Absence makes the heart grow fonder and, no one understands that more than the Scottish pop band Del Amitri.
The “Roll to Me” band went on hiatus in 2002 because the phone stopped ringing, says singer Justin Currie.
“We just went on an extended break, and that led to us doing other things,” says Currie, who pursued a solo career. Guitarist Iain Harvie produced albums.
But then something magical happened — promoters started “stepping around.” Del Amitri played a handful of gigs in London, followed by a 2014 tour.
“That was kind of a comeback tour or something, or a reunion tour,” Currie says. “It went really well. We’ve really enjoyed it. We just absolutely loved it. And we thought, ‘God, we’ve really been missing this.’”
After touring throughout 2018, Currie and Harvie considered their 20 new songs they wrote and decided to put them toward an album, thanks to their friends’ advice.
“I was going for drinks on a Friday night and talking to friends in the pub, and all my mates were saying, ‘You should definitely do that,’” Currie says, referring to recording a new album.
“I was quite surprised by that. There seemed to be quite a lot of enthusiasm for it among the people. That was probably why we did it more than anything.”
“Fatal Mistakes,” which was released in late May, already spawned the state-of-the-nation lament “Close Your Eyes and Think of England.” He doesn’t necessarily call it a “political” album, though.
“We’ve always had a few protest-type songs,” he says. “‘Nothing Ever Happens’ was our first big hit in the U.K., which is sort of regarded as a political song.
“We had a lot of songs to choose from for this record, and we didn’t want them all to be love songs. So, in fact, most of them are twisted takes on what a love song should be. We didn’t deliberately put a couple of political songs on there through any conceptual thought. It was just the way the songs came together.”
Currie wrote his songs in a “little house” on the Isle of Lewis, off the northwest coast of Scotland. The rest of it was made over three weeks in a “stately” home in England. The result is the first Del Amitri album in 13 years.
“Recording it was a breeze,” he says. “But I had been writing songs for me for 13 or 14 years. I didn’t think I’d be able to write songs for Del Amitri. I thought that person was gone. Then there were, maybe, 10 songs that I thought I could take to Del Amitri.”
The next step was to decide which members of Del Amitri would play on the record.
“There have been quite a lot of members over the years,” he says. “Then recording becomes a lot easier. In your mind’s eye, you can picture who the players are, and you can imagine what they’re going to do with the songs.”
Because Del Amitri’s hiatus was so long, the band didn’t want to stray too far from the sound it created with songs like “Always the Last to Know,” “Be My Downfall,” “Kiss This Thing Goodbye” and “Driving with the Brakes On.”
“We went back to basics, with two guitars, bass and drums,” he says.
Recently, Del Amitri released the song “You Can’t Go Back.” Its accompanying video features Currie and Harvie dressed as old men who are being pushed in a wheelchair.
“It was filmed guerrilla style in the streets of Glasgow, and there was just something very amusing about playing obnoxious old men,” he says. “That’s effectively what we are. There wasn’t a lot of acting, and there was much less makeup.”