DATE OF INTERVIEW:
26th July 2015
CHARLIE & CRAIG REID
METAL DISCOVERY: The new album’s fairly diverse in one sense, at least in terms of the pacing, different moods, and lyrical themes. So are themes in the lyrics inspired by the feeling of the music, or does the feeling of the music come from the lyrical themes?
CRAIG: Well, there’s a few songs on this one where I’ve either had the phrase first or some words first but, most songs that I write, I get the music first, and then I don’t really know what it’s gonna be about until I get the first line or two lines, and then I know what it’s about, you know. So, I think it’s probably a bit of both. I think maybe something like ‘Then Again’, you wouldn’t probably expect that kind of lyric in that kind of jaunty song, but I quite like that as well, when you get a lyric that you don’t really think it actually completely fits with the melody.
(Charlie Reid on The Proclaimers' delimiting their 'novelty' TV appearances)
"We’ve been asked to do a variety of things over the years, and I think people see the comedic value in it, but I think that it's important not to do too much... Because, that’s fine, take the piss out of yourself, but don’t spend all the time doing it."
Charlie & Craig Reid upstairs at the Drill Hall, Lincoln, UK, 26th July 2015
Photograph copyright © 2015 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
The Proclaimers official website:
The Proclaimers official Facebook:
THE PROCLAIMERS DISCOGRAPHY
This is the Story (1987)
Sunshine on Leith (1988)
Hit the Highway (1994)
The Best of The Proclaimers (2002)
Thanks to Kenny MacDonald for arranging the interview.
Born Innocent (2003)
Restless Soul (2005)
Life With You (2007)
Notes & Rhymes (2009)
Like Comedy (2012)
The Very Best Of: 25 Years (1987-2012) (2013)
Let's Hear It For the Dogs (2015)
MD: Did the music come first for that one?
CRAIG: No. That one, I think that was almost simultaneous, but I definitely had the idea from before that I wanted to write a song about that subject. That one came pretty quickly, I think, yeah.
MD: [To Charlie] The music you write, do you get some of Craig’s lyrics first?
CHARLIE: No. I mean, Craig does most of it, but we end up rehearsing and rehearsing for weeks and months at a time, so we kind of change things as we go along. Sometimes, it’s only even the mood can change a little bit to before. And, as everybody knows, it changes again when you go into the studio. Less this time than on the last two or three records, I would say. There wasn’t an awful lot of changes on this record. So it just depends on the producer and it depends on the mood, I think.
MD: There are some really nice strings on some of the new songs, so when you compose acoustically, do you generally imagine the bigger instrumentations at that stage?
CRAIG: No, that was down to Dave. Because, when we sent him the demos and we agreed he was going to do it, he said, “you know what I’m thinking, maybe two or three of these songs, putting strings on it”. Fine, you know. And then, when he came up to Edinburgh for a week, and he suggested which ones it was. And I thought, well, that’ll be interesting. That’s what he’s there for; he’s there to produce, and stuff that we hadn’t thought of, you know.
CHARLIE: With the Manics records, he’d used a lot of strings over the years so, one, he got used to doing it and, two, he got used to knowing who to ring; who was good. So the people he got in to do it were very good.
MD: I think it’s fused to perfection in your sound.
CRAIG: I think so. I was sceptical but, when I heard it, I thought he’s right.
MD: Amongst other festivals, you played T in the Park again this year and you described it on your Twitter page as “the loudest crowd we've played to, a brilliant gig”. Can you remember what crowd previously held the record for being the loudest you’ve played to?
CRAIG: I think it may have been the first time we played T in the Park in the tent. It was a smaller tent but... I was talking to somebody last night and I said the only thing I could compare it with is when you’re maybe playing a small club and you’ve maybe got 5-600 and they’re right down front, and the front row’s there and they’re, maybe, quite high up, so they’re almost in your face. And you’ve got a balcony, and it’s maybe 9/10 o’clock at night and they’ve had a few drinks and they’re baying. It was like that but ten times that amount. It was actually indescribable.
CHARLIE: I think the age of the audience… I mean, most of the people there were between 17/18 up to mid-20s, so the energy level… I’m not saying we get an old audience, but we don’t get that age audience anymore, so much. But to have nearly everybody in the tent be that age, the volume was just… they’ve just got a lot more energy, you know.
