Ipswich: The Proclaimers are coming to the Corn Exchange...presumably not walking 500 miles to get there
The Proclaimers have toured the world several times over, with countless gold and platinum selling singles and albums to their names. One of Charlie Reid’s number one moments? Watching Bernard Cribbins’ singing along to I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) in a video fan David Tennant shot when leaving Doctor Who.
“We got sent the link and had a good laugh. David’s a really really nice bloke apart from being a fantastic actor, but the number one for me was seeing Bernard Cribbins singing along. He was putting records out himself in the early 60s and was one of my heroes when I was a kid.”
Sadly it’s no longer available according to YouTube due to a copyright claim by BBC Worldwide Ltd.
lt’s 25 years since The Proclaimers - Charlie and twin brother Craig - released their first album This is the Story. They have since carved a niche for themselves where pop, folk, new wave and punk collide.
Born in Leith, they grew up in Edinburgh, Cornwall and Auchtermuchty in Fife. Lovers of early rock ‘n’ roll and playing in new wave bands at school, they formed The Proclaimers in 1983.
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Their first big break came in 1986 when they were invited to tour with The Housemartins. In 1987 they made a seminal appearance on Channel 4’s The Tube, performing Letter From America and Throw The ‘R’ Away.
Singing in regional accents about Scotland - its emigration, its politics - they were a far cry from the mid-Eighties playlist staples of the time and became a phenomenon almost overnight.
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Politics, Scottish Independence to be precise crops up during our chat.
“There’s only two ways it can go. It can be a much stronger home rule parliament within the UK or Scotland becomes independent with [Scotland and England] negotiating on the things we share. The present arrangement is not working. It will change somehow, how it changes I’m not going to put my money on that,” he says.
Another topic is Charlie supporting Hibernian - “that’s more of a cross to bear rather than an interest I think at the moment,” he laughs.
“But you know it’s football. I think people take it way too seriously and I say that as a fan. It’s only a bunch of guys kicking a ball around. I know it means a lot more than that but I think people should grow up a wee bit.”
I’ve caught up with Charlie in the midst of the Olympics. Not being any good at rugby or football growing up, he was quite good at athletics.
“I really liked athletics until it became obvious to me some were assisting themselves with chemicals, that along with the commercialisation of athletics put me off a bit. I don’t see the point of having professional footballers in the Olympics, I don’t see the point of having professional b****y tennis players.
“I do see the point in having guys that train for amateur boxing or athletics or swimming and that. They’re the guys I like to see in the Olympics.”
He’s been enthused by people’s attitude to the Olympic flame being carried about.
“I think people catch on to it and along with the [Queen’s] Jubilee... I’m a life-long republican, I’d happily see Britain replace the monarchy with a president but I think it’s interesting that when times are really hard people do kind of cling on to things.
“I say that regretfully in a way, but it’s very interesting culturally what happens with the Olympics and the Jubilee; people feel very disjointed and uncertain at the moment. When it comes to things where people can have a few days off or celebrate an event I think they’re entitled to do it and I think it’s been very positive.”
Back to The Proclaimers.
Since coming off the road in the summer 2010 following a 15-month world tour, the twins spent time writing and recording ninth studio album Like Comedy.
“We’re very happy with it, it’s the most creative time I’ve ever had in the last decade,” says Charlie. “I think there’s a good mixture of songs. I think there’re some recurrent themes that come in Proclaimers records; a sense of identity, religious or spiritual feelings or lack of them, family, relationships.
“They’re pretty much all featured on this new record. The reviews have been pretty positive... if you’re getting decent reviews and enjoying the records yourself that’s as good as it gets.”
It’s been two years since they lost toured and can’t wait to hit the road again.
“Touring’s the life blood of what we do. Since 2001 we’d spent every year doing gigs somewhere. We stopped in 2010, we figured it would be better just to spend the time making the record, making sure we had it the way we wanted it. So yeah, it’s just been recuperating a wee bit over the last year and that kind of sharpens your appetite to get back out again.”
It must be tough, spending so much time cooped up on the road with your brother?
“It’s second nature. Being twins our lives were spent together so in terms of working together there was never any problems. I’m not saying there’ve never been disagreements, but they’ve always been kept within the context of understanding we wanted to be successful doing this and that was why we did it.
“It was less about the ego and more about trying to do something good. That way it has always kept us focused working together.”
Fans can expect to hear all the classics like Sunshine on Leith, (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles, Letter From America, I’m on My Way, Life With You, Lets Get Married and more when The Proclaimers arrive at Ipswich’s Corn Exchange on November 5.
“We perform 23 or 24 songs in a gig. Obviously things like Letter From America, we play at every gig. We’ll probably play half a dozen off the new record and then a mixture of other songs off all the others. We try to give it our best every night.
“I think you can tell a band who wants to be there and you can tell those who don’t. I don’t like going to see people who don’t look like they want to be there so we reserve all our energy for the show and I hope that’s what people get from it.”