Ricky Ross Interview
Liverpool Live 6th September 2012
Deacon Blue, one of the iconic pop bands of the 1980's and beyond,
are making their way back to Liverpool in October as part of tour that spans 15
nights in support of a brand new album. Their songs have inspired many and are
loved by millions. Ian D Hall caught up with lead singer Ricky Ross as he
prepared for the tour.
Time before a tour is hectic, there is so much planning to be done, arrangements to be finalised and of course the odd interview to be done. Ricky Ross, the lead vocalist of the band has been taking calls all morning. I am fortunate enough to be allowed some time with the man who bought out songs such as Dignity, Chocolate Girl, Real Gone Kid, A is for Astronaut and Hang Your Head to wide and popular acclaim and who received huge critical acclaim for the McIntosh/Ross album The Great Lakes in 2009. After the usual opening hello's and how are you today, a question that must get very dull after hearing it all morning, I ask Ricky, who has played both the large and grandeur to the intimate and relaxed spaces, for example The Liverpool Echo and The Pacific Road in Birkenhead, which gives him the more pleasure as an artist?
"I like them all really; I really enjoyed the Pacific Road gig, very different show. They're all enjoyable really to be honest with you. I like playing on my own too. They're very much different kind of things and playing with Deacon Blue is a much bigger kind of show, it can be a different type of intimacy than you get in a smaller venue but hopefully you can do both. The Pacific Road gig was really great fun, we had some really lovely musicians on stage and we will do it again at some point."
What do you look forward to about touring?
"Well, right now, I'm looking forward to the new songs. I think that for Deacon Blue to go on touring, we really enjoy playing live, you get a bunch of new musicians in and freshen things up and obviously playing with the guys you have been playing with for years is great and all of that coming together, we thought though we can tour and tour again but is it just going to be a night of greatest hits again? Personally I thought no and I don't think anyone in the band though that. It was either we don't do it or we do something new and that was sort of left hanging and I didn't do anything about it, suddenly the possibility...someone said to me you've got to make a record, I thought that's great because we can come back and play some new material, for me right now that's the bit that's whet my appetite, the possibility of getting out and playing new songs in amongst the old songs that makes the gig work really. That's what's making me feel real positive about it."
What do you like about coming to Liverpool, as you always seem to get a very good reception when you come here?
"Yeah, well, I really don't know what we did or didn't do to make the people of Liverpool make them like us so much. I think Liverpool and Glasgow have an affinity with each other; it may be the Irish thing that both cities have, the Celtic infiltration...I don't know. It seems though we are now more popular in Liverpool that we are in Glasgow (laughs), we are just grateful, very, very grateful. Even between the times between Deacon Blue when we weren't doing that well and I came and did solo shows in Liverpool I think there was a real bond so I think in some places because we are a much older band, some people might tail off or they lose interest but really with Liverpool it's gone the opposite way so we are just very grateful."
Well it is obvious when you come to the Echo Arena that the crowds have increased so that is very cool! You are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the album Raintown, and you've already said you're going to play a few hits but did you imagine that when you recorded Raintown all those years ago that you would still be here making music in the 21st century?
"No I don't think I did. I remember someone saying to me what do you think of the album and I said in all honesty I think it's very good but ask me in ten years-time and I remember thinking well I was quite pleased to get to ten years and people still remembered it. I can't believe that people have remembered it for 25 years, it's fantastic and you know I didn't have any real expectation. In fact I was coming back from London the other night and I picked up a copy of the Evening Standard and it was like one of these guys from the X-Factor and I couldn't help but notice the quote that he hoped to have a career spanning 25 years and they were being all sceptical and I was thinking that's fine but I wouldn't tempt fate and say that and I never really thought it. You can't think that far ahead but it's amazing that people still listen to records that I was very part of a band of that people loved and cherished and I'm delighted that people still get so much pleasure from."
All the old albums are going to be re-released again, was it a conscious decision to lead up to the gigs?
"No to be honest with you, we were looking for someone to take care of our back catalogue properly and it so happened that the person came in and knew we were doing the new album so the two things just came together. It made a lot of sense to do the promotion, press and radio into the one thing in the one place. So we maximised his time and in actual fact it took a long time to get these albums re-issued and properly re-mastered so it's been on the agenda for the last three years and it's been a bit of a mad rush. I've just given the o.k. on the last lot of artwork and now it's just all starting to hit the production line."
Have you got any more plans to do another Mcintosh/Ross album?
"We were sort of in the process of writing one and I was just in the process of starting discussions of what we were going to about it but we were conscious of the whole 25 year thing hanging over us and our manager said to us I think you need to another Deacon Blue album, once we got our teeth into that, it's impossible to really do two things at once. Funnily enough I do have another album coming out but it is a solo record. I did that one really quickly and I recorded that before the Deacon Blue album. I did it here at the house and I was going to put it out earlier in the year but it was too distracting so it will now come out next year. I would like to do a wee solo tour around it. It will happen at some point. It is an album of the times and there not radically different than they were six months ago, it will be a different type of show and a different type of record."
With every song that you have done, whether it's Deacon Blue, your own solo stuff or the McIntosh/Ross album you have always seemed very reflective in your song writing, the passion to be able to tell a story, has that changed over the years?
"It is difficult to assess your own work, it's up to other people to say how it has changed I think. Sometimes things change, all I know is I still wake up and put on my metaphorical writing hat, that is the first thing I do and if I can write I will, all you can hope is that you having something to write about. A news story can come along, fortunately or unfortunately I am not sure, stories can break your heart and you want to write about them, there are always going to be things there or otherwise it's a bit like parenthood, you think you bring up children and they get to a certain age they are responsible for themselves but these feelings never really go away, you just can't say I don't want the responsibility any more, it's the same idea, the same thin, the music will always be there and I hope it is.