Justin Currie: 'The tempos really slow down the older you get'
- Fiona Shepherd
- 4 August 2021
Del Amitri make their Edinburgh Fringe debut with a mini-residency of intimate shows that platform the band's more reflective side
Back in the before times of March 2020, Del Amitri convened in a studio to make their first album in almost two decades. Recording was completed one day prior to the first national lockdown, mixed remotely and then … well, who knew? Frontman Justin Currie joined the ranks of the unexpectedly underemployed as the album release was postponed and accompanying tour dates floated around on what he terms a 'constantly moving horizon'.
For example, Del Amitri were among the first bands to announce a free show for NHS workers. Current status: postponed until December. 'I'd rather be at home angsting about not doing gigs than be working on the frontline,' says Currie. 'That being said, psychologically not being able to do what you do is really bizarre. It's quite hard to mentally prepare yourself for something you doubt will happen. You start visualizing a show and then – puff – it's off.'
Thankfully, a trio of socially distanced acoustic shows at the Queen's Hall – Del Amitri's Fringe debut – are on the very near horizon, meaning Currie has to mentally prepare for his first live performance in 18 months. 'Within about three months of lockdown, it was the longest I'd not been on a stage,' he says. 'I'd be singing at a mate's wedding or something if I've not got a lot of work on, which is sort of keeping your hand in. We have not kept our hand in. Some people say it's like riding a bike: I don't think it is, I think you need to keep doing it regularly to know where your body and your mind are at.'
Seventh album Fatal Mistakes was finally released in May so this Queen's Hall mini-residency will be the first opportunity for fans to hear the band's new material live. 'It's been quite frustrating because, for us, testing new material is done in front of an audience,' says Currie. 'You don't really know until you play that slow song or that fast song to an audience and they drift off to the bar or they really like it.'
There are no nasty surprises with Fatal Mistakes: the melody count is healthy, the tone is reflective-to-grumpy and the pace is mid-range. 'The tempos really slow down the older you get. If you listen to the first Del Amitri record, which we made as teenagers, it's six times the speed of anything we would do now. You just slow down, and that exposes either the pessimism or the more maudlin aspects of what the words are chuntering on about.'
However, Currie characterises himself as a realist rather than a pessimist. 'It's possible these will be the only gigs we do this year, but we're still crossing our fingers,' he says. 'Future plans are more like a fog than some kind of scaffolding that might turn into a structure. It's a dim fog, but it's a promising fog.'
Del Amitri: The Whole World Is Quiet, Queen's Hall, Thursday 26–Saturday 28 August, 8pm, £34.50.