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Mick Hucknall / Simply Red Interview


Mick Hucknall - Simply Red

Mick Hucknall - Simply Red

Not many bands can claim that they have lasted for nearly 20 years, making music both creative and relevant. Always embracing dance music to enhance their innate r&b/soul flavor, Simply Red continue to produce wonderful music that spans all genres.

DJ Ron Slomowicz: So let's get started with like the most pressing question - what made you decide to do this album on your own without a major label deal?
Mick Hucknall: As you go longer and longer in the business, you start to understand what that contract actually means. The fact that I pay for all the costs of recording the record and then after I've paid for all of that, they end up owning it. Now that is just an absurdity for me and by 1998, I instructed my management to get out there and try and find another way of making records. I said I would love to set up my own little cottage industry, as I described it to them, that would distribute and put out our own records. Clearly we're not going to be able to sell as many, but nevertheless I would feel more artistic reward by doing it on our own rather than doing it with them.

RS: How have you found that the process is different?
Mick: Well, the good news is that there's quite a lot of cynicism about major labels within radio and the press. I think they have been largely disillusioned by the manner in which the record companies have developed music. You've got this whole thing of Pop Idol on TV, which is great in terms of television entertainment, but I don't think it's like giving us any Beatles frankly. It's not really my idea of nurturing artists and building up a successful recording career. Where are the new U2s? Where are the major bands that affect a generation? Where are they? I don't see it, you know what I mean?

RS: Well it's funny you should say that, I just can't imagine how having telegenic twelve year olds doing karaoke covers is not the best music?
Mick: How do you mean?

RS: I'm being sarcastic.
Mick: I figured that and I was just confirming that you were being sarcastic because I would have been worried if you weren't. Well it's true, isn't it? I mean, what it is, is a glorified karaoke and you could sell soap powder in the same way.

RS: And that's what the major labels have come down to these days.
Mick: That's exactly right and it's not really inspiring for somebody who likes to write songs and record them. So, instead of just moaning about it, I decided to get out there and do it myself.

RS: Very awesome. The first single from the album, "Sunrise," used a great interpretation of Hall & Oates' "I Can't Go For That," much like "Fairground"'s Goodmen sample. Where did that sample come from?
Mick: Well I'd originally recorded the song Sunrise and was satisfied with it, then I played it to my friend Andy Wright, who, ironically, I worked with for the first time on the sample for "Fairground." He came back to me and said 'listen, I really like the song Sunrise, give me about a week and I've got an idea that I want to try out.' So he called me a week later and said pop down to the studio, so I went round to see him and he played me this track and I just was like 'wow, it's great, I love it.' People seem to think the sample is the song, but "Sunrise" bears no resemblance to the original song. All he's done is taken part of the bass and drums and a keyboard sound from that track. Apart from the girl singing in the middle, there's absolutely no reference to the song itself, and it's a completely original song. But it just seems to go so well with that pattern that they did for that tune, which I always liked, I mean I always loved that tune.

RS: What was the inspiration behind on the covers you did for the Home album?
Mick: I thought it was about time I did a Bob Dylan song. I'm a huge Bob Dylan fan and have been since I was about six or seven years old. I'd just never gotten round to finding one and strangely enough I was in Iceland coming back from my holiday there to the airport and they played it on the radio. The song hit a chord with me - especially at the moment, going out on my own. A lot of so-called friends in the industry were telling people behind my back that we'd never pull this off and we'd never make it work. The more and more I heard people talking behind my back people in fact who were some people I actually really trusted, I just felt the lyrics, that's how I fell for it.

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