IHe turned 60 in July. But Jim Kerr, singer of the Scottish rock band Simple Minds, actually had no desire to celebrate his big birthday big. He was terrified of too much pounding and looking back. However, because his family and friends were really haunting him, he gave in, he says, as he calls for an interview from his hometown of Glasgow. He then celebrated in Loch Earn, in the Scottish Highlands. “Time is precious,” he says. “We should use them to celebrate the good, the important things.” He used to support the release of Nelson Mandela, and apartheid and IRA terror sung. In confused times like these, today he focuses more on rationality than emotions. He would not have thought possible a few years ago that he would speak out for a leading politician of the Scottish National Party, who stands out as the voice of reason in Brexit times.
WORLD: Forty years ago, the first Simple Minds album was released, since then you have been mapping Germany singly, you have appeared in more than 56 cities.
Jim Kerr: So many were that?
WORLD: We counted. We would like to playfully explore your Germany picture. We name a few cities in which you have occurred, you tell us what you associate with it.
Kerr: Oh my god. But let's start.
Kerr: There we played on my birthday. I do not drink any more alcohol today. Even then I drank only a little, on the evening before the Oldenburg concert then a little more. Anyway, I went hungover on stage, felt like I was hanging my audience. Shameful experience.
Kerr: We had our first gig there in a club called “Aladin”. Maybe five people. No joke. As a child, when the name fell to Germany, I had long thought of war first. Second came the football, later came the so-called Krautrock, groups like Neu, Can, Kraftwerk, all these great German bands that had influenced us a lot.
Kerr: That's when I get into trouble, do not remember.
Kerr: Is always a home game for us in Germany, as well as other cities in the Ruhr region. The audience there always carried us. Especially in the Westfalenhalle – what an incredible noise.
Kerr: One of these cities, near which long British military stationed. You can tell that at the concerts. I associate something British with Bielefeld. Good performance.
Kerr: Berlin has always been a mythical city for us. That has remained so today. I had read books like “Berlin Alexanderplatz” before I even got there for the first time. There are not that many photos of me and the band from the early years back home in Glasgow. But there are great photos showing us in Berlin in 1979/80 – also on the wall. It seems to me that we have been in Berlin all the time. In the city we have played at almost every performance location, from very small to very large. Kant Cinema, Germany Hall, Admiralspalast, Waldbühne.
Kerr: It's also a special city for us, because all these Krautrock bands like New and Musicians like Holger Czukay come from there. I often look at historical buildings in cities when we play there. But first, I think of the music that came out there. The sound of the cities.
Kerr: Munich is the Los Angeles of Germany. A kind of own state. A big album, which has influenced the Simple Minds very much, was also created in Munich – it had nothing at all to do with the avant-garde Krautrock.
WORLD: Which album do you mean?
Kerr: “I feel love” by Donna Summer. When I'm in Munich, I think of Donna Summer. And football, of course.
WORLD: The Loreley
Kerr: We played a lot there. The view of the Rhine Valley is breathtaking. If you drive up the street to the open-air stage, that alone is an experience. Rivers and waters fascinate me very much. In this respect, Germany has a lot to offer – I remember our performance in Konstanz, right on Lake Constance. Class.
Kerr: At first I think of Kraftwerk coming from there, quite clearly. What a fantastic band.
Kerr: All I know is that Boris Becker visited one of our concerts there – when he was still a champion. So it was a while ago.
Kerr: The race course. Tens of thousands of spectators. Overwhelming. Although we had not played well that day, the audience had nevertheless celebrated us. I had to remember how I used to hitch my own girlfriend to a festival near London to see Bob Dylan there. We fought our way through to the first rows. Then she fainted. I had to carry her out. That was a disaster, because she was taller than me.
Kerr: The name of the city was first noticed in a song by Brian Eno. We played there in 1990 at a festival. Our first concert in East Germany. A big thing for us, a whole new experience.
Kerr: Football, of course. World Cup Stadium. Schalke.
Kerr: The home of Volkswagen.
Kerr: Hamburg was the first city we played outside the UK. I remember exactly how we got there by ferry one morning in October. In those days you still set by ferry. We had a minibus for us and one for the then still modest equipment. It's great to approach Germany by sea, to visit the docks in Hamburg. People always rave about driving past the Statue of Liberty in the ship. Hamburg was the gateway to Europe for us.
WORLD: With your childhood friend, Simple Minds guitarist Charlie Burchill, you've hitchhiked through Europe before the band started. This early on-the-go life has strongly influenced your music. Is it different today?
