Marking 40 years, Simple Minds say touring 'keeps us going'

FILE PHOTO: Kerr of Simple Minds performs "Dont You Forget About Me" at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas

By Vin Shahrestani

LONDON (Reuters) - Forty years since releasing their debut album, Scottish rock band Simple Minds have no plans to slow down just yet, saying life on the road is "the thing that keeps us going" as they embark on a world tour next year.

Formed in Glasgow in the 1970s, the group, whose name was inspired by a lyric from David Bowie's "The Jean Genie", has seen its line-up change over the years but is still fronted by founding members lead vocalist Jim Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill.

"We were surprised after a 10-year career and I certainly don’t believe we would have been touring (in) this particular year," Burchill told Reuters in a joint interview with Kerr.

"But as it turns out ... that’s what we prefer to do most, is (to) tour. I think a lot of people stop because they can't deal with that side of it but for us, it’s the opposite, that is the thing that keeps us going."

Simple Minds, who this month released compilation album "40: The Best Of – 1979-2019" and kick off the anniversary tour in February, are known for 1980s hits like "Don’t You (Forget About Me)" from teen film "The Breakfast Club", which gave the group their first U.S. No. 1.

"Whenever people ask us about ... what can we expect from 'Don't You (Forget About Me)' we point them to the fact that we didn't even include it on the album (which) came out a few months later ... We thought it's a great track but it's part of a movie soundtrack and very much a thing on its own," Kerr said.

"Even when they approached us to do it, we didn't fancy the idea of doing someone else's song as much as we made it Simple Minds' song."

The band are known for addressing political issues in their music - song "Mandela Day" was written for a 1988 concert marking then still-imprisoned anti-apartheid veteran Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday while 1989's "Belfast Child" addressed Northern Ireland's "Troubles" conflict period.

"The issues are always the same. Racism, war, poverty, the geography changes. OK, apartheid ended, it was great to see that end for us ... It was great to see the Berlin Wall come down," Kerr said.

"(These were) amazing things that we never thought we'd see in our lives ... but the subjects about walls, again, it (still) features on the news ... I still think the songs can be symbolic outside of the actual geography and time."

Looking forward, Kerr said Simple Minds were "wet behind the ears" compared to rockers like The Who and the Rolling Stones.

"We were kids when they were all playing and it seems that they're still having a lot of fun doing so. So who knows? But last night we were in the studio, demo-ing and that's always a sign that things are moving forward."

(Reporting by Vin Shahrestani, Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)