MD: Do you find the more enthusiastic the crowd, then a show becomes a much more reciprocal experience for you?
CRAIG: It does but things like that, T in the Park, sometimes you’ve got to… when we were younger, sometimes you can get caught up in that and they end up dictating. You know, you end up following the crowd. But we definitely didn’t do that at T in the Park this time. I don’t think we’ve done that in a long while. But you’ve got to watch it because you can feel yourself… like, maybe 3 or 4 songs in at T in the Park, I think I felt myself pushing it just a wee bit too much, so I can just sit back a little bit… you know, you’re giving more anyway, because it’s that kind of gig, so you just step back a little bit.
MD: From looking at the TV coverage, it was kind of heart-warming to see such a big, mixed-aged crowd react so enthusiastically to your music. So does it continue to surprise you that your music still has the power to attract new, younger generations of fans?
CHARLIE: It certainly makes us happy that we do. Yeah, it is surprising, I think. Tonight, I don’t know if there’s a bar. Sometimes, it depends on whether there’s a bar or not.
CRAIG: If it’s standing, it usually takes the edge down because a lot of people don’t want to stand. But it’s sold out tonight… I’m not saying it won’t be a young crowd but I think maybe it’ll be slightly younger than if it had been an all-seated venue.
CHARLIE: It’s good when you do theatres and you get 5 or 6 year old kids come along; that’s quite regular. Last night, we had fairly young people when we were in Malvern and it was more of a theatre type gig, and there were young kids there, their parents, and the grandparents. Sometimes, we get three generations. We haven’t had four yet!
MD: Give it another ten years! So are these 6 year olds Proclaimers fans?
CRAIG: Yeah, they are. Some of them aren’t actually being dragged along; some of them quite like it, you know.
CHARLIE: Yeah, some of them are big fans, yeah.
MD: Do you do merch for that age range?
CRAIG: No, I don’t think we do that young. We should! If there was a huge number of them then maybe we could.
MD: Maybe, sometimes, it’s cheaper to buy a Proclaimers ticket than to pay a babysitter!
CHARLIE: Yeah, you’re right, sometimes it’s better just to bring the kids along… if the kids can take it.
MD: And then I’m sure they become big Proclaimers fans.
CRAIG: Or hate us!
MD: You made a cameo appearance in the second series of ‘Man Down’ this year, doing a bit of pottery in Greg Davies’ bedroom, so how was that experience?
CRAIG: All we got told was, it was some kind of set up and we might be at a potter’s wheel!
CHARLIE: I like the series anyway, so I thought we’ll just do it, and they treated us great and we had a good time.
MD: Were you proficient in pottery already?
CRAIG: No, I’ve never done it.
CHARLIE: I’ve never stood in front of a potter’s wheel, but now I can say I’ve done it for comedic purposes!
CRAIG: I didn’t tell anyone about it and then people were phoning up the next day, or texting, saying, “I saw you on ‘Man Down’!” It’s good to surprise ‘em, you know!
MD: So, ‘Family Guy’, ‘Emmerdale’, and now ‘Man Down’, but is there any particular programme you have aspirations to appear on next?
CHARLIE: ‘World in Action’, but they stopped making that!
CRAIG: ‘Panorama’ might be good!
CHARLIE: We’ve been asked to do a variety of things over the years, and I think people see the comedic value in it, but I think that it's important not to do too much. Do you know what I mean? Because, that’s fine, take the piss out of yourself, but don’t spend all the time doing it. I don’t fancy the chat shows or the walk-on game show thing. That’s probably pushing it too far.
MD: The final thing I wanted to ask - you’re obviously loved by so many people around the globe, but what’s the nicest compliment someone’s given you recently, either directly or something you’ve read about yourselves?
CHARLIE: It’s not a specific thing but when people come up to you and you can see they’re sincere, and they say, “oh, you helped me through a bad time.” Somebody said last night, “you have a song for every emotion I’ve ever gone through.” I suppose that’s a compliment! [Laughs] So, that kind of thing you get.
CRAIG: We flew to Birmingham on Friday and Tom, our tour manager, picked us up and then we went to Malvern but, at the airport, on our flight, was a guy who was twenty and his girlfriend, and he came up at the baggage area and says, “you were the best thing on at T in the Park.” And somebody that age saying that, that was good.
MD: Brilliant! Thank you so much for your time.