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Interview with Justin Currie (Del Amitri)

Hi guys.  Thanks so much for making the trek out to Australia and New Zealand, and we're looking forward to the gigs in February.  I am the token Aussie in an otherwise Scottish household with immediate family from Cranhill, East Kilbride and even my son was born in the Southern General so I have been indoctrinated into all things Scottish over the years.

I distinctly remember a news article on Australian television sometime in the 80's which was talking about how huge Del Amitri were in Scotland and it had subtitles as the reporter interviewed you and some fans on the streets of Glasgow.  Have you found your Scottishness a hindrance, or a help on the international stage over the years?

I think that might have been an Austrian programme in the 1990s but you might be right. I think our Scottish identity was an enormous help. It kind of kept us separate from the slew of English college rock bands of the late eighties and early nineties. We were more likely to be lumped in with Hothouse Flowers than say, The Wonder stuff or someone. So that Celtic thing gave us a niche authenticity or something. I mean, there’s nothing authentic about anything in pop but it helped us stand out nonetheless.

Have you ever been tempted to be part of the “80's nostalgia” circuit like so many other artists?

Our first hit was at the dawn of the new decade so we’re not really seen as an eighties act. We slipped between a lot of stools which helped us. We didn’t date quickly like other bands from defined scenes. We were just these plodders who wrote half-decent tunes. We kept having radio hits right through grunge and Britpop. But we’re not really a nineties act either. We’re on a side road, behind the big trees.

You've had reunion tours in 2014 and 2018.  Why has it taken you 30 years to return to Australia?

Nobody called us as far as I know. We’d have jumped at the chance anytime after 1990 but chance came there none. That Australian tour in 1990 was one of the greatest times of all our lives. We loved Australia, the people, the food, the beer, the music, the weed. And I got to meet one of my heroes, Grant McLennan in Sydney. I remember finding myself in nightclubs most nights after shows dancing to Suicide Blonde by INXS. We took a seaplane to a sandy bay for lunch. We met wallabies and wombats. It was kind of glamorous. And glamour is not a term ever uttered in reference to our band. I also fell in love with someone. Always the Last to Know came from that. In fact a few songs on Change Everything are very influenced by that tour. I look back on it with profound longing and the satisfaction that comes with knowing you’ve really lived.

Have you heard that in the South Island of New Zealand, they eat haggis, neeps and tatties every night?  What are you expecting from your first shows ever in New Zealand?

I did not know that. Are you pulling my leg? I have zero expectations so I’m excited to encounter it all with no prejudice. We’re overjoyed that we’ll finally see a bit of NZ. I’ve never met a Kiwi I didn’t like. Maybe I’ll find out they send all the nice ones abroad to make a good impression and the rest are actually bastards.

Biffy Clyro have been flying the flag for Scottish music for some years.  Who do you see being the next Scottish band to make it big?

Honestly I have no idea. I mean I’ve seen Biffy on the telly and they seem to make a good racket but I really don’t know the first thing about them. If I don’t know that what chance do I have of giving you reliable information?

You've been touring for the best part of 40 years.  How does “mature” Del Amitri do things differently to in the early days?

Sadly I can’t drink after shows any more. I really miss that, unwinding and maybe going out for a while. But I’m too old to socialise at all around gigs. I’m actually in my bed within an hour of most gigs I do. Iain still quaffs a bit of whiskey, bless him. Andy still opens a bottle of red an hour before shows. I tend to walk about during the day now where before we’d have been doing stuff for the record company. So I’ve seen a bit more which I love. Iain sometimes brings his bike and goes exploring. We wouldn’t have done that in the nineties. No time or too hungover.

Your songs and lyrics have meant so much to so many people.  I personally have been at more than one funeral where Nothing Ever Happens was played. How does it feel to represent or speak for a generation like that?

I love it when people tell me a song has meant a lot to them. That’s the prize for the whole effort. If a song moves one person it was worth the writing. But those songs don’t represent or speak for a generation. Some of them just catch the odd ear in a soup of nonsense. What these ears are doing in the soup is anyone’s guess.

My husband started a Facebook group, Scots In Victoria and there are now 3000+ members, it would be amazing if you gave them a shoutout at your Melbourne show.

It might be but I guarantee you I’ll forget.

We will look forward to seeing you soon and thanks for having a chat to us today.

Pleasure and thank you.

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