Literary Program

Things to read to make you more Del Amitri smart.

Del Amitri History: Condensed
"Which One's Del?" from Rainsound
the Press Release for the album Twisted
the Press Release for the album Some Other Sucker's Parade
An interview with Iain Harvey
Story in Launch Magazine

February 1995 DEL AMITRI



Justin Currie - Vocals, Bass
Iain Harvie -- Guitars
David Cummings -- Guitars
Andy Alston -- Keyboards
Chris Sharrock -- Drums

The unique combination of head and heart that marks the music of Del Amitri has never been more pronounced than on TWISTED. The Scottish group's bountiful new album -- which follows 1990's breakthrough set WAKING HOURS and its much-lauded successor CHANGE EVERYTHING which spawned the Billboard Top 40 hit "Always The Last To Know" -- is a further refinement of their highly individual style, which melds catchy, hook-filled mainstream rock with a slightly off-kilter, sometimes brooding intelligence. It is a style that has befuddled critics looking for easy labels, but noticeably left the band's growing legion of fans -- not nearly so genre-specific -- asking only for more.

TWISTED is more, and then some. Choosing to find inspiration by "getting it together in the country," Del Amitri founders Justin Currie (vocals/bass) and lain Harvie (guitar) moved the band into a house 40 miles south of London and practiced and arranged TWISTED as its songs were being written. The result is a tightly arranged collection of varied-sounding material that, for the first time in the band's career, was largely recorded live in the studio.

"lain and I could write something," Currie recalls, "get a drum part or rhythm guitar track, and I could go upstairs and write some lyrics or a melody. Then I could come back downstairs and say, 'All right guys, this is what it should sound like, and get everybody to play it. Just having everybody in the one house meant that the songs took shape a lot faster -- and it meant the enthusiasm was always there."

Further helping shape the sound of TWISTED was producer Al Clay, whose previous work included a stint behind the boards for Frank Black. "He engineered a single that we did -- "Spit In The Rain," a between album one-off after WAKING HOURS," says Currie. "He just seemed like the logical choice. We knew he was a good bloke, and he'd just made a really fabulous-sounding Frank Black record."

Guitarist lain Harvie, who co-wrote half of TWISTED's material with Currie, says that the spell in the country had considerable effect on the songwriting of his partner. "On the previous album, Justin just sort of hid in his bedroom and wrote miserable songs," he says. "This time he actually wrote happy songs, because we were in a nice place. It's got two happy songs on it -- which makes it a happier record than the last one, which had no happy songs on it. For us, that's a regular party album. "

The overall sense of artistic maturity pervading TWISTED may be partially attributed to a band that has adjusted to its growing international fame. Both Currie and Harvie agree that its making came much easier than 1992's CHANGE EVERYTHING. "We were a bit uptight making the last record," Harvie candidly recalls, "because WAKING HOURS had been much more successful than we had expected. We put ourselves through, while not an enormous amount of pressure, a little bit unnecessary pressure, which I think in retrospect was not helpful."

Indeed TWISTED's 12 songs showcase an artistic growth that will be evident to any longtime Del Amitri fan. Singer Currie notes two of which he is particularly proud: "Being Somebody Else" ("about the closest we get to psychedelia," he says) and "Tell Her This. "The latter, adds Currie, "was the first thing I've ever written that just came out, and I didn't think about. I came back to it four months later and suddenly realized it was a good song. Both those songs sound quite new to me."

Most importantly, says Currie, TWISTED presents Del Amitri as they would most like to be seen: a cracking rock 'n' roll band. "Obviously a lot of our songs are quite poppy," he says, "But we always set out to make something that sounds like a cross between Neil Young the Beatles and the Undertones. It never ends up sounding like that -- it always ends up sounding like a pop album, and quite bland. On this thing we set out to do the same thing, to make a fairly lively rock 'n' roll record -- and I think we got nearer that result. It doesn't sound like a pop album to me. I mean, it doesn't sound like a cross between the Undertones, Beatles and Neil Young either, but it's getting there."

With typically self-deprecating humor, Currie acknowledges that it's unlikely that Del Amitri will ever be perceived as an act on the cutting edge of rock. But, he says, that's fine by him. "Even though the music I grew up listening to was, for want of a better term, alternative music -- I've always been aware that it would be a total charade or a sham to pretend that we were anything other than straight in the middle in terms of rock or pop music. But I think within that, there's crap and there's good stuff. And hopefully we're the good stuff." And in a world of dizzying demographics and shifting radio formats, where does TWISTED fit in? "There's phrase I particularly like that's being applied to a lot of things," he says. "Post-everything. I'd rather be post-everything than anything else, so I'll go with that."

