of the Old Firm and I think that's the only requirement you need to present the programme. So, being a St Mirren supporter, I got the job. Presenting is not something I ever saw myself doing. I've just kind of fallen into it. But the more I do it, the more I enjoy it."

On Deacon Blue

"When we first went on tour in Europe, we played a gig in Holland where everybody was singing along to every song. I was only 19 or 20 at the time and just thought that all these people - who spoke English as a second language - knowing and singing all our words was ... incredibly humbling. That was as amazing experience for me.

We all knew that the band was splitting up, it just seemed to fizzle out. It kind of reached a natural end. One thing at the time that I did feel though, was a sense of loss regarding the other guys in the band. It was like being married to five other people for eight years and then suddenly they aren't part of your everyday life any more. So that was quite a difficult thing to take initially."

The dad

Graeme Kelling is the band's Paisley-born guitarist. Since Deacon Blue's split, he has busied himself with writing theme tunes to such daytime television shows as Grow For It; an experience which he describes as "great fun".

On the way it was

"We had eight years and in that time we had several number one albums, we had 14 top-40 hit singles and we travelled all over the world. Most people would give their eye teeth and sell their granny to be in that position. So, it would be a bit churlish to look back on it all and grumble and regret that it's all over. In a way, it was just a complete dream come true.

I'm just proud that we got a record deal because nobody wanted to give us one at the time (1986). There was one other company interested and they were waiting for the green light from the managing director who was on holiday. When he came back he heard our demo tapes and said he wouldn't sign us for 50p. So there wasn't exactly what you would call a "hot bidding war" over the signing of Deacon Blue!"

On how it is now

"Very odd. Going back to any job that you did five years ago and it's the same faces there would be a strange experience anyway. But it's good because everybody is right behind the purpose of us getting back together - which is obviously to raise money for Braendam. It's a good cause and it's a nice excuse to get back together and bore each other silly with old stories."

The film star

Lorraine McIntosh is, at 35, the youngest member of Deacon Blue. Married to Ricky Ross, and still based in home town Glasgow, she has not only formed a new band (Cub) but has also launched a successful acting career.

On getting into movies

"It was through my friend, the writer Paul Laverty. After he had written the script he asked me if I would like to meet Ken (Loach, director). I went along with no expectations whatsoever and ended up doing some improvisation in front of Ken and some other actors. That was actually my first acting experience. I didn't feel nervous at all, for some reason. I just thought, well, I'm not an actor so if I'm rubbish then I never said I was going to be any good anyway. But I was quite happy with myself, to be honest. I felt quite proud.

I have been very lucky since My Name Is Joe. I've done Taggart, Psychos, a new six-part thing called Life Support and I've just completed a small part in the film Aberdeen. I would love to do more films, but it's not something I'm hung up about; I'm a bit long in the tooth to have made it my life's ambition."

On making music

"I'm in Cub (who have been compared to a "sweeter-sounding" Portishead and will be playing King Tut's Wah Wah Hut on May 30 as part of the BBC's Music Live) and I'm probably enjoying things more now, because I'm making my own music. But I miss the cushion of success that we had. Life is made quite easy for you when you're in a successful band. Making music, going on tour, making records - there can't be a much better life to be had, I don't think. I also miss playing to thousands of people. I'll probably play to about ten with Cub! I know I'll enjoy the Deacon Blue gigs - it'll be great to play to a big crowd of people and it'll be nice to make some money from it. There's also a part of me that would like to make a record with the rest of the band but there's no record deal so it's impossible to say."

On fame

"Five years ago, I wouldn't have gone to the supermarket without a pair of sunglasses and a false nose. But that side of things has stopped almost completely now. Mind you, Ricky and I were in town yesterday buying a birthday card, and the moment the woman gave us our change she went (adopts very loud, very Glaswegian voice) "Isn't that him ...?" These things can get under your skin. Not getting noticed is a bonus, I have to say."

The teacher

Keyboardist Jim Prime is based in Ayr. For the last two and a half years he has been involved with the planning of the new School of Music and Recording Technology. Due to open in Ayr around the end of 2001, the School will boast a unique stage that my be removed to reveal a 2000 capacity outdoor venue.

On life after Deacon Blue

"I got a job in France working with French rock legend Johnny Halliday. Halliday has a distinctly dodgy reputation (to say the least). Basically, he was prone to falling over quite a lot. The guy's 55 and he looks like Hulk Hogan. He squeezes himself into the tightest black leather trousers you can imagine and he's got a really bad back.

Anyway, one night he was on stage when he keeled over while doing the splits. He'd actually dislocated his hips - both of which are plastic - and two bodyguards had to rush on and, with his legs still at right angles to each other, pull him to the side of the stage. He drank three quarters of a bottle of whisky, the doctor gave him an injection and then he just sprang back up and finished another two hours of the show. But the crowd are used to it. He'd turn up an hour and a half late for a gig and they didn't mind. They love him over there. Once, he said 'Jim, I love you but I don't understand a fucking word you're saying.' So I never really knew if he liked me or not."

On regrets

"I miss working with Ricky. We had a special relationship when we played in the band - I miss that connection. And my bank manager regrets the band splitting up! But, truthfully, we all called it a day for a reason. We were just getting a bit ... jaded and thought, well, we're not too far down that slippery slope, so let's jump off now before we turn into Spandau Ballet."

The jazzer

Bassist Ewen Vernal lives in Troon with his wife and seven year-old daughter. Since Deacon Blue split he's worked with Hue and Cry, Horse and Fish. He's currently on tour with Capercaillie.

On reforming Deacon Blue

"I hope there will be a decent amount of money raised for Braendam. I was really surprised that the whole thing came together in the first place. The five years have gone by so quickly and it just came out of the blue. It only seems a couple of years ago since it all happened. I think a lot of the songs are still in people's consciousness. So hopefully, people will get something out of hearing them all live again."