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Jim Kerr looks forward to a New Year and a new album

Jim Kerr looks forward to a New Year and a new album

We might have to go back to 1985 for the release of "Don't You (Forget About Me"), but there is no danger of Jim Kerr suffering from memory loss when it comes to the history of Simple Minds.

Instead, whether discussing the group's imminent concert in Stonehaven at Hogmanay, the recent death of Nelson Mandela, or unveiling details of the band's new studio album, Kerr answered questions with a rat-a-tat-tat rapidity.

During our chat, a variety of emotions filtered through his psyche. There was surprise - "I can hardly believe it will be 30 years in 2014 since we recorded "Waterfront" - and sadness - "I was in New York the day after Lou Reed died [on October 27] and it really felt like the end of a certain era."

Yet there was also pride that, long after most of their Scottish contemporaries have packed away their plectrums, Kerr and his long-time collaborator, Charlie Burchill, are still striving to create new material which proves they are alive and kicking.

  (SNS)
via STV via STV

As he told STV: "People tell us the hits from the 1980s still sound fresh, and it's good they haven't dated, because it means new generations are listening to them.

"But we don't just want to rely on the past. We are in the process of completing a new album, and, almost by stealth, we are getting close to the finishing line.

"We will be coming to Stonehaven the day before the concert - and we do feel we have a big responsibility to make the event a success.

"Because, to be honest, when I first heard about the idea, I thought it sounded unlikely. I mean, we've played Edinburgh Castle and other big venues.

"However, Charlie had never been near Stonehaven until recently and, once we sorted out the details, he was a bit like: "Hey, what have you got me into here?

"But, you know, the attitude of the organisers has been brilliant. They have been gung-ho, they have made it happen, and I loved coming up to Dunnottar Castle."

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At one point, Simple Minds were one of the biggest names in global rock. They rubbed shoulders with all manner of iconic figures, and grew accustomed to the incessant routine of airport check-ins and being conveyed from hotel to hotel.

They also met such inspirational characters as the former South African president, Nelson Mandela, forged a friendship with him, and wrote a song in his honour, which subsequently became an anthem to Madiba.

Jim revealed to STV: "We had been in South Africa in the autumn and we knew things weren't good. There had been scares before, but this was something else.

"It had been one of of the greatest privileges of my life to talk to him and have the opportunity to see how much he meant to people in his homeland.

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"When we visited his country recently, we were aware that his life was coming to an end, and it was very emotional to be in and around South Africans.

"We had grown up watching him and marvelling at the wonderful things he did.

"You couldn't really get it into your head that he wasn't going to be there any more.

"But what a legacy he left the world. He was absolutely unique, wasn't he?"

  (Ivon Bartholomew)
via STV via STV

These have been a heart-rending few weeks for Kerr and his colleagues - "I also knew the Clutha Bar very well, so it was difficult reading about what happened there" - but he appears determined to lift spirits where he is most in his element.

Which, expressed simply, is on a stage with a microphone in his hand.

He said: "We had never played in Scotland on Hogmanay until last year [in Edinburgh], but the reception showed there was a warmth from the crowds.

"Without getting all corny, it just felt right and we will aim to do the same in Stonehaven. I just hope the weather is okay, because we were once within minutes of a concert being cancelled at Edinburgh Castle.

"But, all being well, it should be an occasion to remember and the organisers deserve that, given the hard work they have done to make it happen."

As usual, Kerr isn't promising miracles. But he will bow out of 2013, committed to making sure nobody ever forgets about him or the songs he has made famous.

For more information about Simple Mind's appearance at Stonehaven's hogmanay celebrations, head to the Open Air in the Square website

Will you be heading to Stonehaven to see Simple Minds see in the New Year? Let us know.

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