“It was a very good time to get the album finished, but very bad timing for everybody else involved… for the crew, for the managers – I feel really sorry for them all,” says Justin Currie of Fatal Mistakes, his band Del Amitri’s seventh album, which will be unaccompanied by live dates until later this year, for obvious reasons. “I’m finding the whole promotional thing a bit sterile. Doing everything by phone and email – there’s no break for lunch where you go and chat about, you know, ‘how many kids have you got?’”
This is Del Amitri’s first album since 2002, when their record deal expired and they disbanded; Currie has pursued a solo career since, but he and guitarist Iain Harvie have written unheard material in the interim. Following the band’s reunion dates in 2014 and 2018, the appearance of this record – which was recorded prior to lockdown – has only been a matter of time.
Currie says he’d felt comfortable writing songs in his “solo, introspective milieu… for probably about a tenth of Del Amitri’s audience,” but encouragement from the band’s drummer Ashley Soan and awareness that he didn’t want the band to become a live “jukebox” started him writing Del Amitri songs again. Oddly, the fact that there was no immediate label interest was a positive; it meant the band could create a pressure-free record with their own money, and scrap it if they chose.
“I’m still extremely trepidatious about anybody making albums for 20 years, stopping for 20 years, and then making another album, in case it’s a bit disappointing,” says Currie. “But we set out deliberately to write songs for the format we think of as Del Amitri, which is melodic, with two guitars, bass and drums, a bit of natural keyboards. When we were recording it a lot of people dropped into the studio and said ‘that sounds like Del Amitri’ which really encouraged us.”
Their Scotsman Session is the comeback single It’s Feelings, with Currie, Harvie and Kris Dollimore performing separately in Glasgow, Oxford and Cornwall. “We initially did it live, just me and Iain with a drum machine,” says Currie. “Then Iain took it home and he was like, ‘Oh, that’s not very good’. So we did it as separate entities and stuck it together.
“It does feel live, because you’re all playing to each other’s performances, and it’s everybody’s first or second take. In fact, it’s as live as you can get without actually getting everybody in a room – although of course, I’d much rather be in a studio with five blokes, but there you go...”
Del Amitri’s new album Fatal Mistakes is released on 28 May on Cooking Vinyl. See www.delamitri.info for more details, and for live dates.
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