Interview With Del Amitri, first published in Downtown/The Evening Echo 2014-1-16

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Scottish legends Del Amitri, best known for their classic hits ‘Nothing Ever Happens’, ‘Always Last To Know’, ‘Driving With The Breaks On’ and US Top 10 hit, ‘Roll To Me’ are returning to live performance after a 12 year hiatus in which time they have pursued various projects such as solo albums and album producing. Ahead of their gig in Cyprus Avenue on Tuesday 21 January, which will be the first official concert of the comeback tour, founder member Justin Currie spoke with Ronan Leonard straight from their rehearsal studios, he is clearly relishing working with a group again, “I’m quite enjoying it, when I’m practicing the solo stuff I’m completely on my own so it’s hard to motivate myself, you sing three songs and then you think to yourself ‘oh I’ll have a cup of tea and watch a bit of the football’ so it’s hard to get anything done, but when you are playing in a band you gotta do something!”

Justin has consistently said that Del Amitri never broke up, but rather “the band just stopped for a while”, with that in mind why after 12 years have they started playing again, “a couple of years ago we received an offer to play a few nights in the Hammersmith Odean, so Ian (Harvie, the only other constant member of Del Amitri since they formed in 1983) gingerly approached me and said ‘look, this is on the table’ and I said no, I was still working on my third solo record. A few years later my manager asked me if I was ever going to play with the band again, I said “maybe when I’m 50”, straight away he said, “well how old are you now!” It’s always been at the back of my mind that I’d said no twice already, and when we got offered to headline at the Celtic Connections festival, which is a big traditional and folk music festival in Glasgow, that’s really what tipped it for me.”

Justin differentiates between the material he writes for the band and his solo work, “when Del Amitri aren’t together and waiting for me in a practice room I won’t really be writing Del Amitri style songs, I’d tend to write stuff I can just sing on my own, they’d be a lot slower and bit more depressing. During the years that we had a recording contract I was acutely aware that the band would be twiddling their thumbs for 6 months, so the songs I was writing were modelled to be taken into the rehearsal room with those specific musicians in mind, so there is a big difference between the material.”

The change of the material isn’t the only difference Justin has noticed over his 30 year carer, “I know it’s kind of boring to say but the music business has really been turned on it’s head, but then again the people with the money are still the ones with all the power, that’s always the way in any business I guess. Except now most of the record labels have become part of internet behemoths”

Another difference he notes is a more personal one, “now that we are all in our late 40s and early 50s, we definitely play differently. We’ve all gotten older and calmer and because we’re less excitable it’s lost an edge; in one way it’s a good thing because it makes things a bit more solid and easier to listen to but it does also mean the music loses the energy of youth, which is a vital part of rock and roll. So we definitely sound different.”

He continued to reflect about how he has grown as a person and performer, “the result of having had moderate success is that you lose that burning desire to proof yourself, to proof you’re worth it effectively. Once you’ve earned that you become a lot more relaxed about things, I don’t’ massively fret about things like not making much money from music anymore, certainly not record sales anyway. I just get on with things and enjoying that we can still do it.”

Justin is looking forward to getting to Cork and starting the return to live gigs, “we never played Ireland as much as we’d liked, the costs of coming over have always been so high, but we’ve great memories of playing there. We only played Cork once before I think, I remember Cork City but I don’t remember the gig at all! That’s the thing about getting older, I used to remember every venue, every fire escape, every hotel and every dressing room but once I hit my early 40s I can’t remember recall any of it, God knows what I what replaced it with, it seems an empty void!”

Del Amitri play Cyprus Avenue on Tuesday 21 January. Booking information via http://www.ticketmaster.ie

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