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Ghost Canyon

The Proclaimers The Proclaimers
’Finally, It’s All Gone To The Dogs!’

When the Scottish duo of Craig and Charlie Reid emerged in 1987, they were immediately compared to the Everly Brothers. Which was a little weird as the melodic folk-rock sound of the Everlys was in total contrast to this new post-punk pop band, aggressively displaying their thick Scottish accents on infectious and melodic songs about love, politics, and life in Scotland !
The brothers released two albums in the late '80s (This Is the Story and Sunshine on Leith) before disappearing for several years, but when their 1988 song ’I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ was used in the 1993 film ‘Benny & Joon,’ the duo began to receive massive radio airplay in America, sending them into the Top Ten in the U.S. Luckily, the band was close to completing their third album at the time and so soon Hit the Highway was unleashed to capitalize on their success. But, aside from the single ’Let's Get Married’ the album received little attention and the band disappeared once again.
They made various contributions to several movie soundtracks including both ‘Dumb & Dumber’ and ‘Bottle Rocket’ during the latter part of the decade, but family priorities took front stage. Then came the new millennium and with it a fresher-sounding Proclaimers. Inking a new U.S. deal with Nettwerk and Shock Records they released Persevere in 2001 which not only marked Craig and Charlie Reid's fourth album, but the creation of their very own record label of the same name.
And, coming full circle, 2002 has brought us their fifth studio album, Best of …, which contains three brand new tracks. So, how does one choose the tracks for such a record ? Well, from Charlie’s point of view it actually wasn’t all that hard. ”You can only have so much and so you put out 20 or so songs on a record and when you come to have to pick the best - which is what we did – of course it’s really a subjective thing. We go in and pick things that we thought were successful and people liked and also things that we thought were good performances. That’s the way it works for us.”

And then Edwyn Collins stepped in as Producer of the new Best Of .. CD ? ”Yeah, that was in January of this year. We had worked with him previously about four years ago on a thing for a film that was being produced in Scotland. So, we’d met him and liked him and really liked the studio that he worked in as well so when it came to doing these tracks we though of going there and seeing if we get the right sound. It was very relaxing and when you’re relaxed you’re more likely to get good performances and that in the end with us is what it’s all about.”

Will Edwyn be producing the next album ? ”I don’t know. We’ve got to make our minds up be the end of this year as to who we want to produce our next record. The idea is to go and record it in the early part of next year and we’ve already got some material that I’m absolutely convinced we will use when we get the record ready. Our minds our open at the moment though.”

Where did the bands name originate ? ”We just wanted to a strong name and it was when we started the band in about ’83 and to be honest we were on the dole (Unemployment) in Britain at that time and didn’t have work so we didn’t really want to call ourselves the Reid Brothers just in case Social Security got ahold of it really. So we thought we’d get a band name and we just wanted a strong name and so we thought for a while and The Proclaimers was the one that came up.”

15 years ago, what made you want to make music and 15 years on is it the same passion that drives you ? ”I think it is. Whether you like it or not it becomes your living after a number of years doing it professionally, so I suppose the mind set is somewhat different. But I don’t think the motivation for doing it is any different.”

Were you surprised about the success that ‘Letter From America’ brought about ? ”I think we were surprised at how well the song did in different places. We did the first album and I think Chrysalis Records when they signed us had probably very limited expectations as did we about it’s commercial viability. But we thought we could sell one or two to the left field student market in Britain and maybe in other countries. But when we re-recorded the record with Gerry Rafferty the song kinda became a big hit and I suppose people’s expectations were raised somewhat.”

Tell me more about your new label, Persevere Records ”We started that last year with the release of the Persevere album, which was our first album in a number of years. We had the option of going with three quite good offers from companies in Britain, but we felt that we had more commitment than they did frankly. So we decided to do it ourselves and that way you can kinda pick and choose people you wanna work with and I think it makes it more of a challenge but it’s also more fulfilling when you have some level of success.”

Have you any one fav song to play ? ”’Sunshine on Leith’ is one of my favorites, I’d have to say. Out of the older songs, ‘Letter From America’ I suppose is still one I’m very proud of as I am of ‘Cap In Hand’ and I also think that some things from the last album before this Hit The Highway that at times you feel good about. I don’t think there’s anything we’d go out and play live that we weren’t very happy with.”

Is there a song though that you’d be happy never ever singing again ? ”No, I don’t think it’s so much that. I think there’s probably B-sides and that, but anything that’s appeared on the album’s I’m pretty proud of.”

Sum up in one word your feelings at the time you recorded these five songs:
‘Letter From America’ - ”Anxious”
‘Let’s Get Married’ - ”Happy”
‘I’m On My Way’ - ”Neutral”
‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ – ”Aggressive”
‘The Doodle Song’ - ”Humourous”

Who’s more handsome … you or your brother ? ”I would say I’m more handsome, but if you ask him you’d get the exact same answer but about him. I don’t think either of us are gonna win beauty awards !”

What can you do better than him ? ”I play the guitar better than him and I think I can still run faster than him !”

How old are you guys now ? ”Forty. We just reached forty in March of this year.”

Reveal something about yourself ”When I was a kid I was right into the heroes of the football and things like that, but – as Craig did – really loved dogs. Different kinds and breeds of dogs and finally I’ve got three kids of my own and my youngest ones old enough now that I can let him loose in the house with the dog. So, finally after all these years I’ve got my own dog ! The dog is a Lurcher which is a cross between a Scottish Deerhound and a Greyhound. So, it’s pretty big and pretty fast and you can walk for miles with it.”

Reveal and embarrassing moment in your life ”When I was a kid we lived in Cornwall for a couple of years and we’d only been to school a few weeks and this is where I discovered I was needing glasses ! There was a school medical and I had to go and do the sight test and I’d been in and had the medical examination and I was still putting my clothes on and I hadn’t even put my trousers on – luckily I had my pants on – and I'd gotten taken out in front of the entire class to do the eye test ! I think this woman was a bit of a, you know, … the teacher was a wee bit psychotic ! I remember the entire class laughing ‘cause I came through with no trousers to get my eyes tested and tragically it turned out then that we needed glasses.”

Does the sun really shine on Leith ? ”I’ve got to say that Scotland is not known for sunshine. In Scotland the South-East corner is the sunniest up from Edinburgh across East Lothian without doubt it gets more sunshine than other parts of Scotland. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s sunny, but it means it gets slightly more sunshine. But Leith was always known in the Lothians as ‘sunny Leith’ so that’s why the song was titled that.”

So, is Kilmarnock really joyful and yet full of blues ? ”Well, there was two reasons for calling it ‘Joyful Kilmarnock Blues.’ One is the obvious that it wasn’t a particularly great day and secondly the local football team, Kilmarnock play in blue. So, I wouldn’t say that Kilmarnock is a particularly joyful or a place full of blues.”

With a new song like ‘Lady Luck,’ does this mean you’re a gambler ? ”I used to be, more than I am now. I used to really enjoy going to the bookmakers shops and stuff when I was late teens early twenties and just put down a couple of quid or something. You see, I’ve never been one of those guys that if I bet I gotta keep on betting. I like one or two gambles and then I walk away.”

Finally, tell me a joke ! ”Yeah, I have one but I don’t know if you can print it in your paper. I heard one yesterday and it’s very offensive but I found it very funny ! How do you get a Nun pregnant ? Dress her as an alter boy !”

Interviewed By Russell A. Trunk

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