Del Amitri frontman Justin Currie and his band The Pallbearers head for Norwich
- Credit: Archant
After 22 years with Glasgow pop/rock outfit Del Amitri, Justin Currie made the rash decision to go it alone and now he is bringing his band to the Waterfront in support of his fourth solo album, This Is My Kingdom Now.
Justin Currie was the main songwriter with Del Amitri, penning many of their biggest hits including Roll To Me, Always The Last To Know and Nothing Ever Happens.
The 1980s Glasgow pop-rock outfit enjoyed four Top 10 albums, including 1989's Waking Hours, which sold over a million copies in the UK alone, but he has also enjoyed a successful solo career, including his fourth solo album This Is My Kingdom Now released earlier this year. Now he is bringing his band The Pallbearers to play the Waterfront in Norwich.
This Is My Kingdom Now came out earlier this year what can you tell us about it?
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We decided to self-release this one and it came out back in May, but I'm so bad at selling myself that maybe people only now know it is out there. The last album [2013's Lower Reaches] had a producer in Texas and I went over there and did it all in a month, whereas the other three, including this one, have all been mostly recorded at home, and then taken into the studio to do overdubs.
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Is it daunting taking new songs on the road?
I did a short tour of only a week back in June and you really need a bit longer than that to really start developing them live. But you find out really quickly what people have a low tolerance for. There were a couple of the new songs that we only played two or three nights. It'll be the same on this tour. We will do six new songs and drop a few depending how they go down. You really never have an idea of how it'll go. It doesn't matter whether people know the songs or not, sometimes certain things just don't work in front of an audience, even though they may have been great in the rehearsal room.
Is there a temptation to fiddle with songs to make them work live?
Not really. If you play something three nights in a row and it's not going down well, just drop it. A mate of mine who used to be in a band but who has now embarked on a stand-up comedy career told me he now has about 10 minutes of material. I was like: 'Is that all - 10 minutes!' But he was like 'that's how long it takes'. He'll wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant joke but when it does it on the stag the next night literally no-one will laugh. It can be the same with songs. You know sometimes songs can be people's favourites to listen to at home but for some reason don't work live. It's quite odd.
When Del Amitri took a break [after a decade long hiatus, they reunited for 'The A to Z Of Us' Tour in 2014] was it an opportunity to explore musically?
Yes probably. I had a whole bunch of songs I'd written or was writing and the only thing to do was the start making solo records. But while I was doing that I started to get offered vocal gigs, singing other people's songs and that taught me quite a lot and helped me start thinking outside the band construct.
You're touring with your band The Pallbearers…
These guys are old mates and they've played on all the solo records, except the one I did in America. In a sense it is another band environment but I like that. I'd rather play in a band than solo. On and off I've played with these guys for as long as I've played with most of the members of Del Amitri. Nick Park the bassist I shared a flat with for about 10 years in Glasgow, guitarist Stuart Nisbet and I briefly played in a soul covers band called Button Up, and the drummer Jim McDermott I've known since about 18 and have played football with for years.
What is it about solo shows without the band that you don't like?
I've done a few completely solo tours and I find them agonising in all sorts of ways. I don't really say anything on stage unless something occurs to me. I don't like rehearsed patter at all. If you're playing completely solo you kind of need to be a raconteur, which I'm not. I prefer other musicians to bounce off. The more the merrier for me.
You still live in Glasgow were you never tempted to move away?
In the 1990s when we were touring a lot, like a lot of rock stars who get above their station, I had a hankering to live in New York. It almost happened and I had a house in London for a few years, but if we weren't working I'd always find myself going back to Glasgow. I just found London too stressful. Glasgow is just the place I find it easiest to write songs and just to be really.
There was a real Glasgow scene in the 1980s with Postcard Records, the Glasgow-based independent record label founded by Alan Horne in 1979 whose motto was 'The Sound of Young Scotland'…
We were lucky enough to be from the generation of bands in the 1980s who no longer had to move to London. You could do it all from Glasgow. The A&R guys and the music papers would actually get on the plane to come up and see you. Postcard Records basically put Glasgow on the map.
Do you follow the current Glasgow music scene?
I don't see as much as I should see, but I've heard some good things. There is band called Foggy City Orphan and there is a guy called Eugene Twist who has a really good band and is quite an interesting artist. There is always stuff going on in Glasgow.
Is touring something you still enjoy?
I really enjoy it. I like the camaraderie and the travelling and I like waking up in a different place every day. I love nosing about if I get the chance. There is a whole circuit of edge of city venues in America, big sheds where you end up staying in airport hotels. That's not as much fun. But in the UK even the big arenas are all near the centre of towns, so touring is quite user friendly. You can always find a second-hand bookshop and little café, and there are always places to wander around.
• Justin Currie & The Pallbearers play the Waterfront, Norwich, on October 20, 6.30pm, £22, 01603 508050, ueaticketbookings.co.uk• This Is My Kingdom Now is out now