Despite album title,
Deacon Blue insist they're more hip replacements than hipsters
The Daily Record 9th September 2012
AFTER festival appearances last summer – the highlight
being a performance at Glastonbury – and a management meeting in London, Ricky
started writing for his band.
The title of the new album, The Hipsters, isn’t meant to fool
anyone. Music bible NME might have put a Raintown-era Deacon Blue on their cover
but they wouldn’t touch them with Dignity’s barge pole after that. Ricky admits
his tongue is firmly in his cheek with the new LP, released later this month.
Celebrating 25 years, he is well aware Deacon Blue are closer to hip
replacements than hipsters.Yet, after a string of festival appearances last
summer – the highlight being the unexpected success of a Saturday night
performance at Glastonbury – and a
management meeting in London, Ricky started writing for his band again.
He said: “I had a chat with a prospective manager and he really convinced me we should make another album. “I’m a sucker for bulls*** sometimes and I came out of his office walking on air. I started writing The Hipsters the next day. “The album was originally going to be called The Outsiders but everyone involved went for The Hipsters – and I think it’s kind of fun. “That song’s about the cool guys, guys I remember seeing at seaside towns like Bournemouth when I was on holiday with my mum and dad. “They’d have faded 501s on and a tan and there I was, a wee guy from Dundee, just longing to be them.”
The upbeat LP is the closest thing the band have produced to a “typical Deacon Blue” record in 20 years, by their own admission. Lorraine said: “It has fallen into shape like an old Deacon Blue record in spirit but more contemporary in sound.” The Hipsters is produced by Paul Savage, more commonly associated with edgy Scots indie outfits such as Arab Strap, Mogwai and Admiral Fallow. Lorraine added: “Sometimes with songs we’ve recorded in the last few years, we’d be wondering if they sounded like ‘us’ enough. “But Paul wasn’t having that conversation. If he was happy with it, you knew it was good.”
The album opens with Here I Am In London Town, a plaintive ode to their young desires to be given a crack at the big time, which was written in Jamie Cullum’s studio. The record bursts into life with the surging strings of new single The Hipsters followed by the explosive Stars – which echoes Coldplay’s Clocks – and biting, lovelorn ballad Turn. It was recorded at former Teenage Fanclub member Paul Quinn’s new Gorbals Sound studio in Glasgow.
Ricky said: “It’s a big, bright pop record, closer to When The World Knows Your Name than any of our other albums. “Lorraine and I still want to make another McIntosh Ross record and I have a solo project I’m working on for next year but I loved being able to paint on such a big, cinematic canvas again. “Dougie’s drumming is exceptional and Jim has just been brilliant.”
Now the band are eager to take the songs on the road. Lorraine said: “The last few years have reminded me how lovely gigs can be. “We can’t wait to play these new tracks to people. I find it quite emotional now. I think that’s about growing older.”
Ricky Ross gives a track-by-track insight into Raintown 25 years after he wrote it, and reveals the stories behind new LP The Hipsters:
Born in a Storm: The lyric was stolen from a friend of mine, David Heavenor, who had a song with those three words. It was written on a long rainy afternoon in Glasgow, a period which went on for ever, and had a second verse which was never used. I think’s about someone difficult I knew at the time, possibly myself.
Raintown: It’s about work, not good work and weather compounding that, and things bringing you down. The ideas in Raintown came first and the theme came back in Dignity. Everyone was going on about unemployment at the time, but there were also a lot of people unhappy with the work they were in.
Ragman: It’s that dissatisfaction again. There was a general feeling of self loathing around.
He Looks Like Spencer Tracey Now: I wrote that in Crete on holiday as a partner to Dignity. I thought it sounded smug when I wrote it (about the man who pressed the button that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima). I liked the idea that he had public bravado but private regrets.
Loaded: I’d left the keys to my flat in Glasgow to the guys in the band and they did a backing track on an old 8 track. I came in and started singing stream of consciousness on it, about some of the people we’d met in the record business. . Part of the lyric was lifted from an old evangelical children’s hymn, Christ Is The Answer.
When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring): It’s so hard to remember. I think that song is actually about waiting to be discovered, spurred on by the unrequited love of an old girlfriend.
Chocolate Girl: It’s about someone’s relationship which sounded bad. I don’t really like sexist love songs, that awful song by Eric Clapton, Wonderful Tonight. There’s a song by Prefab Sprout which says the same thing, called Cruel, which I love.
Dignity: I have no idea why I started writing a song like that in Greece, but that’s why there’s a reference to raki in it, the local firewater. I was sitting messing around with lyrics, bored on holiday, in a far away scene. There were men from the Glasgow cleansing department depot who walked up and down the street with brushes outside my flat in Pollokshields.
The Very Thing: It’s about looking into the future and not knowing what’s happening, a sense of foreboding. I think it’s my favourite song on the record
Love’s Great Fears: It’s probably the best song Jim and I ever wrote together.
Town To Be Blamed: In a sense, this is me tying things together a little bit. You love the place you come from, but when you’re young all you want to do is escape and lay the blame on that place for everything that’s gone wrong in your life. When I first met Graeme Kelling, he wanted to get out of Glasgow. But really, we wanted to stay in Glasgow, just on different terms. We wanted to be king of the hill.
Here I am In London Town: I wrote it in Jamie Cullum’s studio after we wrote I’m all Over It Now for his album. It’s about how I felt when we were starting out down in London 25 years ago.
The Hipsters: It's about that sense of longing to be one of the cool guys.
Stars: We wanted to write something big and poppy, a song we loved. It was written for someone else originally, but then we kept it. It doesn’t follow any rules of conventional songwriting. It’s just a song that is meant to entertain.
Turn: It’s a song I wrote with Eg White, who writes for Will Young. We wanted it to be a song for a really sassy woman. But we decided to do it. If people think it’s a song about Lorraine and I, I honestly don’t care.
The Rest: We wrote it for McIntosh Ross and then changed it. It’s kind of like Real Gone Kid. A straight love song from the heart, and my heart is on my sleeve on that song - it’s about the woman I love. There’s the rest, and then there’s you.
The Outsiders: It’s a song about Deacon Blue. Never quite fitting in, never quite working it out. It’s a chance to reflect on being in this odd club I was in for the last 25 years.
That’s What We Can Do: It was written about one of my daughters. It’s what happens when you love people, you do things for them because you’re able to. The oddball things of being a parent. It’s an extension of changing the nappies. You never wake up and think they’re gone, you just keep going.
She’ll Understand: It’s a breakup song, but written when Lorraine was away a lot with work. A very Scottish story about a guy who makes a fool of himself, drinks too much, fights, but his woman still ‘gets him’.
Laura From Memory: It was written about my cousin Laura, a wonderful woman who took her own life. We were very close growing up. She loved music. I had a couple of cracks at writing it, and I was so happy when I got it.
It Will End In Tears: It started life as a Jackson Browne-like song. I deconstructed it. It’s another fatalistic Scottish song.
Is There No Way Back To You: Lorraine wrote the chorus. I’m speaking for myself here, but I think she wrote it about when she lost her mum when she was very young. I think it’s about connecting with people who have gone before, and how you get back to them. It’ a theme that pops its head up a lot, with Graeme and Laura’s story. Having it at the end of the record is a very strong story. Paul English