EXCLUSIVE ‘24/7 VALENCIA’ INTERVIEW WITH LEAD SINGER RICKY ROSS OF ‘DEACON BLUE’
1. You were touring Valencia and Spain last year. What drew you back?
We had an amazing reaction in Valencia with a sold-out show last year. Hopefully, when we have a new record out in 2020 we can build it up a wee bit and will be back again one day.
2. What were your memories of playing Valencia from 26 years ago?
To be honest, I can’t remember one show in particular. I just remember it being all good in Spain. People were lovely, an amazing audience here, they listened and they were passionate too. We felt creative! (laughs) We were writing songs at soundchecks. For us, playing Spain was a hugely positive & magical experience and we kinda missed it.
3. Did you manage any sightseeing ?
Yes, we did! It’s because everyone tells me how beautiful Valencia is. I love to sightsee and we saw the old town. We’ve always stayed on the outskirts with previous tours!!!
4. What’s the atmosphere like in the band while you’re on tour?
Sadly, our original guitarist died of cancer in 2004 and our original bassist went off to do other projects. However, the 2 members who replaced them fit very well in the newer line-up. We’re very happy. We work hard at making the shows great. Everyone enjoys touring, it’s fun…like a working holiday! We’re getting on a bit so we have to look after our bodies!(laughs) We enjoy each other’s company a lot, it’s a magical thing.
5. It has been said that your album ‘Believers’ is a journey into the darkness. Could you expand on that?
‘Believers’ is a lot about people travelling across Europe to get to a country to find a home, like refugees and asylum seekers. All of us have travelled from somewhere and everyone is looking for a place called home. There is a connection there with people and they can relate to that story of how we cope with that sense of it, how we integrate, how we welcome people, how we treat people. These themes are going to be around for a while…
6. It has been said that ‘A New House’ is a love letter to Scotland. Do you have a view on Scottish independence?
As a band we have disparate views but I campaigned openly for Scottish independence. It’s a complex issue but I don’t wake up every morning thinking it is the answer to everything…whatever some people think!
I’m for it; I think we should have it. I would love to see Scotland back in the European Union and Scotland being independent might be the best way to do it. There’s a spectrum of opinions about the issue within the band.
7. What is your opinion of Brexit?
It’s a disaster!!! As a band we are all anti-Brexit and depressed about it. The majority in Scotland voted against it. We were complacent about it because we didn’t think it was going to happen! However, we still hope that it will not happen as everything is still changing every day…
8. Have your radio shows with the BBC impacted your own music?
We do a lot of sessions. Yes, it’s a real honour to have so many great musicians playing on my show and it sort of becomes an extension of your own song-writing life. People like Ryan Adams, members of Dixie Chicks, Tom Russell, Patty Griffin and Rosanne Cash. From country to bluegrassy things to quite dark-indie to Americana. If you go back to the ‘Chocolate Girl’ era on our debut album, you’ll find that that Soul & Country feel you get with Southern music from the States. That really “rootsy” influence has always been there with Deacon Blue.
9. Why is that ‘Deacon Blue’ connects with so many different people?
I don’t know. I think that something happens when we play live and that the band are at their best when they are in front of an audience. We try to make whatever is happening on that night really special. I think the lyrics and melodies speak to ordinary people because they are not complex and there’s kind of an anthemic quality that people relate to. Given the positive messages from the public who have been to our shows for the first time, I think it still seems to works live…
10. Are you still reading John Maynard Keynes?
(Laughs!) I don’t think I ever did! The character in the song certainly did. ‘Dignity’ was written in the 80s. It was a really hard & horrible time with a recession. I don’t think that song will ever go away because I think we’re going to enter, in the near future, into a bigger recession than we’ve ever had in our lives. It seems that the gap between those who have and those that don’t is growing wider and wider. What’s been happening in Spain over the last ten years has been really hard too. Now there’s a new group of people who are super wealthy and they’re flaunting it, really. I’m not blaming them but I think it exasperates people’s frustrations because although a lot of people are getting better off there are more extremes of poverty. Some people do well but others are feeling left behind. I still think that the song ‘Dignity’ speaks to people.
11. You were an English teacher in the 80s before Deacon Blue. Has teaching changed since then?
Iv’e no idea what it’s like now but I have one last son in his final year at school and he is enjoying it. My experience of teaching was great. We did a concert in a big arena in Glasgow called the SSE Hydro. I got a message from some former pupils I had taught in the city in the 80s. They came to the gig and it was such a lovely thing to meet up, chatting for an hour after the concert. It’s nice to have that relationship with people who remember you fondly. I’m looking forward to coming to Spain again hugely!
Interview by Owl & Rachel McClamroch
Deacon Blue “30 years and Counting”
From Glasgow, Scotland. Formed in 1985 and split up in 1994. In 1999, they reunited to work part-time. They have had 12 UK top 40 singles and 2 UK number one albums. Have sold over six million records. Ricky Ross has two radio shows with BBC Radio. ‘Another Country’ for BBC Radio Scotland focuses on Americana and alternative country. ‘New Tradition’ for BBC Radio 2 focuses on the themes that have influenced music today and in history. He is also an occasional presenter on BBC Radio Scotland’s Sunday Morning programme.
• Ricky Ross– lead vocals
• James Prime – keyboards
• Lorraine McIntosh – backing vocals & percussion
• Dougie Vipond – drums
• Gregor Philp -guitar
• Lewis Gordon –bass
• Raintown (1987)
• When the World Knows Your Name (1989)
• Fellow Hoodlums (1991)
• Whatever You Say, Say Nothing (1993)
• Walking Back Home (1999)
• Homesick (2001)
• The Hipsters (2012)
• A New House (2014)
• Believers (2016)
On February 28th 2019, Deacon Blue played Sala Repvblicca (C/Baix Vinalopo, 2 Mislata) of Valencia to celebrate “30 Years And Counting.”
“Spain has always held a special place in the story of Deacon Blue and we look forward to the next chapter with real excitement.”