Inverness Gigs talks to Craig Reid of the Proclaimers, they will be playing Eden Court on the 19th of November.
Somewhere lurking in Rob Ellen’s garage there is the original demo, a copy of which was sent to the Housemartins, which subsequently led to The Proclaimers getting their first tour support. Even as far back as those early days, where they also famously played at the Market Bar, The Proclaimers’ relationship with the Highlands of Scotland was, and no doubt continues to be, strong. The band return to the Highlands twice this summer, firstly as the headliner of B-Fest 2012 on the 11th of August and then to Eden Court on the 19th of November.
To me, as a young lad, “Throw the R Away” emphasised The Proclaimers unapologetic approach to music, fashion and a culture that held strong. The Proclaimers are, excuse the cliché, marmite but whilst you love ‘em or loathe ‘em you can’t help but appreciate what they have done.
With this background, it was a pleasure when I managed to get the opportunity to speak to Craig Reid and chat to him about all things Proclaimery. The Proclaimers are 50. That very phrase strikes fear into me as it resonates with my own years and indeed mortality, but whilst time ticks away The Proclaimers keep on going. “The one thing is that we enjoy doing it” explains Craig, “we still write new songs and make new records and especially we want to play shows. I think we do what we do and we don’t do it with reference to anybody else”.
Their passion for music is clear, and Craig feels that this enthusiasm transmits to the crowd. This probably accounts for the amount of touring that the band do; this year they have 10 festivals (including Heb Fest and B-Fest) still to go, then moving straight on to a Scottish tour. For Craig preparation for touring is vital. “You have to be still singing and rehearsing, to keep the voices you have, to keep using them and keep rehearsing”.
Whilst it is noticeable that The Proclaimers are playing more intimate festivals, this is not part of a plan. To Craig, it is quite simple, “we take what we are given” and this has also resulted in them playing the mainstage at V festival, where they have been very well received previously. The Proclaimers have shown a desire to try new venues, whether that be for gigs or for festivals, and this is part of the reason why they are playing B-Fest. However, it is not their first time in Wick having played just over 10 years ago at the famous Assembly Rooms.
They are not just touring though, they are still finding time for the recording studio. Like Comedy is the 6th studio album for the brothers Reid, and Charlie talked about the process of reducing the 16 tracks down to 12, and also finding the best fit for the album as a whole. In turn, the media has been favourable, when Mojo described it on its release in May: “Craig and Charlie Reids’ unimpaired facility for nailing the crossroads moments in ordinary lives via melodies that command communal reciprocation”. Charlie is obviously proud of the album, and reflecting on the praise he said with a degree of satisfaction, “I think it’s merited, it’s a good record”.
Whether it’s “Letter From America”, “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)” or “I’m On My Way”, the hits for The Proclaimers are unavoidable but Craig emphasises, “We still enjoy playing them, but there is a pressure to play them”. However, he also points out that there is still plenty room in the set list to mix things up and keep it fresh. It is this freshness and the contemporary nature of their music that has meant that they have not gone down the nostalgia route.
Given that the band have been in the business for 25 years, I couldn’t resist asking about the changes in the music scene from their perspective. Two elements stood out for Craig. The first being the general growth of the music business and, secondly, downloading. This is to the point “where it’s almost unrecognisable from when we signed our first recording deal”, although he is keen to emphasise that it is not how people receive the music but the music itself.
Times have changed indeed, but The Proclaimers continue to record and continue to sing songs full of contemporary resonance, whether it’s about politics,independence, loss or girls.
Tickets for the Eden Court show are sold out, but you can always try the box office on 01463 234234.