Del Amitri singer Justin Currie has revealed how the band faced a race against time to finish their first album in almost 20 years before the coronavirus lockdown last March.
Ensconced in a rural studio in England, Justin and the band completed the recording of Fatal Mistakes on the eve of the nation going into lockdown.
Watching news coverage of the pandemic from the residential studio, Justin sensed ‘impending doom approaching’ and admits to fears the band would become stranded.
The time frame was so tight as Justin drove home to Scotland from the studio he watched police cordoning off the motorway behind him.
Del Amitri will headline The Music Hall in Aberdeen on Tuesday to promote the new album and play hits from their extensive back catalogue.
Justin said: “The album was finished the night before lockdown.
“We saw this impending doom approaching when we got to the final weeks of recording. It was completely surreal, as I’m sure it was for everybody.
“During the recording, we were in a residential studio in the corner of Worcestershire and Warwickshire so in some ways were isolated from the pandemic.
“However when we turned on the news all we would see was this conflagration happening globally.
“We thought we might get stuck there.
“They only announced the Monday lockdown on Friday so we panicked and got all our equipment packed up as we had taken every piece down, every amp and guitar.
“We finished recording just after midnight on Saturday and got in our respective vehicles on Sunday and drove home.
“As I was driving home up North I looked in the rear-view mirror and four or five police vehicles streamed onto the motorway behind me and just stopped every lane of traffic on my side of the road behind me.
“It was really spooky so I just kept driving. It was weird.”
The ‘miracle’ return of live concerts
When the country went into lockdown the music industry shut down completely and would remain in cold storage for more than a year.
Justin admits to concerns the band would never play indoor shows again.
The singer/songwriter/bassist is thankful for the ‘miracle’ of the coronavirus vaccine that has allowed the return of live music.
The long awaited Del Amitri UK tour kicks off this evening in Cardiff. Who’s going to see the Dels this month?
— Del Amitri (@DelAmitri) September 13, 2021
He said: “I wasn’t sure whether there would ever be indoor gigs again.
“Up until the announcement that they were going to start rolling out the vaccine at the beginning of this year it looked utterly hopeless for everyone in our business.
“From nightclubs, to stand up comedy to rock gigs – it looked done.
“The vaccines have been a miracle and there is no way we could be doing what we are now without it.”
The need to record fresh material
Formed in Glasgow in the early eighties Del Amitri released their eponymous debut album in 1985 to acclaim.
It was the catalyst for a career that would see the five-piece become one of the most successful Scottish bands of the next two decades.
Del Amitri racked up five UK top ten albums and 15 top 40 singles whilst Roll To Me even broke the United States, charting in the top 10.
In 2002 the band went on a hiatus that extended more than a decade until reforming to play their hits again in 2014.
Justin admits he became bored of purely performing old material and wanted to freshen it up. Recent release Fatal Mistakes is Del Amitri’s first studio album since Can You Do Me Good? in 2002.
He said: “It’s great having the new album as it makes the shows a lot more interesting for us.
“We did the reunion tour in 2014 where we didn’t do any new material and did one new song in 2018.
“After that, we got a bit bored just doing old stuff.
“It’s a bit of a relief having new songs.
“To start with we thought we would do three of the new songs live but now we are alternating between five and six.”
Concern about fans’ reaction to new album
The album title Fatal Mistakes is a nod to bands who have returned after long periods of inactivity with new material and tarnished their reputation.
Justin was determined that would not happen with Del Amitri.
He said: “With the title Fatal Mistakes I wanted to suggest that might be the subject matter of the songs or that it might just be a really stupid idea doing this. Time will tell.
“We were very worried about how the audience would receive the album because we knew they would be super sniffy about it.
“We went through great pains whilst making the record to stop and think along the way ‘is this going to be good enough?’
“For a while I didn’t think it would be good enough and it was only really when we got into the studio that I thought it would work.
“After we had written all the songs and rehearsed them I was still slightly sceptical that we could make a record.
“And that if we did a record it wouldn’t tarnish any minor creative thing we had achieved in the 1990’s.
“Those albums in the early to mid-90s have a lot of energy that you can’t really do in your late fifties.
Del Amitri ── ‘Fatal Mistakes’ is OUT NOW!
The band's first new studio album since 2002, ‘Fatal Mistakes’ is now available on all streaming platforms as well as on CD, vinyl and digital formats. Listen/buy here: https://t.co/GMhXiOkony pic.twitter.com/d250bJPY1J
— Del Amitri (@DelAmitri) May 28, 2021
“You can’t play like that anymore and you don’t write like that anymore.
“That worried me but then I realised although I couldn’t be 26 anymore I could bring something else to the album in terms of life experience.”
Supporting The Smiths in Aberdeen in ’84
Del Amitri will headline the Granite City as part of their first full UK tour since 2018.
Justin has fond memories of playing Aberdeen over the band’s 40-year career – including a support slot to indie legends The Smiths at The Capital in June 1984.
He said: “In the early days we played Aberdeen a lot.
“We supported The Smiths at the Capital when their single Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now was going into the charts.
“That show was full of 13 to 14-year-old’s who had just got into The Smiths and had never been to a gig before.
“A lot of them didn’t know there was an opening band so they got really excited when we came on as they thought we were The Smiths.
“Then they would calm down but they were very nice. They were great gigs.
“When we played Dundee all the fans threw their flowers at us because they thought we were The Smiths – and we had to give them back.”
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