Deacon's back and thrilling
ED Press 5th May 2001
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Deacon Blue enjoyed a string of hits and critical acclaim. Now the group are back together and stop off at the University of East Anglia later this month. Emma Lee spoke to frontman Ricky Ross.
"The great thing is to be able to make music and make records. It's what I love doing. I enjoy going into a record shop and discovering something," says Deacon Blue singer Ricky Ross as he muses on almost two decades in the music business. "I write about human relationships. It's a timeless subject. I try to write as honestly as I can and not as a different person."
Lifelong music lover Ricky formed Deacon Blue in 1985 and the band went through several line-up changes before he recruited Graeme Kelling on guitar, James Prime on keyboards, Dougie Vipond on drums, Lorraine McIntosh on backing vocals and Ewen Vernal on bass. They started gigging around Glasgow and honed their trademark solid rock sound. Ricky says the gritty city provided much of the inspiration for his bittersweet lyrics - as it does now. "I write about what I see. I write on my mobile phone, singing down my answering machine." The band first made an impression on the Top 40 with Dignity in 1997. They went on to score hits with 17 singles including Real Gone Kid, Fergus Sings The Blues and Love And Regret. Two of their six albums went to number one. But in 1994 the band decide to take a sabbatical and Ricky says he thinks it was important for him and the others to pursue solo projects.
"The feeling was that there wasn't another album to be made the decision to stop, but not to say never again. I think we all wanted a break from it," he says. "We are back, but people still do their own things. I feel so much more comfortable doing it this way. We do it when we want to do it." During the break the band spent their time carving out careers in other fields. Dougie Vipond is now a television presenter and Lorraine McIntosh appeared in film director Ken Loach's drama My Name Is Joe. Ricky - who says he has everything from the lo-fi college rock of Grandaddy, to the pure pop of All Saints, with a bit of Starsailor's melancholic melodies for good measure of his stereo - spent his time writing for theatre and television and released two solo albums.
He says people can expect a mixture of old classics and new material at forthcoming shows. "I think we will certainly be playing some of the new album and some of the old stuff. We want to be realistic and blend the two," he says. Ricky says he is proud of the new album, Homesick, which has now been released through the new label Papillion. "I want people to have a chance to listen to it and I am looking forward to touring with it," he says. But he says Deacon Blue's future is uncertain as the bands members all now have their separate commitments. "We will see what happens." Ricky says. "I have recorded some more solo stuff, which is waiting to be mixed. I enjoy working with the band and with other musicians on my solo stuff. I think they may help each other. The fact that I can get to do them both is like having the best of both worlds."