Irish News 13th September 2013

GLASGOW-based Deacon Blue enjoyed huge chart success with their sophisticated, anthemic pop music for the best part of a decade. Kicking off strongly in 1987 with acclaimed debut LP Raintown, the quintet enjoyed a run of 12 Top 40 singles including Dignity, Real Gone Kid, Fergus Sings The Blues and Your Town, scoring two number one albums with 1989's When The World Knows Your Name and 1994's hits compilation Our Town.

Led by singer Ricky Ross, who married co-vocalist Lorraine McIntosh in 1990, Deacon Blue split in 1994 before reuniting on a part-time basis in 1999.

In the intervening years, drummer Dougie Vipond became a successful sports reporter for BBC Scotland, while Ross enjoyed a solo career.

Tragedy struck the band when bassist Graeme Kelling died of pancreatic cancer in 2004. However, the band have soldiered on with a rejigged line-up to enjoy yet more chart success with the release of their ironically titled new album The Hipsters, which entered the Top 20 last year.

Having just enjoyed a summer of festival gig appearances including T In The Park and V, the Glasgow group are on the road once again and headed for shows in Dublin and Belfast next week.

HELLO Ricky, what are you up to today?

The tour kicked off on Friday and we just played three nights in a row, so we've a day off today. The first date was a charity gig at King Tut's in Glasgow, which was a nice sweaty one.

It's a much smaller venue than we normally play but it went really well. The first couple of nights on a tour you're always changing things around a bit to a certain degree - but I think we're getting settled now.

Are you enjoying being back on tour?

Very much so. We did T In The Park and V Festival over the summer which were really good - but they were only short shows. When you're gearing up for a tour proper you have to bring in a lot more material, so it's been great to go out and start doing lots of songs from right across our albums.

We always change the set around a lot anyway, so every night is different. That's one of the ways we keep it fun for everyone.

Your current album The Hipsters has done really well, are you playing plenty from it as well as the hits?

The Hipsters was great for us - people really responded to it and it gave us the chance to play new songs for the first time in a long time.

The show is built around it, really.

We normally do a good lot of stuff from it. But we put on quite a long show so there's room for a real mixture of songs.

Were you surprised when four songs from The Hipsters made the Radio 2 'A-list'?

Yeah - I don't think that has ever happened for us, certainly not in a long long time anyway. So it was amazing.

Even back in the times when we were always on Radio 1, I don't know that we ever had four songs in heavy rotation.

So it was incredible, because it means that when we're playing live now even people who might not have the album still know those songs and treat them like old friends.

You celebrated the 25th anniversary of Raintown last year.

What's it like to perform for a mixture of old fans and younger folks who were barely born in 1987?

Some of them weren't even born when we split up in 1994, I think. It's lovely to see younger people at the gigs and if they're happy to come see us we're happy to have them along. It's given us a real sense of rejuvenation.

So, are you already thinking about the next record?

I am. We don't have any concrete plans yet but I've started writing, so we'll start demoing and working on stuff when we come back off tour - that'll be a big part of October and November for us.

Having been a 'part-time' band for so long there, are you enjoying being back at it full-time again?

Well, we're almost full-time. We're full-on when we're doing Deacon Blue, like now. But we also all do other things when we're not together, which we all got used to after we split.

So we come from other places now - I think that's quite healthy actually and probably a better way to be in a band. I think it helps your creativity.

Sometimes it can get very intense when you're all entirely focused on one thing and one thing only. When we split in 1994, we all felt very strongly that there really wasn't another album in us. We'd reached a creative end, really. Things had to change.

I didn't really expect it to go in this direction - but it's great that it has and I embrace it.