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press release

Justin Currie - vocals - bass
Iain Harvie - guitars
Jon McLoughlin - guitars
Andy Alston - keyboards
Ashley Soan - drums


"I don't have my finger on the pulse of my generation/I just got my hand on my heart, I know no better location "
- Not Where It's At

For Del Amitri singer/bassist and chief songwriter Justin Currie, the song's the thing, those three minutes of formal pop perfection in which he can forget the imperfect grind of reality. The Scottish band's fourth A&M album (and fifth overall), SOME OTHER SUCKER'S PARADE, seeks to evade that grind in 14 pop gems that cover a gamut of rock & roll styles and observations on life's vicissitudes and poignant ironies.
There's the jangly, Byrds-like guitars and self-deprecation of the first single, "Not Where It's At, " which laments that "the one girl I want, she wants that one bit of geography I lack." The title track turns yet another losers lament into a Dylanesque ode to drowning your sorrows in a bottle with guitarist/co-songwriter lain Harvie's Ron Wood riffs underlining the tongue-in-cheek self pity of lines like "Patience they say, is a saintly virtue/But hell, why should I wait/'Til the clouds go rain on some other sucker's parade" (Currie: "Glasgow's a town that's obsessed with different forms of intoxication and inebriation ... The way people deal with their problems here is by going on binges.")
The band's love of American pop-rock comes out ringingly clear on the rousing, pure pop flavored "Won't Make It Better," the southem-rock boogie of "Funny Way to Win, " the Television-meets-Rolling Stones lyricism of "Through All That Nothing" and the sweet country strains of Harvie's low-range pedal steel guitar, which adds flavor to "Lucky Guy," Currie's sarcastic tale of a cuckolded boyfriend enviously imagining himself in the shoes of the married man with whom his partner is cheating on him.
Says Currie- "In Scotland, we seem to be a lot less snobby about liking American music than in London... We have a very naive, romantic idea of the States."

"And you can always hide the wreckage that you come from/But every new disguise is just another lie to run from"
- Medicine

"We just came off the road, wrote a bunch of songs, went into the studio and recorded them as quickly as we could, explains Currie about the making of SOME OTHER SUCKER'S PARADE at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire, England with producer Mark Freegard (WAKING HOURS, Breeders). "We selected songs for the album based on which ones we could go out there and have fun bashing out live. Also, we deliberately tried to make them three minutes or under so we could fit as many as possible on the album." The group worked fast despite the fact guitarist Jon McLaughlin and drummer Ashley Soan had never been in the studio with Del Amitri before, having joined Currie, Harvie and keyboardist Andy Alston on the tour for the band's last album, TWISTED.
"We'd been out on the road together, so when we started rehearsing the songs, it clicked pretty quickly," explains Currie. "It's the first line-up we've taken into the studio without any doubts about anybody's ability. It's the best band we've ever had, no question."
That confidence allowed the band to stretch out both musically and stylistically. Longtime fans of melancholy Del Amitri hits like '95's Top Ten single, "Roll To Me, "'92's "Always The Last To Know" and '90's "Kiss This Thing Goodbye" will discover lush, acoustic ballads like the blue-eyed soul of "What I Think She Sees," the Beatlesque "Mother Nature's Writing" and the wide-screen romantic set-piece "Through All That Nothing. " On the other hand, the band's roots in melodic punk like the Ramones, Buzzcocks, Undertones and The Damned show up in the up-tempo, cranked-up "High Times," with Currie's Lennonesque primal rant offering a hilarious rebuke to neo-hippie, '60s throwbacks such as Kula Shaker in sardonic lines like "living through high times, hey has Ginger Baker died?/Living through high times/My planet's all out of line/Living through high times, man, just like '69."
"I am an atheist and a pragmatist," says Currie. "I loathe this neo-hippie revival of mysticism. I believe the world's problems can only be solved by people getting off their asses and doing some work. The original hippie movement was about action as much as it was about introspection. The word 'spiritual' has no meaning to me. It can't be explained in any logical terms and has been used to cover up a multitude of sins, including inaction. To use the English cliche, "It's like punk never happened."
And while Currie's lyrics aim more to personal epiphanies than political abstractions, he is not afraid to tackle society's hypocrisies, as in the anti-escapist neo-realism of "Won't Make It Better" and "Medicine," which both criticize the reliance on "pseudo-therapeutic, self-help solutions" to complex problems.
There's a theme running through Del Amitri's songs of not being able to find one's place in the world, the feeling of being disconnected, out of time, out of step, isolated. Just refer to the album's closing song, "Make It Always Be Too Late," about sitting in a bar at the end of a tour after an all-nighter and dreading the sunrise ("Cos what I want is everything to clear/So if you stop your watch/You might stop the morning's cruel hammer falling here").
"We've never pretended we didn't want to be in the mainstream," insists Currie. "I don't mean in terms of sales, but in terms of everybody should be able to get our music. To me, that's one of the fictions of pop music. You bring everybody together in a room to sing along to a catchy tune. And I don't see why that tune can't have a complex lyric attached. That's part of pop music's appeal. It can identify really quite complicated things in a really accessible way, a way that can give people chills."
Yes, Del Amitri's Justin Currie considers himself lucky, to quote one of his more sarcastic compositions, a "Lucky Guy." "I do feel lucky," he says, "I can't think of anything better in the world than running around in a tour bus and playing your songs for people."