Deacon Blue Open Up About Getting Back On The Road
Daily Record 28th November 2014

THEY performed to a global audience of millions while bringing the curtain down on Glasgow’s triumphant Commonwealth Games - but today Deacon Blue perform exclusively for Daily Record readers.

The Glasgow band, fronted by Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh, invited the Record to join them in rehearsals for an acoustic session for our website ahead the start of their UK tour this weekend.

Ricky, Lorraine, keyboard player Jim Prime and guitarist Gregor Philp paused their preparations to record one-off acoustic versions of two tracks from their latest album A New House, which was released in September.

The tunes - upcoming single Bethlehem Begins and the album’s title track - will feature alongside their best-known songs on the set-lists of the 16 date tour which opens tomorrow night at Kilmarnock’s Grand Hall.

Ricky said: “The thing about a Deacon Blue show is we aim to make people feel they got the gig they came for by playing lots of the familiar songs with some they maybe don’t know so well.

“We hadn’t toured with new songs for a long time before we released our last album, The Hipsters, in 2012. The songs became part of the set after that, and it was really enjoyable. We went back to the Royal Albert Hall in London last September for the first time in a long time. To be standing at the front of a stage in a big bowl like that again felt like a magical thing.”

Wife and co-vocalist Lorraine, and drummer Dougie Vipond, echoed Ricky’s excitement about taking the new songs on the road.

Lorraine said: “It’s brilliant to put new songs in the set, not just shuffling the older songs around and doing covers.” Dougie, who watched the acoustic session, added: “The way these songs developed through the writing process was fantastic, and I love how it turned out because you can never be sure. I’m very proud of it.

“I missed a tour once because I was contracted to do some TV work. I really didn’t like seeing someone else play my part. So I wouldn’t do that again.”

Our session, which took place at Glasgow’s Berkeley 2 Studios in the shadow of our Broomielaw offices, gave the Record a sneak preview of the band’s latest set-up.

And the evidence suggests Dougie might not have his drums all to himself at the new shows.

Ricky said: “There might be one or two surprises and we’ll also do some older songs that folk might not have heard for a long time.”

A New House followed The Hipsters into the Top 20 on release. Produced by Paul Savage at Chemikal 19 studios in Blantyre, it’s loaded with the band’s signature touches honed over a near 30 year career.
Ricky said: “Paul is almost like the seventh member of Deacon Blue on our last two albums. Some of the songs were actually only part-formed when we went into the studio.”

Ricky describes the first session track, A New House, as a song tapping into the memory of moving from the city to the countryside as a kid.

He said: “It was the first single from the album, and goes back to that memory of childhood for me. It taps into Lorraine’s memories of going from the east end of Glasgow out to Cumnock and all the possibilities that come with that. I think it opens up the record’s theme - there’s a real sense of nature closing in on you.

“The symbolism of starting over again is something I think everyone can relate to. Memories from childhood are very potent, very powerful. I think that’s what I try to do in songs, if something means something to me, then people will hopefully relate to it.”

Lorraine added: “It’s about the force of nature and the impact on us.”

The second session tune, Bethlehem Begins, is inspired by Irish writer WB Yeats’ poem The Second Coming.

Former English teacher Ricky said: “There’s a line in the poem about ‘slouching towards Bethlehem’ and the idea that you have to go back to open up new possibilities. Bethlehem is such an evocative word. It has a connection to the nativity story but also because of everything that’s going on now between Israel and Palestine.

“A big part of the new record was inspired by my solo tour last year when I discovered parts of Scotland I didn’t really know. The older I get I appreciate what’s so special about Scotland.”

As well Paul Savage, bass player Lewis Gordon and guitarist Gregor Philp are now officially part of the band’s second incarnation following the death of guitar player Graeme Kelling in 2004 from cancer and the departure of bass player Ewen Vernal, who now plays with Love & Money and Capercaillie.

Keyboard player Jim is also back in position after missing the band’s shows across the UK festival circuit due to illness. Paul English