Back in 1982, when music videos were new, bad haircuts were the norm and Channel 4 had just aired, Scottish rock band Simple Minds were at their peak. Founding members Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill had laid to rest their short-lived punk band Johnny & The Abusers, and, one autumn day, a 23-year-old Kerr was asked by a London journalist where he saw himself being at age 40.
“What did I say?” a now 56-year-old Kerr jumps in when we mention the comment. We’re talking on the phone and he’s back in London ahead of his Middle Eastern tour. “You weren’t sure about the ‘so-called duties’ of being a public figure…”
He ponders this for a moment. “I don’t think of myself as a public figure,” he says, ever down-to-earth. “I do when I’m on tour, but it doesn’t weigh heavy on my shoulders really. It might have when I was younger because, you know, you were new to it or whatever, but I didn’t walk through Hyde Park thinking ‘I’m a public figure’. I walked into a shop and bought whole wheat rolls.” He laughs.
Back then, Simple Minds were big. They had three critically-acclaimed albums and exploded once their hit song Don’t You (Forget About Me) gained cult status courtesy of the classic film The Breakfast Club. In the ‘90s, however, their popularity declined as the likes of U2 stepped up to the main stage.
Now, with a new line-up, new albums and new lease of life, Simple Minds are witnessing a revival, bringing them to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters this month.
In comparison to 1982, Kerr says, everything is much more under control. “And also, I would say, we’re much better – the technology, the band, the sound quality, the lights… Those were great days, but it’s better now.”
“Is that what you’d tell your 23-year-old self if you could go back now?” we ask.
“[I’d say] don’t worry,” he says after a pensive pause. “Good stuff will happen, bad stuff will happen, but you’re one of the luckiest people on the planet. You get to live making music.
“What a deal.”
Simple Minds play at Doha Golf Club from 7pm on Friday, January 29, as part of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Tickets start from QR250, available from various locations including Virgin Megastores. Visit www.qatar-masters.com.
Don't miss Kerr’s quotes
On the band’s mistakes
“The past is littered with embarrassment. I mean most of those videos – a lot of people who were around in the ‘80s look at those and think ‘what was that?’ and we’re certainly no different there.”
On the band’s first Qatari experience
“This is our first trip to Qatar. People give different opinions on how it differs from Dubai. My impression is it seems to be more refined – would that be the word? We’ll see.”
On Jim’s best memories from the eighties
“I just remember things like having a laugh in the back of the van or some person we met that made us laugh. A lot of the innocent stuff was really enjoyable.”
On Jim’s solo career
“I enjoyed the whole project but it was always meant to be something to do when Simple Minds was not active. [Now we’re] as active as we ever were and it looks like we’ll be non-stop busy for another few years yet.”