Ricky Ross: The Deacon Blue man talks about his music and faith

Friday 24th June 2005

When the London-based PR firm called Dougie Adam to say he could spend an hour with RICKY ROSS over coffee the following day he literally dropped everything and set off to meet one of his musical heroes.

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DA: So was there quite a lot of stuff that was recorded but never made it out?

RR: The demand for B-sides was so huge. I mean on 'Raintown' there were three singles before we had any chart success. Then "Dignity" was re-recorded and there were two more singles after that. So that was six singles.

DA: It was about another 20 tracks between the B-sides, EPs, 12" singles.

RR: It was phenomenal. It was like an animal that cannot be fed. Eventually what happened was that when DAT came out that saved us because then you could DAT all the gigs and occasionally out of maybe 10 gigs you would get one great recording of a track that would sound really great and you would think "lets master that and put it on a B-side." But even up towards the last album you had two CDs coming out for every single and that was a massive amount of things as well. So if all that hadn't happened then stuff would have come out. Of course now what happens is I don't really do singles in that sense so I tend to let things either sit and wait or [putting them on] the web is quite a nice way of giving people a new track occasionally. At Christmas I put an unreleased track out on the website, which I think is quite nice.

DA: On the Glasgow Skyline site you also put out some unreleased stuff to raise money for the tsunami victims. There was the Manchester Apollo gig from 1991 and a studio recording of "Frank The Graveyard Man".

RR: "Frank The Graveyard Man" was a lovely track recorded for the last album, really nice take of that track actually.

DA: Do you think that in future some of the old live recordings might come out on the web?

RR: I'd possibly prefer them to come out that way. I think the days of the live album are dead. I don't think people will go out now and buy a live album. The way the old live albums were made there were lots of tapes [of all the shows on a tour] and lots of tinkering in the studio. I just think people have got far better options. They are not going to sit at home and listen to a live album when they have DVDs. If we do a live thing now, the plan would be to do a DVD. I think that is definitely the way to go.

DA: A year or two back, River Records was started after many of the tapes were found from radio sessions and live concert broadcasts from the independent Scottish radio stations and a number of Deacon Blue things are listed in their archives.

RR: I've got them all. But they don't do any marketing and they don't want to spend any money on things and I'm not prepared to let that go out because I just think it demeans the catalogue. Much as people would probably like it I just think you have got to be very careful. I could release live albums every year and could just take stuff off the desk. That doesn't make it a great idea though.

DA: One of the B-sides from the 'Raintown' era was "Riches" and I read that the song was written for a Church of Scotland minister you used to know.

RR: It was actually, a very unusual Church of Scotland minister, Jim Punton. He was a very unusual guy. He was very inspirational for people like you who do youth work. I used to be in youth work similar to you and he was a very inspiring sort of guy. An amazing guy really out of the evangelical tradition but clearly just ahead of his time in some ways, very good at pissing a whole lot of people off but also inspiring a lot of people, which is always a good way to be I think! A good combination of what you need to do if you are going to get anywhere in life, but he was also a very loving guy and the song was written for him.

DA: When the second album came out Deacon Blue became massive, with a number one album, concert tickets selling out in record time, and you played a free concert in Glasgow in front of 250,000 people. What was life like for you when the band got that big?

RR: It's always good to have success. Unfortunately for us probably it wasn't an enjoyable album to record. The band weren't really on their best form. And I think that I don't love it as an album. Funnily enough the next album was a joy to make but I don't really love that album either. I think the best two albums were the first one and the final album. But it's all part of the process really. It's of its time. You can't be in a band forever and you can't be successful forever; it's got to be nice when you get your moment in the sun. I kind of look at U2 now and I know they are really successful but I just wouldn't want to be doing that now. I think that they have got kids and they are touring the world. To be honest it wouldn't suit me at all to be doing that. It's nice to have a living but I just think being in a band is good when you are in your 20s. But it's all just a bit much to have a full time band. It's very intense.

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Reader Comments

Posted by sue james in liverpool @ 14:15 on Jan 16 2009

I agree with your comments that deacon blue helped shape your life as this was the case for me. Every w/end me and my mates would go to the State in Liverpool and dance all night to their music especially Dignity. Dignity itself is very important to me as a very good friend was killed in a car crash and the song was played at the funeral. This was a sight as at least 250 people were singing the song. Deacon Blue's music has comforted and inspired me it has helped me through lifes trials.( i now work as a social worker!) I have seen the group 14 times the last concert was in Liverpool echo arena 2008. It is now a joke between my freinds that i am a groupie (although i would not go that far) I cannot resist making my way to the front of the concert and i am a security gaurds nightmare. Thanks deacon Blue for giving me so many happy memories

Posted by ian collinson in durham @ 05:00 on Jan 3 2009

what a inspiration ricky ross is to me he is without doubt a credit to the human race.

Posted by ian ramsay in Spain nowadays but from Perth @ 17:11 on Dec 29 2008

Searching for something else I happened on this interview, even though it is now nearly 4 years old I found it very illuminating. I have managed to see DB live a couple of times recently and I have everything they & Ricky on his own have done. This was a great insight into the guy behind the songs, Thanks

Posted by Colin Kelly @ 21:53 on Jun 29 2005

Thoroughly enjoyed this interview, thanks for making it available on line. Dougie has managed to put together a fasincating insight into Ricky's life and career.

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