The Proclaimers – Kings of the road

Becca Smith 29 October 2009

Everybody – often the most unexpected people – have heard of them. Formed in 1983, the Reid brothers have released 10 albums over their 22 years in the business and have enjoyed much popular success worldwide. Having just returned from their tour of the US, The Proclaimers are now beginning their UK tour and are on the way home to Scotland.

You’ve never attempted to hide your accent, it’s one of the things that has made you so distinctive, but do you think that accents in music are always a good thing or that it can sometimes get in the way?

Certainly with us it probably limits the number of people who maybe would want to listen to us for any length of time…but we came in and there was no point in writing the kind of songs we were writing, about experiences which were in Scotland, and singing in someone else’s accent, and the fact that there were just two of us and an acoustic guitar, it just felt much more natural to sing in our own accent but I think you’ve got to do it in your own way.

Have you had much time to look around Cambridge?

I’ve been here a few times- one of my favourite places to come and play and the Corn Exchange is a fantastic, it’s a great venue- we’ve played in two or three venues in Cambridge over the years, first I think in 1984…It’s a fantastic place to walk about and it’s a good venue, it’s a relaxed place but we’re doing Oxford for the very first time tomorrow…

Ah, that was one of my questions: Cambridge or Oxford…?

No comparison. We stopped once in Oxford in 1987 for lunch when we were doing an acoustic tour and as we were coming out of the pub, Oxford United must have been playing Leicester City because there’s been a battle in the street, with cop cars rounding everyone up.

A lot of younger people came across you from Shrek- did you like the movie, apart from being in it?

They said ‘we want to use the song, we’re going to give you some money, its Eddie Murphy, its Mike Myers, and it’s a huge advance in animation’ and we said yes. And I thought it was great, fantastic. Its great ‘cos with these things you get kids who’ve never heard of you starting to get into The Proclaimers because of a film like this. We were talking about this yesterday; we’re getting older and probably some of the people, some of the oldies are either dying or will dies very soon (laughs) and so you’ve got to keep them coming through from as young as possible.

You’ve managed to avoid one hit wonder status, but because 500 miles was such a big hit there was always a risk…

Oh yeah, that and Letter from America were certainly considered one hit wonders, in this country we’re considered one-hit wonders by some, two-hit wonders by others… I mean, at the beginning, we never thought we’d get hits anyway- we thought we’d get a small audience and we’d keep getting that and maybe keep that but we didn’t think we’d be getting all the crowds we’re getting tonight- on a Tuesday night…but I think the hits, they mainly help you to build a real audience.

The way to avoid the one-hit wonder thing is to play, to keep playing…its hard to accuse someone who’s been around 22 years and plays continuously…they’re really bonuses to us, they’re not what it’s about.

The radio but every so often it really does come home to you.

You’ve been in the business longer than many people are in the same job, does it begin to lose its shine?

It shouldn’t do, it shouldn’t do and if you’re serious about it you keep going, you keep producing records and going along and it should be something that’s creative and if you stop enjoying it then you’ve got to quit.

Becca Smith