Life Support
The Observer 8th April 2001

Lorraine McIntosh and Ricky Ross fell in love while making music. But when Deacon Blue split up, their own relationship hit a rocky patch. Releasing a new album has helped them to get back in tune with each other.

Lorraine McIntosh

I became aware of Rick when I was 23 through a group of mutual friends. He was seven years older than me, arrogant and interesting - all qualities that I found rather attractive. From the start we seemed to have the same opinions on things. When Deacon Blue was together I enjoyed talking to Ricky more than anyone else and we gradually fell in love. Having been together for nine years and four albums, I found it hard when Deacon Blue eventually split up in 1994, especially as Ricky was going off to make a solo album. We’d just had a baby, so I was at home in Glasgow while he was away working in Los Angeles. I remember taking one of the kids to nursery and thinking how odd it is that life can change so very quickly. 

It was tough when Ricky’s solo record didn’t go so well because it was the first time since I’d known him that he hadn’t been successful. It was a leveller to sit down and rediscover each other again. Yet my attraction to Ricky was just as strong irrespective of his success or fane. If he’d gone back to teaching English, I’d have still found him an exciting person to be with. We also started going to Episcopalian church again. We’ve always had faith, but it became more focused because we no longer had the world at our fingertips. 

Then Ricky did a solo tour. It was a rollercoaster ride. He phoned one night from Manchester saying it was a terrible gig, the wrong venue, and he called again the next night - this time from Dublin - where he had the best gig of his life. About this time I was offered a role in Ken Loach’s film, My Name is Joe, playing the receptionist. I used to say, ‘How will you feel if this takes off?’ and Ricky would say, ‘I’ll be delighted. I’ll just stay at home and look after the kids!’.

We always wanted to make another record together, so this deal we’ve got is good news. But the best bit is actually laying the tracks down - sometimes, when the record is released, people can be disappointed sometimes, and you have to learn to deal with that.

Ricky Ross

During the last year of the band there was a lot of hassle. I felt pressure as a songwriter, and that pressure moved into our house. For that reason alone it was worth ending Deacon Blue. When Lorraine and I went on to do our own things, one of us could be having a bad day but we could buoy one another along. I think Lorraine basically hated the band life, but she also missed the camaraderie, seeing the guys, all those meals with people and the airplanes. It was tough when it ended. 

When I lost the recording option with Sony around Christmas 1996, it felt like being unemployed, although of course it wasn’t that bad because we had money in the bank. But the next few years were amazing. It was hard work but we became stronger as a couple. It was great seeing Lorraine getting involved in her own music and acting, but a bit weird getting scripts posted through the front door every morning and having to field her business calls for her. at the end of 1998 we appeared together on the Brian Morton Show on Radio Scotland. I was trying to get a record deal at the time but neither the majors or the indies were interested. 

In the end it came about as a fluke: I met this industry guy who'd seen me play a really obscure gig in Dublin. He was in between jobs at the time but he said he’d be sure to sign me up when he got a new one. Of course, you hear that all the time. But he kept his word. He loved the solo stuff but he also wanted a Deacon Blue album. By the time the deal came through, I’d been away on tour and had come home to find Lorraine standing by the cooker with this look on her face saying, ‘I’m pregnant again’. At first we thought that might be a problem. But Lorraine and I have this new philosophy now - we just muddle through. We’ve been married for ten years. Yeah, she gets mad at me for not doing the washing up, but that stuff’s not important. I wouldn’t swap her company for anything.  Fiona Reid.