Ricky Ross Interview
Record Collector Magazine September 2012
Source : Issue 405 September 2012 & Email Newsletter.
Deacon Blue’s The Hipsters is issued by Edsel/Demon, 24 September and RC asked frontman Ricky Ross about it
It started with a lot of demos I made over the last couple of years in my home studio with our guitarist Gregor Philp. We recorded it with our producer Paul Savage this March and April and it was a very enjoyable few weeks.
What else is on the cards?
“I’ve been involved in compiling the re-release of the entire Deacon Blue back catalogue. It’s taken months of listening, reading, finding and writing liner notes and lyrics. It’s great to get all our material archived and presented in a way which respects the music. And I have a Lyric Book out this year”.
Have you done anything fans may not know about?
Loads, probably, I have made a couple of projects on the go, one with Kenny Inglis, with whom I'm writing songs for an eventual album as Elko. I also did the solo The North Star this year for a play, Whatever Get's You Through The Night, at Glasgow Arches. There are lots of demos floating around that I've recorded with other artists, and work for theatre and TV films.
Is there anything unreleased?
Probably, though Sony and all major labels are such bad archivists that I doubt if anyone could find it. Most came out on Walking Back Home, in 1999. But I came across a box of DAT's recently and realised that there are still things unfinished and even recorded that we've still not got released. So if they turn up in time, they'll go on the new album of extras, The Rest.
What fact about you may surprise fans?
I love playing live, but it matters much less that the ability to write and record music.
Who would you most like to record with?
A full symphony orchestra
If you could revisit any of the albums, what would you change?
When we brought out When The World Knows Your Name, in 1989, the chairman of the record label suggested cutting two songs. He was correct in saying it was too long, but I didn’t necessarily agree with his choices. On The Hipsters, I cut out two that seemed to dilute the essence of the album. I’m pretty sure it makes for a better listen.
Do you have tapes from school bands?
Cassettes. I was in a band in Dundee that did about three gigs based in our church in Dundee. We were called Under The Sun and became Disaster Movies. One song I wrote was one eventually covered by Tom Morton and I still sing it, Surprised By Joy. Then I was in an Edinburgh band that became In Cahoots, with David Heavenor. Again, my Checkout Girls was cut by another artist.
What album did you think was the best ever then?
Late 70s/early 80s, good prog like some of the Genesis albums, Bruce Springsteen Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge of Town, Neil Young Zuma and American Stars And Bars.
What was your favourite record shop?
Three in Dundee. I & M Records off The Hilltown, where all albums were cut-price. My regular Saturday haunt, Groucho’s, on Perth Road; second-hand records and new punk singles. And Rock Of Ages, King Street. In 1976, I saw a Neil Young vinyl bootleg for £5 and I still regret not borrowing money to buy it!
Did you ever write songs under the influence of any ‘substances’?
What’s the last album you bought?
The Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell 1968 duet album.
Your first record?
The Rolling Stones’ Get Yer Ya Yas Out.
Was anyone in your family a musician?
My great-grandfather wrote hymns and my younger cousin, Colin, was in Those French Girls.
Who’s taken music forward in the last 10 years?
Grizzly Bear, Florence & The Machine, Jack White, Other Lives, Polly Harvey.
As a BBC Radio Scotland DJ, do you have any hot tips?
I recently came across a young artist from Glasgow, Robin Adams, and I can’t wait to hear his finished album.
Do you collect anyone?
There’s nothing of Laura Marling’s I’d like to miss, and I own almost everything by Randy Newman.
Which artist would you answer questions about on Mastermind?
Randy Newman or Lowell George.
Who would you like to cover one of your songs?
I’d probably lie down and never get up if I heard Bobby Womack doing any, or Walls by Willie Nelson.
Of all the people you’ve worked with, who taught you the most?
Jon Kelly was a great producer who taught me everything I needed to know about making records. As for songwriters, I’m consistently inspired when I work with Eg White, and I loved working with Beth Nielson Chapman.
What career incident most makes you laugh the most?
Sitting down to play the piano live on air with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at Usher Hall, to discover that someone had removed the stool!
Who would you do at karaoke?
Paul McCartney The Long And Winding Road.
If you were running an ice cream van, what would it play?
Love Is In The Air.
What unfulfilled ambitions do you have?
I'm getting closer, but I'd still like to see a musical that I co-wrote performed.
Which question do you wish people would stop asking?
Why did you call your band Deacon Blue?