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      Justin Currie

      Justin Currie
      Sarah O’ Hara speaks to former Del Amitri frontman Justin Currie about his new solo album Lower Reaches, launching his own record label and working as a chef...

      YOU’VE BEEN WORKING IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRIES FOR OVER 30 YEARS, BOTH WITH DEL AMITRI AND AS A SOLO ARTIST. WHAT HAVE BEEN THE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
      Just staying alive I suppose! Making a living out of it as well, because I didn’t expect to still be doing this approaching 50 that’s for sure. I’m eternally grateful for that. I have very fond memories of the first time we [Del Amitri] toured Australia in 1990, especially Melbourne and Sydney, because we had such a fantastic time there.

      IF YOU HADN’T HAD BECOME A MUSICIAN, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD BE DOING NOW?
      I was a chef for a year and then I was a waiter for a bit. I guess I’d likely be doing that but I really don’t know.

      THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY MUSICIANS THAT HAVE HAILED FROM THE GLASGOW AREA AND BECOME SUCCESSFUL MAINSTREAM ARTISTS. WOULD YOU SAY THAT THE CITY AND ITS CULTURE HAD AN EFFECT ON THE MUSIC YOU PRODUCE?
      I suppose it must do, although it’s quite hard to define the city and its cultural influences. If I hear a band from Glasgow on the radio, I can usually tell that they’re from Glasgow. There’s something melodically in their sound or sometimes in their accents and the way the singer enunciates. Also, if a band from a city are really successful, they have a huge influence on the generations of bands that start from that city. In Glasgow our defining sound developed much later than in other cities, in the late 1970’s when bands like Orange Juice appeared and had a massive effect on everybody around them.

      WELL YOUR MUSIC HAS CERTAINLY MADE A LASTING IMPRESSION AROUND THE WORLD. MY MOTHER STILL KNOWS ALL THE WORDS TO SONGS LIKE ‘ ALWAYS THE LAST TO KNOW’ AND ‘NOTHING EVER HAPPENS’.
      When people come up to you, say hello and say that they love a song that you’ve written that’s always fabulous to hear. It’s kind of what it’s all about really. If you have communicated to somebody and someone has found enjoyment and some meaning in what you are doing, then that’s just fantastic.

      YOUR THIRD SOLO ALBUM, LOWER REACHES, IS BEING RELEASED ON YOUR OWN LABEL ENDLESS SHIPWRECK. WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND THE LABEL’S NAME?
      ‘Endless Shipwreck’ was a quote in a passage of a book I read called 2666 by a Chilean Writer called Roberto Bilanio. It’s the best book I’ve ever read. I’d always had the title in my head as a potential album title but it’s a little too dramatic for an album title, too apocalyptic. I was just asked to come up with a name for my record label, and I’m just happy that I got to use it.

      SO THE ALBUM WAS WRITTEN ON THE ISLE OF SKYE AND IT WAS PRODUCED
      IN TEXAS. ONE OF THE SONGS, ‘I HATE MYSELF FOR LOVING YOU’ HAS A COUNTRY & WESTERN SOUND. WAS THIS A RESULT OF PRODUCING THE ALBUM IN TEXAS?

      Yeah, well the demo of that song was very different. It was kind of FM rock. Mike McCarthy the producer didn’t really want to record that song, but I thought the album needed something with a soul feel and something lightweight, so I kind of talked him into it. They changed it quite a lot - they slowed it down and made it a lot more laid back.

      MY FAVOURITE TRACK ON THE ALBUM IS ‘EVERY SONG IS THE SAME’, WHICH IS QUITE CLEVER ON A NUMBER OF LEVELS LYRICALLY. I GOT THE IMPRESSION THAT IT WASN’T YOU TELLING PEOPLE HOW TO WRITE A SONG THOUGH...
      It’s rather impossible for me to explain what it’s about. It’s quite complicated but it’s a love song in a strange way, but no I’m not actually trying to teach anyone how to write a song. I wish I knew how to write a decent song myself! I really loved the song when I wrote it, because it’s one of those songs where I started with a lyric and then turned into a song. I was worried that it would be misinterpreted so I’m glad you’ve said that it’s not to be taken at face value.

      ON YOUR WEBSITE THERE’S A QUOTATION AT THE TOP SAYING “PROUD TO PEDDLE MEDIOCRITY WITHOUT SHAME SINCE 1980”. IS THIS AN IRONIC STATEMENT CONSIDERING THE SUCCESS OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
      In the Glasgow early 1980’s Indie scene, there was always a culture of being sarcastically self-depricating, which I’ve found that very hard to shake. I can’t describe it apart from it being ironic; a way to approach self-promotion by being negative rather than positive.

      YOU’VE RECENTLY DUETTED WITH JIMMY WEBB ON HIS ALBUM OF DUETS, STILL WITHIN THE SOUND OF MY VOICE. WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE AND HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED?
      A guy called Frank Mullins who was working with Jimmy Webb, and who is a big fan of mine, played Jimmy a bunch of songs from my first solo album which Jimmy loved. Then he persuaded Jimmy to have me sing on his record. I sing on the second verse and harmony on the last chorus on our duet, and to get to talk to Jimmy on the phone in the first place was just fantastic.

      OTHER MUSICIANS DUETTING ON THE ALBUM ARE THE LIKES OF BRIAN WILSON AND KRIS KRISTOFFERSON, SO IT MUST BEEN A HUGE HONOUR...
      I don’t even know what I’m doing on there. I got the seal of approval from Jimmy so it’s just a massive honour, that’s the only way to put it really.

      WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE YEAR AHEAD?
      I’m doing a small tour in September to promote the album. It’s a short tour, not nearly as long as I’d like it to be - I’d tour for most of the year if I could.

      IS THERE ANYWHERE YOU WOULD LOVE TO TOUR?
      I’d like to tour Europe. I’ve toured for a couple of weeks in Germany, opening for a Belgian pop band. I’ve also done bits and bobs in America but I’d love to tour over there more. Anywhere really because I just adore touring.

      SARAH O’ HARA ||

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