Deacon Blue Interview Scotland Today 18th April 2001
Interview On Lunchtime Scotland Today, Billy Sloan talked to Ricky Ross prior to tonight's gig at Glasgow King Tut's - the venue where the band first started out....
Ricky Ross, apart from obviously being older and wiser, what's the difference between the Deacon Blue who recorded this new album and the band who went their separate way in 1994?
Well...7 years is a long time and you sometimes wonder if you all get back and sing, what'll happen. Something happens with these people in a studio or on a stage that just is bigger than the sum of the parts and it's to do with the voices, the people who are playing and hopefully there's just the strength of moving on song-wise from where you were the last time you were playing.
A lot of people were surprised in 1994 when you took the decision to effectively kill of Deacon Blue. Was it still the right thing to do at the right time?
I've asked myself the question over and over again, but I think it was the right thing to do. I think if we'd carried on, to be honest, I think we'd have just gone different ways and we'd never have got back together. Different people in different parts of the world got into the music and they said what a difference it made. This song made such a difference in their lives. That's an amazing experience for anyone to go through, it doesn't matter who it is and in 1994 when we split up, just about 2 weeks before we went out, my father died very suddenly and people ask me "Oh, you finished your tour in '94, two shows at the Barrowlands..." I can't remember anything about it. The only thing I can remember is getting a lift home from you! I think because it was a huge personal loss for me, my dad going and quite suddenly, I just didn't take it in. So 1999 was a brilliant experience of just going out and drinking it all in again, it was just like someone being given a second chance, so even if that's all we'd done I'd have been happy, but I think there's something really good there, I think it's churlish not to work again just because you've made some statement about doing other things. I think we'd always left the door open to doing it.
Are you looking forward to being back on the road and, more significantly, back on the road in Scotland?
Looking forward to playing in Scotland very much because we haven't played the Edinburgh Playhouse in a long time which is a great venue. The Armidillo in Glasgow we played May '99 and I'd never played it before. I think it's great, I think it's a perfect place for Deacon Blue to play really. It'll be great fun and it'll also be really good to play some new stuff. It'll by no means be us going through the new album, we'll still play some old stuff but it'll be good to do something fresh.
When you're standing on stage particularly in front of a Glasgow audience, what's going through your mind when you hit that magic moment?
The magic moment in Glasgow, when people ask what was you favourite gig, the gig we played at the concert hall when we came back together to play, was just phenomenal because I'd missed it so much and I'd missed doing bigger gigs because I'd been doing the solo shows. I think it's just the warmth of feeling. I think people think you're part of their story and they're part of ours and I think playing in Glasgow, you're two halves of the same thing really.
Taking the name from a Steely Dan song, lead vocalist and main songwriter Ricky Ross formed Deacon Blue in 1985. The nascent band soon stabilised around Ricky, Graeme Kelling (guitar), James Prime (keyboards), Dougie Vipond (drums) and Lorraine McIntosh (backing vocals). Ewen Vernal, bass player on Ricky's 1983 solo album "So Long Ago", completed the line-up.
Building on a solid live reputation, Glasgow hometown support, and songs such as the enduring "Dignity", Deacon Blue attracted interest from CBS - the label to which they signed in mid-1986.
May 1987 saw the release of the band's debut album "Raintown", preceded by the aforementioned single "Dignity". The band toured the UK extensively in support of the album for the rest of the year.
In early 1988, a re-recorded version of "Dignity" (mixed by the legendary Bob Clearmountain) became their first top 40 hit. An issue of a limited edition double version of "Raintown" climbed to No.14 in the album charts. Their success and reputation was cemented by the superb performance of the Brit Award-nominated single "Real Gone Kid".
Released in spring 1989, Deacon Blue's second album "When The World Knows Your Name" went straight to the top of the UK charts. The album also included a further three hit singles ("Fergus Sings The Blues", "Love And Regret", Queen Of The New Year"). Touring took them across the UK and Europe to Australia. The band also released the "Bacharach and David EP", which reached No.2 in the UK singles charts (preceding the B&D renascence by nearly a decade).
In 1990, Deacon Blue released "Ooh Las Vegas", an album of B-sides, film tracks and sessions - this reached No.3. The band's enduring popularity was confirmed by a best-selling live video, filmed at the Glasgow SECC; and yet more warmly received dates in the UK, Holland, Germany and Spain.
1991's BBC-TV play "Dreaming" - the story of a young Deacon Blue fan - heralded a busy year that saw the album "Fellow Hoodlums" enter the charts at No.2, whilst extracted single "Twist And Shout" climbed to No.10. The year ended with a Radio 1 -broadcast New Year's Eve concert from the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
1992 was spent recording the forth studio album "Whatever You Say, Say Nothing". The album was preceded by the single "Your Town" which made No 14.
"Whatever You Say….." reached No.4 in 1993, and was supported by a lengthy sell-out UK and European tour.
The 1994 Greatest Hits, "Out Town" entered the charts at No.2, and went on to peak at No.1. Deciding to finish on a high. Deacon Blue went their separate ways after two emotional hometown gigs at Glasgow Barrowlands….
…Until early 1999, when Deacon Blue were invited to play a one-off gig at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall, in support of the Breandham Link Charity Organization. The event was a sell-out and an outstanding success. The band were so enthused by the response of their fans, that they decided to reform for the "Walking Back Home Tour" of the UK in October and November 1999 - all seventeen dates sold out.
All six members regrouped this year to record their first album in seven years, "Homesick", which is released on April 30.
The accompanying tour begins next week with a gig here at Scottish Television for the Boxed Set programme. (The series is on air from 18 June.) A series of dates around the country follows, finishing with Dundee's Caird Hall on May 24, Edinburgh Playhouse on May 25 and Glasgow's Clyde Auditorium on May 26.