Kerr: The world has become smaller today than it was then. Sure, we also had student discounts for trains, but there were no budget airlines. Our hitchhiking trips were still influenced by the mentality of the beat poets in the sixties. We devoured Jack Kerouac's “On The Road”. Our first big trip through Europe had happened by chance. We really wanted to hitchhike to London in 1977 for a Sex Pistols concert. The last driver, who dropped us off just before London, then said: “I drive on to Paris. Do you want to come along? “We left the Sex Pistols on the left, drove to Paris. We then hitchhiked through Germany, France, Italy for a month.
WORLD: How did you finance that?
Kerr: We were already out of school, trying to figure out what to do with our lives. Until then, I had several jobs, at the construction or in a butcher's shop, where I always had to clear away all the mess and sold in front of the store on Saturday. So I had saved some money. Most of the time we got off at youth hostels. In Munich, it was next to the Olympic Stadium, where we played many years later. I still remember a terrible storm in France, it was getting dark, it was pouring like rain, no car wanted to take us. At some point we were soaking wet. We knocked on the door of a farm, dogs barked, people were afraid of us – but let us sleep in the barn. The great adventure Europe. Unforgettable.
WORLD: Europe for beginners?
Kerr: It was magical to stretch your thumb – then fate took over. Basically, we're still on this trip today: Whenever you write a song, you have no idea what's coming out. You do not know what will happen to your career, what will happen in life. I follow the streets no matter where they lead me. It's like the old blues musicians. They traveled to play so as not to lose heart rate.
WORLD: On the 12th of December is elected in the UK. How it continues with the access of the British to Europe is completely open. What are your hopes?
Kerr: I could not have imagined that I would have to experience a political stalemate in the UK, this last-longing farce in the British House of Commons. I have never experienced such emptiness in such a dramatic situation where political leadership is required. I can not imagine at the moment how a collective effort could lead out of this mess. Let's put David Cameron and his mistakes aside. When Scotland voted for or against Scottish independence two years before the Brexit referendum in Scotland, the Scots narrowly voted against independence because they wanted to remain part of the EU as part of Britain. When it came to Brexit, Britain's breakaway from Europe in 2016, 62 percent voted against it in Scotland – while many young people in England did not vote. And this question is mainly about their future. That's something I can not understand.
WORLD: Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has promised a second referendum on Scotland's independence. The first, in 2014, was still tainted by a nationalist solo effort. The second, assuming Brexit enters into force, would be in a very different context – to strengthen Scotland's ties to Europe. How do you see Sturgeon?
Kerr: Nicola Sturgeon is the voice of reason. And she is a convinced European. My opinion may be surprising, because I was never a supporter of the Scottish Nationalist Party and certainly not a Scottish nationalist. But every time I looked at these wild, loud debates about Brexit in the House of Commons last year, hearing the voices of Scottish officials, I felt almost proud. Because the Scottish MPs spoke calmly, were rational, and made sound arguments They behaved in the chaos like civilized human beings. They seemed more sensible to me than all the mentally deranged around them.
WORLD: Your daughter and son grew up in London and live there, living in Scotland and Italy. How do you discuss Brexit and its consequences?
Kerr: My children know their roots, they are proud of them, but they are also cosmopolitans. Look, I'm from a Scottish family that has Irish ancestry, my kids are English, my nephew is French, my friends are German, Italian. I have to come back to hitchhiking through Europe, which is still shaping my friend Charlie and myself today. Europe is a part of me. My past experience of crossing the sea, hitchhiking through all these landscapes, experiencing this “thing” called Europe, was so breathtaking that I almost fell away from faith. And that is still how it is for me today. The idea of withdrawing from this European cohesion is feeble-minded. The united Europe has emerged as a consequence of two world wars. It has enabled me to live in peace for a very long time. This achievement should be remembered before any protest party is chosen simply because it pretends to be different from the established politicians. In order not to despair completely, I am currently clinging to an old Chinese proverb: “May you live in interesting times.” And we certainly do.
Jim Kerr / Rockstar
Jim Kerr, born July 9, 1959 in Glasgow, founded the rock band Simple Minds in 1978 with guitarist Charlie Burchill. In 1979 her first album “Life In A Day” was released. Her biggest hits were songs like “Alive And Kicking” or “Do not You Forget About Me”. Kerr was married twice – to rock singer Chrissie Hynde and actress Patsy Kensit. Both marriages were divorced. From the first he has a daughter, from the second a son. Recently the double CD “Live In The City Of Angels” (BMG) was released. On March 14, 2020 in Münster begins their tour of Germany, which leads through 14 cities.
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